When I tell friends that I am the editor of Women’s Post, the response is usually this:
“Wow, that’s amazing! So…what kind of stuff do you write/publish?”
I explain that I work for a publication that strives to be a platform for women, but our content doesn’t discriminate: Yes, I write about fashion and food, but I tend to focus more so on politics and business. Women’s Post also profiles women who have been successful in their industry of choice, and shares their knowledge with other women as inspiration or motivation.
At this point, I often get an apathetic “oh really” or “that’s interesting” response. Even worse is the condescending “That’s amazing that you are doing THAT type of work” reply — as if women as a group are in desperate need of guidance and support; as if they are incapable of being successful without the help of men; as if women, as a demographic, need an organization or a publication to advocate on behalf of their interests because they can’t do it themselves.
Let’s get one thing straight — I don’t believe that women NEED help to succeed. Women are just as capable as men — just as creative, intelligent, and hard working. The only thing standing in their way are archaic stereotypes and policies entrenched in this society that often prevent women from getting a) the jobs they deserve and b) the benefits and salary they deserve. What Women’s Post does is motivate women to fight for those simple rights.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is gender parity — a socioeconomic index used to measure access to education between men and women. According to the World Economic Forum, gender parity won’t be achieved until the year 2133. Only a year ago that number was 2095. Simply put, every year this gender gap is growing at a ridiculously fast rate.
As of 2015, only 25 countries have closed the gap in terms of “educational attainment.” Gender parity has been reached in the “university student” category, but not where skilled roles (75 per cent) and leadership roles (28 per cent) are concerned.
The 2015 Global Gender Gap Index did show a quarter of a billion more women have entered the labour force since 2006. This is great news, but at the same time the salary gap between men and women has increased from 5k to 10k. In fact, the average salary for women in 2015 equals the average salary for men in 2006!
I never really experienced sexism growing up, or at least that I noticed. Even through my early years at university, when my student union was screaming about equality, I thought they were making a big deal out of nothing. I had the same opportunities as my male friends. I never felt singled out as a woman or treated any differently than my male counterparts in the newsroom. Of course, I knew that in other parts of the world young girls couldn’t go to school and women weren’t allowed to work, drive, or venture outside unaccompanied by a man. But, sexism didn’t exist in Canada, right?
I was completely naïve in those days. Now, especially in this role, I’m able to see it all. As Beatrix Dart, one of the women we’ve featured as a Woman of the Week, said in an interview, the stereotypes become blatantly clear once you become pregnant: “Suddenly, people make assumptions about you and suddenly all these gender barriers you’ve heard about kick in. They really exist.”
It’s also blatantly clear that violence against women is still rooted in North American culture. We’ve been seeing it in the media over the last year, following the trial of Jian Ghomeshi for alleged sexual assault and choking, and the treatment of celebrities like Kesha, who is fighting to be relieved of a contract with a producer she alleges abused her. Consent is still considered a contentious issue open to interpretation and women are constantly judged by their appearance instead of their intellect and worth as human beings. Now that my schoolgirl eyes have been opened, I find myself constantly shocked and disgusted with how my demographic is treated.
Canada is ranked 30 out of 145 countries in terms of gender equality, which is pretty great. But, this country can do better. Society as a whole can do much, much better. All women should be given equal opportunity for education and employment, and should be treated with the same respect given to any man.
As our mission statement says, Women’s Post is a social enterprise designed to promote women and their initiatives across Canada. By providing mentorship, sharing knowledge, and giving women a platform to voice their opinions, Women’s Post hopes to show how amazing and ambitious this demographic can be if given the opportunity to grow.
It’s a worthy endeavour and I am proud to be the editor of this publication.
At the same time, I can’t wait until I live in a society where this type of work isn’t needed anymore. It’s too bad I probably won’t be able to witness it in my lifetime.
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