Written by Victoria Lewis
Emma Martin’s alarm goes off on a typical Wednesday morning. She has an uneventful day planned ahead of her: work, a doctor’s appointment and maybe some grocery shopping.
Her twenty minute walk to work begins. She puts her headphones on and slips into her large coat to face the gloomy day ahead. As she starts down the cobblestone streets, the stares begin without pause. She feels eyes on her despite her baggy coat, and the catcalls still manage to overpower Ed Sheeran’s voice ringing through her headphones. Sure, it’s uncomfortable, but she’s used to it and knows no different. However, Emma is not alone, as 85% of women across Europe commonly experience harassment in public places.
Her work day begins as usual. She answers some emails and chats with some co-workers. She let her boss know a few days ago that she’d be leaving work a bit early today for a doctor’s appointment. He has responded, and asks if he should expect her pregnancy to increasingly inhibit her work productivity as the months go by. She sighs to herself, knowing that a comment like this was likely inevitable, and replies, assuring him that he has nothing to worry about until she is out of the office for maternity leave. She worries that when she tries to re-enter the workforce after caring for her child her skillset will appear outdated, and she’ll be deemed unhireable. She brushes it off as a worry for a later date.
Despite this annoyance, today is payday! She is thankful for the stability her career as a financial service sales agent has brought her, but is frustrated to know that there is still a gap between her salary versus that of James, who sits right next to her and does the same job.
Emma wraps up her day and makes her way to the doctor’s office. As she walks there, she is flooded with advertisements that push her to become thinner, younger, and more glamorous. She sees hundreds of these per day, many of which promote unattainable beauty. She may not realize it, but each time Emma sees one of these images it perpetuates negative thinking about her own appearance. She decides that maybe she’ll postpone her next vacation until she can look like that in a bikini again.
She takes a seat in the waiting room, and picks up the daily newspaper to skim through. She finds an article about a girl who went to her alma mater who reminds her quite a bit of herself. The girl is a business major and plays on the school’s football team. Emma smiles as she remembers those classes and practices that defined her university experience. She feels so grateful for the education she received and the life it’s allowed her to live. Emma reads on, and comes across an article on Brexit. She recalls going to vote that day, and is glad that she was able to have her say in such a large decision.
Emma flips to the next section of the newspaper, and reads that today, Wednesday, March 8, is International Women’s Day.
As she reads, she reflects on the past few hours of her day. She recognizes moments that affected her differently because she is a woman, and wonders what gender-biased moments the women sitting around her in the waiting room experienced today too. Emma is humbled by the rights and overall ease of life she holds today. However, she feels empowered to channel that celebration into action for the women before her and the women to come. She knows that female lives everywhere can continue to be improved for the better, and this women’s day serves as a reminder that she, along with everyone around her, plays a role in making that happen.