Women's Day 2018: the right kind of protest?
A day of resistance: just over one hundred years ago women in Europe and the US took to the streets on March 8, International Women's Day, to demand the right to vote. This year too, women took to the streets across Europe. Italy and Spain were among the countries with the largest demonstrations.
A missed opportunity for true women's protest
Trade unions in Italy called a general strike yesterday, March 8, to protest for equality and against domestic violence. For Catholic professor Alessandra Smerilli women must find their own language of protest. She writes in Avvenire:
“It was a strike in the name of women using very traditional and male methods and forms of expression. Women who use public transport know that a transportation strike can't express what they want to convey on International Women's Day. I'm certain that if we engaged in an act of deliberative democracy and hundreds of thousands or even millions of us had been able to decide how we wanted to use our voice on March 8, we would have found new forms of expression.”
No progress without pressure
In times of crisis the fight for equality is all the more imperative, writes eldiario.es praising the Spanish protests:
“The strategy of giving equality policies lower priority with the excuse that tackling the economic crisis and budget deficit must take priority has been steamrollered by 8M [the civic movement against the austerity policy and other policies]. The overwhelming majority of women are opposed to the male attempt to tick off gender policy with a complacent 'mission accomplished'. ... They have reminded us of an obvious truth that many of us forgot during the bubble, and preferred to ignore during austerity: equal opportunities don't fall out of the sky, nor do they come from the powerful. Without mobilisation and organised action there is no social progress.”
Brainwashed from an early age
Studies show that between 19 and 20 million Turkish women are not gainfully employed. This is tragic, comments the web platform Artı Gerçek:
“At a very early age women are burdened with the household chores: looking after older family members and their siblings, cleaning, cooking, shopping. This doesn't count as work because women are taught from the start that these are their natural tasks. ... A quarter of the population therefore lives in a state of unproductivity simply because of its gender! ... With its family and education policy the government is causing uncertainty among young girls, and this in turn has prompted an increase in the number of forced marriages and marriages at an early age. ... But regardless of which source or study you look at, it's clear that the more women participate in working life on an equal standing, the more a country's levels of prosperity and welfare increase.”
Women in Russia still fair game
There is little respect for women in Russia, journalist Ilya Milstein writes in a commentary for the censored Internet newspaper grani.ru reprinted by newsru.com, citing the case of Duma member Leonid Slutsky, who has been accused of sexually harassing female journalists:
“Just because on the other side of the ocean men are apparently being severely punished for sexual harassment, that doesn't mean that here in Russia the fun-loving Slutsky type will be thrown to the ground, eternally disgraced and turned into an ill-starred Weinstein. On the contrary: his colleagues will pat him on the back and sing his praise. ... Didn't our national leader and trendsetter once say that 'we all envy' a certain statesman [former Israeli president Moshe Katsav], who 'raped ten women'? So why are we levying accusations at a humble chairman of a Duma committee? The man is in line with the trend!”
Impact on occupational profiles and role models
Not only women stand to benefit from gender equality, Wiener Zeitung explains:
“Perhaps more men would work at daycare centres and primary schools if the work was adequately paid - and valued. Then children wouldn't grow up surrounded by women - among mothers on maternity leave or in part-time jobs on the one hand and female educators on the other. And men too could take paternity leave or work part-time if their doing so wasn't a financial burden on the family. This would have a significant impact on occupational profiles and role models, ease the financial burden on men, which they often bear alone, and facilitate a more just distribution of the tasks and joys associated with having a family and having a job. The equality of men and women - understood here not as the elimination of differences but equality of opportunities - would be an enormous enrichment for society.”
When will parity become the norm?
For gender equality to become reality it must be mandatory, author Berna González Harbour stresses in El País:
“March 8 is a success. But now we must focus on March 9. ... The equality law already exists, and plans for equality are reflected in the collective agreements. Yet none of this is adhered to, to judge by the pay gap and the glass ceiling that continues to hinder women's development. Therefore only mandatory parity can make a difference.”