Sunday, 7 March 2010

International Women's Day

Best wishes for International Women's Day event. International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on the 8th of March across the world. IWD is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future. It is a day when women are recognised for their achievements, without regards for divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political.

In the next day or so, women around the world will be attending dinners, they will listen to an inspiring speaker and celebrate one another. Over in New York women from around the globe are gathering for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the annual fortnight long event to discuss progress on gender equality and on initiatives that advance the cause. My friends over in Europe are informing the European Commission while my colleagues at the Women International Centre for Economic Development (WICED) and Europe are participating in the newly established UK Parliamentary Group on Women’s Enterprise.

"When we empower a woman, we empower women. Each new achievement reinforces us all", my friend Maggie signs off her email from the UK. When women benefit, the whole community benefits is the slogan at IWDA. UNIFEM (so many acronyms to google) is adopting Women's Empowerment Principles. We are gaining momentum; the topic is on everyone's agenda. We are rocking! Or are we?

Soon after I (with great trepidation) posted my first blog yesterday, I read a piece in the Saturday Age (Insight, pg 3) on Germaine Greer, that rousing woman who wrote The Female Eunich and set women on a path of feminism in the 1970s. The writer, Gabrielle Coslovich reports on an article (written by a man) in The Monthly which describes Greer as demented grandmother. Coslovich, to her credit, brings in other voices such as Eva Cox who says "It's a very different world to the one we grew with, but not nearly different enough". Women should have done more to challenge workplace structures. Should have, could have, but we didn't. And we still don't today.

How painfully pointed the article is. Women still earn less money than men, the workplace has become even more macho, we reward workaholic tendencies and all we talk about these days is economics. The language used in the World Economic Forum 2007 report, writes Coslovich, is all telling. They sure have gotten the point that gender-based biases are detrimental to today's global economy, but there's no point empowering women to provide them with opportunities to develop to their full potential in the knowledge economy without looking at the bigger picture. We can't go on the way we are. We can't just slot women into positions to be the engines of economic growth.

What do we really need to work towards? A shift away from an economy-centric worldview, a new work(place) culture, education (for both women and men), sustainable development practices towards individual and community health and well-being, and the right type of information that builds our long lost self-esteem and worth. This is a tall order fraught with difficulty and reflecting on my own social conditioning, I already ponder whether yesterday's post was culturally, socially, economically and globally appropriate.

I am learning as I go...

No comments: