Happy International Women’s Day!

 In a world marked by on-going gender discrimination, today we hold up the dignity, rights and achievements of women.

 In Australia we have largely achieved formal equality before the law, so it is tempting to think the struggle for equality has been won.  However the structures, processes and institutions of our society continue to under value women and girls and treat us less favourably than men and boys.  Everyone is demeaned by this.  As part of the preparation for the meeting on trafficking that I attended in Kuala Lumpur I had to answer a number of questions about the situation of women in Australia.  I’m attaching my notes on the  Situation of Women in Australia for your reflection.  Some of the figures are quite shocking.

Why is it international women’s day today?  It is the anniversary of a labour protest by women workers in Massachusetts one hundred years ago asking for equal pay.  Their slogan was ‘bread and roses’ – they were demanding that their dignity be respected as well as equal pay.  Today we continue to ask for the work done in feminised sectors of the economy to be valued equally with work of similar complexity and  requiring similar levels of skill but done in male dominated sectors.  The poem ‘Bread and Roses’ is about that march – hope you enjoy it.  Here’s a folkie sung version:   http://unionsong.com/u159.html

 As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses.

As we come marching, marching, we battle too, for men,
For they are in the struggle and together we shall win.
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes,
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses.

As we come marching, marching, un-numbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread,
Small art and love and beauty their trudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we. fight for, but we fight for roses, too.

As we go marching, marching, we’re standing proud and tall.
The rising of the women means the rising of us all.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories, bread and roses, bread and roses.

Enjoy your day!

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