I’m proud that Time Out is turning its masthead purple on Monday March 8th, to support International Women’s Day. I’d like to tell you why.
In any other year, I’d have shared alarming stats with you to show you that – despite the extraordinary women we see and celebrate today and every day – gender parity is a lifetime away, and progress towards it is too fricking slow. This year, I’d like to show you a personal snapshot instead.
Right now, I’m writing this article at my kitchen table. This table is where I have cooked and served meals for my kids every day for the last year and cleaned up after them. It’s been a makeshift ironing board and a fairly crappy and underused home gym. It’s also a shared desk where I have worked late into the night, writing, editing, emailing, planning. Either that or cudgelling my foggy brain to master algebra, new and bizarro methods for long division, inspirational facts about Rosa Parks and alarming ones about Myanmar, or whatever else is required to homeschool three children with totally conflicting ages, needs and personalities.
The table is, frankly, a bit sticky, and I don’t want to know why. My days consist of three shifts: one for care, one for cleaning and cooking, one for my job: Head work, Heart work and Hand work. There’s not much time for sleep or fun. And I’m one of the lucky, privileged, first-world women. I have a platform, a job, a salary, a home and an empathetic boss. I have access to medicine and – soon – a vaccine. I have a big table.
Covid has hit women around the world hardest, and women of colour hardest of all: as this sad article by my colleague Anna shows, most of the people who have lost their jobs because of Covid in the USA were women.
In their families and in their working lives, women are most likely to be carers. Women are unpaid carers caring for elderly and sick relatives. Women pick up the majority of homeschooling and housework. Women work in the caring professions, which we all clap and applaud, but which are not well paid. Love, empathy, care and nurture have often been excluded or minimised by official culture and working practices, because they are perceived as feminine. Economically speaking, our society has valued bum-wiping and compassion less than spreadsheets and emails.
This year, Covid bulldozed the walls between work and life. It made those hidden hours of labour longer and it made them visible on every Zoom call. It’s been messy. But it’s also created a challenge to all of us to hold onto that authentic truth, and live and work differently.
Personally, I want to see a world where women are valued. Where empathy and generosity are strengths, not weaknesses. Where no carer – male or female – is unable to see their child during waking hours, because those are also their work hours. Where no one has to stay in the office until 6.30pm on Friday, then catch a jammed sardine-tin train up north to visit a relative in hospital, necking a lukewarm bottle of wine to dull the pain. My demands arise from my own lived experience. And of course there are many other vivid, particular experiences of being a woman in 2021. But I know I am not alone.
I’m proud that Time Out celebrates extraordinary, creative women not only once a year, but every day, and all over the world. Read about women who are shaking up their worlds and creating a better normal in Sydney, New York, Chicago, L.A., London, Lisbon and Paris today – to sample just a few highlights of our coverage for International Women’s Day 2021.
In the meantime, let’s raise our Heads, Hearts and Hands to women. I can’t wait to see what we will do next.