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OPINION: Let’s remember Sarah, and work to create a safer future

MARCH is the month that women have been celebrating International Women’s Day and looking back on the many achievements and challenges overcome by women as part of Women in History month. 

Last week, many of us watched a young woman declare how her mental health had been affected by public duty and lack of family support or understanding from others around her.

We watched with great sadness and concern as the search for a young woman led to a family struggling to understand what had happened to their daughter and many women felt a profound sense of shock.

A peaceful vigil to show love and support for a beautiful young woman and her family became a focus of tension and violence. We watched a mother denied an impartial trial and not released after serving a five-year prison sentence many miles from home and family.

Now we ask why?

According to UN Women UK 97% of young women between 18-24 said they had been affected by sexual harassment and 80% of women of all ages said they had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces.

Many women face many challenges both in the workplace, at home with domestic abuse or coping to balance the challenges they face every day.

Everyone needs to reflect on their contribution within our society and collectively, we need to create a future where women feel safe to walk around and feel respect from men within the workplace, sitting on a bus or walking past a building site.

Many women do not report incidents, with 45% saying it wouldn’t change anything. Many who didn’t report had been groped, followed and coerced into a sexual activity, said UN Women UK.

We now need better education and a society that doesn’t hide the truth or cover up but openly admits there are problems and works towards finding solutions.

Young women have been given many opportunities by our courageous women in history to fulfil their dreams but now, women face an even bigger challenge, how to change attitudes. Let’s remember Sarah, as a beautiful woman who became a symbol of equality, respect and protecting women.

For more information visit: https://www.unwomenuk.org/safe-spaces-now

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