International Women’s Day


International Women’s Day will be celebrated on 8th March this year, with several fantastic events taking place both in person and online to celebrate the fantastic achievements of women everywhere. It’s a chance to celebrate womanhood, and revel in the privilege it is to be a woman. Be unapologetically female.

International Women’s Day invites people of all genders to consider what a truly gender equal world would look like – a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable and inclusive, where difference is valued and celebrated. Their hashtag this year is #breakthebias, I’m sure every female reading this blog can relate to having been treated differently simply because of your gender.

 

The fact that these issues are starting to be properly addressed is a milestone in the race towards gender equality, but it’s important to remember that it didn’t start here. As this is a running blog, I’ll use a few running examples of extraordinary women who have blazed the way for young women in their footsteps, I’d be really interested to hear about others which you would like to highlight in the comments or find me on Twitter at @bethplodsalong.

Kathrine Switzer LIKED MY TWEET the other day. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was. I was telling everyone who would listen, and I can honestly say that I really only came across about three people who knew who she was – even in the running community.

 

Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as an officially registered competitor. During her run, race manager Jock Semple assaulted her, trying to grab her race number and stop her from competing – an image which has become well known in the running world. She wasn’t to be perturbed, and continued to finish the race in 4 hours 20 minutes. Afterwards, the AAU barred women from all competitions with male runners, with violators losing the right to compete in any race. Switzer subsequently successfully convinced the Boston Athletic Association to allow women to participate in the marathon – finally, in 1972, the Boston Marathon established an official women’s race.

So, let’s fast-forward to today. Where did Switzer’s tenacity eventually lead us to? The women’s field in elite running is now strong and confident. Paula Radcliffe remains one of the most inspiring female athletes across any sport, and Brigid Kosgei holds the World Record for Marathon Running at an astonishing 2.14.04. Running at an elite level is now hugely accessible to all genders. What an achievement for society, and something that should be celebrated on International Women’s Day.

 

In amateur terms, I ran the High Wood Parkrun in Colchester last weekend. The race was won by a 15-year-old girl, leaving all of the other competitors in her wake. Talk about ‘This Girl Can’. The achievements of women are now being celebrated for what they are – displays of skill, ability and brilliance across all fields. I’d like to think that this is to continue, and with days like International Women’s Day being celebrated worldwide I can’t see why it won’t.

If you want to go for a run-on International Women’s Day to celebrate the freedom we have to live our lives as we want to, then do. There’s nothing better than a swift 5km to get the blood flowing and feel the fresh air filling your lungs. If you fancy something slightly more relaxing, then grab yourself a nice book (maybe by one of the incredible female writers out there) and a cup of tea and bask in the glory of being female. It’s a day for us, we deserve it, so let’s enjoy it. 

 

Truly, us girls really can. 

Beth Jones

This is London – Promoting the Capital and Beyond for 65 Years 

@thisislondonmag   www.til.com


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