International Women’s Day has been celebrated for well over a century with the first IWD gathering taking place in 1912. On this day in particular we are asked to imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias stereotypes and discrimination a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.
It is a day to reflect on what has been achieved in terms of gender equality, a day to raise awareness of gender bias and a day to take action to advance greater rights for women. As a female lawyer, it is quite something to think that women have only been able to be lawyers for just over 100 years. For many years, law was a profession dominated by men. I feel proud to work for a law firm where 10 of our 13 solicitors are female and the majority of our partners are also women too.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. In connection with this theme you will see photos of many people crossing their arms in solidarity. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to progress. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field. On International Women’s Day we are asked to actively call out gender bias discrimination and stereotyping each time we see it.
International Women’s Day is not just about women: it is about demanding and highlighting equality between all sexes. Advancing the rights of women is not about reducing the rights of men. Rather, International Women’s Day is about addressing gender stereotypes. As a family law solicitor, I often advise clients who sometimes fear gender stereotypes being applied to their own family situation. Both I and my colleagues, for example, have had child actions where a father has been awarded residence of his children or recognised as the primary carer to a couple’s children. These decisions were made by judges based upon what was in the children’s best interests rather than determined by a gender stereotype.
There is more work to be done. Let us all work together to #BreakTheBias.
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