Today is International Women’s Day and the theme for today is ‘pledge for parity’ and I had to explain the word to my children and I am sure that they won’t be the only ones asking what it means today. Parity – the state of being equal, especially in status and pay. As a teacher most of my young students believe in this, they see that both male and female should be equal in status and pay and unfortunately many believe this is the case. Many think of feminism as something that their grandmothers faught for and since then the playing field is fair.
It is only as they get older they begin to see the inequality that still exists. When I have told my students that there is still a gender pay gap my 16/17 year old students look surprised, they thought the equal pay act had put an end to that discrimination. Yet when we look at who are the CEO’s of large co corporations it is clear that there is still a glass ceiling as (only 2% of CEO are Women). When we look at the pay over a lifetime we see that males earn more than women.
This demonstrates to me that the grass roots beliefs have been changed, that our young people believe in the genders being treated equally. Yet reality is that gender inequality is still entrenched in society. When women enter the workforce the gender gap opens up and many realise that there is still inequality. That is was not a battle won by their grandmothers but still it is ongoing.
As a parent and teacher I pledge to keep talking about this to tell those that I can, that there is still inequality in the UK. I want my children to grow up and to be strong role models. I want my teen daughter to enter the workplace and not be afraid to ask for a pay rise, I want her to negotiate and be competitive in the workplace and for that to be seen as a strength. At the moment women that aim for the top are having to compromise, the traits that are celebrated for men are seen as not attractive for women. If you follow my instagram feed you will hopefully notice I celebrate women over there. There are often photo’s of my girls doing what makes them happy. We embrace using #this girl can or similar campaigns. The gender issues definitely widen during the teen years and I have watched my teens friends reducing the sports they play at higher levels, swapping it for less active pastimes.
I want my son to know that no matter which gender you are born that you are equal and I do that by talking to him about equality. We don’t label careers and behaviours as gender specific. He witnesses his greatest male role models (his dad, his grandads) as treating everyone equally. The fact that it was his grandad that reduced his work hours to look after his grandchildren one day a week to help with our childcare costs can only be a good thing. He learnt from a young age that childcare does not depend on gender, it is not women’s work.
I raise my children to be role models, to be leaders, to speak up where they see inequality. That is my job as their mum. I pledge to keep doing it.