Equality and sharing

Yesterday's strike for International Women's Day was more symbolic than anything else. It's impossible to really prove to what extent the world would stop turning if all women downed tools. Yesterday women in Spain did make their presence felt, rather than their absence, joining forces in streets and squares to draw attention to the inequality that still exists even in developed countries in Europe such as this one, where women have been demanding equality for decades.

First we wanted the right to be individuals and not belong to a father or husband, then the right to vote in an election, and to stand for election. We achieved all this, not without a fight. Access to the labour market was also obtained, but this is where we are still fighting.

For years a male-dominated society has managed to keep hold of management positions, convincing women that even though they could share the workplace, their husbands, fathers and sons would not be accepting their share of housework or childcare in return.

Instead society introduced the idea of women “juggling” a working life and home responsibilities, and well-meaning firms and authorities are still helping women combine both jobs; that way men can avoid doing their share.

Yesterday the world didn't stop turning in Spain. Many women did stop working either for a full day or a couple of hours, but how many simply rescheduled important meetings or decisions, rather than inconveniencing their colleagues or clients? How many got jobs out of the way on Wednesday or saved them till today so they could join the strike? Not everyone could take advantage of strength in numbers as in the case of public sector workers.

Then there are the invisible ones, those who really keep society going, and who unfortunately are a majority of women. Carers who, professional or not, earning or not, legally employed or not, could not leave an elderly person or child unattended for a day. And if they did not exist, that would really put a strain on society: social services would have to be redesigned.

Meanwhile, the women staff at SUR chose to give readers the best coverage of International Women's Day rather than walking out of the office. Awareness, after all, is key.