Helpless! Women reveal challenges with gender equality

All Woman

IT'S no secret that women living in this era are far bolder than those in decades and centuries gone by.

Nevertheless, there are still some who feel less powerful and less bold when it comes to championing serious issues that affect them and impact their daily lives.

In recognition of International Women's Day on Thursday under the theme #PressForProgress, All Woman asked a few women to share specific areas, related to their gender, where they feel extreme disappointment at the lack of improvement. Their responses are given below:

'Equal pay for equal work'

Renee Carnegie:

It gets on my nerves to know I work with men who are less qualified than I am, but they get more pay simply because they are men and are seen as the real breadwinners. I am single, no children, but I am the sole breadwinner as my parents are retired and I have a sibling in college whom I assist. What more must I do? I worked through college to gain experience, I went the normal route of starting humbly in an entry-level position, I worked extra hours for a promotion, only to eventually find out that someone two levels below me is paid better. How much more must women prove themselves in the workplace? Unless I sacrifice my dignity and screw the big boss I will not get through, so until I find the guts to do that, I will struggle. Equity is definitely needed in this regard. Women's groups champion rights and all, and we are making progress, but parity in all aspects of our lives, especially in things that affect our economic status as women, needs more voices or else we are forever stuck.

'Motherhood is not a rite of passage'

Winstonieth Thomas:

Fortunately for me, from examples in my family I have seen chore distribution always at 50/50. But in the same breath, one thing I struggle with is the pressure to have a child, and you're not considered complete as a woman if you don't have one. I am concerned about how we look at women who choose to empower themselves economically before having children. I get that it's coming from a good place as children are precious, but it's also a personal choice to have a child and not a rite of passage. So for those who have no maternal instinct in their 20s, let them be, and we need to encourage women to get it together before starting families. You don't want to realise [too late] that you weren't ready for such a great responsibility, further promulgating single-parent homes, and in some cases the cycle of poverty. How we treat with female victims of sexual assault worries me too. Blaming the victim is unfair and wrong. We should not ask what they were wearing, where they were, or whose company they were in. It's either we are supportive or we aren't.

Speak up!

Janet Edwards:

For me, I often feel helpless when it comes to simply speaking up. Being in a male-dominated environment, I find that those with power tend to want to dumb women down for seemingly exerting themselves, or shout and sort of say 'I am authority', or even go as far to treat you as if you are a child they think should be seen and not heard. To move past this it takes grit and just shutting out the muzzling strategies often thrown my way. I find too that a lot of women in powerful positions use this strategy to stamp their authority. I don't believe intimidating your counterpart is the best way to push for any form of progress.

'I am not the weaker sex!'

Seline Massiah:

There are a number of things I feel are battles I have already lost just because I am woman. The first is that it is my duty to care for the home. Show me the rule book! Women need to stop teaching their boys that their sisters or females in their lives are their helpers. Secondly, trying to prove that I am not the weaker sex in terms of earning power. I have worked in places where men have not even one CXC, yet they earn more than their female counterpart with qualifications, experience and the same capabilities to do the job. How do we put an end to that? How do we put an end to the behaviour of men who feel they have the right to approach you in the most vulgar way because you are an attractive woman? Where are the gentlemen? At 42 I am still breaking my back trying to have a decent life and I have no desire for children, but every day I am asked, 'Yuh nuh breed yet?' I also feel helpless in situations where a man walks into the room poorly dressed and is knocking fists with everyone, but if I don't feel like wearing make-up with the brightest red lipstick and the sexiest dress to work, I must be prepared not to be noticed. Equity in these areas is what we need to push for.

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