The March fifth NY Times article captions, Women’s Unpaid Labor is Worth $10,900,000,000,000 (G.Wezerek, K.Ghodsee) and thoughts turn to a number of issues, one being the equation by which we value contributions to the quality of our lives.
It seems that the multiple zeros, many which attach to one of those unfathomable numbers in math abstracts, base value on work done, even in the NY Times article—housekeeping, preparing meals, caring for family members, and so on. And this is, in fact, a bond that keeps many individuals and family units functioning, interacting, thriving. Still, within most cultural circles today, the presence of women has been almost totally disregarded and significantly undervalued.
Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join a small roundtable discussion about environmental events with women held at one of the members’ homes. As an octogenarian, she worries about lapse of memory, mobility, but most of all, as she expressed, the solitude she feels in isolation from neighbors, family, and friends whose busy lives bend to unyielding time away from human connection. By the time our discussion and brunch had ended, she had noticeably more interaction with the group, more energy, and more smiles exchanged for everyone. Work? Not really. Value? Most assuredly.
This year’s slogan for International Women’s Day 2020 is #EachforEqual. And while its meaning reflects the nature of this year’s crucial call to advance a more gender-equal world, I would challenge our fellow brothers and sisters to look beyond the traditional paradigm of basing value on material production in time and consider the options that enhance life in many ways today.
Whether it be allowing ourselves to interact by truly listening and looking into the eyes of our interlocutor, stopping to compliment someone “unknown at the moment” who catches our attention, or consciously noticing our realtime surroundings, this act of consciousness—taking note, offering our gift of presence and appreciating alternative visions in some way can rehabilitate portions of humanity neglected and awaken a Cinderella in us all.
Making connections through experience has been the foundation of j.jill’s personal philosophy: in education, service, writing, spirituality and the arts. She teaches Italian part-time within the State University of NY system, follows topics in peace & justice advocacy, and enjoys spending time with friends & family including two very affectionate rescue puppies.