Life with The Grey

Why Celebrate International Women’s Day?

Apparently this question is going to be answered today on International Women’s Day. Do we not already know the answer?

Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway

Erna Solberg, the Norwegian Prime Minister since 2013, said on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour recently:

‘We have a way to go before we have gender balance in this world.’

We all know that women have had to fight for basic rights in the past; to vote and to have equal status and pay.

But today:

  • Only a quarter of Boris’s cabinet is female (Blair had a third female representation)
  • Less than 24% of the Conservative MPs are women – and given the culture of parliament and the family-unfriendly hours MPs work I am not surprised.
  • There were more women active in political life in the late 70s and early 80s than there are today
  • Gender inequality has been heightened by the COVID 19 pandemic with far more women losing their jobs than men.
  • There have been more cases of violence against women during the pandemic

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is: #ChooseToChallenge

I am very impressed by Erna Solberg and her view on the world. She said that politics is about people’s everyday lives and this is why it is so important to have representation of women in parliament.

In Norway women get 59 weeks of maternity leave at 80% of their pay. Child care is far better catered for. Erna says, it’s about having a career and having a family at the same time and being able to make it work.

The Scandinavian countries as a whole are ahead of the curve on how they treat women and we should be learning from their excellent example.

The drama in women’s lives reflected in fictional drama

I started watching Borgen over the weekend (OK I’m late to this) and I can see the parallels with what has happened in Norway.

In the first episode, Birgitte Nyborg is leader of her party and fighting an election and we see the final debate aired on television. We know that there will be a coalition government but which of the leaders will become Prime Minister.

Before the debate her male adviser tells her to wear ‘that black suit which is slimming.’ He also tells her he has some information about the current PM’s wife which will ruin him. She tells him NOT to use it.

We see Brigitte struggling into the suit at home – it is far too tight. Her husband suggests she wears a blue dress which she likes and is comfortable. She agrees and put the dress on. When it comes to her two minute closing speech she says:

‘Right now in the wings my spin doctor is vigorously crossing himself because I am not reading my prepared speech.

He’s also upset that I am not wearing an outfit we agreed on but the fact is, it no longer fits me because I’ve put on too much weight.’

At this point the producer demands a full frontal shot of the dress that Birgitte is wearing. When would this ever happen to a man?

She goes on to give an inspiring speech which is very well received by her audience. I won’t give away any more spoilers.

The point is that women are treated very differently to men.

Meghan Markle speaks out against an outdated institution: The Crown

We hear today, on International Women’s Day, the views of the media on the Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.

They are quick to criticize Meghan for exposing what life has been like for her marrying into the British Royal Family. I have a lot of sympathy for her and think that she is very brave to confront this outdated institution.

Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson were both victims of ill treatment and suffered as a result.

Meghan was in her late 30s when she met Harry and had led a successful independent life up to that point. So when she was confronted with the restrictions of palace life, she reneged against it. She also claims she was subject to racial abuse and I am inclined to believe her.

I have long thought that the Crown is an outdated institution that needs radical reform. This interview highlights this point.

Erna Solberg, Meghan Markle and Birgitte Nyborg (fictional character, I know,) are all inspirational women. Go girls!

#ChooseToChallenge

#IWD2021

This post is written to acknowledge International Women’s Day 2021 and the role of women in the world. The  theme is  #choosetochallenge.  Co-ordinated by Attract Readers, https://www.attractreaders.com

5 Comments

  • Jean

    The Scandinavian and Eastern European countries in particular have so many female political leaders. The world needs the next generation as well as women leaders! It can’t be so difficult to change working practices and culture to have both! Hopefully a post pandemic world will embrace a more holistic view of life and work.

  • Ute

    Such poignant observations. Isn’t it worrying that there were more women politically active 40 years ago than today! I remember organising my first Int women’s Day event in 2006 and presentaing a slide with similar facts and most women had no idea! I could never understand why we went backwards on some things. And why women today, like the fictional Brigitte (I too am a Borgen Fan) are still more judged by how we look than what we are capable of!

  • Sue Williams

    Sad to read those statistics for the UK. Let’s hope that fictional and real life examples like the ones you use will bring the challenge to change to more women. Meghan has certainly raised key questions so as to be discussed across the world which will in itself stimulate change.

    • Gill Buchanan

      I agree. It is a tough ride for women in politics in this country and I think that puts many off.
      I have long held the belief that our Royal Family need to reform and modernise so that they are relevant to today’s society and I sincerely hope that this is the wake up call they need.

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