Up a Ladder

I began International Women's Day up a ladder, in my Blundstones, with a power tool, wrestling with a hedge for my friend Carla. So many good things happened for me today. I got to work, doing a job that I enjoy, I sent my girls off to get an education, I read a book, I had a nap, I cooked a healthy dinner for my children. I had a very privileged March 8.

Last night I watched a video by a Swedish researcher who wanted to help students to understand their relative place in the world in regards to things. Most of the Swedish students she interviewed imagined that they were about in the middle of the distribution of the world's wealth. Anna Rosling Ronnlund sent out a team of photographers all around the world to create a visual database to demonstrate to us all our place in the world. The Swedish students are of course, right there at the top of income distribution, as are most of the readers of this blog.

I love projects like this. I am such a nosey parker. As a child my favourite reading matter was a stack of old National Geographics. I loved diving into the details of other people's lives. I still do, which is how I have managed to lose a few hours on this website. To really drill down, click on a family, which will take you to a house tour, then you can click on any object in that tour which will allow you to compare that object with the same object of every other household in every income bracket all over the world. You can compare the stoves, beds, toys, toothbrushes and toilets of the world!

How does all of this relate to International Women's Day? I have a lot of ideas jumbled up in my head. How very little material goods so many people have. How mostly poverty is a product of inequality of power and resources. How improving the lot of women and girls lifts a whole community. How here in our highly developed societies most women have freedom, autonomy, choice and material wealth beyond the dreams of the vast majority of the world's poorest women, and yet we are spiritually bankrupt, in a culture of violence, which treats both men and women as pawns in a mad game designed to extract wealth from the many and concentrate it in the hands of the few. Where role models for our girls are the women who have competed and won in the vile and violent game that is the power structure that frames our society.

There is lots to work on and so many ways we can do better as women. There are also lots of wonderful, fabulous women who work every day to make the world a better place for our girls in ways that are different and paths that take another route. This is the kind of woman I aspire to be. One who finds a path that is overgrown and little used, and says, "Let's try this one and see what happens." Of course, we will need good boots and some decent pruning equipment for that.


Treaders said…
You're absolutely right Jo. We women in the west, while we may not have full equality, have so, so much more than so many other people - probably people who would give their right arm just to be able to eat to their satisfaction. It is very sad I find that the media keeps churning out plastic, false, talentless reality shows and sadly so many young people (men and women) aspire to that. Happiness will never be down that road. Unfortunately they just don't know it yet. Anna
Jo said…
Anna, ugh, reality TV. What should the slogan be? Please exploit me?
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Being a bloke it is probably not my place to comment on such things, so I shall recount a story to you that I heard on the radio recently.

It was an interview with a music producer who produces a reasonably well known indie female singer songwriter - and she is an excellent artist too. Anyway, when asked about how he worked with her, the producer said he just tried to stay out of her way and let her speak so that she could do her thing. It would be nice if a few more guys took that approach.

PS: Top work with the hedge trimmer. How good are those tools? We have a 240V Stihl hedge trimmer here and it gets used all the time to hack back the encroaching jungle of the garden beds. You may not be able too in your circumstance, but we chuck the clippings onto new garden beds and nature eventually takes care of them and breaks them into top quality soil. The downside is that it looks untidy for a few months though.

Jo said…
Chris, of course blokes should comment. What have we become if we can't have robust conversations on all the topics that concern all of us?? Oh, that's right, we have become ultra-politically correct and afraid to open our mouths on any sensitive topic at all lest we get yelled at. Sigh.

And yes, that seems like a good approach for any producer with any artist..

Usually I use hand tools for pruning, but for great big enormous hedges, the hedge trimmer is brilliant, with my favourite pruning saw.
Judy said…
I love Gapminder and was so sad when Hans Rosling died, but now so glad his family are continuing it, so thanks for sharing this. It really makes me feel grateful to have a roof over my head and puts a new perspective on my leaky front door :-)
Jo said…
Judy, I had no idea this was a family enterprise, just discovered it via TED talks. It's so brilliant, such a simple visual tool, especially useful for working with children, I think. Yes, I am hearing you on the perspective thing. For me, it inspires gratefulness, yes, but also a feeling of, 'Well, do I really need all of this?' There are clearly people in the world who have too little, but also a lot of people living contented lives with much less than what I have amassed..

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