Crowdfunded Journalism

If women stopped working for a day in the UK, as they did in Iceland in 1975, how would women of colour fare?

Hina Pandya photo
Hina PandyaLONDON, UK
If women stopped working for a day in the UK, as they did in Iceland in 1975, how would women of colour fare?
Most agree, in today’s political climate with ‘grabbing pussy’, Diane Abbott’s revelations on what it’s like to be a female MP and Brexit anti migrant rhetoric, it is imperative now perhaps more than ever, to stand up for equal rights. But the ability to strike assumes a certain level of privilege.

It's International Women's day #IWD
Imagine a day, just one day, where women stopped doing their work in the entire country.

Well it actually happened in Iceland 1975, when women stopped working for a day- with the support of the men in their lives- to prove how much women’s contributions were integral and vital to the Icelandic way of life.

Housewives, teachers, clerks, industrial workers and nurse maids all stopped work.
Icelandic men “suddenly saw the breadth and scope of women’s contribution and since they have also understood the fight for gender equality is their fight too.” Says Catherine Mayer, founder of the Women's Equality Party in 2015 with comedian Sandi Toksvig .

Despite having “women” in the title of the party, the founders are clear that equality includes everyone; equality for women isn't just a women's issue.

The WEP is keen to repeat the example UK on Women’s Day no less, but concedes Iceland is a much smaller country than the UK; 60,000 women stood together, it may be harder to take place in a country of millions.
Still, a ‘women not working day’ is planned by the WEP for 2018 to coincide with the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918; an act that enabled the vote to women over 30 who owned qualifying property and all men over 21.

Most agree, in today’s political climate with ‘grabbing pussy’, Diane Abbott’s revelations on what it’s like to be a female MP and Brexit anti migrant rhetoric, it is imperative now perhaps more than ever, to stand up for equal rights.

Improving rights for women therefore become paramount to making a fair and just society, but it will be women of colour who are more likely to be imprisoned, and also women of colour who have pressures to take care of the chronically ill, the elderly, and of course the children. They will earn less, and most likely be the breadwinner for the entire family.

Studies have been conducted and statistics showing this disparity, and it's not just down to cultural norms and expectations of traditional lineage. Poverty contributes, lack of opportunities, even more recently in the UK, the wages for ethnic minorities in the civil service is going backward, and they are paying White staff more. Including the women.

Some women of colour live under patriarchal structures even in the UK, and the consequences for not working for a day, as a housewife, a nurse maid or an industrial worker could result in some very serious consequences.

It's fun to talk about a one day women's strike; to help men see the value of the equality and how it includes them.
Much like the Tube strikes show how vital Tube workers are to London's ability to function.

But in a multicultural society we cannot be naive to the consequences and practicality this presents to those who may not have other more complicated expectations placed on them. A women's strike assumes a certain amount of privilege.

We may live in a free country, but not every woman is free to make these choices.

These are vital issues that need to be discussed and bought to the fore before parties like the WEP and others to learn what they're thinking and doing about the diversity in gender equality, and in the differing social spheres and identities.

Equality for all? What does that look like, what we need to know and just how do we get there?

#International Womens Day, #Womens Day, #Catherine Mayer, #Iceland 1975, #Women's rights, #equal rights, #gender equality, #economy, #byline festival

0
0
0