Editorial Commentary: Mending The Gender Equality Balance
A loose seam can be the undoing of a garment. In the shadow of International Women’s Day, observed on March 8, a local lens on the stitches that make up our daily lives in Newtown is as important as changing with the seasons.
The Newtown Bee’s editorial staff has the privilege of meeting many residents weekly. Our female writers find themselves, at times, surrounded by men at meetings or events. While outright sexist sentiments are rare, we must not let lapses slip the gender equality balance.
Small moments, like single threads, can impact a large outcome. It is easy for a flippant remark, meant to make one laugh, to instead belittle and undermine women. Slips of the tongue can be hurtful and have a long-term impact. We have to also note that laying hands on a female — or any — journalist is never appropriate; there is a demeaning nature to such an action. Nicer in Newtown? Surprisingly, these events have been experienced by our female staff in recent weeks.
As the website for International Women’s Day, internationalwomensday.com, reads, “Balance is not a women’s issue; it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage... Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.” The campaign theme for 2019 was “#BalanceforBetter.”
A quick review of Newtown’s boards and commissions revealed women are underrepresented by a (roughly) three to two ratio. But overall, the gender balance in Newtown feels better than in some areas of the world. We do not need to march for females to have basic human rights in Newtown. We do not need to fight for Newtown’s girls to receive an education. We have leading women and men who respect each other, regardless of sex. Yet, are all our stitches tight? Are we preparing our youth, not just our girls, to speak for themselves? To be unbowed by social pressure?
Whether our gender equality balance is in line is a hard question to answer, and it is one that should be in the forefront of our minds every day. No person can balance gender equality on their own shoulders: It is a community effort.
According to the United Nations, the first National Women’s Day was held in 1909 in the United States, following a 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, “where women protested against working conditions.” International Women’s Day was marked for the first time in 1911.
It has been 110 years since the first National Women’s Day. To keep our loose threads from fraying, we must change with the season and actively seek a gender equality balance.
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