Contributed from Victoria
Around the world and in Australia, women have been participating in activities around International Women’s Day.
This year, the them is “be bold for change”. It occurs at a time when some serious new challenges threaten to turn the clock back on women’s and other rights.
Through the lead up, there have been a range of actions around the world and across Australia and this culminates today – on 8 March.
These activities provide a opportunities to reflect on the efforts made by generations to achieve equality and the tradition they passed on to the current generation – to keep up the fight. The battle for equality is far from won yet. International Women’s Day is a vehicle to help find ways to move forward.
Women are still paid significantly less of the work they do and endure inferior working conditions. At home women often take on the bulk of the burden of raising children and housekeeping. Woman face difficulties and sometimes even danger in the streets. Over it all, there is the persistent coating of a way of thinking and acting, which does not easily admit that women are the equal of men.
Men’s thinking and emotional responses to situations still need to go through major change. But the need for change does not put men in the enemy basket. Equality can only come about with both sexes standing together.
Women also need to change their way of thinking and responding and International Women’s Day has a lot to do with this as well. Many continue to accept their present status and are themselves a formidable block to equality.
Sometimes stereotypes there are those who resort to putting forward stereotypes. Equality belongs to all women. Stereotypes work to isolate the women’s movement from the mainstream population and this in itself is a good reason to combat them.
Changing ingrained habits can be confronting for both sexes. That’s why it takes some time. Individuals of both sexes can have their self-identity stripped away and they lose the sense of who they are, and sometimes, this causes negative reactions. This is a problem that needs support and there is not nearly enough of it yet.
The needs of women are also connected to other needs shared by the whole of society. We are all affected, and women often more so, by the growing economic insecurity, lack of affordable housing and restriction of traditional rights. There is the ongoing Centrelink scandals, falling education opportunities and marriage equality. These are some of the issues that women have a stake in and form barriers to achieving equality. The Women’s movement must take up these causes.