Tonight I was in the audience of a panel led discussion called Men On Our Side organised by the Welsh Assembly as Part of Women in Public Life; International Women’s Day Events.
This event was brought to my attentian via Cardiff Feminist Network. There were a lot of women against this as it was to be an all male panel. I signed up to be in the audience and decided to keep an open mind as I didn’t believe the event would of been composed in a way to undermine women or in a way the audience were not allowed to be involved in the conversation. Surely it has to be a two way things and that we need men to be actively involved in bringing equality to all aspects of life?
The panel consisted of Dr Neil Wooding (The Office for National Statistics), Carl Sargeant AM (National Assembly for Wales), Chris Green (White Ribbon Campaign UK) and Roger Lewis- WRU Group. The men were obviously commited to bringing equality into their areas and discussed how they went about this, how they challenged other men who are apposed to their ideas. Chris Green spoke of his White Ribbon Campaign and how it ties into the Everyday Sexism Campaign. I am planning to look more into this and contact him.
Although the audience were involved and their questions answered by the panel, it was apparent to me that the Women in Public Life title didn’t really cover public life. It covered work place, women on boards; all job related. They spoke of success and the negative look it gives to a woman and how men will exagerate their skills (and lie) where women will play down and doubt themselves etc, but it never addressed the issue of women in public spaces. The areas addressed are, obviously, in need of change, but I feel these are places where there are laws and regulations in place. These need to be upheld and improved and acted out on the ground. However women actually experiencing sexism in public areas, the lack of laws, protection or places to go and report are being over looked. There was talk (which I agree with to a certain extent) of the younger generation having more respect for women and treating them as equals in regard to work and education; but nothing was mentioned about the lack of respect for young girls/women in regard to sex. From the stories and reports that I have read, there seems to be a dangerous attitude, a lack of understanding of consent and respect and unrealistic expectations when it comes to the younger generation. The word ‘education’ keeps flying about, but who is going to give the education? When is it going to start?
I also watched a TED talk on the devastating effect of telling yourself that you are ugly. The lady speaks of the insecurites of young people and the bullying that happens on social media and how it implicates their future. Again, the confidence factor was spoken of when applying for jobs in the future and the impact that then has on the economy. This and tonight’s talk made me realise that people were resorting to using the economy to pin point the effect of undervaluing women. Which addresses the money-success-male attitude. Why is this the most important reason to regard a female as equal? Cause she can make your business as much money as a man can? Why not because it she is a human, entitled to the same treatment and worth?