International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. Connecting girls, inspiring futures, is its tagline.

Here are some articles for you to consider –

From The Economic Times in Mumbai, why there are increasingly fair deals for women in financial matters,

The Times Of India seems to contradict that viewpoint, saying there needs to be more concerted action on women’s issues, interestingly enough, often from women themselves,

The Toronto Star feels there has been little progress in women’s health, education and political rights over the past few years, citing cases from around the world as it checks on the welfare of women’s bodies and souls,

The Huffington Post talks about why Women’s Day matters and why we should continue to strive for changes in the status of women around the world:

“International Women’s Day has a very real meaning. For women everywhere in the world who continue to face discrimination from those in power, who are the victims of violence, and who are taught by society from the day they are born that they are inferior to others, it is a reminder that they matter. That their voices are important. That they have the right to be heard, despite what their governments, society, or families tell them.”

The Guardian in the UK talks about how it is a bad time to be a British woman,  with women paying for non-family friendly government policies which include increasing child care costs and shrinking support for the elderly which forces women to take on roles as unpaid carers instead of being part of the workforce,

Here in Australia, Eva Cox talks about achieving gender equity in The ABC’s The Drum. She raises some points I agree with and discuss with my friends a lot. Namely,

“Parenting for most mothers is still a disadvantage in workplaces …..”

This is an issue my friends and I discuss a lot. I have some friends with teenagers and some with much younger children. We all did a quick survey of women we work with and most of them said that if the children were sick they were the ones who took time off from work and often they were disadvantaged in the workplace as a result.

Rather than being just a women’s issue many people would argue that this a relationship issue.

Find a better partner

Get him to take some time off

Pay someone to look after the kids when they’re sick

All valid points, it is true, but when it comes down to it, it is usually the mother who sacrifices her work time for the children. And it’s not that the mother even resents giving up her time, because she loves her chidren more than anything, it’s the expectation which still exists that when it comes to child care she will be the first port of call in a storm.

Is it because feminism has just disappeared into the ether? Eva Cox wonders about that too.

“Has current feminism diluted our original radical aims down to almost invisibility? Have most women given up on making workplace and community changes that would benefit people of all genders? Flexible workplaces benefit most workers, as do more reasonable hours, but most men are scared to ask for them or take them up, lest they be seen as not serious about their jobs. As a result, most unpaid care and work in homes is still left to women.”

I know a lot of men who work in the corporate sector and asking for time off to spend with your child is tantamount to telling your boss he looks fat in his two thousand dollar Ermenegildo Zegna suit. It’s just not the done thing. But why not? That’s what I want to know. Why the hell not?

It seems to me that a lot of the women’s issues affecting women I know is not so much a gender issue but a cost of living issue. A corporations having us by the metaphorical gonads issue. As my friend Gina said:

It costs so much to live in this goddamn city everyone is too scared to rock the boat. We just get on the wheel in the mouse cage and keep it turning.

Eva Cox is right when she says: “Feminism should be about real gender equity. This means redistributing power so women and men can share responsibilities as well as rights, without these being limited by gender.”

I know of one instance where the redistribution of that power has been achieved. An old friend, Liz,  a corporate lawyer, earns upwards of half a million a year. She works incredibly long hours and so does her husband but they have a very successful and happy family life due to a network of relatives and nannies who are able to care for children when they are ill, on school holidays and so on.

LIz will be the first to admit she is one of the lucky ones, but not everyone has the means or wherewithall to redistribute that power. Many women I know have no support network at all and stay in low-paying jobs that grant them enough time off to meet their family commitments. Then there are those single women I know (with what to me look like fantastic careers) who complain of not being able to break through the glass ceiling (another issue I could devote several posts to.)

Women in the workplace and society. It’s a complicated issue. It’s a thorny issue that transcends gender and feminism. There are no easy answers, but I think if we stay on the path we are on and plunge through the trees and up the hill and just keep walking while considering the points of view of both women and men; we will get somewhere. It’s only a matter of time.

Happy International Women’s Day.

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13 thoughts on “International Women’s Day

  1. Women appear to be under attack these days, as our rights to our own bodies and birth control seems to a subject for men and insurance companies to decide for us. Thanks for posting these links. We need to link arms and refuse anything besides full equality.

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    1. I’ve been watching the US Republican race with interest, Writingfeemail, and am quite surprised at the attitudes some of the candidates have towards women. It has shocked me in some cases. It seems so counter-productive to a healthy society. Let’s link arms. I am all for that. I really do appreciate you taking the time to comment!

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  2. Hi Selma,
    I forgot all about it. 🙂
    Thank you for the reminder. A great post a lot of interesting links that I will have to come back to and have a look at. Unfortunately no celebrating for me today, I will be running around later looking for a new monitor, mine decided it was time to go to the monitor heaven. 😀

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  3. Thank you for creating greater awareness. I, too, have been dismayed by Republican attitudes, especially when the already-decided and important rights women have won–in Court as well as society at large–are being re-opened and re-considered. If some of these guys want The White House, they are shooting themselves in the foot. One thing women are very good at doing is mobilizing. Susan B. Anthony wasn’t shy, and the tradition is certainly there.

    I appreciate your kind words on my site, Selma

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    1. I just think such an attitude is very backward in this day and age, weisserwatercolours, and you are so right when you say these issues have already been decided in court etc, so why continue to dredge them up? We have so many serious issues to contend with in society. I’m sorry to say it but I think contraception is a non-issue and is nobody’s business. I wish they would focus on the important things. Sometimes all I can do is roll my eyes 🙄

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  4. Great post. I am very concerned these days with the seemingly backward slide of women’s rights and issues in more and more countries. It seems the United States has jumped into a time warp and woken up in the 1950s. I’d like to not care about that, but given the vast reach of their media – what they do affects the world.

    Funny too, we stumbled across the movie 2001 – A Space Odyssey, which was a supposed futuristic story – but I wondered, whose future were they picturing because the scenes we happened upon all had sexy secretaries taking care of their bosses.

    Happy International Women’s Day Selma. You’re one of my favourite women!

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    1. Obviously a change in the status of women wasn’t part of the space odyssey vision. That is really interesting.

      There does seem to be a backward slide in women’s rights, particularly when you listen to all the BS from the Republican candidates in the US. What a bunch of misogynists. It’s horrible. I can’t quite believe it’s happening.

      You are DEFINITELY one of my favourite women. Love you, Jen ♥

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  5. Thans for posting the links, I will get around to looking at them all.

    The U.S. politics scares the hell out of me and I thank god I live in Canada. While it isn’t perfect here either at least it makes it somewhat easier to stay home with the kids and not starve doing it. One of the things I’d like to see is instead of subsidised daycare, is subsidized motherhood. I would rather have my tax dollars used to afford women the ability to stay home and raise their children rather than susidizing daycare centers.

    To my mind, it’s a way better situation. Those that want to work and can afford fulltime nannies can and the ones who would rather stay home can. Either way our tax dollars are going to subsidize so why not give women the choice?

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    1. I agree that women should be given a choice when it comes to child care. I know lots of women who have worked full time and all their salary went to paying child care costs. After a few years they became very disillusioned with the whole thing. There are a lot of opponents (mainly child care providers who are making a huge profit) to subsidised SAHMs but I think there is a way to do it so it is beneficial to society. A lot of women (particularly with very young children) feel they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Child care and raising children is for me a significant sociological problem. I’m not sure any politician will ever touch it but if they did they would fully have my support. It is certsainly something to think about. Thanks, Cathy.

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