YWCA Hamilton: Voices

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Women’s Happiness

A lot of blogs and mainstream media have been reporting on the recent studies that women’s overall happiness is decreasing. Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner wrote a great piece for the Huffington Post in response to the many male voices that have been making noise on this issue.

Rowe- Finkbeiner’s analysis of the phenomenon seems dead on. Here is a snippet of the article (we recommend reading the whole piece HERE):

Why are women unhappy? The fact that the feminist revolution is mid-course and some are calling it over just because women now number half of the labor force is a reason for unhappiness. The fact that we don’t have family-friendly policies which most other nations take as a given is another reason for unhappiness.

We’re not moving forward, we’re falling behind. According to international gender equality ratings just released by the World Economic Forum, the United States fell four spots from last year. We now stand at 31st place, just behind Lithuania. Further, falling behind hurts us all: Right now there are only 15 women CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, despite that more than 50% of college graduates are now women and despite, importantly, that recent studies show that Fortune 500 companies with women in leadership are actually doing better fiscally in this tough economic environment.

She’s a smart woman with a good point.


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Menstration and Education

A lot of research has  been done about the barriers to girl’s education in the majority world- early marriage, pregnancy, poverty and disease.  But the  Daily Nation posted an op-ed on another issue that prevents girls from getting a quality education: menstruation.

Lacking sanitary products, girls find it easier to stay home rather than face the embarrassment and awkwardness of menstruation at school.  The article cites a 2005 UNICEF report that found 1 in 10 girls in Kenya did not attend school during their periods.

These absences add up and in some cases girls will stop going to school all together.

Interestingly enough- the solution, the authors argue, is not to send over disposable sanitary products that Western women are so accustom to, but rather to invest in reusable sanitation products, which tend to not only more sustainable, but also more environmentally friendly.

Of course politicians, parents, shop keepers and NGOs all have role to play argues the authors. MPs in Kenya recently lowered the taxes on sanitary towels. Parents and teachers can speak openly and honestly to girls about how to manage their periods and shop keepers can display sanitation products in plain sight.

This is an important issue to address. To quote the authors, “Girls face significant struggles. Let’s not allow the process of becoming a woman to further hinder their pursuits.”

Take a look at the whole article here.

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Are women working harder for nothing?

I read an eye-opening article in the Globe and Mail today. Journalist Leah McLaren argues that despite some “good news” for women this week (“…the salaries of recent female business graduates narrowly exceeded those of their male counterparts for the first time. .. the Shriver Report found that half the American work force is now composed of women.”) it’s not all sunshine and lollypops.

In fact, argues McLaren, it’s a lot worse than that. I recommend that you click here and read the entire article, but here’s a small taste:

Despite working harder and in greater numbers than ever before, women are still earning less than men in the same jobs over all and taking most of the responsibility for housework and child care.

In essence, the plight of women is like that old morale-boosting management trick: the no-compensation promotion (also known as the non-raise raise). It’s all very flattering until you realize that you have just taken on twice as much work and responsibility for no extra pay or respect.

It’s a raw deal. And here’s another bitter pill: Working harder than men is not going to help us renegotiate the terms.