Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Behind the Veil

From the 1st to the 12th of March, there was a United Nations conference in New York on the status of women. You wouldn't know it, there has hardly been any press coverage. And yet there were over 8,000 delegates from around the world present. Two of them from Canada, are friends of Sleepy's and mine.

This morning, on the CBC news, the story of a young woman who had been asked to leave two separate colleges in Québec, for refusing to remove her niqab in the classroom. The argument is that when people come to Québec, they have to sign a document to uphold the values of that Province, and Québec believes in gender equality. The wearing of such items of clothing are from cultures that oppress women. And I get that, I really do. Members of the Islamic faith in Québec have said publicly that nowhere in Islam does it say women should wear these garments. Québec, as in Canada in general, is secular.
And yet, I'm conflicted. Yes, I see the wearing of these coverings as misogynistic and oppressive, but I also know how difficult it is for the oppressed to throw off that mantle. And aren't we continuing that oppression by putting the onus on the women and not on the oppressor?
I couldn't help wondering, whilst listening to the reasonable arguments, that perhaps this young woman could go to a college or be in a class of only women. Then she could remove her headwear without fear.

On International Women's Day, we saw the sorry spectacle of the Speaker of the Indian Parliament being mobbed and the motion to raise the percentage of women in Parliament to 30%, being torn up. But this ended well. The seven men who did this were suspended and the motion passed the following day. As I read elsewhere, we should all have such high expectations. Women in government constitute 20% in Britain, 16% in the U.S. and 21% in Canada, so if only we could get up to the target India has set itself, we'd be - well, not laughing exactly, but less humiliated.

Meanwhile, Gay is the, Gay. It seems everyone's doing it! Even the homophobes are doing it...oh wait, they've always been doing it. Ah well, fun to catch 'em, eh?


Sleepy said...

Am I new Gay or old Gay?
I get confused!

Schneewittchen said...

Old Gay. Deffo. You were doin' it before everyone was. Although.....the homophobes were always doin' it. Hmmm...I'm confused too. Like Nike, Just Do It!

Gail said...

Someone asked me what I did to celebrate International Women's Day - I responded "worked eight hours for less pay than my male peers and then picked up my daughter from daycare."

Schneewittchen said...

Indeed you did, 71 cents on the dollar isn't it?