Thursday, March 8, 2018
At SMQ we believe women should be celebrated, and their achievements acknowledged, all year round. Nevertheless, for over 100 years, the 8th day of March marks the day where women from global governments, organisations, businesses and charities are brought together to celebrate the achievements women have made and to rally for more recognition in every sector.
Every year there is a different theme in which women pay particular attention, this year the theme is #PressforProgress. The theme aims to unify individuals and communities to become more gender inclusive.
In 2017 the theme was closing the gender pay gap. However, according to the World Economic Forum, at the current rate of progress, this could take hundreds of years to close. Nevertheless, 2017 was also the year where women took a stand and shared their stories of sexual harassment with many famous figures held accountable. The bravery of the many women who broke their silence under the #MeToo movement also encouraged men to also speak up about their experiences of being sexually harassed.
The essence of the #PressforProgress movement is described on the official website:
“Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. There’s a strong call to #PressforProgress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.”
Women who work within the legal sector have often gone unnoticed and underpaid for their achievements in comparison to their male counterparts. This stems from the age-old saying that the industry has always been a ‘boys club’. Ivy Williams was the first woman to be called to the Bar in England in 1922. Despite women graduating with Law Degrees, qualifying as solicitors and being called to the bar, the gender pay gap is ever increasing and, to much disdain, is unlikely to close anytime soon.
Over the years women have broken barriers and made incredible progress to achieve the amount of recognition they have today: women including Baroness Scotland who made waves within criminal law, civil law and international law; she contributed to the prosecution of Baby P’s killers by introducing the Crime and Victims Act which created a new offence of familial homicide. We also have Dame Linda Dobbs who was the first woman of colour to be appointed as a judge of the High Court in 2004 and was also included in the list of Britain’s 10 most powerful black women. She sat as a High Court Judge for just under 10 years before taking early retirement in 2013. Lady Hale continues to live up to her motto “Women are equal to everything”; she was appointed the first female President of the Supreme Court of the UK in July 2017.
There are certainly many more women who deserve to be recognised and celebrated, as we have barely scratched the surface, but alas we can only write so many words for an article before it becomes a devilishly long dissertation of sorts. The purpose of International Women’s Day has always been to give women the recognition they deserve and for women to break any barriers or restrictions placed on them and demand to be acknowledged and appreciated. This year IWD aims to challenge the stereotypes women face and to show how extraordinary women are in everyday life. The official colour for IWD this year is purple, and we will definitely be indulging in our share of violet hues on 8 March 2018 as we #PressforProgress.
SMQ Legal is predominately made up of female lawyers and the owners are two high powered ladies in their own right so here’s to celebrating all you women out there, whatever your profession, and hope you keep fighting the good fight for gender equality!