AROUND this time of year some people – men usually – ask why we need an International Women’s Day.
The answers to that are many and varied.
Among other things, Wednesday will be a day on which to reflect on how much things have changed for women.
I will look back on my own experiences, as this week marks my 30th anniversary in football.
In 1993, when I took over as the MD of Birmingham City aged 23, it was not always easy.
At my first press conference, desperate to look at least 24, I wore a smart power suit with shoulder pads and did a serious presentation of all the things I wanted to achieve with the club.
The Press asked me just one question: “What are your vital statistics?”
There are plenty of things I miss about the Nineties but overt sexism is not one of them.
While it is true that women’s rights and opportunities have come a long way since 1917 — when we couldn’t vote, get legal protection from marital rape or initiate divorce — there are still many outdated and depressing laws against women in the world.
In Iran, women are jailed for not wearing a veil in public, and are forbidden from watching men’s sports in stadiums.
So, perhaps, a more important purpose of International Women’s Day is for us to look at how gender equality and women’s rights can be improved.
At the top of the list is the prevalence of violence against women.
In conflict zones, women are left to pick up the pieces of war and face the overwhelming task of trying to keep their families together after displacement, providing food, clothing and shelter.
It is estimated that 99 per cent of the four million victims of sex trafficking worldwide are women.
In India, rape is the fourth most common crime against women.
And, here in the UK, one in four women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime, with two a week killed by a current or former partner.
According to Refuge, the police receive a domestic abuse-related call every 30 seconds.
But this week Mel B said she would not call the police because she doesn’t trust them.
She said: “I wouldn’t, because I wouldn’t know if they would take it seriously. Like if I’m living here and I want to report it to the police, I don’t know if I can trust the police.
“I don’t know if they’re going to take my allegations seriously.”
I understand why Mel may say this but, unlike her, I do trust the police, I think they would take it seriously and I would definitely call them.
A 2014 report by HM’s Inspectorate of Constabulary exposed a “startling lack of awareness of domestic abuse and inconsistent or poor practice” at most forces.
It concluded that a “fundamental overhaul” of training was needed and the existing provision — largely reliant on online learning — was of “little value”.
What has changed since then?
Well, not much.
Data released under Freedom of Information laws six months ago revealed millions of people in England and Wales are living in areas where police have received no specialist training in responding to domestic violence.
It suggests violence against women is simply not a priority issue.
Back in the 1900s a woman’s employment options were severely limited.
All the high-earning, traditionally “male” professions were simply not open to women.
Today, we have broken into boardrooms, become entrepreneurs and run businesses.
But there are currently just nine women bosses of FTSE 100 companies, so our work is not done.
On Wednesday, we must reflect on the fantastic achievements of women over the past 100 years, of which there are too many to list here.
We have come a long way, but we still have far to go.
King’s not so cruel
IT’S easy to see why King Charles decided, just 24 hours after Harry released his memoir Spare, that the Prince and Meghan should give up Frogmore Cottage.
The pair left Britain three years ago to start a new life and have hardly been complimentary about this country or the Royal Family they have felt the need to get away from.
They certainly don’t give the impression they want to spend any time in the five-bedroom cottage in the country they seemingly despise.
The fact is that since leaving to begin their new life, Harry and Meghan have barely paused for breath when it comes to bad-mouthing Britain.
Who can blame the King for putting their uninhabited cottage to another use?
What is harder to understand is the notion that being asked to vacate the cottage is “cruel”, as was claimed by the couple last week.
Are they really upset they are being “evicted” from Frogmore – after all that has happened?
They are unreal, aren’t they?
Seriously, Cindy, you can’t be 57
Looking at the photos of Cindy Crawford posing for Vogue Arabia’s March Edition, it is impossible to see that she is now pushing 60.
At the age of 57, she looks a good 20 years younger.
Full of life and happiness.
She’s just incredible isn’t she?
Quite right, Kemi
I’M all for equality, but Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch is right to dismiss suggestions that the menopause should be given a special, legally protected status.
She said it was on a list of characteristics that campaigners claimed should be written into the 2010 Equality Act, including “having ginger hair” or “being short”.
She was responding to a call by the Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee to consult on adding menopause to the Act and – rightly – said it was “not a good idea” and was based on a misunderstanding of the legislation.
Menopause is a natural process that affects all women.
Understanding of it may be limited – and as a woman going through that natural process, I am grateful that better understanding leads to better treatment.
But it is not a characteristic, and to say it is is just wrong.
Rules defied logic
IF you can bear to cast your mind back to the dark days of lockdown, the fact the Government knew there was no “robust rationale” for including children in the rule of six people outside – and yet still imposed it, according to news this week – is galling to say the least.
None of us needs reminding about the rule, which limited the number of people who could gather in one place and effectively kept large households in lockdown and forced thousands of children apart from their friends and grandparents.
But it turns out – according to the thousands of WhatsApp messages from then Health Secretary, Matt Hancock – that even though ministers knew there was no good reason to include kids in the rule of six, they did it anyway.
Yes, sure, the damage has been done and some might say there is no point raking over the coals, but to me it just shows the lack of common sense used when making the rules.
Ban is needed
SHOULD sex offenders be allowed to change their names?
Given that more than 700 of them have “gone missing” over three years, according to BBC research this week, I am sorry to say the simple answer seems to be no.
It is no wonder abuse survivors have called on the Government to introduce a new law to ban these criminals from changing their names.
I understand the argument that part of the process of starting afresh for rehabilitated sex offenders is a new name and a new identity.
But on the other hand, I would always prioritise the safety of victims – and potential victims.
And I would argue that the offenders should have thought of all this before they decided – because it is a decision – to become sexual predators in the first place.
Justice for Kaylea
THE story of disabled youngster Kaylea Titford, who had spina bifida, being found dead in her “severely soiled” bed at home in Newtown, Powys, is as upsetting as it is obscene.
Kaylea was surrounded by flies and maggots after being allowed to become morbidly obese by her parents during the pandemic.
Her father Alun Titford was jailed for seven years and six months, and her mother Sarah Lloyd-Jones for six years.
They are not fit to be parents and jail is what they deserve – but their sentences are ridiculously soft.
I know judges have guidelines, but isn’t it time these were looked at?
These parents failed their daughter in every way.
It is heartbreaking.