Still a need to mark this day

By Katie Shevlin

1 comment

Today, on International Women's Day, it is important to recognise and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of females around the world, such as those of the three inspirational Bay women featured in today's Bay of Plenty Times.

But it is also important to realise that we have so much further to go in the attainment of gender equality.

Some of the horrifying laws that you can be happy don't exist in New Zealand include marital rape being legal (the Bahamas), men being entitled to stop their wives leaving the house without their permission (Afghanistan and Yemen) and one that permits abduction and rape of a woman as long as the man marries her afterwards (Malta).

Read more: Free self-defence deal for women

So we can be hugely thankful to live in a country without these kinds of laws.

And the absence of such legislation here may lead you to think, why do we need this day?

Females in New Zealand can vote, they can take the pill, they can run for public office.

And yet, the 2014 New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey found that 24 per cent of women, that's one-quarter of all females, have experienced one or more sexual offences at some point during their lives - compared with just 6 per cent of men.

Last year alone the Tauranga Women's Refuge answered 1872 crisis calls, and housed 158 women and children in their safe house.

Read more: Bay women make world better place

In a country that was the first to give women the vote - some 23 years ahead of the United Kingdom - these statistics are distressing.

Changing these statistics starts with a change in attitude.

If you feel that International Women's Day is unnecessary, chances are you have already benefited from feminism that shaped the world before you even got here.

You may feel equal, but many women don't - like the women that call Tauranga Refuge Centre.

New Zealanders should strive for this country to be the champion of women's rights that it was back in 1893.

And if other countries follow suit, perhaps one day we'll be celebrating International People's Day instead.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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