International Women’s Day and the MilitarySusannah Walbank
International Women’s Day started in 1910 when Clara Zetkin (a famous German advocate for Women’s rights) suggested the day become an international day of celebration. America already celebrated a National Women’s Day in 1908 after 15,000 women marched through New York City in demanding the right to vote and better pay and this sowed the seeds for what later became International Women’s day.
Every year on the 8th of March women celebrate how far women have come in society, politics and economics. In countries like Russia, the day is a national holiday, where the sales of flowers double.
Women currently make up about 10% of British Army personnel. They are, for the first time ever, working alongside their male counterparts in such roles as engineers, mechanics, lawyers and educators.
Today, International Women’s Day, celebrates the achievements of women all over the world. The British Army now seeks to promote equality throughout all ranks and trades. Although women have served alongside men on the battlefields as dog handlers, medics and carrying weapons, they were not allowed to take part in roles of close combat until 2016.
There are many success stories throughout the British Military. Lieutenant Commander West became the first women to be given Command of one of the Navy’s major warships. In September 2016 WO1 Esther Freeborn became the first female bandmaster for the Household Cavalry, and Lieutenant Catherine Ker was the first female to qualify as a Royal Navy Mine Clearance Officer.
This year an International Women’s Day Campaign has taken on the theme of #BeBoldForChange and there are women going on strike in more than 30 countries.