International Women’s Day 2019

It’s not, I hope, in any way controversial to suggest that a more balanced world is a better world.

A world where no-one is held back by outdated gender stereotypes is better for everyone. And that gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.

Yet while this ideal is laudable, the method of achieving it remains more intractable. How can we help forge a more gender-balanced world?

Well, for a start, we can celebrate the achievements of women and girls.

In the century since the first International Women’s Day was celebrated, women and girls have made more progress than in the millennium that preceded it. The first woman took her seat in Parliament in 1919; now there are 209 women MPs representing every party and every part of the UK. Until 1919, many professions, including Law, were closed to women; today the majority of trainee solicitors are women. And while there’s still room for improvement, FTSE350 companies with no women on their boards are as rare as hen’s teeth.

As we look ahead, it’s too easy to see all the difficulties, and the obstacles, and the problems to be surmounted, and find ourselves overcome by pessimism. Instead, I choose to look forward with optimism, to see how far we’ve come and how much we’ve achieved, and be emboldened and reinvigorated to create a genuinely better, more balanced world.  After all, the next generation of girls deserve nothing less.