Almost one hundred years ago, Millicent G. Fawcett, one of the greatest thinkers of her times, published, “Equal Pay for Equal Work’, which was the first of its kind paper to be published on gender equality and equal pay.
The paper described the thought experiment that if John Jones was ill and incapacitated and his work of braiding military tunics was being done by his good wife in equal measure, what would happen to the pay if it was discovered that the work was done not by him but her?
The obvious inference was that paying equal to his wife would tantamount to “under-cutting the wages of all men in trade”.
The world thankfully has progressed and today it gives us pleasure that such an aberration does not exist. I would not be very surprised if the future could move in the other direction, given how much women have progressed in every aspect wherever opportunities on equal measure could be provided.
Think of the most bizarre example where one would think several times whether a job so easily done by men could be done by women as well and you will find that such an event has already happened.
I remember my first day in Iceland in an Aluminum Smelter and I was greeted at the office by a lady, whom I mistook as the executive assistant to the Plant Manager. She introduced herself as the Plant Manager of one of the most efficient smelters of the world. The surprise was furthered when I was taken by her to the shop floor. It was late in the day but at close to 6 p.m. in the shifts in the cast house I found only lady operators and supervisors. The head of the shift was a woman, the operator on the console was a woman and even the cast house assistant was a woman.
I had to wager a question, “where are your men folks?” And quick was the answer, “They are mostly out fishing.”
Well, today nothing in this world is a man’s exclusive job; almost every work is done by a woman in equal measure. I would not be surprised if fishing as a manly profession has ceased to be so in Iceland today.
It is just that equal opportunities once given to women have resulted in this positive change. But think of the economic impact of this. The world’s GDP had the biggest boost in the last several decades simply because of this one single measure.
The economic might that we enjoy today is just because the women now share in every work flow in equal measure.
I would put that women’s contribution to the GDP is several notches higher than men as they take the additional burden of making the family, the economic equivalent of which cannot be measured by simple means. Even when they are at home as a home maker, their contribution stands out in no less equal measure.
On this International Women’s Day let us all wish every woman a wonderful life and career.