First published on the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) website on 8th March 2022.

As the RCS Working Group Lead for Equality in Europe I believe that we should recognise the contributions and achievements of women* every day. Nonetheless, structural and individual discrimination prevents and impedes women from achieving their full potential. Not one country can claim that they have achieved gender parity. Discrimination, bias and stereotypes are pervasive in all parts of a woman’s life since birth; whether it is through the lack of support to pursue one’s interest in education and a career, unequal pay, as well as the lack of funding of women’s health research, and society’s desensitisation towards women’s pain and suffering. It is important to acknowledge the intersectionality of race, culture and socio-economic factors to understand gender issues.

International Women’s Day grew out of the efforts to promote the rights of women and is celebrated annually on 8th March to celebrate the achievements of women today and throughout history, as well as recognising the biases and stereotypes that women face.

This year’s International Women’s Day themes are #BreaktheBias (International Women’s Day) and ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’ (United Nations).

Today, I ask three inspirational women from RCS Branches within Europe to speak about their own achievements and experiences in navigating an unequal world.

*Please note that I use an inclusive definition of “woman” that includes anyone who identifies partly or wholly as a woman, transfeminine, or is otherwise significantly female-identified.

Professor Daniella Tilbury

Daniella is an academic leader and change-maker in sustainable development credited with having developed the initial frameworks for this area of learning. She serves as the Regional Co-ordinator, Europe for the Royal Commonwealth Society and an executive member of RCS Gibraltar.

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Shefali Verma

Shefali is the Vice Chairman of the RCS Wales Branch and is actively involved in non-profit work to support women suffering from domestic abuse and slavery in the UK.

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Francesca Makey

Francesca is the Literary Lead of the RCS Gibraltar Branch, a secondary English teacher and a cancer survivor. She is a passionate advocate of women’s health.

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