As soon as March 8 arrives, women hear, right in the first hours of the day, the classic phrase “congratulations on your day”. And take rosebuds, messages of support, souvenirs of all kinds to exalt how cool it is to be a woman, as banks, stores and half of the male population are grateful for our existence.
I remember once, on a television station where I worked, that women were presented with intimate soap on the date. It wasn’t long before we were joking about it. What kind of message could there be in that homage thought up by the company’s HR? If it were today, the episode might go viral on social media. But at the time, we thought it was typical cluelessness from a company famous for cluelessness.
The world of work is yet another environment in which distortions between genders are amplified. When I was still a student in college, the fact that I was an aspiring female journalist was not an issue that raised great questions for me. I had the feeling that gender would not be decisive in finding a job opportunity. And she came before I even finished college.
But in the same place where I found a chance to grow professionally, I found women who, despite being the majority, were not at the top table. Where I heard, almost incredulous, that men in front of the video brought more credibility to the news. Where I met super dedicated women who became mothers and, when they went back to work, they were dismissed without any embarrassment. Where women who aged, were treated as if they didn’t have much more to add. Not to mention the pay disparity.
According to recent data from the IBGE’s National Household Sample Survey, women in Brazil earn 20% less than men, even though they occupy equal functions and have a level of education many times higher. On average, the hours worked by a woman are less paid.
Does it mean in practice to say that our work is worth less than that of a man? And for what reason? Researchers attribute the ease of men to get higher-paying positions because they are not as burdened by double or triple journeys, as is the case with women. The excess of unpaid tasks assigned to women, such as taking care of the house, children, parents, limit the opportunities to get a better placement in the job market. We don’t have the same bargaining power.
It is a social structure that still disproportionately affects us. No wonder we become feminists in an almost natural way. We don’t need to be part of an organized movement with a clear agenda of demands to be aware that a lot needs to change.
International Women’s Day was adopted for just that, to draw attention to what happens to women the other 364 days of the year around the world. The episode that gave rise to the date took place in 1908, when 15,000 women took to the streets of New York to claim shorter working hours, better wages and the right to vote. The date was formally proposed in 1910 by the German feminist Clara Zetkin, during a congress that brought together socialist women in Copenhagen, Denmark.
More than a century later, the world is still grappling with stark inequality between women and men. It is intolerable, for example, that Afghan women are banned from working or studying. It is equally outrageous to learn that around 1,000 Iranian girls were recently poisoned inside the school, after these places were the scene of protests led by women for equal rights. And what about Brazil, where a woman is attacked every 4 hours, in most cases by her partner or former partner?
There is still a long way to go, but many of our achievements such as the right to vote, parental leave, are due to the courage of these first feminists. We want tributes because the fight comes from afar. But to be fully respected as citizens, we need much more than flowers distributed at the door of any establishment.
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