This past year has been a time of real reflection and we, as a society, have been awakened to the huge gender inequality that still exists in our lives today. Many will be aware of the case of Sarah Everard, and for some her story will feel particularly close to home. But sadly, what happened to her is not uncommon, and she symbolises many more women who suffer at the hands of rape culture and misogyny. It is a widespread issue that needs addressing at its lowest levels where we may dismiss its prevalence, right through to the most blatant cases of sexism. To achieve real change, each, and everyone one of us must play our part. How can you do this you may be asking? I spoke to Ada Gravatt, a Labour Campaigner & Women’s Rights activist, to provide insight into how you and I can make a real difference to create a fairer, more equal society where women have equal opportunity and can feel safe and valued by society.


1. Would you say there are examples of times we have attempted gender equality?

Yes. I feel like there have been some positive changes but at the most basic level. In 1928 we had the Equal Franchise Act introduced to ensure suffrage is not just for men, but it took decades of protesting and many sacrifices to have this finally granted to women. The fight shouldn’t have been that hard. Also, I am pleased that the Equal Pay Act is law, but we still see gaps in the pay of men and women in journalism for example, so that change hasn’t been completely successful. So, we’ve made attempts to address gender inequality, but we’re nowhere near where we should be!


2. We have come a long way in the last century to achieving gender equality, but how much work is there that still needs to be done?

Until there is systemic change in how we run society, there will be no true intersectional gender equality. To achieve gender equality, we need to get men on board with us as well. I believe the narrative of ‘gender equality helps us all’ is not entirely based on truth. I am 100% for it, however ultimately gender equality will take away some male privileges (even though it’s the right thing to do), and until men are willing to accept that fact, change becomes hard. Society needs to change its attitudes to where casual sexism is an everyday occurrence; there will not be gender equality even if we have an equal balance of women in power if those women still don’t feel safe walking along the street at night. I also believe the government needs to acknowledge people who do not fit into the gender binary as a valid form of identification if we are to achieve gender equality.


3. Only 12% of the world’s billionaires are women, only 1/3 of our MPs are women and we are yet to have a female President of the United States, would you say this is more down to gender discrimination or women feeling unable to put themselves forward for positions of power?

Both- due to the patriarchy and how we raise our daughters', women doubt their worth tremendously. And when they do put themselves forward their ability is often dismissed due to gender discrimination. It’s a double-edged sword. To be a woman and to try and put yourself forward for something, you feel the need to perfectly fit requirements. We are brought up with the belief that we are perfect, or we are nothing. Whereas with men there is an assumption that they can make the brief fit around them, that the skills they have will give them the ability to succeed rather than a need to learn more. The number of women in positions of political power has rapidly been increasing which is great- however there is an issue essentially that men will not take women seriously. Not every man obviously, but a substantial proportion of men view women who hold strong views as hormonal, aggressive, bossy etc. A woman in power will always be called a ‘bitch’ by some for simply speaking like her male counterparts would.


4. How can we address the ever-increasing presence of rape culture and change attitudes towards the treatment of women?

I believe we need drastic change or else our attempts will continue to fall short. We need to teach from an early age consent and accountability- the focus should be on stopping assaulters from assaulting instead of putting blame onto the victims. Also, I believe we should desexualise women's bodies as they are often used as a commodity to sell perfume, cars etc. Our worth is so often tied to physical appearance and that should never be the case.  Eradicating language like ‘boys will be boys’ etc. which normalise cat-calling and inappropriate comments or actions, would make a huge change in transforming subtle, yet damaging views held my men in the lad culture that society often accepts. Additionally, avoiding using inappropriate language or terminology like ‘my love’ or ‘darling’ etc. that can often be seen as derogatory (particularly when the person is not known) can help to change the way women feel respected and treated fairly in their everyday lives.


5. Who has the power to make changes to creating a fairer, more equal society where women feel safe and empowered?

Men. Until men change their actions and how they treat us, we will get nowhere without them on board as many influential figures with the ability to make these changes are men and until they are willing to sacrifice levels of male sacrifice, we cannot make the changes required to ensure gender equality happens. We also all have a role to play and can help to hold those to account in positions of power when rape prosecution rates are at 1.6% and we have a PM who has made derogatory comments about his female colleagues, like “pat her on the bum and send her on her way.” We must push for real leadership on tackling the inequality and hold leaders to account to ensure the right steps are being taken.


6. If there was one thing you could tell our readers in their role in achieving gender equality, what would you say to them?

Be alert to these issues. If you can call out casual, and extreme cases of sexism- but please don’t put yourself in danger. And honestly just support the women in your life, give genuine compliments and praise successes- make them know their value!


To read more about how you can play your part, click the link below: