Today is International Women’s Day (IWD). As well as a grin on my face and aching muscles from Friday’s Girls Night at BaySixty6 (which was totally amazeballs, you should come next time) there’s much on my mind. It’s a day to celebrate the achievements not only of women in sport and skateboarding, but women everywhere globally just…BEING.
Observing the day isn’t a new thing – it’s been going on since the early 1900s, when the industrialised population started to grow massively, making people think and debate more about change. International Women’s Day has blossomed into a worldwide day of recognition and celebration across both developed and developing countries. The United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women’s rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. This is serious stuff.
Skip forward to 2015: as well as being recognised in the Western world, IWD is an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. Phew.
That’s a ‘lorra celebrating. It’s not just for the ladies either, as in these parts of the world the men tend to take part too by honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts (hint to any blokes reading). Sometimes even children give little pressies to their mums and grandmas in traditions very similar to how Mother’s Day is celebrated.
Now, to a lot of the younger generation, feminism is something of a dirty word, and there’s been a stigma attached to the word (as in, feminism is all about man-hating and attacking people who like to see women doing ‘girly’ things). Whatever word you use to describe the idea of equality of the sexes, to some there’s a sense that the battles have all been won… but that’s really not the case. Yeah, thanks to those strong women before us, we’ve come a long way, but there’s still more to be done. Equality is a state of mind that has yet to filter fully to the boardroom or the skateparks or society in general. There’s still things we can all do, and indeed we have some great examples of women and girls doing some amazing things for equality of the sexes in the skate scene worldwide.
Skateistan is an international project connecting youth and education through skateboarding to create opportunities and change in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. What’s particularly awesome is that over 45% of the 800 skateistan students are girls. The programme simply shatters the cultural barriers that can exist in some of these countries.
This Girl Can
You might have seen that TV ad with the girls and women swimming, playing football and amongst other things you see them “wiggle, jiggle, move and prove” that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome”. It’s the This Girl Can campaign for Sports England (see below). Here at Girl Skate UK, we think it’s awesome as it embodies all the things we believe to be true in the UK Girls Skate scene. And, I for one came across it first from a guy I used to ride bikes with who directed the video and was proud to share it, which goes to prove that you don’t have to be female to have a feminist mentality.
UK Skate Scene
Specifically in the girls skate scene here in the UK, we can thank female-run projects and companies such as Rogue Skateboards (run by skateboarder Jenna Selby) who has been rolling with it for years, and recent clothing/group Rokeo Skate (run by Rhiannon Searle). Pioneering, female-skater-specific companies like these are making it easier for girl skaters to get recognition for and bringing fresh talent in front of decision makers. There are some, notably smaller and local skate companies that have been on board with recognising female talent from early on sponsoring skaters like Lucy Adams (Lovenskate) but the rest of the industry is only just catching up and paying attention. It’s taken a lot of graft but it feels like we’re on the verge of the girls skate scene exploding in a bigger way than any of us hoped for.
Why not head over to your local spot today in celebration and honour of IWD? Share your photos and vids with us too! Gender isn’t important: we can all do our bit in helping making this world more equal and it can start you with getting on your board. Or encouraging your sister/mum/friend get on a board – it all counts. Get involved.