Wednesday, March 08, 2006

IWD - who knew?

It's International Women's Day today - although you'd never know it from the dearth of coverage in the mainstream British press (the Independent, as always, being a notable exception) and indeed, across much of the blogosphere. Even Google, if only in simple marketing terms, seems to have abandoned its policy of jazzing up its logo to reflect important dates and holidays when it comes to IWD, despite having done it last year.

As Hak Mao pointed out a few days ago, however, the Worker-Communist Party of Iran (WPI) has organised a march today from 12 to 2 outside Parliament Square, promoting "getting rid of the Islamic veil and smashing the rules of sexual apartheid" in Iran. While I'm growing a bit jaded as to what these marches actually achieve, the cause itself is extremely important, especially with the intensifying international focus on Iran at the moment, so the more solidarity shown the better.

Here in the UK, it has been found that women in full-time employment earn 17% less than men on average, while those with part-time jobs earn an average of 42% less than their male counterparts. I am not an expert on the subject, but I would hazard a guess that this is more to do with how high up the corporate ladder most women can get, with many stuck in low-paying sectors like retail, manufacturing or cleaning. I just found out yesterday that my downstairs neighbour from Poland is being paid the pitiful sum of £3.50 an hour for her drudgery, which has resulted in the number of people living in that one-bedroom flat increasing to at least five in order to help pay the rent. But with the proportion of women acting as CEOs of corporations in the EU currently in the low single-digits, she's hardly the only one to suffer such unsympathetic treatment at the hands of her employer.

It is frustrating to think that any concrete work on tackling this issue is likely to be delayed and overlooked in the face of the current media furore surrounding Tessa Jowell, who had been appointed to champion an action plan.


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