Celebrating International Women’s Day: March 8, 2015

CEO Social Justice Blog

 “Empowering women, empowering humanity: picture it!” was the theme of International Women’s Day, 2015. In celebration and acknowledgement of the Day, Cec invited Cheryl Price, Samaritans Chief Financial Officer to be this week’s guest blogger:

So, we have just celebrated International Women’s Day for 2015. How was it for you?

It is 2015 and the state of the world for women is still such that we need to have a special day for us, despite the fact we are approximately half of the population across the world. Clearly inequality is alive and thriving.

There are a myriad of issues but let me focus on two. Firstly, women want to be treated equally with men in the workplace. We want the same opportunities and the same pay. Demonstrably this is not the case yet, although there are clear improvements in the last fifty years or so. The discrimination we experience now, is generally much more subtle and not backed by legislation.

However, discrimination still prevails in the attitudes that people hold and these translate into women not receiving those advancement opportunities at the same rate as our male colleagues, as well as often a lighter pay-packet than those we work side by side with. In many cases the attitudes that lead to these circumstances are not even consciously recognised. Before we can rid our community of these pervasive attitudes we must first bring them out into the open-air where we can examine them and ultimately discard them as foolish. Holding women back holds back the productivity of the entire workforce.

Domestic violence is now getting more airplay and many of us are tut-tutting from our comfortable lives about what a dreadful scourge on our community it is, all the while secretly thinking ‘why don’t they just leave’. In other words; victim-blaming.

As a survivor of domestic violence, I too delayed my departure much longer than was wise. I had many fears about leaving, in particular the statistics will show anyone who cares to look that this is the time you are most likely to be murdered. But I also wondered what would happen to the otherwise good life I had worked hard to create. My fears were justified. Although I escaped with my life, I did not escape with friendships and relationships intact. Opinion went against me and I was further isolated by former close friends who no longer spoke to me.

We all need to examine our attitudes. The victim of domestic violence is not to be blamed and should never feel ashamed. The person on the receiving end did not and does not deserve to live in fear. They need the love and support of those who are supposed to care for them. Unfortunately the overwhelming majority of those on the receiving end of this type of violence are women.

Once again, we need to examine our attitudes. Good men need to stand up. Women need to stand by their friends and not condone violence or ostracise those with the courage to leave. We need to stand together and show the perpetrators that this is not acceptable.

Everyone knows someone in this situation, it is so widespread. Keeping quiet and keeping the peace is condoning such behaviour.

What will you do about it?