Opinion: Women’s Voices Not Heard Enough

Filed in editorletters, Just In by March 8, 2020

International Women’s Day and one woman every week is killed by a current or former partner

International Women’s Day has been co-opted into a global celebration, but on this International Women’s Day knowing that more than 50 women are killed each year in Australia by savage acts of domestic violence I believe we have to question whether our legislators think women’s lives matter as much as men’s?

Casting a quick eye over the history of this day, we see that at the turn of the twentieth century International Women’s Day started as International Working Women’s Day whereby ‘working women’s’ rights were sought within a framework of working rights.

But now International Women’s Day has morphed into a day about women generally and the focus on women’s rights has been subsumed into an opportunity for corporate branding with paternal brush-strokes still very evident across the entire International Women’s Day movement and society.

With the loss of focus on women’s work having transitioned to a focus on women’s achievement, it is equally clear that (a) much unseen women’s work is not talked about and that (b) on International Women’s Day many women’s voices are not heard at all. Homeless women, indigenous women, trafficked victims? Where are their voices on International Women’s Day?

In my opinion because society continues to value masculine roles and skills above those of women, power relations maintain the status quo of unfairness, and I believe that until existing power structures are dismantled (for more than one day a year) the world will not be fairer for women nor for society at large.

Accordingly for International Women’s Day 2020, I think we should be telling our legislators that not enough progress has been made in relation to all women’s rights and that not all women’s voices in our society are being heard or listened to.

Additionally we also ought to ask our legislators:

  • Why is women’s work such as domestic care and caring skills still so very undervalued?
  • Why is the growing threat to the environment from over-production of goods and excessive extraction unchallenged and why is the obsessive focus on the economy unchallenged?
  • Why do women continue to be unsafe in their homes?
  • Why does a woman die every week and a child die every fortnight because of domestic violence crime?
  • When will we call it a day for patriarchy?

In my opinion it all starts with respect.

Sue Abbott

Sue Abbott is a councillor for the Upper Hunter Shire Council, and the views and opinions in this piece are her personal views and opinions.

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