(In March 2000, I wrote this text for publication in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal. Thought about it today when someone asked how I was going to celebrate this damn day. I would today change somewhat the list of what it would take to make me celebrate it, but heh, blast from the past)
If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention
Every year around March 8, International Women’s Day, during the many years I was with the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, some reporter would call to ask, “Why do we need a special day as International Women’s Day?”
“To celebrate…,” I would answer. “To honour…blah,blah … like Labour Day and Mothers’ Day.” (Actually, he was thinking, “Didn’t we do this last year?” and I was thinking, “Couldn’t you think of anything better since last year? If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”)
But seriously, if I were Queen of the World, I would abolish March 8, International Women’s Day. On March 9, I would increase the minimum wage to the minimum needed to live at poverty line. (Fill in the blank: “I believe people who work full-time at minimum wage should be paid less than poverty level because…”) .
I would make schools into community centres with non-profit day care centres, senior centres and youth clubs, which would pretty much end the use of malls as hang outs.
I would revamp the criminal justice system: sentences for crimes against persons would be as severe as those for crimes against property.
I would rewrite the electoral laws. Anyone wanting to run as a candidate would have to file proof of having sat in a hospital waiting room with a sick child or relative, and a video of them giving the same speech to parents, entrepreneurs, men, women, corporations, unions.
After having served their elected term, politicians would have to either serve time as a social assistance recipient, or as a seasonal part-time split-shift black-hole worker, or actually “spend more time with their family”.
I would require all teenage girls who say, “I’m not a feminist” to write an essay, “Why I believe it’s okay that women earn two-thirds of every dollar men earn” or alternatively, “ I think my future partner should take my name because…”
I would legislate that secretaries should be paid more than janitors, day care workers should be paid more than zookeepers and no one in any corporation or government should earn more than double that of their lowest paid worker.
I would organize a raffle to help pay the tax bill of professional sports (did I mention what would happen to their tax bill?). The raffle prizes would be:
First prize: You get time with loved ones – the rarest commodity.
Second prize: You get to follow a politician or a corporation president of your choice as they try to live on minimum wage for a month – Okay, a week: a month would be cruel.
Third prize: Receive the average wage gap between women and men – yes, you could live on it.
I would have a curfew a few times a month: only women over the age of 65 would be allowed out – do you know how often women that age see the stars and feel free to roam the night?
Employers who fired women because they were pregnant would have to pay child support.
If I were Queen, food banks would be abolished. An emergency committee would be struck – not to deal with the poor, for whom economic and social programs would provide – but to deal with those for whom paying taxes didn’t fulfil their need to be benefactors.
I would end affirmative action programs for men: they would have access to 50 percent of government appointments and elected positions. (You know the drill. In 250 words or less, “Why I believe men should have more than half of the appointments…”)
Then I would rest. That’s when I would celebrate Women’s Day.