A Woman Day: Change Is Still Necessary

womanIt’s International Women’s Day and I’ve been thinking about my days. How I live my life. And how much has changed since my Mum was a young woman. Because I also have a young woman in my home. Someone waiting to step fully into her life. How different will it be for her?

My Mum won a scholarship to a grammar school. She was bright and loved maths. Her family couldn’t have afforded to send her to that school because my Nanna was a widow and there were other children to provide for. My Mum loved school. But she had to leave at the age of sixteen and get a job. She had to help support the family. I know she felt she was lucky. She was in the office at the mill where my Nanna was on the looms. A step up for a woman. However, my Mum’s ambition was restricted to the work women were considered able to do and the economics of women providing for their families. When she had her own children she gave up work. Society said my father was expected to provide for her.

Although I know she worked a way round that by taking over a shop so she could continue to use her brain. When the area they lived in was being redeveloped she lost the shop. Instead she became a stay at home Mum. And never really returned to the idea of a career. Even though I know she felt a career was important for a woman. So much so that she helped me to get a scholarship too. I went to the same grammar school that she had. I enjoyed my education because the school encouraged all of us to aim high. No one ever said women couldn’t achieve just as much as men. However I left school at 16 after my exams because I had met someone. We wanted to save for a house.  I got a job in an office and had a lot of ambition. Unfortunately most of the middle and senior managers were men.

As a woman it took me ages to progress even one step up the promotion ladder. Yet my male colleagues seemed to do so easily. And there were roles I wouldn’t even be considered for. In case I went off to have a baby.

It’s seems strange now, all these years later, to think how common that attitude was. My choices were restricted because of my reproductive equipment. Even if I never used it. What woman could counter that kind of attitude? I guess there were plenty of us because things started to change. The old dinosaurs left and women got, and took, their chances. Women have also shown that they are able to run their own successful businesses in order to get around restrictions and attitudes that are discriminatory. Yet in many industries even now there is that lingering attitude that these are not jobs women can do. My daughter is interested in just such an industry.

I’m delighted that she has decided to go into that industry. She doesn’t see herself as being limited by the beliefs that a women is less valuable, less capable or less worthy than a man. I can see that attitudes have moved on. Her options are wider than mine. Just as mine were wider than those my Mum had. I feel hopeful that every generation of women is finding an improved life open to them. Yet I also feel frustrated that change is so slow. I look at the last seventy years from my Mum thoughts my daughter and I wonder why it takes so long to become equal. What do women have to do to share the world on the same basis as men? I hope that all of our women’s voices, speaking day by day, will move things along much faster now.

There is still work to be done. I am sad that my sisters are still in poverty, fighting to bring up their children with the odds stacked against them. It is time to change quickly. I ask all of you to do what you can. Share your views. Make your voice heard. Most of all, please don’t look the other way. And don’t let your children be blind to inequality either.

Day 833 of my blogging challenge

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