Today is International Women’s Day.
Today I fly from the UK to East Africa, via the Middle East. I leave behind a property I own, an active and enriching social life, and lovers who challenge my mind, body and assumptions about myself. I enjoy respect and independence in my personal and professional life. I do not need to seek permission from my husband or father to travel.
I will fly via a country where women are flogged for illicit sexual relations and where this blog would likely be dubbed a cybercrime and a threat to social values under restrictive freedom of expression laws. I will work for a week in a country where some two million women had their clitoris and labia removed before the age of five and their vagina sewn up (bar a tiny opening for menstruation) until marriage, and where they can expect to be a grandmother three or four times over by the age of 40.
The freedom to enjoy, own and express our bodies is born out of where we are born. It is a freedom I cherish. Sadly women’s bodies are still political territory. Fighting to retain freedom for ourselves at home and to win it for women around the world is why International Women’s Day matters.
PS: I may not have internet access where I am going so a friend has posted my link to Sinful Sunday and will be approving comments on my behalf. If I can’t get online I will reply to your messages and look at your pictures when I am back next weekend.