I’ve chosen to talk about our Australian suffragettes for this special blog for International Women’s Day. I think those women were so brave, strong and inspirational. And I’ve put those images at the top of this blog to remind me that these strong women saw a wrong and fought to have this wrong righted.
This is the fourth International Women’s Day since I started my blog and I am writing this second blog on IWD for this year to highlight some issues which bother me enormously.
Many people – perhaps many men- may in fact say why even have an International Women’s Day at all?
It is very important to appropriately recognize International Women’s Day.
It is important because in many places in the world women suffer some serious health, safety and workplace inequities and a day like this allows stories to be told, voices to be heard and maybe actions instituted to correct injustices.
Some serious statistics:
- If you are born a girl in South Africa, you are more likely to be raped than to learn to read.
- A female virgin child is valued at $500 by sex traffickers.
- In Uganda, 8 in every 100 students aged 16-17 had been coerced into sex with their teachers.
- 250 girls experience female genital mutilation every hour. That’s 42 girls every 10 minutes.
- In Nepal, 7% of girls are married by age 10 and 40% by age 15.
- In Krygyzstan approximately 40% of women in cities had been victims of ‘bride kidnapping’ one of the most common forms of forced marriage.
- Up to 70% of women experience physical or sexual abuse by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.
- 2 million women and children are held in sexual servitude around the world, but 95% of trafficking cases are never reported.
- Up to 500,000 women were raped during the Rwandan genocide, 64,000 in Sierra Leone, 40,000 in the Bosnian war, and 4,500 in one province in Congo in six months alone.
- Half a million fewer female babies are born in India due to the practice of ‘sex-selective abortion’.
That’s some serious reading.
When writing this blog I saw a story on Facebook reminding me about a shocking tragedy that happened in India in 2012 to an Indian Physiotherapy student. I wrote a blog then about it and this new story was reporting the injustice that the male bus driver felt that had happened to him for being blamed for his part in the gang rape and brutal assault that led to the girls eventual death. He said it was her fault for being out in the bus; it was her fault for fighting back- she should just have accepted she was being raped and then she would have not been so badly injured; that it could lead to more men who rape women killing them instead of letting them live after the event as they may talk and say who did it to them.
I mean what the????
But heck we live in Australia- we are much more civilized than that… or are we. If you go to this page on domestic violence the list of statistics will shock you. These are just two of them.
Just under half a million Australian women reported that they had experienced physical or sexual violence or sexual assault in the past 12 months.
About 4,000 women die each year due to domestic violence.
These are serious issues.
But what of other more subtle discrimination against women.
What of those women who experience a failure to progress fairly in their job due to the legendary glass ceiling- they work the same hours, often more hours, with great or greater efficiency and yet watch their male equivalents soaring above them in both salary recognition and promotion through the ranks; in many places in the world, due to a lack of appropriately funded child care their careers are stifled while their families are young; a couple of years ago, women’s health services suffered funding cuts affecting preventative health programmes including continence services in Queensland.
And what about the way we treat women who achieve high positions in power. Ignore your political persuasion and ask yourself- what is your gut telling you about the way Julia Gillard and Professor Gillian Triggs have been treated in recent times? Would you want your daughter to be spoken of and spoken to like those two women have?
The last time I looked at the stats women were 50% of the population. Women and men think differently and the diverse nature of that thinking needs to be represented in our governments. And we know that certainly isn’t happening in our Federal Parliament.
But my biggest gripe is that here in Australia, in 2015 we have a Minister for Women….who is a man, and that man is our Prime Minister, Hon Tony Abbott.
Yes Tony Abbott has a wife, a mother, a sister and three daughters and a female Chief of Staff – he said this allows him to assume this role- but this very funny spoof starring Gretel Killeen called the Minister for Men, points out the ridiculousness of those, as being credentials for holding down that position. Here is the first episode. Judge for yourself.
My husband can’t believe that we women put up with it.
I can’t believe that there is not more hue and cry about it.
On Monday night on Q & A, Miriam Margolyes a very talented and funny British actress who is now residing in Australia said something which struck a chord with me:
“When you know something is morally unacceptable you have do something about it”.
(Try writing an email to a female Liberal government member and complain about this injustice)
Happy International Women’s Day to all my sisters . xx