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100 years of women's days - have we arrived?

by Fran Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:44:15 AM EST

I wasn't aware the the 8th of March has been the Women's Day for such a long time, and considered it something rather new.

The rights of woman: How far have they advanced? - World Politics, World - The Independent

It was in a dingy socialist meeting hall a century ago in Copenhagen that women from 17 countries gathered and launched the idea of a day which would champion the rights of women. All over the world this weekend women are marching, celebrating and protesting, not least in London where last night thousands of people thronged Trafalgar Square to mark the 100th International Women's Day.

The theme chosen this year is progress: the progress women have made in the past century, and the long journey that many have ahead of them. The latest statistics on the lot of women in Britain and around the world suggest that some undoubted gains over those 100 years have now stalled, or been reversed, more recently.

Just 19.5 per cent of the MPs in Britain are women; a record so poor that it puts the UK 69th in the world for our proportion of female parliamentarians - behind Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Of course, 100 years ago women had no vote and would wait almost another decade to get a single MP with no Y chromosome, but equality is further off than it might appear. According to a hard-hitting report by the Fawcett Society to be published tomorrow, at the current rate of progress it will take 200 years to achieve an equal number of women in Parliament.


So what does it look like today? Women still have to fight for equal pay:

Gender pay gap strategy up for renewal - Society : europa, europe | euronews

Balancing out men and women's salaries through stronger sanctions and regular monitoring will be the aim of a new European Commission strategy proposal for the 27 EU states later this year, Brussels has said.

There is still an 18 percent pay gap, which has not moved much in 15 years and has grown in some countries. Italy shows the least difference in average gross hourly earnings, around five percent, and Estonia the most, 30 percent. The gap in the UK is about 20 percent. Eight out of ten Europeans polled called for urgent correction.

Lifetime earnings decide pensions, too. According to Commission findings, women are more affected by persistent and extreme poverty than men after they pass retirement age as well.

Labour expert Gitta Vanpeborgh with the ABVV-FGTB Union said: "Women work in sectors that pay less. They work part time more. This can't be ignored. Then there's managing life between the home and workplace, and the glass ceiling that stops women from getting to the top posts in companies."

It looks like progress has been rather stagnant:

Pledge to cut EU gender pay gap after 15 years without progress | World news | guardian.co.uk

European commissioner for fundamental rights refuses to rule out legislation to promote wage equality

The pay gap between men and women in Europe has barely changed for the better in 15 years, the European commission said today, while pledging to narrow the gap significantly within five years.

The situation in Britain was worse than average, with women in the UK being paid 79% of male rates, while across the 27 countries of the EU the figure was 82%, according to a survey from Eurobarometer timed to coincide with International Women's Day on Monday.

Viviane Reding, a European commissioner for fundamental rights including gender equality, pledged to step up a campaign for equal pay and to combat gender violence, saying she did not rule out European legislation to promote wage equality.

What would you think should go in a potential white paper for "women's equality" and closing the gender gap?

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Feels a little disappointing that after all this time, there is still not full equality. Contrary, lately I have a feeling some of the gains are going away. Hope that is only temporary.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:48:09 AM EST
Well, maybe not all is lost - though I am surprised that only now the first woman received an Oscar for directing a movie.

Oscars 2010: The Hurt Locker triumphs over Avatar - Telegraph

The Hurt Locker has triumphed over Avatar at the Oscars, winning Best Picture and Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow, who was also the first woman in history to receive the directing award.

Bigelow scores historic first for female film-makers - News, Films - The Independent

In the end, like a well-made film, it all went according to the script: a David versus Goliath battle saw the little guy triumph, Kathryn Bigelow scored a historic first for female film-makers, and The Hurt Locker walked away with six awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, at the 82nd Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

Ms Bigelow's thriller about a US Army bomb disposal squad in post-invasion Baghdad cemented its claim to be perhaps the first truly great film to come out of the Iraq war, losing out to the $300m science-fiction blockbuster Avatar in just one of the seven categories where they were paired against each other.

"There's no other way to describe it, it's the moment of a lifetime," she said, after receiving the first of the two awards. "I'd like to dedicate this to the women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world. May they come home safe."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 06:13:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm glad you diaried this Fran, I've been out on training all day.  We are sliding backwards with gender equality, but around me women are noticing, getting angry and starting to get organized again.  I don't know if it will bring the revolution I think we need, but I think women will start fighting back and demanding better for themselves and their children.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 01:05:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have been thinking about Élisabeth Badinter and this diary:

European Tribune - Babies are the best ally of male domination

What is the "silent revolution" that has been happening under our eyes these past thirty years?
The economic crisis has made work harder, more unreliable, and more stressful. Women are the first ones affected: they get an education, look for work, are underpaid and get thrown away like Kleenex. That's the starting point of the upheaval. In the 90's, the right proposed maternal benefits that brought women back home with the equivalent of half the minimum wage as their sole compensation. At the same time, consumerism is looked upon more critically. The notion has taken hold that we've been on a blind path in race towards pointless ambitions, and that another life, more compatible with nature, is possible. Many women have been receptive to this view. And so they asked themselves, "What if I made it my [primary] goal to take care of my little child, in short, to be the perfect mother?" Along with this goes an overall criticism of scientific progress, of science "sold to industry". Everyone is suddenly so cautious about everything. All this has created new behaviors, new fears, that lead to a return to fundamentals.

And I think this quote is spot on, though very possibly for different reasons then Badinter. The story of progress where everyone would eventually live in luxury included a promise for material equality between the genders, as part of the general dream of freedom from work, at the core of capitalism and communism both. If robots can work the fields and manage the plants, why not raise the children and care for the home?

So yeah, that dream is dead, or at least heading there. And there is potential for a long backlash - women exit or are pushed out of the workplace, focus on home as the allowed area, that turns back the clock on expectations, women becomes expected to stay home more thus promoted less and offered fewer important positions, which lessens the economic importance for the family of the mother working, which increases the importance of the father working... all the way back to the 50ies.

Question is, given that the capital-/commun-/consumer-ism dream was unsustainable, what new narrative for equality can replace it?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 03:07:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A swedish kind of death:
The story of progress where everyone would eventually live in luxury included a promise for material equality between the genders, as part of the general dream of freedom from work, at the core of capitalism and communism both.

Indeed. And one of the ironies of feminism has been that men and women now compete in the same market and are supoosed to be natural adversaries, which makes organised resistance to market-think more difficult than it used to be.

I still find it wretchedly depressing that so many feminist arguments are about how much less 'women' earn compared to 'men', and not about how markets guarantee that neither women nor men have security, or personal and professional dignity - unless they have a seat on the board.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:11:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In our movement in Wales the argument is changing a bit.  

There is still a genuine pay gap issue of women being paid less than men doing like work or work of equal value.  We have 20,000 equal pay claims in the Welsh Tribunal system and the vast majority of them are equal value claims.  

'Men's jobs' ie refuse collectors and other low level jobs that are dominated by men are valued more highly than those women tend to be concentrated in such as cleaning and catering.  So at that level, yes there is still a real issue about men being paid more than women. I'm writing an evidence paper to the Assembly on this right now.

However, I point out a great deal that the overall argument on gender equality isn't a women vs men one - it is that 'type' of alpha male/female vs the rest of us who aren't willing to sacrifice our lives and stomp on other's to get to the top.  But those who dominate at the top continue to set the standard the rest of us must meet if we want to get there too.  This argument is sinking in more lately.  It is about changing the entire culture of how people are expected to live and work and the values we want in our society.

It is entirely self defeating to carrying on screeching about men as a collective being the sole culprits of gender inequality.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:25:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So long as the issue remains or can be kept one of men vs. women, the status quo wins. Misery is contagious and we are not going to have miserable women without also having miserable men. The goal has to be to transform a miserable situation by getting more members of both sexes to see their common interests.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 10:34:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gender equality gap, notably on pay, in OECD countries needs to be tackled

Governments and firms need to do more to tackle the gender equality gap in OECD countries, according to an OECD report released to recognise International Women's Day.

Even if the share of working women is high on average in OECD countries, with 62% of all women in paid work, women earn almost a fifth less than men. While one out of four women works part-time, only 6% of men do so. These gender differences widen when there are children, since women are more likely to adjust their work patterns than men.

Gender wage gaps vary across countries. Japanese and Korean men earn about 30% more than women, but in Belgium and New Zealand the gap is below 10%. One of the reasons for lower earnings is that women more often work in lower-paid jobs.

The report notes a growing trend in the number of countries that offer paid or unpaid paternity leave to fathers but says it is still largely mothers who take parental leave. "As long as women rather than men take time off work to provide care, there will always be employers who perceive women as less committed to their career than men, and are therefore less likely to invest in female career opportunities and depress female earnings as a whole," said Monika Queisser, head of the OECD's Social Policy division.

Women also spend more time caring for children or elderly relatives - at least twice as much as men in almost all countries. The largest differences are recorded for Japan and Turkey, where women spend on average 4 and 6 times more time on care work than men, respectively.

Men universally report spending more time in leisure activities, but there is wide variation across the OECD. While Norwegian men have just a few minutes more leisure per day, Italian men have nearly 80 minutes more of daily leisure than women.

Across all OECD countries women are more likely to be poor than men, especially from age 66 onwards. Women aged 66-75 are 1.2 times more likely to be poor than the general population; above age 75, this risk goes up to 1.7.

The Gender Brief is available here.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 07:28:17 AM EST
You don't have to arrive anywhere - you've always been there.  Men just have to catch up in realising that their ego-deficiencies can't be made up by greater wealth, earnings, status or recognition for their labours.  Our failure to value nurturing higher than fighting skills is just an evolutionary deficiency the boundaries of our bio-sphere will soon put right.  It's men who have to change...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 07:38:35 AM EST
Wow, Frank, sounds good, but I do not quite agree. I think women have to learn too - and it is still mostly women, who influence their children at a early age. Unfortunately, it is not that much different, as I have been able to observe a few times lately.

I think it is society that has to change - it is not just men. Look at the fundamentalists, the men have wives that support them and there are unfortunately enough women fundamentalist who support that regressive situation for women.

And I don't know how to do that. I know it has to start on a personal level - but it is the same like with progressives and human rights, how to you get the message over?

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:12:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
reading this diary and comments, an idea occurred to me.

just supposing that the idea of all or most women running off to join the 'man's world' did take off and since males seem to have a much harder time fulfilling traditional female roles than vice-versa, might not a situation ensue that the culture was permeated with very masculine women, and masculine men.

where would that leave the children?

i agree with frank, in the sense that women have come much further towards our point of view, and until we men full reciprocate, we will continue to leave women with a double bind: that women's work is actually more important than all the achievements men accomplish, (tall buildings, moon rockets, guns a gogo, financial weapons of mass distruction, etc etc), yet in order to participate more fully in the deciders' club, women have to learn to be harder and harder, more and more ruthless, and therefore set new role models for young women, to emulate mens' values, still 'feminine' looking in the glamour sense, but hard, hard, hard inside...

so much feminism has been twisted and become male-with-better make up and hair, but it doesn't fool this man.

some women are afraid to raise sensitive men, (in case they might turn gay?), so they sometimes conspire to further the macho myth, in order to have an alpha son who will earn more out in the economic jungle, not get bullied, and better protect his frail and ailing mum when the time comes.

what if these apparently recalcitrant women who reject feminism are actually a brake on the process that is turning women more competitive, and leading to them often being as awkward around children as men can be?

and only when men have the courage to express their feminine side, and meet women halfway, will women feel comfortable to be accepted and appreciated as equals to men, and not feel like they have to imitate us in order to get somewhere? (while men are happy to have token women, who are as male as they are inside, become co-opted into the male paradigm, because it make them look progressive, it validates their values (this woman 'get's it'), and thus lose the impetus to do our part to meet in the middle?

what if these condoleeza/maggie T types who are seen as symbolic advances for the cause of womens' rights, are actually just as clueless as those women raising uber-macho sons, and demure little stay-at-home daughters.

seems that way to me sometimes...

little late, but best woman's day wishes to all the wonderful ladies who balance and soften ET's pages, may you multiply your influence here, and everywhere.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 06:33:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If women are paid less, it means they are worth less, obviously...

</neolib spasm>

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 07:40:38 AM EST
Hope you didn't choke writing this. :-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 08:12:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To add something positive for the day.

Ban announces new UN police chief

8 March 2010 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appointed an experienced female Swedish police officer as the top United Nations police official.

Ann-Marie Orler, who first came to the UN to serve as Deputy Police Adviser in 2008, has been Acting Police Adviser since last year.

"The UN's top cop is a woman," Mr. Ban told reporters in New York, noting that today's announcement coincides with International Women's Day.



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 03:15:19 PM EST
EurActiv (Feb. 25th): Maternity leave battle set to continue after EU vote
The European Parliament is pushing hard to bring in longer EU minimum standards for maternity leave. But MEPs are likely to face stiff resistance from some EU member states, particularly the UK.

[...]

A European Commission source told EurActiv that "we feel this report is going a bit too far," both in terms of the 20-week minimum and the paternity leave clause.

However, Estrela hit back by saying that she had received no response from the Commission when she repeatedly asked what decisions would be made regarding paternity leave.

"19 EU countries already have paternity leave legislation," she told EurActiv, adding that "we believe we should enshrine in EU law what most member states already have".

"It's a question of harmonisation," she concluded.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 04:33:20 PM EST
that pay for 20-30 year-old women in NYC and a few other big US towns was higher than for 20-30yo male of the same generation

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:46:47 PM EST
I suspect some statistics on gender pay gap do not compare pay for the same job or correct for age or education or length of service or whatever, so the question of why some occupations are paid more than others and about the gender balance of various occupations is all blended into an aggregate gender pay gap.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 05:54:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That statistic needs to be looked at.  For one, how is the large percentage (48.2% in 2003!!) of unemployed African-American males figured-in?

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Mar 8th, 2010 at 06:41:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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