From someone who knows what they’re talking about — Eva Cox in today’s Crikey (she’s on your postage stamp for a reason), on this special anniversary of International Women’s Day, which first kicked off in 1911. One-hundred years on … it’s a bit of a moment:

The past 20 or so years have seen few major changes that matched those in the earlier years. Then, we made the obvious changes that seriously irked women in the mid-century years in which we grew up. We have removed the laws that formally restricted our access to certain jobs, paid work, promotion or to other goods and services.

This means that overt s-x discrimination is now neither obvious nor legally acceptable. We changed how some issues were once defined or ignored: violence in families is no longer private; there are funded (and controlled) women’s services; we have more child care but it’s now commercialised and still too expensive.

Schools and universities have expanded their numbers of female students, so we now have majorities in many professional areas and added women to the histories of what men did. And there are many more women in high positions and even in the top positions.

There are, however, many questions on where we are now and are going. Where has all that education got us? There are relatively few women in high positions in the media, arts, law and medicine despite being majorities of graduates. The pay gap is increasing and the cultures of most workplaces remain focused on male-style long hours and unbalanced commitments.

A key demand of Australia’s ’70s women’s movement somehow got lost: we wanted to change the inequalities of gender, not just to reshuffle numbers. We wanted the appropriate valuing of those activities that were primarily the responsibility of women, and still are predominantly. We didn’t define equality of women in male-defined terms.

We want to know what you lot think. And not just from our female readers, all of you. Email us at [email protected] with ‘feminism’ in the subject line so we can build an item around your responses. The f-word deserves more reflection than just one day.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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