21 January was the day women around the world marched for their fundamental human rights. They marched in solidarity with their sisters in the states, who face an uncertain future with a self-confessed serial harasser in the White House.
In every city, every nation, every place, women have cause to march for themselves. There is no inhabited place on the face if this planet that is not disfigured by misogyny. Like racism, sexism is a political force. And like racism, its purpose is to maintain the privilege of the privileged, and to enforce the status quo through violence, on a spectrum ranging from microaggression to murder.
Here in New Zealand we like to remember ourselves as the first western country to officially recognise women’s right to vote. But misogyny lives here, too. Two thirds of listed companies on the New Zealand stock exchange have no women directors, or only one. For years we have had one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the developed world. Sexual assault rates are extremely high, and conviction rates extremely low. Abortion is still in the Crimes Act, only legal if you get approval from two certifying consultants. Over 200 women were denied abortions in 2014, denied their basic human right to bodily autonomy.
We have work to do. This will not be the year when we tell ourselves things aren’t that bad. This will not be the year we keep quiet for fear of making the situation worse. This will not be the year we wait for a better prime minister.
This is the year we see the world as it is, and stand up and fight for our basic human rights. Millions of women around the world, marching in solidarity with each other, is a most auspicious start. No one is going to save us. We will save ourselves.