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13 February 2007 @ 03:38 am
[Day 13] Women & Work  

Last year, rageprufrock wrote about women like the burst-open lips of figs, about how women have worn their history as odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims like jewelry -- she wrote about how despite all of this, we sometimes forget how far we have come, and more importantly how far we have yet to go.

It's 2007 and the third most powerful person in American politics, second in line to take over the presidency, is a woman: Nancy Pelosi -- but half of the coverage she earned after her first State of the Union was about the color and cut of her clothes. Hilary Clinton is a two-term senator of New York and former first lady bracing to run for the Office of the Presidency in 2008 -- and yet people are preoccupied by her gender, by how pretty she might be and how she does her hair, whether or not she got plastic surgery. Women are still being raped and killed in Darfur; the Chinese countryside still has families practicing infanticide despite the country's rapidly skewing sex ratios. Girls are still giving themselves eating disorders comparing themselves to impossible standards of beauty, still acting less intelligent than they really are -- to be non-threatening, to be liked. One in three women will still experience sexual assault in her lifetime. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same.

It's 2007 and women are still odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims -- and we owe ourselves and all other women more than that, we owe ourselves better. We can do more.

V can stand for vagina, like Eve Ensler's groundbreaking monologues. V can stand for violence, under whose auspices all women continue to make a home.

V can also stand for victory.

Women & Work

Women in the workplace is such a huge subject and encompasses so many issues that it's impossible to talk about all of them. There's discrimination, sexual harassment, and the wage gap, and that's just the beginning. What we do know is that of the 117 million women over the age of 16 in the U.S., 69 million of them either have a job or are currently looking for employment. We know that women represent 46% of the U.S. workforce.

Finding employment can be difficult for those with college educations, and it's even more difficult for those without. The unemployment rate for women with less than a high school diploma is 9.7 percent, more than triple the 2.4 percent of women who have a bachelor's degree or higher. There are women entering the workforce that are single mothers, that have never held a job, and that don't know how to interview or how to go about getting a job.

That's where organizations like Suited for Change come in. From their website: Founded in 1992, Suited for Change provides professional clothing and ongoing career and life skills education to low-income women to increase their employment and job retention potential and to contribute to their economic independence. Our services are available at no charge and by referral only to low-income women who have completed job readiness programs and are seeking employment.