Today marks International Women's Day a day when we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. And there is much to celebrate. But the theme of today is a call to us all to avoid complacency: to continue to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality and to strive for real gender parity.

As a lawyer, and a family lawyer at that, it's hard to imagine that it's only 101 years since the first woman was admitted to practice as a professional lawyer in the UK when Madge Easton Anderson qualified as a solicitor in Scotland. Thankfully things have changed significantly since then and the legal profession is now diverse and inclusive with many firms and legal institutions led by women.

As a family lawyer I am aware that the position of women, when relationships break down, has, in some senses, been transformed in relatively recent times. In the 19thcentury women in Scotland, who married, found that their rights were completely subsumed in those of their husbands. And it was only in 1984 that the last vestiges of a husband's control over a wife's property were abolished. Our current divorce law attempts to achieve fairness and equity in distributing property which a couple has accumulated during a marriage. Those principles also purport to recognise and compensate a partner (conventionally the woman) who has made financial and career sacrifices in the interests of children and of the family. Few would argue however that the law has rarely compensated women adequately.

But times are changing. Diversity in our communities in some senses begins in families. "Family" in Scotland is now as diverse and varied as it was once almost exclusively heterosexual and nuclear. Those now making sacrifices in the interests of children and families are no longer "just" women. More and more men either in same sex or heterosexual relationships, are the principal care givers of children, and that of itself may change how their sacrifice is compensated if such relationships break down.

And while much progress has been made in giving women who are the victims of domestic violence remedies and protections, domestic abuse commissioners south of the border are today calling upon the UK Government to challenge what they say is a " culture of misogyny " running through the criminal justice system. They cite the relatively lenient sentences handed out to the male perpetrators of domestic abuse as opposed to those handed down to women who commit offence when defending themselves against such abuse.

So today whilst it's right we do celebrate women's achievements across the world and throughout our communities, there is still much to be done and a great deal to challenge before equality and gender parity are achieved.

"We have learned that quiet isn't always peace and the norms and notions of what "just is" isn’t always justice". 

  Amanda Gordon, Youth Poet laureate US