I’m so lucky. As a mum in Australia with an education and a secure job with good conditions, I’m so lucky. Here are some of the reasons why I’m so lucky:
- I took 14 months maternity leave and through a combination of paid maternity leave and paid annual leave I received pay throughout the full 14 months. I returned to work on a part time arrangement and any requests I’ve made for flexibility or carer’s leave have been willingly met. I was provided with a comfortable and private place to express milk and given time to do this. I’ve been promoted twice since I returned to work. For all these things, I am lucky.
- I have a husband who supports my ambition. He shares in parenting duty and domestic duties around the house. My husband is faithful and does not abuse me. For this I am lucky.
- My husband took 6 months off during my maternity leave to spend time with me and our son. During that time we travelled and I undertook field work for my PhD. He was able to use this time to bond with our son and to revel in our new family life. He is so lucky to have had this opportunity. I’m so lucky that he had this opportunity.
- I’m lucky that I live in a democratic society with the right to vote. I’m lucky that I live in a country where I had access to an education. I have a bank account in my own name, a credit card, a licence to drive a car and I own my own home jointly with my husband.
I shouldn’t be lucky. The access I’ve had to opportunity should not be a matter of luck. The degree to which I’m lucky is the degree to which society (all societies, not just the one I live in) needs to evolve.
Some may say that because I’m so fortunate I shouldn’t complain but I think the opposite. My strong voice is a privilege that compels me and gives me the responsibility to use my position to speak out for what is right and what is fair.
Even from my own enviable position, there is still a long way to go. During my pregnancy I experienced discrimination in the workplace because I was pregnant. In my first job as a team leader, external stakeholders looked to my male off-siders before listening to me simply because they were men. I cannot walk alone at night without fear. I cannot always speak out when I’m experiencing or witnessing discrimination without the risk of appearing overly ‘assertive’, ‘uptight’, ‘not cool’ or horror of all horrors an ‘angry feminist’. Somehow it is my responsibility in these situations to remain silent and ‘keep the peace’, and not the responsibility of the other party not to be an arsehole. I just don’t understand this and it makes me angry and I’m a feminist – so if the shoe fits…
I’m so lucky but I shouldn’t be lucky. I urge everyone in the world who possibly can to help change the world. Do whatever you can. Change your thinking, your actions, what you say and help make the world the kind of place where the privileges I enjoy and you enjoy aren’t privileges but human rights enjoyed by all. Even if you don’t feel like you need change do it! Do it for all of those people who do need change. Do it for poor women, for oppressed women, for abused women, for all women, for all mothers, for all children, for all people, for all the world because we are not alone in this world and as long as there is injustice there is a reason to speak up.
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Photo credit: Bill Graham