A Letter to Every Woman I Know - International Women's Day 2018

I am surrounded by incredible women.

I walk past you in the street. I buy my groceries from you. I have meetings with you. I talk to you on the phone. I share your secrets. I share your blood. I am a product of a woman, and I am proud to identify as a woman.

I am proud to be a woman, and I urge you to be proud too.

Be proud enough to stick up for the 62 million women worldwide who are denied an education because they were born female.

Be proud enough to speak out about the sexual assault encountered by 1 in 3 women. 1 in 3 women have come forward. Speak out because 2 in 3 women haven't reported their assaults.

Be proud enough to raise awareness for the 1000 honour killings of young women which occur in India and Pakistan each year.

Be proud enough to raise your daughters to equalise the 32% of women who are in national parliaments worldwide.

Be proud enough to teach your daughter that they can be a beautician. Or a rocket scientist. Or a mechanic. Or a hairdresser. Because men outnumber women in science degrees 4:1.

Be proud enough to stick up for yourself and your wage. Because the gender pay gap will take a century to close.

Being proud does not mean burning your underwear and throwing yourself under horses. Being proud does not mean you cannot be a mother, or a bride, or excited about the next episode of Love Island. And being proud does not mean subjecting men to abuse.

It is using your voice and not being ashamed to do so. It is rising against the oppression of women internationally, not just in your town.

It is knowing you are fortunate enough to have freedom, and recognising that there are countries where women are not allowed to leave the house without a male.

It is fighting against the fact western society are supposed to be leaders in women's rights, and yet a rapist is in charge of the United States.

The women running through our bloodstreams fought a war which brought us votes, and taught us we could be anything we wanted to be. And now, it's our turn to fight for our own daughters.

Fight to allow them to walk down the street without holding their keys through her fingers. Fight to have her walk into a job and know she'll be paid the same as her male equivalent. Fight to watch her walk a red carpet and be asked about her passions, not her dress size.

Be proud enough to stand up for your gender without being embarrassed. And be confident enough to speak out about the oppression and discrimination which continues in every, single, country.

Be brave, and be proud. Don't be afraid to celebrate today.

Here's to strong women.

May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.