International Women's Day: 8 actions for 8 March
As we celebrate International Women's Day, Liberty's Director Martha Spurrier sets out eight actions you can take today to stand up for women's rights and support the women in your life.
1. Live a value
Striving to live up to the values you want the rest of the world to live up to is one of life’s great and most important challenges. If we don’t live those values, at best we’re hypocrites. But at worst it can corrode the very movement for progress that we so passionately believe in. It makes change look impossible, unattainable, pie in the sky.
So my first action for 8 March is that we all do something that puts our ideals into action.
That could be practicing gratitude by cooking dinner for your mum or your sister. It could be upholding fairness by making sure you really listen to someone at work, or it could be respecting dignity by stopping and talking to the homeless person you walk past every day. Pick a value, and make it live on 8 March.
2. Be an activist
I passionately believe that activism begins at home. For you that might mean signing petitions, for others it will be joining organisations, protesting, taking shifts in soup kitchens, donating, volunteering, chaining yourself to railings or visiting people in prison or detention.
Being part of the activity that could bring about change, no matter how small a cog you are in the big wheel, is as rewarding as it is important.
So on 8 March, be an activist, whatever that word means to you. Make that day, and maybe even this year, a year when you turn your beliefs into action.
3. Support women in detention
You could do worse with your activism than standing in solidarity with the women at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre, who are on hunger strike.
Every year 27,000 people – including pregnant women and survivors of rape and torture – are held in indefinite immigration detention. I think it’s the greatest human rights abuse happening on these shores and the fact that it is done in our name belittles all our humanity.
So on 8 March, sign the petition supporting the women on hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood and also add your name to Liberty’s petition calling for a 28-day time limit on immigration detention so we can make 2018 the year we finally put an end to this inhumanity.
4. Check your prejudice
It’s easy to think that, because you’re the kind of person who reads a blog post about taking action for International Women’s Day, you’re probably on the right side of history.
But we all have our prejudices. We all jump to conclusions and judge books by their covers.
So do an honest audit of your prejudices. Think about the things you find complicated and hard to navigate. How do you feel about trans women’s rights? Do you think people should be allowed to protest outside abortion clinics? Are you a believer in free speech who secretly would like to see the Daily Mail censored?
On 8 March, have an honest conversation with yourself about your prejudices. And then use your brilliant mind and your big heart to interrogate them and expand your horizons.
5. Send solidarity
The women in my life give me such strength and joy and they are so funny and interesting and inspiring.
6. Support the next generation
Think about what you can do to inspire the next generation. Whether you’re a seasoned activist or have only just heard of International Women’s Day, your experience, skills, perspective and compassion could help a young woman to achieve her potential.
I have a mentor and she’s amazing. You could do that too by signing up with a local mentoring scheme – or simply have a chat with a younger sister, a niece, a cousin or a neighbour. One way or another, on 8 March be the person who helps a young woman along her path.
7. Self care
Reaching out to support others can help to secure a feminist future – but failing to take care of ourselves could be the death of the women’s rights movement. So take a moment on 8 March to book a smear test and check for signs of breast cancer.
8. Join Liberty
This last one won’t surprise you. On 8 March, I implore you to join Liberty. It’s as little as £2.50 a month and it makes a real difference.
Liberty is the oldest human rights campaigning organisation in the country. We’ve been standing up for people and holding the powerful to account since 1934 and our work is needed now more than ever.
Whether you’re passionate about protecting the right to privacy that underpins our freedom to organise and express ourselves, determined to end indefinite detention for migrant women and their families, or committed to keeping hold of our rights and equality protections after Brexit, Liberty is fighting your battles and making your voice heard in the courtroom, the House of Parliament and the news. But we’re only as strong as our members’ voices – so please add yours on 8 March.