Equal footing

Speaking to soprano and human rights activist Barbara Hendricks last week prior to her concert at the Nerja Cave festival was both uplifting and depressing.

On one hand, her positive attitude and confidence that citizen activism is making the world a fairer place are inspiring and have you itching to get up and join the next protest march that passes. On the other, it hammers home just how recent it was that black slaves were fighting for freedom and women were campaigning for their own individual voice instead of being a possession of their husbands.

A look at the daily news reminds us that Barbara's generation hasn't been able to solve everything and that younger activists will need to continue the struggle for equality and human rights.

But, as Barbara says, we have to look around us and see all the good that is being done, the love and respect that rarely make the news.

We can also look around us and see hundreds of migrants getting off boats at the end of a long journey, relieved to be on dry land, but still unsure of what that land has in store for them.

What they do know is that they have landed in the European Union, which Barbara so enthusiastically describes as an exciting adventure, the world's only union of nations based on human rights and peace. The Bremainers could have used her help in their campaign two years ago.

At the moment though, what is uniting the world is football. Some of the planet's greatest sportsmen, black and white, rich and not so rich, all equal for 90 minutes, chasing after the same ball, following the same rules, in a competition for men, coached by men and refereed by men.

In 1921 the English FA banned women from playing football on its clubs' grounds as it was "quite unsuitable" for females. The ban was not lifted until 1971.

This time next year the FIFA Women's World Cup will be under way in France. Probably very few people will notice.