It’s International Women’s Day today (8th March) but why do we still need a day like this. In my letter to London’s local papers this week, I explain why I think it’s still needed.

Dear Sir,

100 years on from the first International Women’s Day, some may be slightly baffled as to why such a day is still needed. There will be those who argue that women can do what they want here: they have the vote, can work where they want or receive the same education. Everything on the surface may seem fair.

If only. The original aim of the day – to achieve gender equality for women across the world – has not yet been realised.  In many countries, a gender pay gap continues to exist, glass ceilings are barely cracked and there are not enough women at the highest levels of business and politics.
Internationally, the statistics are staggering – and frightening:  at least one in three women have been beaten, coerced into sex or abused in their lifetime; between 1.5 and three million women and girls die each year because of gender-based violence; between 700,000 and 4 million girls and women are sold into prostitution each year. Meanwhile 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, 41 million girls worldwide are still denied a primary education and at least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone brutal genital mutilation.
Of course, huge strides have been made with abuses and inequality being more readily challenged. But there is still a long way to go.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Be Bold for Change’. Whether you are a girl or woman pursuing your dreams or a boy or man who wants his sister, daughter or mother to have the opportunity to achieve their ambitions, it’s a message that we should all support.

Syed Kamall
MEP for London
Leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group

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