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Trusting My Instincts

A 17-Year-Old's Reflection on International Women's Day

As a 17-year-old girl growing up in London, UK, the concept of International Women's Day can seem both exciting and daunting. On one hand, it's a day to celebrate the progress women have made in the fight for equality and to recognise the incredible accomplishments of women around the world. On the other hand, it's a stark reminder of just how far we still have to go before true gender parity is achieved.

In many ways, the world seems to be moving forward when it comes to women's rights. More and more women are taking on leadership roles in politics, business, and other industries traditionally dominated by men. Women are speaking out against sexual harassment and assault, demanding equal pay for equal work, and pushing for greater representation in all areas of society. These are all positive developments, and they give me hope for the future.

However, it's also clear that there is still a long way to go. Women continue to face discrimination and inequality in countless ways, from the gender pay gap to the under-representation of women in STEM fields. Even in the most developed countries, women are often subject to gender-based violence and harassment, and are still not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

So, what does all of this mean for a 17-year-old girl growing up in London? It means that she still needs to be aware of the challenges and barriers that she faces as she has to navigate her future. It means that she needs to stay informed and engaged, and be willing to stand up for herself and for other women; and it means that she needs to trust her gut instinct and have the courage to pursue her dreams, even when the odds may be stacked against her.

One of the biggest challenges that she can anticipate as a young woman is the pressure to conform to gender norms and expectations. There are still many people who believe that women should be "feminine" and "soft," and that we should prioritise things like marriage and motherhood over career ambitions. This is something that she has already encountered, both in her personal life and in society as a whole.

For example, when she told some relatives that she was planning to pursue a degree in computer science, they were surprised and even a little sceptical. "Are you sure you want to do that?" one of her aunts asked. "It seems like it might be too hard for you." This kind of attitude is frustrating, but it also motivates her to prove people wrong and to challenge their preconceptions about what women are capable of.

Similarly, she often feels pressure to conform to certain beauty standards, especially with social media. and to present herself in a certain way. Society tells her that she should be thin, pretty, and well-groomed if she wants to be successful and desirable. This can be incredibly damaging to her self-esteem, and can make her feel like she's not good enough unless she meets these standards. However, she knows that true confidence and self-worth comes from within, and that she doesn't need to look a certain way in order to be successful or happy.

At the end of the day, our 17 year old believes that the key to navigating these challenges and achieving her goals as a young woman is to trust her gut instinct. She is aware that she is capable of great things, and that she has the intelligence, determination, and resilience to overcome any obstacles that come her way. She also knows that she has a responsibility to use her voice and her platform to advocate for women's rights and to fight against discrimination and inequality.

One of the things that inspires her most about International Women's Day, is the way that it brings women together from all walks of life, all over the world. It's a day to celebrate their shared experiences, their unique strengths, and their collective power to effect change. It's a reminder that women are not alone in their struggles, and that theirs is a community of women who support and uplift each other.

This sense of community is especially important for young women who are just starting out on their journeys and may feel uncertain about what the future holds. Knowing that there are other women who have faced similar challenges and overcome them can be incredibly empowering. It helps them to feel less alone, and more confident in their ability to navigate whatever obstacles they may encounter.

Of course, it's not just about feeling empowered and inspired. International Women's Day is also an opportunity to take action and to make tangible progress towards gender equality. There are countless ways to get involved, whether it's through participating in a march or protest, donating to a women's charity, or simply educating ourselves and others about the issues facing women today.

One of the most important ways to contribute to the fight for gender equality is through our own personal actions and choices. This means pursuing our passions and ambitions without apology, even if they don't fit into traditional gender roles or expectations. It means speaking up when we see injustice or discrimination, even if it's uncomfortable or unpopular. And it means supporting and uplifting other women, whether that's through mentorship, advocacy, or simply being a good friend and ally.

As we look to the future, we know that there will be challenges and obstacles to overcome. But we also know that we are not alone, and that there is a powerful movement of women around the world who are fighting for equality and justice. We should feel excited to be a part of this movement, and to use our own voices and talents to make a difference.

In the end, the most important thing for young women is to trust your instincts and to have faith in yourself. You have the power to shape your own destiny, and to create a world where gender equality is not just a dream, but a reality. It won't be easy, but with hard work, perseverance, and the support of our fellow women.