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  • Madeleine Cowey

La Festa Della Donna

Happy International Women's day!

Today is International Women's day (duh), or as it is known in Italy 'La Festa della Donna', where women strike for the day, are gifted pretty yellow mimosas and celebrate being a woman. Kind of.

The day began on March 19th, 1911, to commemorate the day the Prussian king promised women the vote in 1848. It was a day of successful rallies and meetings and then was moved to the 8th (the King didn't keep his promise. oh dear). (p.s. please tell me if this information is wrong!).

Over 100 years on, it is a shame that women still have to fight for equal rights all over the world. We may have come a long way but things are far from perfect. Living in Italy this year has highlighted even more to me that attitudes towards women are pretty awful - not only is catcalling somehow 10 times worse than in England, groping and being touched in public spaces, on transport, and generally being stared at by men wherever you go are also huge problems here. I don't think a day where we're given some yellow flowers and cake will really sort these issues but I guess it is nice to have a day where we're noticed, eh (oh and cake does help)?

I know a lot of people say feminism is dead now, particularly in Britain as we have equal pay and yada yada, but I would disagree tenfold. It's made pretty obvious just by the recent #metoo campaign, which brings awareness to the sheer volume of women that have been victim to sexual harassment and assault. Just for being a woman. Feminism is not about hating men, to me it is about changing perceptions of women that have stuck around from the flipping dark ages, and we equally need to change expectations of men. And more importantly it is about changing women's rights worldwide. In Saudi Arabia women were up until very recently forbidden to drive, and only got the vote 3 years ago; apparently in 32 countries women need permission from their husband to get a passport; in Nigeria, a woman's husband can hit her for reasons of 'correcting' her - the list goes on, and gets worse.

In Ireland, a vote on abortion rights is coming up in the spring. Up until now, women in Ireland have not been allowed to get an abortion (and more recently she can, but only if the pregnancy puts her life at risk). You hear horror stories of women risking their lives to carry out abortions, and many women in Ireland have to travel abroad if they want to have an abortion, an option obviously not available to everyone. In my opinion, whether you agree with abortion or not, everyone is entitled to their own decision - it's a basic human right. No matter how careful you are, sometimes pregnancies are unavoidable, and the right to decide what to do about it should be all yours. If you're interested in the topic do have a watch of Melanie Murphy's short film, 'Choice' on YouTube on the topic.

Finally I'd like to mention some women who have inspired my lately, and quite predictably they are some from the cancer community. 'You Me and The Big C' is a new BBC podcast run by 3 women who I've followed on social media for a while now, all of whom have/had cancer, and have suffered through all of the shit it brings. Their aim is to show that, yes, cancer is destructive and fairly torturous, but also you can live with cancer, and live through it, and continue to enjoy and celebrate your life - live as a 20/30 year old woman should. As 3 young women who were very unexpectedly hit with cancer, they are great for raising awareness of the disease, and just showing what it is really like. Something beautiful has come of something horrid, and I am so grateful for them for doing what they are. You can have a listen to their first couple of podcasts here. I read some awful awful news yesterday about another girl I follow on Instagram, who's suffering with her 3rd relapse, cancer for the 4th time, at only 21, who has recently found out her cancer is now terminal - they've tried everything they can and she has now may not much longer left of her life. She is a wonderful wonderful woman whose life is being cut far too short, a woman I admire so much, and who will be sorely missed. So I want to dedicate this to her - she probably won't read this, but for her and all the other amazing women I'm celebrating international women's day, because we're great, and we're strong. We'll keep fighting for women's rights for all those who can't anymore, and I'll keep fighting for better research into cancer, because news like this makes me so so mad.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have (or had) a fem-tastic day!

M x


I'm going to put the Instagram pages of the mentioned women down here if you wanted to check them out!

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