Why Women’s Day Matters

This post was written by guest contributor, Emma Simpson. Emma is an Amma trustee who is passionate about the intersection of vulnerabilities that create challenges for women and other pregnant people.

No one’s life on this planet can be separated from the lives and experiences of women. While you may not have been raised by women, attended school with them, worked with them, or shared in any other of the myriad of social experiences that make up our lives, your experiences are shaped by them. You’re likely to count a woman among your parents, siblings or other family. Women have innovated computer technology, designed the clothes you use every day, campaigned for your political access and fundamentally shaped the societies we live in.

Women aren’t unique in their contributions to the world, but they are frequently overlooked, belittled or extinguished. The lives of LGBTQ women and women of colour have been especially eroded in importance when we consider the things that make us who we are. In a time where revisionist history seems to flourish and transphobic lobbying groups work to narrow the already slim definition of what a woman is, Women’s Day is an opportunity to speak truth to power.

As the world settles into 2020, our conversations around gender globally continue to be a morass of different and sometimes competing messages. Ultimately, gender is flimsy at best. It’s an absolute fact that it’s different from our sex and acutely affected by the place, time and family we’re from. Conventions of gender in Scotland alone have changed massively in just the last 100 years, proving that what women are is more about when they are than who. What is important about the label of ‘woman’ is the people who use it: our ancestors and the rights advocates of today who fight for a better, fairer world. A wonderful, diverse, cacophonous crowd of people worldwide call themselves women and they’ve done and do so much for us.

Amma Birth Companions is home to a number of that crowd. We’re a women-led organisation creating access to that better and fairer world. Amma provides support to any pregnant person waiting for the arrival of their child alone and unsupported. Our incredible birth companions work to ensure that people aren’t making the journey of pregnancy and birth without someone there.

Many of the people Amma works with have faced extremely challenging circumstances specifically because they are women. Social structures continue to exist that force women into poverty, positions of horrible risk, and disempowerment. False definitions of women as subservient, hysterical and weak willed (or even prone to wandering uteruses) set up systems of oppression and violence that worsen their lives and the lives of those they care for. Amma’s offering of companionship and peer support helps to create communities of healthy, self-advocating women and parents; and if history has anything to teach us, it’s that women with even meagre resources bring about incredible change.

Take this Women’s Day to reflect on the women who have made your life possible, whether literally or socially. We’d like to suggest Stonewall rioter Marsha P. Johnson; early computer scientist Ada Lovelace; sanitary towel inventor Mary Kenner; civil rights activist Ella ‘Fundi’ Baker; and Equality Labs Director Thenmozhi Soundararajan.

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