It was wonderful that football star Beth Mead won sports personality of the year. It was very exciting watching the ladies national football team play tournament matches. Not only was there a high level of skill on display but also a proper sense of proportion about fair play.
There were no ludicrous triple forward rolls every time there was a tackle made on a player. They played with a smile on their faces resisting the male professional players desire to spit every five minutes.
We are only slowly waking up to the reality that women cannot only match male achievements but so often exceed them. The tragedy has been that opportunities for young women to develop their full potential across a wide spectrum of activity have still to be attained.
The current ban by the Taliban on women taking part in university education is a prime example of stupid arrogance of delusional zealots. The impact of this decision is to cause more strife and unrest. The country is denying itself the opportunity to use the skills that educated women can bring to society. It is ensuring even more isolation from the rest of the world and can only be seen as a backward step for a nation that needs to escape from its present poor economic situation. Likewise the brave women of Iran must fight to be allowed to wear what they want rather than be forced to wear head coverings against their wishes. Despite progress the world has some way to go before the full potential of women in society can be realised.
I was fortunate in the later stages of my teaching career to work for the WEA. We ran courses so that people could qualify to run adult evening classes. What was significant about this work was the reaction of some of the students on the course. Many were women in their thirties and early forties. Many had put the demands of raising a family before their own ambitions. Entering these courses they brought enthusiasm and a real desire to get the best from their time on the course. They overachieved because they recognised it as real chance to at last gain a qualification for themselves. One student found it difficult to accept that she was very capable. She questioned me when I told her that her work was of a high standard. ‘Nobody has ever told me I was good at anything’ she remarked. It was lovely to see her and many others blossom into adult tutors. It demonstrated that given the chance so many can achieve things they previously thought were out of their reach.
When opening up Marjons Sports Centre to the public we made the decision to host the Plymouth Ladies Netball League. Previously they were forced to play on outside courts across the city. They had had to give way to male five a side leagues and were pushed out of indoor facilities. It was a good move because they were model clients.
Whilst sport generally is beginning to recognise that women need equal treatment other parts of our society lag far behind. Care workers are mainly women. They would appear to be undertrained and underpaid for a job that is so critical for those in need.
Attitudes towards women still linger centuries behind where they need to be. That Jeremy Clarkson should write that he thinks that the Duchess of Sussex should be paraded naked around the streets and excrement thrown at her is by any decent standards obnoxious. That he is allowed back on our television screens is regrettable. Taking pot shots at women in the press to gain attention says all we need to know about this clown.
If women are to come to the fore us men need to work much harder to make it a reality. The glass ceiling is fortunately cracking