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A free curry Emma

Posted 11/03/2015 by sevans

In case you may have missed it, Sunday 8 March this week was International Women's Day (IWD), the day when apparently we are supposed to celebrate the achievements of women – 'while calling for equality', according to the organiser's website.

So just how far has feminism come? Not quite as far as offering to foot the bill for a dinner date, if we are to believe the fuss surrounding actress Emma Watson's headline grabbing 'admission' in Monday's papers. Even with more than a few million squirreled away in the bank, it seems, Watson reportedly experienced a 'really awkward' moment when she offered to pay the bill for a dinner date. Nay, some media reports even describe the anonymous date – allegedly a self-proclaimed feminist – becoming rather 'tetchy'.

Sadly, it's not just on the dating scene that women face this type of sexism but in the workplace too. Tuesday's London Evening Standard newspaper, for example, carries the depressing story that the trick to getting a job as a women who's over 50 is to 'appear much younger'! Not just by sexing up your CV, but the feature even reports a women topping up the Botox in order to secure a post.

And while there's very little difference in pay for men and women up to age 27, the article reports, the gap widens to 6.9% by the age of 34 and a whopping 44.6% by the age of 49. One in four women who reach state pension age, it says, have not worked since they were 55.

As for the fabled glass ceiling, in the last three years fewer than 7% of non-executive board member appointments to Alternative Investment Market (AIM) companies have been women, according to a 2014 report by executive search firm Norman Broadbent. FTSE100 and 250 firms performed much better, with women making up 37% and 34% of appointments, respectively, the research found. But with just 7.7% of women executives on the FTSE 100, clearly there is still a long way to go. Closer to home on the executive boards of most major chemical companies, you'd be hard pressed to find more than a dozen women between them.

So was there really anything to celebrate about this year's IWD? In an age where taking off your clothes for money is no longer considered tarty but 'liberating' and even 'empowering,' and many of the women plastered over our daily newspapers and making regular appearances on TV chat shows are not exactly the sort of role models you might want for your daughter, the answer surely must be a resounding 'No!'

On the positive side, as I hurtle fast towards my 50th birthday later this year, I am reassured at least by one fact: that I married a committed feminist. On reading the story about the Harry Potter star's troubled dinner date, my husband gaily remarked that he would be hugely delighted if Emma Watson offered to take him out for a curry!

Cath O'Driscoll- Deputy editor

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