International Women's Day

>> Tuesday, March 8, 2011

In the West, International Women’s Day doesn’t mean much any more. It’s little more than a marketing opportunity for businesses, or an excuse for the last remnants of women’s grievance groups to keep griping.

"For the free, educated and affluent, welcome to the century of women."Margaret Wente; Globe & Mail. 07-March-2011.

There ya go - it's all over but for the whiners and gripers. We won; the war is over.

What? Did you miss the memo? Yeah, me too.

Wente, in her article, points to a few stories & statistics to support her argument. Women now outnumber men in many university programs, for example. Oh, and the outrage over Robert Dewar, the Manitoba judge that recently put his foot in his mouth during a rape case - that's another indication that we're all good now.

Great - but shall we ignore the fact that even so, the gap between men's & women's wages is going in the wrong direction? We never actually did get to parity, even though the rhetoric is that we did and are.

In 2003, women working on a full-time, full-year basis had average earnings of $36,500 - 71% of what men made [StatsCan ].

Neither Canada (22%) or the US (16%) has a particularly impressive number of women in parliment (2009)

In Canada unpaid work is estimated to be worth up to $319 billion in the money economy or 41% of GDP; globally the numbers skyrocket to $11 trillion US. Most unpaid work in Canada and around the world is performed by women. [UNPAC]

Women are more likely to live in poverty (Leaf), to be subjected to violence and don't even get me started on the challenges faced by Aboriginal women, or women with disabilities or mental illnesses, or....

We have made significant gains in some areas though - women are, for example, the fastest-growing population in prisons in both Canada and the US. And there are a whole lot more homeless women now - there's something to be proud of, eh?

Obviously, women have made progress in many western - or northern - or developed - (pick your term of choice) countries. For a time - and this is the point that people like Wente (and Palin and numerous other highly public anti-feminists) seem to have gotten stuck on - it even looked as though the war had indeed been won, or nearly so.

But with the rise of neoliberalism and the erosion of the welfare state, the gains that had been made have not stuck and we are now, in fact, heading in the wrong direction.... but shhhh... we are not supposed to notice! We are supposed to believe - as Wente obviously does - that it's all good now ... no more need for griping; we should celebrate.

Apparently she doesn't read the rest of the Globe & Mail ... or pay attention to what is going on around her either. Me, I would think that someone paid to write opinion columns for a major national newspaper should have a clue about what the current government is doing, for example... but hey, what do I know... I obviously missed the memo.


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