This World Cup is Transforming Attitudes to Women’s Football

I have been a football fan ever since the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup. This year, for the first time, I have been watching the Women’s World Cup. It’s not that I haven’t previously wanted to, but the last time a Women’s World Cup was broadcasted in South Africa was 2011.

This year is the first time the South African women’s national team, Banyana Banyana, has ever qualified for the Women’s World Cup. Here are some things I have learnt from watching the tournament so far:

The Speed of the Game

Critics can be quick to describe the women’s game as too slow. With many teams, this is far from what I have observed. I personally think the USA Women’s National Team is as good as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team! The only criticism I have is that there should be more investment in players for women’s teams.

The Market

The market is there. Nike recently reported that the USA’s women’s shirts sell better than any other sports shirts. I had absolute chills when I saw the same company’s advert before the World Cup. It was the first time I had ever seen a sports advert with so many powerful women in it.


There are also people who say that tickets don’t sell in the women’s game. One million tickets for the 2019 tournament have been sold. Organizers have admitted that they may have miscalculated and should have used bigger stadiums.

There is a huge pay gap between men and women

Like in many other industries and sports, there is pay inequality between male and female footballers. The prize money for the Men’s World Cup was 38 million dollars. The winners of this year’s women’s tournament will receive 4 million dollars. For someone who loves the beautiful game, this is disappointing. The USA Women’s Team are currently legally challenging their federation against discrimination and demanding to be paid their worth.

The Biggest Positives

What I like most about the women’s game is that it is not overly commercialized – as yet. The footballers are really playing for the love of the game. Women like Brazilian legend Marta, and possible player of the tournament – America’s Megan Rapinoe – are inspiring millions of girls AND boys all over the globe. There are so many female footballers whose voices and stories are not heard as they should be.

The Biggest Let Down

What has frustrated me most about this World Cup has been the refereeing. Many have seemed inexperienced, especially in interpreting the highly complex and controversial Video Assistant Referee (VAR). I hope FIFA and football associations around the world give these women the opportunity to do more refereeing and gain more experience. Why not have female referees for men’s games as well?

Le Grande Finale

The FIFA Women’s World Cup Final takes place on Sunday 7 July 2019. It’s going be a big one. Defending world champions the USA are up against current European champions the Netherlands. I am incredibly excited, and I hope you will be watching too!

The Power of Female Health Workers

Women make up more than 70 percent of the health workforce. Despite the fact that they play a critical role in improving and saving the lives of people around the world, female health workers are often unrecognized, underpaid or unpaid. These  facts were presented by Roopa Dhatt, Executive Director of Women in Global Health, at the Women Deliver 2019 Conference at a side event co-hosted by Johnson & Johnson. She continued sharing that female health workers face further barriers with discrimination, threats and harassment in their daily lives.

“Workplace violence and sexual harassment in the health and social sector are widespread – from colleagues, patients and community members” said Roopa Dhatt. 

During the event the voices of midwives and nurses were listened to and appreciated. Girls’ Globe had the opportunity to hear more from three of the speakers about why they are proud to be midwives and what we all need to know about the midwifery profession.

Stéphanie Roche, Haiti

“What I am proud of, as much as being a female health worker and a midwife, is the service that we are offering to our society and community. We serve the lives of women of our community. What makes us proud is that we accompany women in their difficult times. We know that there is a problem of accessibility, especially in Haiti. We are proud because we are there to offer women whatever is necessary. Without midwives, the majority of our women are not really safe. The midwife is there to keep women safe and to help them. And we are proud of that.”

Ms. Roche is a Nurse Midwife and Head of the Maternity Unit at Marigot Health Center in Haiti. Female health workers like midwife Stéphanie Roche contributes to improving maternal and newborn health in Haiti – a country in with a maternal mortality
rate which is among the highest in the world.

Stéphanie Roche believes that the midwifery profession is unique. “To see a woman give life and help her do it is something extraordinary,” she said. “What I like most is having the opportunity to educate women, to talk to them, to teach them things that can lead to a change in behavior.”

Ruth Dite Mah Diassana, Mali

“As a midwife, I am proud to accompany pregnant women throughout their lives, and through delivering a baby to the world. I want the world to recognize the marvelous and powerful work of midwives.”

Ruth is a Midwife in charge of the Reproductive Health Service at night and also Manager of the Family Planning Department at Sikasso Reference Health Center in Mali. She has experience working as a midwife for Malian Ministry of Health in 2013.

“We are working with the government to give equal opportunities who are working in health to have adequate training to grow in the health workforce,” she explained. 

Ruth has been trained by the Born On Time project as trainer in Lifestyle, Infection, Nutrition, Contraception (LINC) approach on preventing preterm birth and on gender equality as well as on Kangaroo Mother Care, newborn care and sexual and reproductive health and rights. She has gone on to train midwives, obstetric nurses, matrons and community health workers.

Elizabeth Brandeis, Canada

“What makes me most proud about being a midwife is being able to support my clients in making the right choices for themselves and their bodies. Midwives are leaders in reproductive health care. They have the skills and competencies to have responsibility for the majority of births that happen in the world. Medicine could really have a lot to gain in consulting with midwives about normal births.”

Elizabeth is a midwife and senior partner at the Midwives Collective of Toronto. She is the President of the Association of Ontario Midwives. Both her clinical practice and board-level work are dedicated to addressing the needs of underserved populations and to social justice.

At the event, Elizabeth told us about how the Association of Ontario Midwives has taken the government to court as a result of the fight for equal pay. She talked about the linkages between the feminist movement and the status of midwives in Canada.“Still in Canada, the gender pay gap is 30%. For midwives the pay gap is 40% – which is even greater for indigenous midwives,“ she said. 

The event was concluded by Dr. Willibald Zeck, Head of Global Maternal, Newborn and Adolescent Health Program at UNICEF. “It is a very patriarchal system that we live in and women are very supressed! We really need to make a change, and it is great to hear what has happened from Haiti to Canada.”

It is time for real change for female health workers, including those who are midwives and nurses. It is time for female health workers to be appreciated and valued for the life-saving work that they do.

 

This blog post was created by Girls’ Globe powered by Johnson & Johnson. 

Women in Glasgow are Striking for Equal Pay

Thousands of people marched through Glasgow, Scotland this week in the largest equal pay strike the UK has seen since the seventies.

Around 8,000 city council workers – most of them women – walked out of jobs and picked up placards to demand equal pay for carers, cleaners, caterers and support workers.

The strike marked a culmination of a dispute that began more than a decade ago, in 2006, after a newly introduced pay scheme enforced existing inequalities within the system. Female–dominated roles within the council, such as cleaning and caring, were penalized through complicated methods of measuring a job’s value in ways that male-dominated roles, like gardening and refuse collection, were not. 

The Politics

Back in 2006, Glasgow City Council was run by the Labour Party. Over the ten years that followed, Labour reportedly spent £2.5 million on legal fees and staff costs so that they could challenge women who were claiming wage discrimination.

In 2017, The Scottish National Party (SNP) took control of the council, with a promise to “end Glasgow’s years of pay injustice”. However, in the months since, workers became increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress and voted to take strike action, despite the council’s claims that industrial action was unnecessary as progress had not stalled.

Photo by Public Services International

How We Value Women’s Work

Amanda Green, a care worker, explained that the women taking part in the strike carry out some of the city’s “toughest and most valuable jobs.” “The value of these jobs,” she continued, “is just not recognised – that’s the problem Glasgow has.”

But it’s not just Glasgow. The view that work carried out by women holds lower economic value than work carried out by men is a global problem. Our perception of jobs that have traditionally been more female-dominated – cleaning, cooking, looking after children and the elderly – is tightly interwoven with cultural norms of a woman’s ‘natural’ role in families, communities and wider society.

Ensuring everyone else is fed, watered, warm, safe, educated and comfortable – these are things we continue to expect women to bear responsibility for, and do for free, in their personal lives. It’s therefore not hugely surprising that we don’t take it seriously when women carry out similar roles in a professional capacity.

And yet, despite being undervalued, under-acknowledged and underpaid, society would grind to a halt if women stopped doing this work professionally. “We’re the ones that make this city come alive in the morning: we get children fed, we get elderly vulnerable people up and out of their beds so that other people can go to work. We go into schools at 5AM to clean them so that children can get an education,” says Shona Thompson, an at-home carer.

This week, after years of being dismissed and diminished, women across Glasgow withdrew their labour for 48 hours and suddenly, as if by magic, there was a newfound mass-recognition of their worth. “Schools and home care disrupted by Glasgow equal pay strike,” said BBC News. “Thousands of women bring city ‘to standstill’,” announced the Independent. Women spoke of the immense guilt they were being made to feel, as though “because of the job we do…we don’t really have the right to strike.”

Photo by Public Services International

Gender, Class & Equal Pay

Equal pay is rarely far from UK headlines at the moment. The BBC came under intense scrutiny over pay inequalities at the end of 2017, and over the summer the pay gap among professional tennis players received widespread media attention. We learnt that female actors earn thousands and sometimes millions of dollars less than their male co-stars, and Ryanair’s pay gap report led to intensely infuriating debates about whether men are perhaps just naturally more suited to being pilots than women are.

The salaries in the stories at the forefront of the equal pay conversation have tended to share two common threads – a disparity linked to gender, yes, but also a multi-figured nature. The equal pay debate seems to interest us a little less, and make fewer headlines, when discrimination affects women whose annual salary falls below the national average.

And so Glasgow’s working women haven’t, up until now, received the coverage or the solidarity I think they deserve. As one Scottish journalist commented: “Compared with the rightfully extensive coverage of Birmingham’s refuse strikers or Hollywood’s abuse scandal, is it that they are too female to be a proper workers’ rights story, and too working class to be a proper feminist one?”

If this week’s strike has proven anything, it’s that the jobs most of us want neither to do nor to talk about are the ones holding our communities and cities together. It’s that equality and fairness are for everyone, regardless of hourly wage. It’s that equal pay is a very present issue facing women in Scotland today. It’s that if a job is so essential that a city will cease to function without it, we should pay the person doing it fairly.

Mind the Gap: Explaining Unequal Pay

We’ve heard the statistic over and over. On average, women make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. We’ve also heard the proposed solution over and over: institute policies that require equal pay. Yet, a lack of policy isn’t the only thing dragging down women’s wages.

An analysis of what’s behind that pesky wage problem reveals that even if women were to work in a field with fair pay – on paper – they’d be affected by the type of work they do, how many hours they can put in (skewed by women’s enduring role as caregivers), and how flexible their schedule is.

A consultant, for example, has to be available 9 – 5 to work with her clients. If she has to miss a few hours to pick up children from school, or help look after a sick relative, that time – however equally compensated – is still time lost.

A woman artist, however, might be free to construct her days as she wishes, and as long as she puts in the necessary hours, it doesn’t matter which hours those are. It’s a lifestyle that’s still exhausting, but not one that forces a logistical exclusion of family or finances. An equal wage policy would only help women who have sufficient freedom to take advantage of it.

Tech company Redfin did a little soul searching and found another contributing factor: companies with women in their leadership tend to have fairer pay. It’s an embodiment of what should be an obvious trend: women want to pay women more. Redfin found that in the average tech company, those with fewer women in leadership positions earned the average 77 cents for every 96 cents men earned.

“At companies with more women executives, women earned 98 cents for every dollar that men in similar roles earned. The two-cent pay gap might not sound like much, but for a man earning a $100,000 salary, a woman would earn $96,000 at a company with fewer women executives, compared to $98,000 at a company with more women at the top. This disparity adds up to tens of thousands of dollars over a woman’s career.”

As a result of their analysis, Redfin began publishing their pay rates, a sort of open accountability strategy that has proved effective. (When the BBC released their salaries publicly, for example, female employees went up in arms after it highlighted a disparity between their highest paid men and women).

It’s not all bad news. Pew Research Centre has found that despite its persistence, the gender gap has actually shrunk. And the cultural clamor surrounding the disparity puts immense pressure on even the largest companies to write the same numbers on their employees’ cheques, regardless of gender.

State of the World’s Fathers Report Launched

At current rates of progress, it will take an estimated 75 years  – or more – for women and men to achieve equal pay for equal work around the world. Achieving equal representation in government, business, and other spheres of power could take even longer.

This inequality in the workplace is inextricably connected to women’s unequal burden of unpaid work at home. Around the world, women consistently do more unpaid care work – including caring for others and domestic work – than men do.

The average time women spend each day on caring for the home and children is still three times what men spend, ranging from about 2.7 times in East Asia and the Pacific to 6.5 times in South Asia.

Women are not just doing more unpaid work than men are; they are doing more work – unpaid and paid – combined. Even where men are contributing more than they used to, men’s contribution to housework and childcare has increased only an average of 6 hours per week over 40 years across 20 countries.

These are some of the key findings from State of the World’s Fathers: Time for Action, a publication of MenCare: A Global Fatherhood Campaign, which Promundo launched on 9 June – just ahead of Father’s Day in many countries. The report draws from nearly 100 research studies and reports, with data from nearly every country where it is available. It calls for a global goal and national action plans to achieve men and boys doing 50% of the unpaid care work globally.

The report reveals that barriers to a gender-equitable distribution of care include gender norms that stereotype caregiving as ‘women’s work’, economic and workplace realities like the gender wage gap and stigma around taking leave, and laws and policies that reinforce the link between men and paid work and women and unpaid care.

How can we break down these barriers and bring men on board with doing 50% of the world’s unpaid care?

  1. Offer equal, paid, non-transferable parental leave.Providing equal, non-transferable, and fully paid parental leave for both men and women sets the standard and builds an understanding that childcare is the responsibility of all parents, regardless of gender. Such policies can work to put an end to the norm that men should be family breadwinners and women should be caregivers. Parental leave should be supported by other measures, such as access to income support – including poverty alleviation and affordable, high-quality childcare.
  2. Show children that everyone has the responsibility and opportunity to care.From the earliest ages, children learn and internalize ideas about gender and caregiving.  When boys see their fathers engaged in caregiving or when they are taught to care for their siblings, they are more likely to continue this pattern of care as adults. Similarly, when girls see their fathers participating equally in housework, they are more likely to aspire to work in less traditional occupations outside the home. Homes – as well as schools – can be spaces where children to learn the value of care.
  3. Teach fathers to transform stereotypes about care and to be hands-on. Men need to feel capable of – and responsible for – taking on unpaid care work in order to achieve a gender-equitable distribution of care. Evidence-based parent-training programs and educational campaigns for men, like Program P, can help fathers challenge rigid norms, learn gender-equitable parenting, and build their caregiving skills.
  4. Recruit more men into caregiving and other health, education, administration, and literacy (HEAL) professions.In addition to bringing more women into science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) professions, more men need to be brought into jobs that focus on care. Engaging more men in the HEAL professions could accelerate social shifts toward greater acceptance of caregiving qualities in all people; however, this shift must take into consideration local realities, and accompany a push for equal living wages for women and men alike.
  5. Get men involved early on in their children’s lives: through the health sector.Health institutions and providers may resist the idea of engaging fathers in maternal, newborn, and child health, despite evidence showing that when fathers are present from the beginning their children’s lives, they are more likely to remain involved later on. Governments should increase training for those in the health sector on the importance of engaging men as supportive, equitable partners and parents. Practical changes to health facilities and practices – like providing after-work doctor’s appointments and private areas for labor and delivery – can also help make them more inclusive of men.

Explore these and other recommendations for action in State of the World’s Fathers: Time for Action, and join the conversation of social media using #WorldsFathers.

Gender Equality in Sweden: Can it get any better than this? (Video Blog)

Video blog by Amanda Ring (18) and Julia Wiklander (29) from Sweden. 

  • According to a report made by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights 81% of women in Sweden said that they had been sexually harassed at some point after the age of 15. With these numbers Sweden topped the list. The average rate in the EU was lower – 55% – but the report also says that Sweden’s high rate probably has to do with the relatively low unrecorded cases and a high report rate. Read more.
  • When it comes to gender equality, Sweden is the 4th most gender equal country in the world. This is showed in The Global Gender Gap Report made by the World Economic Forum.
  • The Global Gender Gap Report also shows that in Sweden, the payment gap between women and men is as high as 30%.
  • Learn more about the start of the movement for legislation that includes sexual consent in Sweden through this Al Jazeera story.