Springingtiger's Blog

Celebrating Women: Planet 50-50 by 2030

Yesterday was Mothering Sunday, tomorrow is International Women’s Day, but today is



just Monday…well not just Monday, it’s also my daughter’s birthday. I suppose you could call this a week for celebrating women.

Facebook has been full of photos of people’s mothers, some dead, some alive, but all loved and celebrated fondly. I notice a lot of mothers have been sharing photos of happy children, telling tales of Mother’s Day and returning the appreciation they have received from their kids.

International Women’s Day has not always been on March the eighth. The first Women’s Day was called in February 1909 co commemorate the Garment Workers strike of the previous year. In 1910 the Second Socialist International held an International Women’s Conference in Copenhagen where a motion was passed calling for an International Women’s Day as a means to promote women’s rights particularly Women’s suffrage. There were celebrations of Women’s Days on different dates in different countries until in 1914 it was held on Sunday March the eighth. On that day there was a Suffragette march through London to Trafalgar Square, unfortunately Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested on her way to address the rally. In 1917 the ‘February Revolution’ was precipitated by a strike by women workers in St. Petersburg. After the Great October Socialist Revolution Comrade Lenin declared International Women’s day an official holiday of the USSR. Despite its adoption by socialist countries it wasn’t until 1977 that the United Nations made the eighth of March the UN Day for Women’s Rights. This year the UN’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality’. International Women’s Day is a holiday in the most former Soviet Bloc and China, but most western countries still see no particular reason to celebrate women just as they have shown a reluctance to support women’s equality. Even when countries have legislation protecting women’s rights there has been a lack of enforcement of the law. In the UK women are still having to sue for equal pay through the courts and are grossly under-represented in politics and in senior management positions as well as suffering routine discrimination in such things as pension provision. Women are the majority of ‘Carers’ in our society and every attack on support for Carers hits them disproportionately.


Equalities Training

Yesterday as well as being Mothering Sunday saw the season finale of ‘Call the Midwife’. It’s not a program I watch however my wife was watching and, as it was about the thalidomide crisis, I stayed downstairs to watch. Fortunately neither my brother or myself were born after the licensing of thalidomide. From 1958 until its withdrawal in 1961 thalidomide caused over ten thousand deaths of children in the UK either miscarried, stillborn or as infants. Many children who survived had birth defects. Sadly the film of how the Sunday Times Editor, Harold Evans, exposed the Thalidomide cover up won’t get the exposure it should. In last night’s program a mother talked of how their friends avoided them because of their baby’s deformity. The Sunday Times did much to counter the public’s horror of disability by publishing photographs of Thalidomide survivors alongside their interviews. However I don’t want to talk particularly of thalidomide, but of all those mothers who are caring for disabled children, perhaps with cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome or autism, and of those women looking after elderly parents and even partners with debilitating conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimers. There are over 500,000 people with Alzheimers and 127,000 with Parkinsons. Although some are cared for in institutions women still form the largest group of carers. These women are heroes.


When I was young..

When I was young a family could live on one wage and many women remained at home to care for the children and run the household. Today few households can manage on one income. I firmly believe that if a woman wants to have a career she should and their should be supported childcare to facilitate that, however no woman should be ashamed to stay at home. It really galls me to hear intelligent women when asked what they do reply, “I’m just a housewife”. Many years ago when giving staff a presentation on facing a promotion board one of the women in the class was discouraged because she did not have a career history, but had worked several years in the basic grade. We went through the skills she used as a housewife and mother on top of holding down a job and demonstrated how they were transferable to the grade for which she was applying and she went on to get her promotion. There is no such thing as ‘just a housewife’. What there is are millions of women who are undervalued either in work or society. It is not good enough for some chap in a suit to blame the shortage of women in any role on the lack of women coming forward. Women are at least half the population if we want them to realise their importance and their equality then men have a responsibility to support them. I talked about Malala Yousafzai on World Book Day and her struggle for women’s education. Perhaps its time we realised that male and female we are equally human and shame on us if we allow any of our fellow humans to fall behind. We should not have to wait for women, or for that matter people with disabilities, to put themselves forward we should be encouraging all our people to fill the roles in society to which they aspire. Of course if they want to remain at home preparing the next generation


The next generation

to play their part in society then we should provide them with the support they need to do so. When politicians and business leaders talk of our country they assume a proprietorship that does not include the majority of the people and of the excluded none are more disadvantaged than the women who carry this society on their shoulders. When we say ‘our country’ it should be a declaration that it belongs to us all. Men and women equally.


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