Thursday, March 29

We've come a long way ... but is it far enough?

These offices have dreamed for women and asked the big questions. Who will do that now?

I dwell in possibility. -- Emily Dickinson.

Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?" -- George Bernard Shaw

What a pair of dreamers, Dickinson and Shaw. And for that, we should thank them.

They reassure us it's OK to dream. And that just because no one ever thought of something before doesn't make it wrong.

In the 1960s a few women began to dream of things that never were -- and many people thought never should be. They were big-mouthed women and definitely not well-behaved. And I need to thank them, too. Because their pain-in-the neck lobbying made possible the life I lead today. And perhaps yours, too.

..........And so Lester Pearson created the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in 1967. After asking women across the land about their dreams, it finally reported in 1970. And one of its many recommendations was to create Status of Women offices across Canada.

These offices have kept plugging away ever since, kept asking why not and helping it to happen. But in late 2006 Stephen Harper announced the closing of 12 of them, including Hamilton's.

For all these things, the Hamilton Status of Women office was paying only one full-time salary. Evelyn Myrie, who for years was that employee, declined to be interviewed. So I've had to piece together what the office has accomplished. Probably the biggest thing is to make a more level playing field.

Warnke also points out a little-known fact. When the Conservatives closed the Status of Women offices, they also cut funding to researchers, the folks who gather statistics on where we're at and where we're going.

Without them, we have no idea where we should be going.

But mostly I want the Status of Women's offices to keep asking questions. Otherwise how will we ever open our minds to the aspirations of our own daughters and sons? Because one thing is certain: They'll surely do things we think are ridiculous -- or simply can't imagine.

And then we'll need the dreamers to hit us over the head and wake us up all over again.

LINK: By Linda JacobsThe Hamilton Spectator(Mar 29, 2007)
Linda Jacobs is a Hamilton journalist whose greatest passion is writing about the Second World War, a most unladylike activity.

No comments: