We can say that the ability to conceive and bear children is the last frontier of gender equality; it is possibly the least contested arena & the best illustration of the words of the Edward Koren cartoon in the New Yorker ‘Despite my best efforts you’re still the man and I’m still the woman’.
Senior women can notoriously be deaf and blind to gender equality issues once they have crashed or soared through the glass ceiling themselves (you know who you are);and both men and women can be equally gender-sensitive. A quick review of the recent UK political landscape however suggests that we still need to talk up the numbers.
A few month’s ago David Cameron’s advice to Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Angela Eagle, to ‘Calm down, dear’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13207256 launched him down a slippery slope of progressive misogyny of which he hardly seems aware.
With the glow of UK Olympic and Para-Olympic success still blanketing the UK, the Prime Minister has done a(nother) U-turn on his election promise to have at least a third of government jobs in women’s hands by the end of this parliament. After the latest re-shuffle the score would appear to be about one in six overall. Still a way to go? And leaving the UK rather far down the league tables in Europe and globally http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/arc/classif310512.htm
gendercentric has commented on http://www.facebook.com/gendercentric the continuing lack of gender balance in the re-shuffled Cabinet -five out of thirty-one – and no senior women at all at the Treasury at a time of economic crisis which most people believe will hit women especially hard http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/sep/05/new-cabinet-treasury-lady-warsi
A further gaffe was to award honours to male victims of the cabinet re-shuffle but not to the women shufflees http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/09/06/downing-street-criticised-honours-women-cheryl-gillan-caroline-spelman_n_1860505.html We’re sure he must have told those pesky women who complained to ‘calm down’.
The new title of the official bearing the gender equality torch speaks for itself – Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport; and Minister for Women and Equalities- though only time will tell whether the new incumbent,Maria Miller (against gay marriage and abortion counselling) will do the position justice!
Across the Atlantic even Ms Magazine has taken note of the PM’s behaviour…… probably they haven’t had his ‘calm down’ message yet?
It seems unlikely on the whole that UK women will calm down; is Labour in opposition in a position to capitalize on this discontent?