Mar 28 2024

To celebrate Women’s Rights Week (18 - 22 March) and as Women's History Month comes to an end Olivia Davies, your Women Students Community Officer, shares her thoughts on some of the women who have fought and continue to fight for women’s rights.

The evolution of women's rights

Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights based on equality no matter what gender. Feminism and being a feminist can mean something completely different to each individual.

Feminism has been categorised into different waves throughout history firstly, the first wave of feminism was in the 19th century and surrounded the suffragettes and the right to vote. The second-wave feminism of the women’s rights movement touched on every area of women’s experience including politics, work, the family, and sexuality. Now we are in the third/fourth wave of feminism and feminism today heavily surrounds social media with a focus on sexual harassment, body shaming, and rape culture.

Influential women at Royal Holloway

Royal Holloway was opened in 1886 and originally was an all-women’s university which was very rare and advanced for its time. Even today, we have a variety of buildings that are named after empowering women. For example, our library is named after Emily Wilding Davison, one of the most well-known suffragettes and known for jumping in front of King George V’s horse. One of our accommodation buildings is named George Elliot after Mary Ann Evans, an English novelist who used the pseudonym George Elliot as she felt women writers were not taken seriously. Both of these incredible women are alumni of Royal Holloway! Today we have such amazing women's societies and sports clubs that continue to empower the women around us. We also run a variety of campaigns such as SU President Hannah's anti-sexual misconduct and harassment campaign, NeverOk and VP Wellbeing & Diversity Nisha's Women’s History Month to raise awareness of the issues that women in Royal Holloway are still facing today.

Women's rights now

Even though we have come a long way there is still more work to be done until there is complete equality for women! There are still small things that become normal that women face daily which are not normal such as catcalling. One of the main issues that is still prevalent in today’s society is the gender pay gap. The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women. 24% of women are paid less than men globally and 14.3% of women in the UK are paid less than men when they are in the same position.

There are a variety of charities that are still fighting to achieve equality including the UN Women and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women which help women around the world to bring about change in their daily lives. Women’s Aid works to end domestic abuse against women and children and Action Aid supports women and girls claiming their rights. These are just a few of many charities that are still fighting for women’s rights. The fact that so many charities are still campaigning shows the magnitude of the issue that still exists today!