Today is International Women’s Day, and I’m a woman, so I must have lots of feelings about it, right? Honestly, when I think about what it’s like to be a woman, I feel great. I’m happy to be who I am. But when I think about it a bit more critically, I realize that there are a lot of things that I “put up with” that men rarely have to.
I do have to worry about walking home alone at night when strange guys are walking closely behind me.
I do consider what to wear to yoga on Saturday morning, and accept that more or less people will look and comment depending on what I decide.
I do feel that I would get hired for a job I’m capable of, but I also don’t think my male colleagues will hesitate to ask me to do secretarial tasks.
Overall, I’m happy with being a woman, but maybe I just wish it were a tiny bit easier and that I had to worry a tiny bit less. So, for International Women’s Day I decided to talk about how women are treated in three different spheres of my life: in the news media, in the local culture (with a focus on Bolivia), and in my online world of travel blogging.
Women in the News
On January 21st, 2017, people from around the world watched as over half a million people in the “Women’s March” descended on Washington to show that women need to be considered in important policy decisions. Since today (March 8th) is International Women’s Day, women around the world are trying to show the public how much women actually contribute to society by having a “Day Without Women“. Women will wear red, not go to work (if possible), and avoid buying anything, to show how vital they are to the economy. In a huge showing of solidarity, some schools across the Eastern Coast of the United States are even closed today because so many teachers are women, and the schools just can’t function without them. I mean, we kind of all already knew that, right? But I think it’s really interesting to see the school boards realize and cope with that fact.
Women in Bolivia
Canada is definitely not perfectly equal by any means, but I definitely notice a difference when living in other countries like Bolivia. Inequality between genders in Bolivia is a lot more overt that I’m used to… Here are a few examples, just from my workplace, just from the last few weeks. They’re working to improve rights for women but it slow progress…
Since I work at a technical school, we focus on trades (like carpentry, plumbing, and metal work). This means that gender stereotypes are even more pronounced. Although we have students of both genders, it can be quite obvious that the girls end up doing the sweeping up while the boys carry heavy bags. The boys tend to think the girls are “not strong enough to be capable”, even though most boys in Bolivia are smaller than girls in Canada (but apparently see themselves as very big and strong, regardless).
The management is always very happy to announce that we have more women than men on staff. However, it is rarely mentioned that the women hold the roles of secretary, cleaning lady, and accountant, while the men hold the roles of director and (every) professor. I don’t think it’s just a coincidence…