QCOSTARICA byOlive Branch – March 8 is International Women’s Day and around the world women will join in parades and discussions on the status of women.
Women’s Day was founded to honor working women early in the 1900’s in eastern Europe where women formed a big part of the struggle for workers’ rights. Women carried the burden of caring for families plus bringing in needed income to working class homes. At that time the date varied from country to country and later was set at March 8 as the idea gained universal support.
In 1911 a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Manhatten took the lives of 146 young immigrant women who were unable to get out of the tenth floor of their factory building. The story is that the owners locked the doors so that the women could not steal. Their lives were worth less than the price of a blouse. In 201 in Bangladesh, the same number of workers, mostly women, died when the building housing their garment factory collapsed. Women have gained many advantages over the last century but much is still lacking.
In April, 2014, two hundred girls were kidnapped from their school in northern Nigeria and have never been found. Some 2000 Nigerian women and girls have been abducted by the terrorist group Boko Haram. What are their lives worth? In Mexico hundreds of women have disappeared or been murdered and no one is found responsible. The threat continues. In Cologn, Germany more than one hundred women were attacked by a crowd of men on New Year’s eve. Few arrests have been made. In the rest of the world women are stoned to death, mutilated, enslaved and forced to migrate. Poverty pushes women into risk situations. Enslavement. Illegal working conditions. Forced migration. Even in the “advanced world” women continue to be victims because of their gender. Gang rapes. Date rapes. Men (no, not all) pet, pat, touch, expose themselves and make sexual gestures on the street, the classroom, the workplace and in the social media.
In Costa Rica women are ‘up skirted’, as if it is a man’s right to take a video of what’s under their dresses. In 2015 twenty seven women died at the hands of their husbands, ex husbands or boyfriends, and in Latin America one out of every three women are victims of domestic abuse.
Women still have not reached parity in many areas. Only 15% of women study in such fields as engineering, technology. That is still considered a man’s arena. Tradition, family pressure, the real fear of being the only girl in the class prevent them from seeking more technical careers. Women are found in the caring-sharing fields, like education, social work and health. The thought of pregnancy and maternity leave for a valued employee puts fear in the minds of employers. Our world is still divided into male and female.
Girls are socialized against sports. They might develop muscles! It will take away their femininity. The Costa Rican women’s soccer team played in the world cup but they were never given the honors that the men’s team racked up. Women who have excelled in sports never share the stage, or the role of parade marshal as Kaylor Navaz or Andre Amador.
Advertising continues to show beautiful or sexy women to attract clients to their brands. In commercials women sing happily while mopping floors or scrubbing dirty clothes. They smile while standing to serve the husband and children seated around the table. At a tope the tv camera always includes a scene of a feminine bottom bouncing in the saddle.
Yet, we women have made some progress. We now have Kristol bank just for us. It’s pink! And the number of women in world leadership roles you can now count on two hands instead of one. But women are still missing from the negotiating tables, the peace conferences, the economic forums, the boardrooms and the United Nations Security Council.
So we’ll just keep on marching and bitching, thank you.
Olive Branch is the collective name for members of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Heredia group. WILPF was founded in the Hague in 1915 to work for peace and women’s rights. We’re still at it. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org