Philobiblon: On International Women's Day ...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

On International Women's Day ...

... hats off to the Independent, which has done an obvious but very worthwhile list of how far women still labour under enormous disadvantages around the world. A sample:

* 1% of the titled land in the world is owned by women
* 70% of the 1.2 bn people living in poverty are women and children
* 85m girls worldwide are unable to attend school, compared with 45m boys. In Chad, just 4% of girls go to school.
* 67% of all illiterate adults are women
* 1,440 women die each day during childbirth (a rate of one death every minute)
* In the EU, women comprise 3% of chief execs of major companies
12 is the number of world leaders who are women (out of 191 members of the United Nations)
* Men directed 9 out of every 10 films made in 2004

If a criticism might be made, it is that there has been progress made, which the story fails to acknowledge - the number of women in those last three categories would, 30 years ago, have been very close to zero. And in the middle ranks there has been progress.

But the message that needs to be driven home again, and again and again, is that while progress has been made - and it has been demonstrated, for those for whom it needed to be demonstrated -- that women are just as capable as men at any job on the face of the earth (and beyond) we still have a long, long way to go. (And even those gains achieved are under threat ...)

I was going to write a lengthy original post, but time has got away from me, so please consider this my contribution to the Blog Against Sexism Day.


Blogger Hugh said...

"...women are just as capable as men at any job on the face of the earth..."
You can't really believe that. Why spoil your arguments with foolish and demonstrably false assertions? Men have bigger muscles so are much better at things like coal-mining, luckily for women.

3/08/2006 05:44:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Hi Hugh, welcome back, like the new pic.

Two points in response to that.
1. Coal mining today involves very little or no muscle. Driving a digging machine has nothing to do with muscles.
2. Men may be, on average across the whole population, a couple of percentage points stronger than women. But I doubt there are any jobs that only men in that couple of percentage points do - maybe Olympic weightlifting, but then they say at the margins that is all in the head rather than the muscles.

I stand by the statement: women can do any job men can do, and do it as well.

3/08/2006 06:04:00 pm  
Blogger Hugh said...

Glad you like my new bowler.

So you're saying that there are NO jobs nowadays that call for sheer muscular strength? Very few in WC1, I grant you, but outside the effete developed world I would guess there are a great many.
And where did you get the "Men may be [only]...couple of percentage points stronger" idea from? What makes you believe this?

You really should drop this rather desperate line of argument; few would take it seriously and it discredits the rest of your case.

3/08/2006 06:41:00 pm  
Blogger MissPrism said...

How about "women are more capable than men at half the jobs on the face of the earth, but we don't know which half yet"?

Happy Women's Day, Natalie, and thanks for including me in your Femmes Fatales a few weeks back!

3/08/2006 10:13:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Thanks Miss Prism.

Ah Hugh, once you take this out of the developed world, you are in big trouble. Women not doing the "muscle" work is very much a western concept. The great bulk of agricultural labour in Africa is carried out by women, as is a large percentage of the construction work in China. (The labouring women of Hong Kong were famous only because they were in a place where Westerners noticed them.)

And yes there are still many jobs that require some use of muscles (although coal mining is not among them). But that doesn't mean the strongest people in society carry them out - just the people who have to take these jobs (because they are usually not much sought after) and they either develop the muscles, or develop ways around having to use large amount of muscle. (Since they tended historically to come from the lower classes, they have, traditionally been the underfed weaklings, men and women ...)

3/09/2006 12:14:00 am  
Blogger HeoCwaeth said...

I used to laugh when construction-worker friends would tell me that they were paid better than I because their job required so much more muscle than being a nurse aide did. Try picking up a pile of wood. That's heavy stuff. Now, try picking up an entire, adult person. A person having delusions that you're a monster trying to kill them, and kicking, and biting, and scratching and punching to get away from you as if their very lives depend on it. You know that the life of the other person they're attacking depends on you picking them up right NOW, not when the doctor calls the pharmacist, who fills the script to sedate them. How heavy do you suppose that load is? Yet nursing is a "pink-collar" field, for the "frailer sex."

3/09/2006 03:26:00 am  
Blogger Hugh said...

I absolutely go along with MissPrism. The rest of you may well be right too, for all I know.
But neither Natalie nor any of the others have attempted to justify her preposterous assertion that women's musculature is, by nature, comparable with men's to within 2%. I'm a bit of a weed and have avoided all forms of exertion throughout my life, but I am pretty certain that my thigh muscles, biceps and pectorals are more than 2% more powerful than those of 95% of the women I have ever met. I must make it clear that I did not form this opinion by wrestling with any of them, and I am not offering to prove it. Comment from a qualified physiologist (or do I mean anatomist), please. Of either sex.

3/09/2006 10:16:00 am  

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