Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Hey Kim - the number 59 is more important than 69! #InternationalWomensDay

“So, Mama, what is interfashional women’s day?”

“It’s international women’s day” I say, “and it’s not supposed to have anything to do with fashion so someone had better tell Kim Ker-ching-ian that…”

My daughter nodded sagely as she continued to spoon Rice Krispies into her mouth. 

“….it’s a day when women are allowed to say a few things about what it’s like to be a girl," I add.

“I like being a girl” she says as she brushes the stray Krispies from her skirt. “I like it that I can wear a skirt if I like or I can wear trousers, boys only get to wear skirts on special days like when Mr S came to school as ‘The Boy In The Dress’ on World Book Day last week”.  

While I applaud Mr S’s bravery I try hard to think of a way to explain why International Women’s Day means more to us than just fashion freedom. That’s not to say that I’m taking fashion freedom for granted, no, I’m eternally indebted to the freedom fighters of the 1960s who burned their bras and invented miniskirts.  They’ve been my fashion inspiration for the last 40 years, but the essence of what they were fighting for - gender equality - still remains elusive in 2016. 

My thoughts turn to the 59-ers.  

The number 59 isn’t just a safe prime number, it adorned badges worn by feminists in the 1970s to illustrate the fact that a woman earned 59 cents to an equally qualified male’s dollar. Not much has changed since-time. Figures out last year suggest that men in the South East earn 25% more than their female counterpart. 

So I say to my daughter: “Imagine a world where you go to work to do the same job as a boy from your class and you are paid £4 an hour and he gets £5 to do the same thing.”
“Well, that would be mad Mama and not allowed.”
I’m about to try to explain the concept of the Gender Pay Gap but stop myself: “Yes you’re right, it is mad and it shouldn’t be allowed, but it is.”
“But why does he get more than me? Is he cleverer?”
“No, he’s not, the only difference between you is he’s male and you are female. It’s not fair and that’s why days like today are important because your Mummy, your Nanny, your Great Nanny all knew that they were equal, and important and worth much more and it’s important we shout that message ever louder every year.”
“Okay, shall I ask Mrs T or Mrs N if they’ll speak to He-Who-Cannot-be-Named about it?”
(Before you think I’m suggesting her teachers have a hot line to Voldemort I should probably point out here that ‘He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named’ is code for the Prime Minister.)

“You can do if you like - and while you’re at it, can you ask them to let Kim  know that the definition of #liberated isn’t an airbrushed black and white picture of her in the nudey!”

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