Why I’m Calling Myself a Feminist on International Women’s Day

I’ve always been surrounded by strong female role-models. My Nan is the Chair of Bristol’s Older People’s Forum and has always been political. As soon as I could walk, she told me that one day I’d be able to vote, and I better always use it, because women have died to give me that vote. My mother is one of the toughest people I know (she teaches teenagers, what job could be more intimidating?) and she taught me from an early age that you can be both sensitive and strong. As I’ve grown up, I’ve met more female role-models, like my mentor Sian, who constantly fights for women’s rights. Some of my role-models are younger than me, like Greta Thunberg, who is a 16-year-old girl fighting climate-change. Some are the same age as me, like my girlfriend, who defies society’s ideal of gender-roles, or my friend Sienna who is a real-life Wonder Woman at only 20 years old.

I think powerful female role-models are important for everyone growing up, as they shape both how we see ourselves and how we treat people. Women have been silenced in history, and are continually silenced to this day. This is why International Women’s Day exists. It gives us the voice to speak out, loud and proud. And although one day isn’t enough to change the world, it’s a start in helping to raise awareness of gender equality. Even in our day and age in the UK, the gender pay gap still exists (can you believe it?!) and harmful gender stereotypes are still going strong. This is why I call myself a feminist.

I remember talking to a male friend about this a few years ago, who said that he considers himself ‘an equalist because I believe in equality for both men and women’. That’s what feminism is! It’s not the belief that women are better than men, but rather that all genders are equal and should be treated as such. Feminism has become a dirty word lately, but we as women need to reclaim the word because change still needs to happen.

I went to the ‘100 Welsh Women’ event in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre recently, and learned that a statue of Wales’ first black female headteacher – and a truly inspirational woman – Betty Campbell, will be put up in Cardiff to immortalise her accomplishments. This is a great start in recognising our power and influence as women, but more needs to be done. We need to change how society treats all women, and that includes ethnic minorities and women who identify as LGBTQ+. We need to change how people think about gender, and that starts with ourselves. So, I ask you on International Women’s Day to consider if you’d call yourself a feminist. And if not, why not?

I just want equality for all.