8 March is International Women’s Day. (International Men’s Day is 19 November). There’s no getting around it. I am a woman, in business, in a field which has for hundreds of years been populated solely by men because they are men and the options were denied to women so it is important to celebrate this day.
Now, dear Gentle Reader, there are some basics I need to be clear on. Here goes:
- Just because I am a woman, celebrating International Women’s Day does not mean that I hate men. I am married to a lovely man and created two more lovely men. (If the Teenage Units are reading this, Mummy loves you).
- It matters not to me whether you are a female or male or identifying in a different way. All the people I work with get the same respect and courtesy.
- Equal treatment is not the same and being treated equally. If I were an expert bricklayer and female, it would be wrong to exclude me from that profession because I am a woman. However, expecting then a woman with a fairly average female physiology to lift as many bricks as a 6 foot plus male or she can’t do the job is idiotic. All people should have access to all routes, irrespective of sex, religion, sexuality or race. And stop flipping judging and labelling people. Please.
My fellow women, you are awesome. The women I meet in my profession are smart as a whip, funny, generous, engaging and I am privileged to know so many of them. Let’s be uplifting to each other – not just on this one day of the year but throughout the year. Let’s tell each other when we think they’ve done a good job or they are just epic. I am so lucky to have women within my circle of work and personal friends that do this already and I cannot tell you the difference it makes. It makes me feel like a giant and that I am doing alright.
To my younger female readers, don’t forget the struggle that the older generation of women went through to get where we are today. And there is more to do. You stand on their shoulders to do it so don’t be disrespectful when you hear the word ‘feminist’. In my lifetime, I have seen women ‘permitted’ to wear trousers into court, maternity leave, the right not to be dismissed when you disclosed you were pregnant, the right to return to work after having a baby, the right not to have to wear heeled shoes to work, equal pay, equal treatment for pension provision, the right for contraceptives, the right for abortion….. the list goes on.
To younger female readers hoping to get into the legal profession my advice is this. Don’t accept no. Grit and hard work will get you further than smarts will. Read a newspaper every day – a broadsheet one- and understand the political climate. Listen to people. Watch people. They will give you the ‘background music’ to what might be coming next in the legal world because I find the legal world reacts and reflects what society thinks. Of course, read the fashion magazines, get involved with makeup, nails, hair, shoes – those are fun; but do not make that all you are about. You are allowed to be more.
And that, I think, is my final comment. The limits are those that you set for yourself. Don’t stand in your own way. If you think you can’t or you think you can, you will be right. Be one of those who thinks you can.