Monday, 17 March 2008

women's expo

had a nice restful day, today which i needed it after being so busy yesterday. i went to tauranga for their ethnic festival, which was extremely successful. there were hundreds and hundreds of people there, enjoying the food, crafts, and entertainment. events like this are so important in bringing different communities together and breaking down barriers. it was nice to catch up with members of the bangladeshi community, who won a special award for their charitable work in the community.

then i rushed back to put in a couple of hours at the women's expo. sue moroney (MP) has been advocating a law change to make sure that tea breaks and lunch breaks are compulsory. it was amazing how many people didn't realise that employers do not have to allow a tea break under the law - you actually have to make sure that it's included in your employment contract. this situation came about after the national awards were scrapped in 1991.

while most employers are responsible enough to provide breaks, (and the good ones provide free tea & bikkies), it's usually the younger workers and those in low paid jobs that are most vulnerable in this area. i talked to a 17-year-old who only got a 15 minute lunch break in a 7 hour working day. and there were plenty of teachers who signed up to our petition, saying they never got tea breaks as they spent the time kids were out tidying the classroom and preparing for the next lesson. if anyone deserves tea breaks, it's definitely our teachers!

but the most bizarre experience yesterday was talking to a woman, who did sign our petition, but told me that she believed women's rights had gone way too far in this country. while i wasn't too surprised by that view - i hear quite a lot from younger women - i was shocked when she said the country shouldn't be run by a woman leader. she believed that only men should run the country. i swear, this was a very nice, blue-eyed young white woman. it certainly took me by surprise. i pointed out to her some of the policies brought in under helen clark's leadership - cheaper doctors visits, raises to the minimum wage, paid parental leave, saving for superannuation etc etc - but it was no good. she just couldn't see any good in it, and held to her position that only men should lead the country.

i was a bit naughty, and asked if she had any religious affiliation. she told me she was christian, and i left it at that. none of my business really. but i was left feeling rather uncomfortable, and even a little sad, at her point of view. after so many women have fought so hard to open up opportunities for other women, i would hate to think any of that effort would go to waste.


Julie said...

How bizarre that this woman didn't think a fellow XXer should be in charge? Did she give any reason at all, other than that men should be in the leadership roles? Sounds like an interesting person to talk to, but frustrating I guess!

I hope Sue's member's bill passes. If it does there will be a lot of work to do on education and enforcement. When I was getting my hair cut a few weeks ago the hairdresser told me that they are supposed to have breaks but are often told they have to sign that they had their break when they haven't. This was a major hairdressing chain, not a little operation either.

stargazer said...

no, she didn't give me any reason at all. i thought she might have talked about "family values", or "breakdown of the family", but she didn't go in that direction.

the reason why i say it was naughty of me to ask her religion is because i know damn well that there are plenty of muslims who hold this view, as do some members of other religious groups too. but i can only imagine it's a faith-based position, cos there didn't seem to be any underlying logic to what she was saying.

Anonymous said...

I had already expected that the objecting woman was a Christian before I read the final paragraph. The description was too exact. Conservative Christian ideology upholds a hierarchy that runs from God to Christ to man to wife. Any alternative serves a spirit of rebellion and unnatural order. This hierarchy is derived from the letters that came part of the Christian Bible. No secular white New Zealander would claim to think this way, even if they otherwise claimed to be postfeminist.

One of the few things that makes nervous me about interfaith would be the emergence of a conservative values alliance between religious groups that are currently suspicious of each other.