The United Nations (UN) asked members to proclaim 8 March as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and World Peace in 1977. The origins of International Women’s Day (IWD) however go back to the early days of the last century. It had links to suffrage, equal rights (including the right to hold public office) and employment discrimination. In the 70s it was reborn as a day of activism in pursuit of equal pay, equal economic opportunity, equal legal rights, reproductive rights, subsidised child care and the prevention of violence against women.
While I am against the concept of compiling lists of names, as invariably someone will be left out, there has to be a first
Now that we are in the 21st century it might seem that this is a day of feel-good promotion of women, as opposed to calls for radical reforms, but for women many of the issues mentioned previously still remain.
While I am against the concept of compiling lists of names, as invariably someone will be left out, there has to be a first. Margot Slattery re-affirmed this to me when I spoke to her about her new role and the challenges she has faced being a gay woman in Ireland.
Condoleeza Rice once said: “People who end up as ‘first’ don’t actually set out to be first. They set out to do something they love.” The women ‘firsts’ highlighted this week set a train in motion, doing what they do best and many have since followed in their path with increased confidence that their beliefs are possible. This gives women power.
Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power
I read an article in last weekend’s Sunday Times about the rape conviction of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
This article gave a quote from Oscar Wilde: “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” This reminded me of my conversation with Monica Gorman a few weeks back about power dynamics and how women without power are in a difficult position. Unfortunately, lack of power and subsequent abuse happens in many walks of life.
This abuse, which can be sexual, physical or emotional, can happen to both men and women in their own homes, their places of work or in their other activities.
This threat shows how culturally embedded this form of abuse was in the movie industry
Weinstein told one of the women he victimised, when she spurned his advances: “This is how the industry works.” This threat shows how culturally embedded this form of abuse was in the movie industry. It was seen as ‘normal’ so others turned a blind eye.
This is not unique to the movie industry with many people unwilling to speak out for fear of damage to their careers. We might all look to the theme of this year’s IWD which is ‘Each for Equal’ and the call for everyone to actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.
I was surprised to learn that spouses do not automatically have this power conferred on them
Speaking of losing power, our legal matters this week examines the potential impact of not having a power of attorney in place. I was surprised to learn that spouses do not automatically have this power conferred on them.
This means that if a farmer becomes incapacitated (it could be due to a stroke, a car crash or a mental breakdown) a “committee”, not necessarily the next-of-kin, could gain control of the farm.
In a family situation, where a sister, brother or a combination of in-laws could be working on the farm, and/or where kids have conflicting desires as to the future of the farm, the family can lose control of the decision-making process. And if the couple are separated or estranged, well that’s a whole other can of worms. Don’t lose the power to decide.