The events of 2020 were no easy year for anyone, and some experts suggest that women have been disproportionately affected because of the coronavirus pandemic. During this, concerns over the UK ‘turning back the clock’ on gender equality were raised, therefore it is more important now than ever before we reflect on how much positive change female empowerment has brought to society and why it is essential we continue to drive this movement.
We’ve seen some major achievements throughout the years, some include economic empowerment and the changing media representation of women. Despite the setbacks of the pandemic, we have proven time and time again we can fight for equality and its vital we keep this going.
Now, let’s take a look back at some inspiring success stories.
Women in the media
In recent years, coverage of women in the media has increased. 2021 Oscars, for example, has already made history with two women being nominated for best director for the first time.
To add, female lead roles in the UK’s television industry are becoming a frequent site to see. 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.
Despite many positive steps towards gender equality already been achieved, we can’t celebrate just 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.
Social media and the feminist movement
The influence that the feminist movement has had on social media is another catalyst behind great change in recent years. 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.
It’s not just social media platform that have driven change, but many feminism-centred blogs have increased over the years too. Blogs allow women everywhere to get their voices heard and connect, making feminism more accessible to everyone.
Empowerment and economic opportunities
We’ve seen a sharp rise in women in the workforce over the years thanks to new opportunities and gender stereotypes being tackled. 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.
Not only that, but the UK has experienced a year-on-year decrease in the gender pay gap too. 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 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.
As well as helping to empower women in traditionally male-dominated industries, it could also have a great impact on the economy. 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 different attributes that help to drive 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.