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…
In Bolivia, Carnival is big event, and the weeks before also have special holidays for men and women. We celebrated these days in our school (great) with all the staff (perfect). Unfortunately, the differences between the two events were striking. The event for the men featured lots of planning, all women in the kitchen cooking, nice decorations and presents for each man, and drinks served to the men who were relaxing. The event for the women involved no planning, delegation to me to make the invitations because all the men are “very busy”, a store-bought meal, and only beer for the men (with soda for the women). Although nothing was done in malice or with ill-intent, it’s fairly obvious to see the gender discrepancies in just these two simple events.
Our school is currently trying to run a series of gender workshops once a week for the staff. This is a great initiative. However, in execution it leaves a lot to be desired. Like maybe if all the men didn’t laugh when I tell stories about rape from the North American news during a discussion on sexual violence…
Women in Blogging
In lighter news, another important thing to mention is today was my first ever guest post on another blog! I’ve been contributing to a group blog called Expat Coffee Club for over 6 months already, but this is the first time I’m being feature on a new blog by someone I’ve never spoken to before our collaboration. I really enjoy writing for other blogs because it gives me an opportunity to write about something new and different. Check out my first attempt, in a discussion about International Women’s Day and what it’s like to be a Female Travel Blogger:
What does it take to be female travel blogger today?
If everyone’s writing about museums in Europe, beaches in Thailand, and climbing Machu Picchu, then you need to write about that too, right? Wrong! Your blog is all about you, and what you’re interested in. If you try to write about what you think other people are going to love, you’re probably going to get burnt out and stop writing.
Instead, think about what makes you happy, or curious, or excited! ….
To read the rest of the my guest post (and what 6 other female travel bloggers are saying), you can read here –> Celebrating Women Travel Bloggers
I don’t think that we’re going to solve gender equality in one day, or even one year – I think it takes a very long time to change social norms. However, I hope that this year, many countries around the world continue to make positive steps in the right direction, to ensure that we are closer than ever to equity for people of all kinds.
Because if woman = caring, then I want to make sure that we care about the whole wide world! #BeBoldForChange