“Everywhere, women are worse off than men, simply because they are women.” António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, Feb.26 2020
I read this quote from the Secretary-General of the UN on Twitter over two weeks ago. Although I quickly scrolled past, the quote lodged itself in my brain and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
As a women’s fiction author, my focus in every book is the stories of women as they live, face challenges, grow, and change. But women’s stories—our stories—don’t exist in a fiction vacuum. Every day we’re living lives that are harder, just because we’re women.
Hang on! If you’re about to move on because this seems like a whiny ‘poor us’ post, please stick with me a little longer. I refuse to bring up any issue and just leave it there to upset or discourage you. This blog, (and many more to come-YAY!), will look at the issues we face (using carefully researched facts) and what we can do about them.
I didn’t grow up thinking I was worse off because I was a girl. In fact, I grew up being thrilled I was a girl! To me, the only ‘unfair’ part was getting my period every month. Maybe you felt the same way.
And I’m definitely happy to be a woman and wouldn’t have it any other way. But there’s another side of our story—one that needs to be told and addressed. That’s the inequalities we face. Here are a few examples (you can click on the colored part of each statement to go directly to the source):
-Women get paid less than men for the same work
-Working women who take time off to have children are financially worse off than women who do not have children
-Because women get paid less and lose income (and savings) when they have babies, they have significantly lower pension savings
I know this is discouraging to read. Please stick with me here! Just a few more important notes about inequalities:
-Stay-at-home moms rarely (never?) get paid a salary to do one of the most important jobs in the world. Even with a supportive partner, that partner is likely working and contributing to their own retirement savings while the stay-at-home mom receives nothing.
-Even though women save less than men for retirement, they live longer. Those smaller savings need to be stretched further!
-Have you heard of the pink tax? Things marketed to women cost more than those marketed to men. Everything from deodorant to scooters to haircuts to clothes. And what about the things women must buy: feminine products, bras, birth control? Plus, women in the workforce are often expected to wear makeup and achieve a certain image standard, which means it costs more to be a working woman than a working man in the exact same profession—YUCK!
The short version here is that women make less, save less, live longer, must purchase things men don’t need to purchase, and pay more for many items than men do. Yep, pretty annoying to say the least.
Today, March 8, 2020, is International Women’s Day. The motto for this year is:
An equal world is an enabled world.
So, on this International Women’s Day when we’re all about seeking equality what can we do?
Talk About It
Please talk about it! Tell your partners, your moms, your sisters, your daughters, and especially your sons. Let them know that this exists, and it’s bad for women and for our entire society. The upside is that gender equality is good for everyone! If you read one link in this blog, read this one: https://canadianwomen.org/blog/5-ways-gender-equality-benefits-everyone/
When your children talk about having a family, talk about how they can protect a women’s income and savings. Encourage your daughters to pursue income equality. Talk about shared domestic chores.
Period poverty is a tragic reality for girls (and women) living under the poverty line. Across the world, girls are skipping school every month because they can’t afford feminine products. Scotland is changing this, or at least they’re trying to change this. It’s ironic that many are claiming the program will be too expensive. Duh. Legislators, meet period poverty. It’s expensive.
In 2018, the Canadian government created a Department for Women and Gender Equality (WAGE). Their first act was to legislate pay equality across Canada, but it’s yet to be enacted. Two years on, there’s still a lot of ground to gain.
More Women in Leadership
Men used to claim that there weren’t enough qualified women to place in leadership roles. That’s not the case. In fact, I think many women are far more qualified than men and still aren’t given roles (ahem… looking at you, Democrats in the US).
This is another place where legislation helps, but we need to go further than that and start challenging our ineffective out-of-date thinking about women. This article I wrote for a client back in 2018 explains some of the benefits of having women on corporate boards, but in other research, I learned that investors penalize boards that hire women—with no factual basis to do so!
Tell the Stories
You might have noticed that my Success on Her Terms series brings up some of these issues (gently). Fiction has the power to open people’s minds and change their beliefs. It’s a lofty goal, but I do hope that my novels show everyone how amazing women are, and how unfair their struggles can be.
I also believe that when we share our stories and our own experiences with others, we begin to shift perceptions.
What do you think? If you’re willing to have your comments viewed publicly, please go to this blog on my website and add your comments. If you have a private comment, just reply to this email. I read and appreciate every single reply.
There’s more to come! I’ll continue to write about the issues that impact women, both in my novels and on this blog. If this resonates with you, please share, share, share! Do it for yourself, your sisters, your moms, your daughters, your aunts, your friends, and all the men in the world who live better lives because of women.
Thanks for reading,