Women’s day highlights our rights – and wrongs

Dan Bavister, 16, left, and Charlie Greenhow, 16, from team HMS Apologies from South Wiltshire UTC
Dan Bavister, 16, left, and Charlie Greenhow, 16, from team HMS Apologies from South Wiltshire UTC
Mo Farrah after missing out on a gold medal
				 Picture: Adam Davy

VERITY LUSH: Leave me to browse the make-up counter in peace

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Last week I wrote about World Book Day and how I don’t normally pay attention to these special days or weeks 
that seem to have been constructed by marketing companies.

World Book Day was an exception but, possibly because I was still tuned into that kind of thing, International Women’s Day pinged my sonar.

We don’t need to look too far from home to see religion is still used as a tool to prevent women having the right either not to get pregnant, or to terminate a pregnancy

I’d previously thought it was a modern invention, a celebration of equality in the twenty-first century.

But I was wrong: this year IWD celebrated its 103rd birthday.

I wondered if we still needed it – a lot of work is being done to address the gender pay gap, and reduce the impact raising a family has on a women’s career.

Looking at my own past, I can’t say I’ve ever been prejudiced against for being a girl.

There are some who’d say being whistled at from chaps atop scaffolding counts, but I don’t think that’s the case.

There are also those who’d say using any kind of female term as an insult is sexist.

Yes, I agree, but I’m as guilty of doing that as the fellas are.

So do we really need an International Women’s Day?

Well yes, purely because of the global nature of the word.

Women in every country should be able to access the same opportunities to have an education, to have the vote, to have the same rights over their own bodies as I do – and to have the freedom to choose their own path in life, rather than have it chosen for them.

Unfortunately the world falls woefully short of this basic standard of human rights.

And I’m not talking about some Middle East country where the women have to cover up from head to toe and walk behind their husbands.

We don’t need to look too far from home to see religion is still used as a tool to prevent women having the right either not to get pregnant, or to terminate a pregnancy.

If a short ferry ride will take us to these places, there is a lot of work still to be done to get the world to recognise women’s rights.

MODEL STUDENTS GIVE ME HOPE FOR FUTURE ENGINEERING SKILLS

I had the privilege of watching dozens of engineering students and apprentices compete to win trophies for their engineering design and build skills last week in the Royal Navy’s UTC Challenge, supported by the Young Engineers organisation.

They were secondary-school age up to those in their 20s, all trying hard to have the best design and build quality to ultimately win.

They designed and built boats to operate by remote control in a tank of water, negotiating polystyrene icebergs and collecting objects floating on the surface as well as those on the ‘sea’ bed. A lot’s been written about the lack of science, technology, engineering and maths skills in this area – you wouldn’t have known it to look at all those competing at HMS Sultan.

ARCHITECTS IN THIS PART OF THE WORLD ARE RAISING THE BAR

It’s fantastic to see Land Rover BAR’s headquarters at the Camber short-listed for a design award – and it’s the only one of three locally-shortlisted buildings to have been designed by a local firm of architects.

The Royal Institute of Architects has picked 63 buildings to be on its south awards list, and 11 of those are in Hampshire.

The University of Portsmouth’s Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries has also been named, as has Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Boathouse Number 4. Both of those were designed by London firms, but it’s BAR’s architects, HGP of Fareham, that’s really doing the business for the region. Already award-winning for work on Gunwharf Quays, it proves you don’t have to look far to find world-class design talent.