Today, I woke up and the first image I watched my screen and there was a picture in my Facebook newsfeed from an Instagram user. Christen Brandt narrated her awful experience. She gave details explaining how a dangerous guy followed her after he harassed her verbally while she was walking to 34th Street subway station without being dressed in an inappropriate manner. I have known a lot of women with similar or worst experiences. Undoubtedly, every woman reading this article had witnessed or lived something like this at least once in their lifetime.
Particularly, when we had been fighting against uncomfortable experiences or laws for centuries. However, it does not mean we should tolerate this male behaviour like something normal. Especially, when we need to overcome other complicated issues like access to education, health control, birth control, Zika virus, among other topics. One of these themes appeared in the newspapers. A few days ago, Barack Obama, President of the United States, expressed his support for activities and movements promoting the approval of the Paycheck Fairness Act. If this happens, this action would finish gender payment gap, which makes women make $ 0,78 for each dollar a man made in the same job.
Obama’s decision of increasing the awareness of CEOs about how they should determine the best process to control a fair payment for men and women, avoiding the bias of discriminating an employee’ salary because she is not a man. Fighting for equal rights in the workplace has been part of women’s process to conquer equality in the last five decades. It does not no matter your age, race or social condition. Being a woman is your ticket to get less money after you have done the same work than your male coworkers. Sometimes, what makes this situation worse is how women could appreciate a variety of negative comments in media, where their actions are qualified as irrelevant or silly. Even when they had been trying to improve their lives. In consequence, increasing awareness about this step in equality process for women in the global politics is important, especially, the case of Paycheck Fairness Act being approved. This type of process brings us the opportunity to promote new or similar solutions for cases easily found across different continents. This change could happen not only in the US but in other countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America, where it is possible to find difficult conditions for women. Getting a fair paid it is a basic step for leaving poverty, which affects women in the personal and professional field. Furthermore, it diminishes their opportunities to take decisions, and women should fight for this together ignoring the divergence in their political beliefs.
Even when topics like harassment and payment equality are not easily linked. The truth is both situations share similar origins. Both cases are examples of how our societies had established particular characteristics for women’s role. For example, most societies accept that women must be economically dependent on someone else. I am pretty sure it is not a reality for every woman on Earth but it is what we define as “normal”. When I express women should have the right to claim the same payment as their male counterpart, I am not supporting that women do not need their husbands, sons, daughters or family to take care of them. Love, care and healthy relationships are necessary for the right type of development. Although this emotional support would not satisfy human needs as food, a place to live, medicine when a member of your family is sick, among other commodities. Especially, for those mothers who are the only responsible adult to take care of their children. For them confronting how public organisations, enterprises and professionals ignore to recognise their labour and pay them the right amount of money is a real action to increase disadvantages for this group in any community across the world.
It is not difficult to become a witness of this reality in different companies. Women used to get less money than their male coworkers because managers and CEOs feel comfortable with the idea that women do not need more money. I prefer to assume a critical position towards how the economic system and companies develop their activities in different countries. It is common to find more men in the highest position of any organisation hierarchy. As an illustration, it is possible that Human Resources’ directors prefer to think that a single woman has fewer economic responsibilities than a man when she ask for a raise of salary.
For example, in Latin America as in other countries, it is common to see women living with their parents until they got married so it is easy to listen to comments like: “There is not a good reason for women to ask for a raise”. I found another case in Australia, where Kahlani Pyrah explained to ABC website how she launched a Federal Court action against Grill’d. The company was not paying her the minimum wage established by Australian law. In this case, Kahlani and his coworkers were categorised as too young, without the opportunity of working for a long time in the same corporation. When I think about assuming as a woman that you do not need more money, it lets me understand immediately understand that men had never faced in their lives a group of people thinking “Hey Charlie, why do you need more money?” Because for he, it is common to listen to people motivating him for keeping a competitive attitude, energy and ambition. When men apply these values, as part of their daily duties, then they would have opportunities to achieve more in their careers. This means they could get more money for a competitive attitude if their professional performance brings successful results to their companies. In contrast, for women, the story is completely different. If a woman tends to act in this way, it is possible that men in higher positions reject this behaviour because for them this is as an aggressive characteristic in women, which diminish the possibilities for her to conquer more professional goals.
Some bosses probably think that after any woman leave her family to marry someone, her husband would support her and finally, when they get older their sons or daughters are going to assume this responsibility. Why do we accept that women live in a society, where the social structure reinforce continuously the influence of dependency? We cannot ignore the irony behind popular jokes or comments about what is supposed to be like a common attitude in female groups: woman’s dependency. Even if the situation was provoked by an accident, we would not deny how global economic system promote a structure, which established these conditions for women so the question is when are we going to stop promoting economies where women need economic support from their parents, husband, or their sons and daughters? I thought for a long time about possible solutions and I found them, however, there is no way to think that one person has all the answers. I truly believe we could change it when more citizens try to transform and influence the way of managing topics like the economy, gender and payment.
My purpose when I wrote this article is not destroying social capital or the possibilities to have economic support from your families in the middle of an economic, social or personal crisis. Indeed, my desire is exposing the adversities that governments, corporations and professionals had caused for ignoring how to change an unfair bias. Inequality of payment is not only accepted. Sometimes, it has been reinforced as part of usual practices inside public or private organisations, where owners increase their earnings while women need to keep fighting an endless conflict for achieving a better salary. Undoubtedly, if we change how citizens work and evaluate gender in social, legal and economic systems while we are trying to recognise a fair value of women’s work, we could have an opportunity to endorse a different behaviour in other areas. Perhaps, individuals should open their minds to eliminate this ancient prejudice. Especially, when it is going to bring more alternatives for women if they need to live by themselves. It is possible that economic modifications increase the probabilities for women to establish better relationships with others in different gatherings, where men could not accept that women get less money for doing the same work.