International Women’s Day 2020

Building One Superwoman At a Time.

Nathy Gaffney

International Women’s Day is almost upon us. March 8, 2020 is an opportunity to celebrate chicks the world over — no matter where you are or what you do — we mark this day to honor and recognise the important contributions women make to the world we live in. It’s also a day to acknowledge that as far as we have come in working to create a world where women are valued equally in the eyes of the law, culture and community, we still have much work to do.

This year the theme for IWD is ‘An Equal World is an Enabled World’. #EachforEqual will be the hashtag — recognizable by arms folded into the equal sign.

Interested in attending? Click here to register

But what you may ask, can I actually do? With global “International (insert cause here) day” campaigns increasingly becoming part of our annual ‘movements I must support’ landscape, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and maybe even suffer a bit of fatigue or ambivilence about what and how you can make a meaningful contribution.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Several weeks ago I was at the beach with my brother. With us was his eldest daughter Maya. Maya is ten going on twenty and currently weighing up her future career options. (How times have changed. At ten I was weighing up which Barbie I wanted — Malibu or Camping — hmm). When I asked her what her what the frontrunner was, my niece proudly stated that she wants to be a lawyer.

“Why a lawyer?”

“Because I want to help people, right wrongs and because I’m really good at arguing”. I was impressed, she’d clearly given this careful consideration (the sideways glance and semi eye roll from my brother said it all — great self-awareness for a 10 year old, and I suspect he’s very familiar with her talent for ‘rigorous debate’).

She added that she also wants to be able to buy herself a nice house when she grows up. This then prompted her to share her 2nd choice — architect — so she can in fact build her own house — “just the way I want it.”

She’s got it all mapped out, and whichever way she goes, she’ll be marching to the beat of her own drum. Confident in her birthright: to aim for any star in the solar system that shines most brightly for her.

When the conversation turned to how much she’d be getting paid for these jobs — I mentioned casually in passing (although as a parent myself I should know that nothing gets past an astute ten year old), that hopefully, by the time she eventually becomes either a lawyer or an architect — that whatever she does get paid — will be the same as any man who is doing the same job.

“What do you mean”, she asked. “Do men get paid more than women?”

‘Ah yeah” — I had to admit — “they do”.

“How much more?” She then demanded to know.

“Well the global average is 23% more”

At which point my brother gave me the look of (KISS, she’s only 10!)

He chimed in “Well it basically means that if a woman does a job and gets paid $100, there’s every chance that a man who does the same work will get paid $123”.

Hearing this be explained in such simple terms to a girl (a woman of tomorrow), who is being brought up to believe that men and women have equal rights and opportunities, I was embarrassed. I suddenly felt wholely inadequate, like I wasn’t doing enough to shift this status quo.

Her little brow furrowed. She squinted her eyes and shook her head — totally perplexed. She demanded answers. “Why?”

The Ugly Truth…

This resulted in a bit of a history lesson about the role of women as 2nd class citizens in our society until only recently. Here are a couple of the big ticket items…

  • Prior to 1929, women were not even seen as ‘persons’ in the eyes of British Commonwealth law in Canada. They were part of a bill that decreed that ‘Criminals, idiots and women are not to be regarded as persons in the eyes of the law’.

The lawyer in her — already wanting to right wrongs and help people — was outraged.

And this…

  • As recently as the 1960’s (the decade her Aunty was born), women weren’t allowed to have bank accounts without the permission of their husbands, serve on a jury, or be served in a bar. Employers were allowed to sack a woman if she became pregnant.

‘Well that’s just stupid’ she so wisely stated. My brother and I had to agree.

We drove home from the beach in silence — each of us contemplating this world we live in. Maya contemplating the world she will inherit, and my brother and I reflecting on the world as it is today. As far as we have come it is still not far enough, and we are not moving fast enough. According to the latest figures from the World Economic Forum, I will not see gender parity in my lifetime, and highly likely, neither will Maya.

a pouting girl (child) wearing yellow with a blue background

I’m not the parent of a girl. My nieces Maya and her sister Emilia are the closest things I have to daughters and I love them as much as if they were my own. What am I doing (or not doing) that will contribute to the world Maya, Emilia and their brother Cooper will move into as adults in the coming ten years? What is it we can do today that will shift the dial for the women (and men) of tomorrow?

If you’re not having a conversation about this, what can you do to become part of one? Phuel will be hosting a breakfast workshop on building female confidence in the workplace — inspired (in no small way) by a conversation with a ten year old.

Interested in attending? Click here to register

International Women’s Day on March 8 is the perfect time to take the opportunity to raise your awareness and gain an understanding of how we can each contribute to making a better world sooner — for both our daughters and sons.

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