08 March 2012

Valuing Women's Time

So it's International Women's Day which is a good holiday, I think, although I don't really like how it's celebrated here.  It's rather patronizing  and it's more like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and/or a birthday all in one day.  Those are fine holidays, but IWD should be different.

This is what I wish for IWD.  I want women's time to be more valued, and, by extension, women's work. We are far too willing to allow women to do time-intensive work and not pay the type of compensation that we give men.

For example.  There are jobs for men in Kyrgyzstan and jobs for women.  You'll still see them advertised this way too, but everyone knows which are which.  Women are secretaries, doctors (yes), nurses, teachers, and more.  Men are surgeons, drivers, laborers, in the military, and more.  Selling stuff is something both can do (both sell clothes and food, although women don't sell cars).  A woman who spends 8 hours a day, 6 days a week teaching in a public school earns far, far less in a month than a man who drives a taxi, even his own beat-up Lada.  But women don't drive taxis here, and men aren't about to waste their time working that much and getting paid that little.  I can buy a bag of laghman that took several hours to make for less than $2, but I'd also pay that for a 5-minute taxi ride

It's obviously not only in countries like Kyrgyzstan where this is a problem- there are plenty of examples in the US of this happening.  And there's more to it than simply whether men or women are traditionally doing the work, but that is a significant part of the story.  I have no idea how to fix the problem, but I just wish that we were more aware of it.

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