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.