Happy International Women’s Day!
Today marks the international celebration of women, which has been officially celebrated for over 100 years. Although International Women’s Day has been celebrated for some time, many issues remain surrounding equality between the sexes, especially in the workplace.
The legal profession has seen radical changes for women in law. Carrie Morrison was the first woman to be admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales in 1922, who argued for changes to family law procedure and legislation, specifically reforming divorce law to make the process more equal. She argued in her 1928 paper Courts of Domestic Relations, for special and less intimidating courts for the resolution of family disputes. She was the first woman to take a divorce case under the Poor Persons Rules and throughout her career she assisted those who were less fortunate as she believed that everyone was entitled to equal opportunities. Carrie was therefore paramount in paving the way for female solicitors in England and Wales.
However, a recent survey conducted by the Law Society found that women in the law still face significant barriers within the profession including bias, unequal pay, a lack of support when speaking out about instances of sexual harassment in the workplace, and the ‘double burden’ women face when struggling to balance caring responsibilities with career commitments.
This year’s International Women’s Day is focused on embracing equity. The campaign’s stance is that "equal opportunities are no longer enough" and can in fact be exclusionary, rather than inclusive. Equity recognises that everyone has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to those to ensure they reach an equal outcome, whereas equality means that every person or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Embracing the equity campaign acknowledges that giving people equal opportunities is not always enough.
Practice Manager, Lowenna Taylor, gave her thoughts on the impact of International Women’s Day:
“Here at Grant Stephens Family Law, we have always been committed to recruiting, retaining, and advancing the careers of women in the law, and our culture of teamwork and flexibility has been an important factor in the success of women at the firm. We support this year’s equity campaign by giving everyone what they need to be successful and acknowledge that everyone has different needs. We recognise the importance of today and are proud to support International Women’s Day."