Opinion

Women’s steps towards equality

By Catherine Ross 

We still have some way to go in this country before we can claim to live in a truly equal society. The pay gap needs to close, paternity leave needs to increase and, ideally, those awful rags that pit women against one another and compare waist lines, bottom sizes and cellulite will become a thing of the past. But we have come a long way since women weren’t allowed to vote or inherit.

Not so elsewhere in the world. Four sisters in Botswana made history this week. It took five years, but after protracted battles, the four sisters won the right to inherit their family property. The four women, who have a combined age of 308, were born and raised in their ancestral family homestead – a compound of eight homes.

After their father died, the sisters contributed to the running of the home while their mother was alive. They spent their own finances to renovate the property, which, eventually, was what swayed the appeal court in their favour.

In Botswana, as in much of Africa, women don’t have the right to inherit property. The same situation used to exist here in the UK. For so many years, boys have had the birthright and were the prized children. The steps we have made towards equality in this country mean that this is no longer the case – though the royal family have been slower on the uptake.

In China, the single child policy has led to the destruction and abandonment of thousands of babies, many of them girls, because boys are considered to be so much more valuable. Tales from people who have seen the impact of the single child policy in China at first hand make harrowing accounts.

In Afghanistan, girls access to education was restricted by the Taliban. Most people have now heard the inspirational story of Malala, the young girl shot in the head by the Taliban, who has campaigned for the right to education for girls around the world. Malala was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and, had she won it, would have become the youngest recipient in history. Malala is an inspirational young woman and her determination, fearlessness and dedication to her campaigning are a shining example to girls everywhere.

All around the world, women are breaking down barriers and taking steps towards equality. Around the world, women are being accepted as equal to men, girls as equal to boys. There is a long way to go before women are truly equal, but step-by-step, we’re getting there.

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