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International Women's Day: It's not about whether you have hairy legs

International Women's Day is a day for women to speak up themselves, and for those women being silenced. Photo: REUTERS/Emmanuel Kwitema

As some in the privileged West raise the question about the point of International Women’s Day; a fantastic defence by Annie Lennox on Sky News this morning about why it matters.

We wouldn't be necessarily be discussing inequality and abuse, she argued, if we didn't have a day to pause and take stock.

Women have a lot to celebrate: education, the right to equal pay. Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

And it's time to get real about modern feminism: “It’s about female empowerment. It’s not about whether you’ve got hairy legs”.

Those of us who have been fortunate to be educated, to get paid maternity leave, to have the right to equal pay have a lot to celebrate on the back of other women who gave their hearts and minds to secure equality.

A child labourer in Bangladesh. UNICEF says girls are less likely to be prioritised when there is a food shortage. Credit: UNICEF / Reuters

What falls to us then is to speak up for all those who have little to celebrate on a day like today.

And however fortunate some of us may be, it applies to women in this country as well as elsewhere.

For the baby girl about to be aborted because her parents wanted a boy.

Women in Saudi Arabia are not permitted to drive, and their freedom of movement is severely restricted. Credit: Reuters

For the girls in Africa raising families because their parents have died of HIV Aids.

For the women in Saudia Arabia who watched their husband leave for work in a car they are not allowed to drive.

For the Nigerian woman who’s been trafficked to Europe and who’ll be forced out onto the streets in Rome today to earn money for her pimp.

Women in Africa own only 1% of land Africa, despite producing up to 80% of the food. Credit: REUTERS/Feisal Omar

For the British woman who’ll get a battering from her husband tonight because he’s been out on the beer again.

For the teenage girl who’s starving herself to look like a manipulated image in a magazine.

For the office worker who’ll have to bite her lip at yet another lame sexist remark.

Today is for you.

Britain's female athletics team in 2010. Saudi Arabia has been criticised for bringing a delegation made entirely of men to London 2012. Credit: Reuters

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