International women’s day is upon us, as is the #daywithoutawoman general strike. To all women in all countries, of all colours, of all religions (or none), of all orientations, I salute you in your endeavours. We are strong, brave, capable, and smart. We must believe that we are a force to be reckoned with, and no amount of laws, policies, brutality, and lies can hide that truth.
Hats off to all the women who went on strike today. As I’m currently on maternity leave, I chose not to send my child to daycare (which is staffed by mainly women of colour – but the day remains paid so their wages will not be affected) and limited my unpaid work at home. The fact that so many more women wanted to strike today but felt that they couldn’t – either because it would cause undue hardship to themselves or another woman who would be forced to take their place – shows just how necessary this strike action is. Society still expects women to consider the needs of others before themselves and to put their own agendas aside. Society sees large and important actions like a women’s strike as merely an inconvenience. Society expects that life should continue uninterrupted when 50% of the population (doing more than 50% of the paid and unpaid work) remove themselves for a day. Society disproportionately forces women into situations where they have to choose between feeding/sheltering themselves and their dependants and speaking out against the system that causes the problems. Society is too cowardly to admit that those with the most power would not be where they are without the work , which they happily deride, of women and marginalized peoples.
Women’s rights and the celebration of women’s contributions to society hold a special place in both my personal and professional lives as 95% or more of registered dietitians identify as women. The workplace inequalities women face are apparent on a daily basis in my field, be it through inadequate positions, stagnant wages, or near constant workforce departures due to parental leave or family member care. I would wager that our seemingly eternal struggle to be seen as THE health care experts in the field of nutrition is not insignificantly impacted by the small representation of men and our roots in home economics . And still, while shouldering our societal burdens, these talented women in nutrition are running businesses, providing excellent patient care, managing health care and food services, creating policy and law, educating future health care providers and conducting research. And they are doing a damn fine job.