Inspirational Women and the Fight for Gender Equality

In this guest blog for Women's History Month, the Women's Collective highlight the women who inspire them and discuss what is required to reach gender equality.

Women's History Month and International Women’s Day are annual declared periods of time that highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are critical to society as it provides a period of time which reminds individuals to recognise and appreciate the gender that has been neglected throughout all of time… even to date.  There are many women who have contributed to such critical milestones but have been ignored and forgotten about due to the credit being taken by men. For example, Hedy Lamarr. In 1937, Lamarr escaped her controlling husband and Nazi Austria and moved around Europe before crossing over to the United States. Lamarr exercised her passion for innovation and created the “Secret Communications System”. This was intended to switch radio frequencies amidst the chaos of World War II so that enemies could not decode messages. This technology was later adopted by the United States Navy and serves as a building block behind the wireless communication of today’s cell phones, GPS navigators, and Wi-Fi.

However, whilst we see this as a positive step towards respecting women, we do not believe it is as effective as it should be. At the moment it comes across as a point in the year that has been thrown in to make it seem like steps are being taken towards equalising the gender. Many individuals are unaware that these days exist. Instead, it should be enforced into the education curriculum. This way it will become a lot more impactive. To date, women are joked about and mistreated due to their gender – they do not have the same respect as men, this could potentially change if Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day were taken more seriously.

Inspirational women

‘My inspiration is a woman I have looked up to my whole life – my mum. At first, she was my source of life, she then became my blanket of comfort, now she is my best friend and the mother I wish to become one day. From being the first person in her family to go to university, to becoming a single mother raising two children; my mum has taught me how to be a strong, independent and determined woman. Not many individuals realise that being a parent is a full-time job; it is because of her night shifts at work and day shifts as a mother that I have had an amazing childhood with the best education and bright future ahead of me. The person I am today is all because of my mum and the struggles she had to face. She has rebelled against her culture and has demonstrated the true empowering nature of a woman and how much they are capable whilst being repressed by other “traditional” men and women.’ – Reena Chohan

‘I have chosen to highlight Maryam Mirzakhani. She was an Iranian mathematician, who I feel is worth highlighting as the first woman in history, and first Iranian, who won the Fields medal, which is a prestigious award in maths. She broke many boundaries being a woman, from a minority and being a pioneer in her field. She also inspires me as she pursued a field that initially she thought she was not very good at, but persevered and showed that she could be a success. She sadly died due to cancer very young, in 2017, but her legacy will live on, and I hope this story inspires many other young women to follow their passions, no matter how they are perceived.’  – Maryam Khan

‘For me, inspirational women have surrounded me for my entire life. From family, to teachers to friends. One friend in particular springs to mind. She suffers with endometriosis and has been working this last year to raise awareness. Her own story has inspired others to push for diagnosis quicker and build better support networks for those who suffer with the condition. As someone who suffers with their own illness that causes chronic pain, she inspired me to find my voice and share my own story with others. She has also shown me that you don’t have to be famous to make a huge impact!’ – Ellie Matthews

Gender equality

It has taken a very long time to get to the level of equality we have today… yet this is still not enough. Whilst we have shifted away from the male breadwinner and female homemaker point of view, we are still facing unequal pay, “taboo” topics and sexist “jokes”. We think it is absolutely absurd that men and women still do not receive equal pay in many areas, especially in such progressive countries. It is ridiculous that there are many topics that females cannot discuss in the presence of men because some are “disgusted” by it or have been taught to be uncomfortable by it. It is outrageous that women are belittled by men for a minute's worth of laughing.

Gender equality can be improved by teaching all individuals that each gender should be respected as they all play a vital part in society. They should be a team as they complement each other by providing different innate skills that work in all situations. Schools and organisations can take periods like Women’s History Month and Women’s International Day to teach their pupils that women are capable of so much more than “cooking in a kitchen”. It is also down to the individual themselves to understand what is right and wrong and base their actions around that.

We respect the role of women, not because we are women, but because it was a woman who gave me life, a woman who fed me, raised me, clothed me, taught me, etc. We will never understand why they are seen so inferior when they are the reason that everyone is where they are now.  

The Women’s Collective

The Women’s Collective supports the activities and interests of women students on campus. The aim of the Women’s Collective is to provide a safe space for women to come together and discuss any concerns or topics they may have – whether it be a change that is needed within the University or a campaign that they would like us to jump on board.  

This Collective is open to all students, the more the merrier! We offer two different types of memberships - member and supporter. These memberships are completely free and are found on the Student Union website. If you identify as a woman then you are able to attain a ‘Women Collective Member’ membership. If you do not identify as a woman but support the Collective, then you are able to obtain the ‘Women Collective Supporter’ membership.

Join the Women's Collective

It would be amazing to see a rise in members as collectively, a huge impact can be made. There is still a lot of change and development to be made. Let’s all contribute to that!