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08 Mar 2019

Don’t forget the women who have been left behind on International Women’s Day

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Yeah, let’s get this out of the way right up front, coz you know it will happen, as it does every bloody year, no boys, you are not missing out.

International Men's Day is 19 November.

Personally I would say Men’s Day is every day, but, anyhoo, now that I have pissed off any dudebros who are reading this… 😉  Let’s discuss how we can make International Women’s Day better.

I don’t hold the flash International Women’s Day breakfasts and lunches in as much disdain as I do the useless and to be quite frank odious White Ribbon bullshit functions, but, I do get rather edgy about them.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to celebrate women’s achievements. Dog knows it matters, and for many, they would get no recognition at all without this day and journalists, government departments etc., scrabbling around and actually noticing women kicking goals in all sorts of professions, so this aspect, I love. I firmly believe in the mantra, “if you can see it you can be it”.

I also love that many of these breakfasts are profession focussed, so this means you often get a report card as to how women are doing better – or sometimes worse – in that particular profession with discussions on how to improve. This is a good thing and I’m also a fan of many of the breakfasts that are raising funds for a particular charity this morning.

What I don’t like is the aspect of the flash function being the main focus of International Women’s Day.  The vibe in media highlighting a particular class of successful women all day.

The vast majority of women in this nation can’t afford to go to a flash dining experience. Hell, they will be lucky if someone in their family even says thanks for making breakfast for them this morning. Even if some could go to that breakfast, as they have the cash, if they have young kids, well, nowhere to toss them super early in the morning for childcare to attend.

Then we have a whole level of women under the middle class, happy family ones I just referred to.

  • The women who are homeless
  • The women who are in prison
  • The women who are unemployed on #Newstart
  • The women on #ParentsNext
  • The women who never had a chance to earn super & surviving on shitty age pension
  • The women barely surviving working 2 part-time jobs and raising a family on their own
  • The women living in abusive relationships feeling they can’t escape
  • The women strugging with mental health
  • The remote and isolated women

ALL women left behind!

The women, who to be quite frank probably don’t even know today is International Women’s Day and have much bigger issues than worrying about whether we have increased the number of women on boards in Australia, little things like feeding themselves or their kids, wondering if they will have a roof over their heads next week, stressing about whether the jumped up little autocrat at the Centrelink approved Provider you are forced to meet with doesn’t screw you around again and cut off your payment. You get my point. Or, if you don’t, please read this as just one example of a segment in our society who is not giving a rats about those flash breakfasts this morning: “I should be able to provide that”: How Welfare-to-Work Affects Low-Income Single Mothers’ Food Provision.

The International Women's Day 2019 campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world.

For mine, I would like that #BalanceForBetter to mean better balance of opportunity and care for ALL women by ALL women.

ALL women doesn't mean only including white women who are disadvantaged socio economically (as the list above might lead you to believe). There are so many women entirely left out of the conversation by not just men and the media but by women themselves. It's 2019 and while some wealthy women may be "better off" it is not as simple as money and power for most and sadly many of these women left out of the conversation or their struggles even entirely disregarded may also belong to a lower socio economic demographic as well. #BalanceForBetter means acknowledging that we still have a long way to go for: 

  • First Nations women
  • Women of colour
  • Trans women
  • Queer women
  • Women challenged by religious and cultural practices
  • Disabled women
  • Women with chronic health conditions (be it mental or physical)

So today, if you are the person who can afford to dress up and attend that flash breakfast, or have the better paying job due to those women before you achieving so much to break those glass ceilings that meant your hard work is rewarded professionally, please, by all means enjoy that breakfast, you deserve it, you really do!

But PLEASE take a moment to think of those women left behind, consider them, and... if you can afford it maybe toss the cost of a few coffees or proseccos towards groups who are giving ‘real’ practical support and help to those of your sisters who have not been as fortunate as you in life.

Women have come a long a way and on International Women's Day we should be celebrating those hard-won achievements. Men have been enjoying their privileged positions for centuries at the cost of women. We don’t want successful women to be doing the same. As Amanda Vanstone said "Real equality is when a female mediocre fool gets the same job that a male mediocre fool has now" (as seen on the front cover of Paula Matthewson's book On Merit).

I have scattered some tweets through this rant with suggestions as to how you can practically help more women who are not in the position to be at one of these flash breakfasts this morning. Please support if you can. Also, if you have a favourite group that is aiding women in a practical way so they may one day also get a seat at one of those breakfast tables, either hit me up on twitter and I will retweet or toss the details in the comments below so we can all share.

For the blokes, if I have any still reading LOL! I have seen heaps of you lauding a particular woman you admire. Awesome! That is great. But howz about some practical help here. If you admire your mother because she raised you and your siblings on your own? Honour her by giving a donation to a group who help single mothers? If you are lauding an inspirational sports woman! Excellent, not only will I be your friend, but, you do know you could you maybe fork out a bit of hard-earned and support that sports woman by buying some of her merch, paying membership at the woman’s club, or taking the whole family to the next game. You get what I am saying. Don’t just tell us how wonderful they are, do something practical in their name too and help women like them.

Allies are important and we dont mean that in a patronising way.

Please don't walk past the women who have been left behind on this International Women’s Day.

Cheers,
Noely

Note: I have borrowed the term "Women left behind" from the esteemed Jane Caro whose book, Accidental Feminists, I am currently reading. It is a fascinating read as to how the Boomers are the generation who have really revolutionised society for women today, though, as Jane always does with her innate sense of care, also discusses those women who missed the boat and why so many are still not even close to reaping the rewards many women have gained over the years and how much further we need to go.
 
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