feminism / Monday, March 7th, 2011

International Women’s Day (tomorrow), as a cause is now 100 years old and still painfully relevant. IWD was started to campaign mostly for equal pay.

According to figures from UN Women (the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women), and Annie Lennox if you follow her on Twitter, women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of the food, but earn 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property.
UN Women are a global champion for women and girls, established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. So they should probably know their stuff.
I feel FTB some days with thoughts and rants on feminism and womanhood, and motherhood’s place (part fetishised, part derided and devalued within it). But today I’m struck by both the starkness of the above numbers, and my own insular view.
Though there is still plenty of work in this area for us in the Western world with all our commensurate advantages, I wonder if I should step away from my anger about the pressure to conform to some crazy ideal of Nigellaness, and think about the reality in which women my age in say, Africa, are calculated to be walking en mass the equivalent of 16 trips to the moon and back each day just to collect water. That is, one presumes, if they are still alive and haven’t died of totally preventable childbirth and pregnancy complications or HIV and related conditions.
If the position of motherhood within the workplace and society is so complex and some would argue compromised here, at least it is one with some of a voice because most of us mothers are actually alive. I do think as women, if we are to stick together, we should acknowledge and find ways of working towards equality across the globe though. A tough task, especially as in basic terms we in the UK have many in our number who could be seen as ‘I’m all right Jills’.
The challenge internationally encompasses all the biggies – healthcare, contraception, childbirth, education, politics, religion, economic opportunity and expectation – alongside some fundamentals (such as personal safety, autonomy over one’s own body ie. not being used as the recipient of rape as a weapon of war, life expectancy, rights to vote and participate in politics). These are areas I don’t (shamefully) know enough about to blog on with any more than the hope that even bearing them in mind is a start.

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