Women’s groups are making their voices heard this weekend as Monday marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. How far has the movement come to achieving its goals? “It was in a dingy socialist meeting hall a century ago in Copenhagen that women from 17 countries gathered and launched the idea of a day which would champion the rights of women. All over the world this weekend women are marching, celebrating and protesting, not least in London where last night thousands of people thronged Trafalgar Square to mark the 100th International Women’s Day. The theme chosen this year is progress: the progress women have made in the past century, and the long journey that many have ahead of them. The latest statistics on the lot of women in Britain and around the world suggest that some undoubted gains over those 100 years have now stalled, or been reversed, more recently. But one cause for concern is more intangible: how women are perceived and how they see themselves. Natasha Walter, author of The New Feminism, is worried: ‘The eagerness for change has slowed. I think we’ve slowed down because of complacency: there was a feeling that the argument’s been won and we’ve got the policies in place. Also, there’s been a cultural change resulting from the mainstreaming of the sex industry, which has narrowed the options of young women as to what being attractive is.’ Ellie Levenson, author of The Noughtie Girl’s Guide to Feminism, says the solution lies in choosing the right battles.”
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