The person who penned this article and attends one of my classes has requested to stay anonymous.
Compared to the situation in the past and in many other countries in the world, the situation of women in Europe is almost better:
– Women have the right to earn and to manage their own money (in the 1950‘s it was not self-evident. Women needed their husband’s permission when they wanted to open a bank account or to have a job)
– Young girls have access to education and to the university (what is also not a evidence in other parts of the world, and also not in Europe at the end of the 19th)
– After the First World War in Germany, in France only after the Second World War, women were granted the right to vote.
– In the public space, women are allowed to move freely (unlike in some cultures, where women are not allowed to drive a car or to go to a football stadium, and in some countries where they need to be accompanied by a man to leave their private sphere: by their husband, their brother, their father) but even in France it is sometimes more difficult for women than for men to stay alone in a pub in the evening, without being bothered by a man.
With regard to the violence against women, the situation of women in Europe is surely better than in some countries in the world (think of acid attacks against women in Asia, at the abortions that are performed because the foetus is a girl,… …), but the number of rapes and of domestic violence against women is also quite high in Germany and France. The need to set up women’s shelters is symptomatic of unequal treatment of women and men.
Last but not least: Equality of opportunities should also mean that women have the same opportunities as men to make a career, whether in the world of work or in politics.
I think, we are still a long way from achieving this and that way feminism is also today not obsolete
In the world of work:
The equal pay day was 2019 on March 25th
In 2018 women earned about 24% less than men. For the same qualification and the same jobs about 12 % less.
The reason of this is obviously that women work in sector where pay is lower. But this is never the less a consequence rather than a cause: the pay is low in these sectors because many women work in these jobs; another reason is that many women work part time (they earn less and they have because they don’t work fulltime less chance to make career; they forgo most as men to make career for the children); it also matters that women seem often to accept lower wages more quickly than men, …
In the world of politics:
Men are overrepresented despite the fact that there is, in many countries, a women quota in regional or local elections.
So, the key question is:
What has to be changed in order that women have the same possibilities as men to make a career in jobs or in politics?
I think that women will never have the same professional opportunities as men as long as men are not ready to take as much care of education and the household as women do.
That means that not only women ask themselves if and how they can manage career and family together, if they must sacrifice their own career for the good of their children, but that men are also ready to become househusbands or to work part-time.
Only if women can have the same time as men for their jobs, will an employer know that they can identify with their work like men do, and only if there are so many househusbands as housewife will an employer wonder if it is not better to employee a woman than a man for a job which requires fulltime and engagement.
This would be a revolution in mentalities which could also have good consequences for men:
Most of them feel bad when they are unemployed although their women have a good job: why don’t they think it is a possibility for them too to be housemen. Perhaps young men wouldn’t find it tragic, when they can’t find a job. It will be a recognized alternative to be a househusband.
The goal is not that all the women and all the men make absolutely the same, but that they have absolutely the same possibilities of lifestyles and the same chances. The goal is that there are no more gender stereotypical expectations.
It will be a sign of change and of equal rights and chances between men and women, when a journalist will ask a young politician or a manager, how he manages to reconcile family and work.