Foot soldiers

Katie Bamber of Liberty notes the relationship between universal human rights and women’s rights, via Suffragette.

It’s been said countless times, but it bears ceaseless repeating, that we owe so much to those brave women. Many of them, names long forgotten, were working-class foot soldiers – like Maud – who suffered social exclusion, destitution, lost their incomes and their families, for the cause. Others, most famously Emily Wilding Davison, paid the ultimate price.

Forget all that, the important thing is to attack them for not being 21st century anti-racism campaigners.

A century on, we’re still far from true parity. Gender injustice remains the most entrenched on our planet. Even here in the UK, it’s so embedded in our day-to-day existence that it becomes white noise and we stop seeing it.

Just this week we’ve heard that female MPs have been put on a rota to walk around the Conservative conference with the Prime Minister – perhaps to disguise the fact that a pitiful 68 of the party’s 330 MPs are women. That Suffragette’s selection for the London Film Festival’s gala screening made headlines because of the novelty of its all-female director-writer team shows how far we have to go.

Its all female director-writer team? Don’t you mean all cis female director-writer team? If it were an all trans female director-writer team then we could celebrate.

The progression of universal human rights law is our best hope for achieving true gender equality around the world. A dark irony, then, that the (still overwhelmingly male) Conservative leadership are on the brink of dismantling our Human Rights Act and, in the process, taking a monumental step backwards.

If we allow the powerful to erode the universality of human rights, the vulnerable will be hardest hit – and, as history shows, the most vulnerable are often women. Many human rights issues still disproportionately affect women: modern slavery, domestic and sexual violence, trafficking, pay inequality and lack of public representation.

But they have the immense privilege of being cis. Compared to that, everything else is insignificant.

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