And in the Rest of the World: Why we need International Women’s Day

Mar 12, 2017 09.44AM |

by The Middle Ground

MAR 8 marked International Women’s Day, a day to commemorate the women’s rights movement. The campaign theme for this year is #BeBoldForChange: Call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.

While there were many activities to celebrate women around the world, it is without a doubt that women still face sexism and discrimination in their daily lives. Here are five different events that happened in the past week that will explain why it is imperative to continue fighting for equal rights.

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1. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg – “Women must earn less than men”

Image by Leonardo1982, from Pixabay 

On Mar 3, the European Parliament decided to launch a hate speech investigation on Polish member of European Parliament (MEP) Janusz Korwin-Mikke, for making misogynistic remarks in his capacity as MEP.

Mr Korwin-Mikke, founder of Polish far-right party Coalition for the Renewal of the Republic — Freedom and Hope, incited outrage when he argued that “women must earn less than men because they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent” during a European Parliament debate on the gender pay gap.

Mr Korwin-Mikke’s views were immediately rebutted by fellow MEP, Spaniard Iratxe Garcia Perez. In a speech bristling with indignation, Ms Perez stated “I know it hurts and worries you that today women can sit in this house and represent European citizens with the same rights as you. I am here to defend all European women from men like you.”

Rule 11 of the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedure states that “members’ conduct shall be (characterised) by mutual respect” and “members shall not resort to defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or (behaviour) in parliamentary debates.” If found in contravention of this rule, Mr Korwin-Mikke may be subject to a fine and/or temporarily suspended from Parliament.
2. California, United States – Former Uber employee speaks up about toxic work culture
Someone using the Uber app while a taxi passes by
Image from TMG File 
Susan Fowler, a former site reliability engineer for Uber, revealed the culture of sexual harassment and misogyny that pervaded her former company in a blog post dated Feb 19. She documented her problems with the company – one experience involved reporting a manager who was propositioning her to HR, who refused to fire the guilty manager because he was a “high performer”, and instead advised her to transfer out of her team.
When I joined Uber, the (department) I was part of was over 25% women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another (engineering department), this number had dropped down to less than 6%. Women were transferring out of the organisation, and those who couldn’t transfer were quitting or preparing to quit. There were two major reasons for this: there was the organisational chaos, and there was also the sexism within the organisation.
Uber is facing increasing corporate and employee backlash over its “hustle-oriented” and unpleasant workplace culture. After Fowler’s viral blog post, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sent a company-wide memo asserting that the company would be investigating the claims made, with Holder and Tammy Albarran of law firm Covington & Burling leading the investigation.
3. Britain – Emma Watson can’t be a feminist? 
Screenshot from Twitter user JuliaHB1
Emma Watson’s photo in a white ropy top that exposed most of her breasts got a British radio presenter and commentator questioning Emma’s feminist beliefs. The commentator, Julia Hartley-Brewer tweeted a photo of Watson’s vanity photoshoot picture on Mar 1.
This tweet quickly received backlash and eventually got to Emma’s attention. She was “stunned by the vitriol she’s received”. In an interview with Reuters, the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador said, “They were saying that I couldn’t be a feminist and have boobs.” Julia continued to defend her tweet by saying that Watson “complains that women are sexualised and then sexualises herself in her own work. Hypocrisy.” Another celebrity, Gloria Steinem, when asked for comments, told TMZ that “Feminists can wear anything they f****** want.”
Emma was shocked that people are still unclear what feminism mean and said that “Feminism is about giving women choice…it’s about equality. It’s not — I really don’t know what my t*ts have to do with it.”
4. Manhattan, New York City, USA – New resident opposite famous Wall Street bull 
Image from Facebook page All Women Are Beautiful
On the eve of International Women’s Day (March 7), a 50-inch bronze statue of a little girl was installed opposite Wall Street’s famous charging bull. This statue was sculpted by artiste Kristen Visbal of Delaware and installed by State Street Global Advisors.

Fortune reported that the newly added statue was a representation of State Street Global Advisors’ new commitment to gender parity in corporate boardrooms. The firm also announced that it would pressure 3,500 companies worth $30 trillion in market cap to aim for gender parity on their boards.

However, this much-received attention and praised statue, according to Huffington Post’s Emily Peck “is just a super-sophisticated bit of feminist marketing.” In her article titled: Why the ‘Fearless Girl’ Statue Is Kinda Bull, she goes on to explain about the firm’s failure to mention that the company does not have many women employees and that only three women are on the Board of Directors. “If the goal is gender equality, State Street’s women stats are terrible. They reveal the sculpture and the call to action as a mostly empty seduction.”
5. Washington D.C, U. S. A – How the GOP “celebrated” IWD

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images, from Pixabay

On IWD, some members of the Republican Party of the United States, nicknamed the Grand Old Party (GOP), pushed for legislation that wanted to defund Planned Parenthood; America’s most trusted health care provider of reproductive health care which provides high quality and affordable medical care.

A press conference was held in D.C to address changes that the Republicans were proposing to the Affordable Care Act. House Speaker, Paul Ryan said that defunding Planned Parenthood “… is what we’ve been dreaming about doing.” The new bill will end funding to Planned Parenthood and “sends money to community centers,” he said. This new bill will affect poor and low-income Americans the most.

This happened on the same day that Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau announced a a $650 million initiative to fund sex education and reproductive health services worldwide.

Featured image Earth by Flickr user Kevin GillCC BY-SA 2.0

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