Here in the UK, the past year has been difficult for everyone. However, some experts believe that women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Amidst fears that the UK risks ‘turning back the clock’ on gender equality during the pandemic, we must remember how far female empowerment has come and how vital it is that we keep the momentum going.
From economic empowerment to representation in the media, we’ve seen some serious achievements over recent years. We’ve shown that we can fight for equality, it’s now time to make sure that we keep going in the right direction despite the setbacks of the pandemic.
Let’s find out a bit more about the success stories.
Thanks to new opportunities and tackling stereotypes, we’ve seen a surge in women in the workforce over recent years. According to the Women in Work Index, the UK economy enjoys an annual boost of £48bn from increasing the proportion of women in the workforce.
We’ve also seen a decrease in the gender pay gap in the UK year-on-year. In 2019, for example, the difference between the average hourly earnings for men and women was 15.5 per cent – a great improvement compared to a the gap of 27.5 per cent in 1997. Despite this major progress, the gap itself is still undeniable. There is still a long way to go before the UK can boast complete gender equality in the workplace.
Encouraging women into traditionally male-dominated industries could have an incredible impact on the economy as well as empowering them. In fact, reducing the gender gap in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) industries could increase the UK’s economy by £55 billion by 2030.
There are many reasons to continue fighting for women’s economic empowerment, and there’s much to be done to continue this positive trend after the pandemic.
As well as an increased number of women in the workplace, we’ve also seen a greater representation of women in the media in recent years. The 2021 Oscars, for example, has already made history with two women being nominated for best director for the first time.
What’s more, female-led dramas have taken over in the UK, with female leads becoming a far more familiar sight on our TV screens. Shows such as I May Destroy You, Killing Eve, and Fleabag have all hailed incredible success over recent years. This signals a new age for female-led shows and a more diverse array of roles for female actors to dive into.
However, we can’t celebrate complete equality in the entertainment industry quite yet. According to data from Nesta, the percentage of female crew members in the UK film industry is increasing year by year, but progress has been relatively slow. The percentage has risen from 3 per cent in 1913 to 34 per cent in 2017, but there’s still a long way to go to reach full equality in this sector.
Feminism for everyone
Another way in which we’ve seen female empowerment thrive in recent years is the influence of feminism on social media. Today, you can find influencers on social media promoting just about everything, from the latest tech to bandeau bikinis. Many such influencers have also used their far-reaching platform to spread messages of female empowerment. Influencers talk about body positivity and self-love in a way that allows everyone to have access to feminism in a fun and engaging way.
As well as social media platforms, many feminism-centred blogs have popped up over the past few years. Blogs allow women everywhere to get their voices heard and connect, making feminism more accessible to everyone.
There are so many facets to the female empowerment movement. For every step in the right direction, however, there are so many other things that are yet to be done. As the coronavirus pandemic threatens to undo the vital work of previous years, we must remember what has already been achieved and fight for a more equal future for women everywhere.