A passionate call for international gender equality by a leading entrepreneur; this smart, accessible and inspiring book makes the case for why all nations need more women at the top of politics and economics.
`The status of women is a global challenge; it touches every human being without exception. How is it possible that countries where women have achieved political, economic and social rights after exhausting struggles remain seemingly indifferent to the egregiousness of other nations where the status of women is still tragic? The time has come to help those left behind.’
My thanks to Bei Guo at Midas PR and the author for providing me with a copy of this book for the purposes of review. I have reviewed it honestly and impartially.
I have always been a feminist. The eldest of four girls, brought up by my parents to value education and believe that, if we worked hard, there was nothing we weren’t capable of achieving, I have always believed that women are capable of getting to wherever they want to go given unfettered opportunity. However, as soon as I became aware of the differences between boys and girls, it also became clear that unfettered opportunity was not on offer. As a child born in 1972, when I entered the world of work as a corporate lawyer there was still a huge imbalance in favour of men in this discipline. I was often the only female in a room full of clients and other lawyers, and sexism was rife on both sides of the table. And law was one of the better careers for sexual equality at the time.
Things have undoubtedly improved in the intervening thirty years for women in the workplace, and I am glad that the trajectory is in the right direction, because I am now the mother of two daughters and have three step-daughters. I, in turn, am now raising them to be feminists, to value and make the most of their education, to believe there is no opportunity that is not open to them if they strive for it, and to understand that their value lies not in how they look, or their relationship to any other person, but in their own characters and abilities. I want them to be self-sufficient in every respect, because self-sufficiency is what allows you to be free.
I have sadly heard from younger generations over the years that feminism is no longer necessary, that the battle has been won and equality has been achieved. In fact, feminism has become something of a dirty word in modern times. It saddens me because, whilst these women may believe it is true for them in their individual lives, it is far from true for all women worldwide. And feminism has never been an individual effort, it has always required women coming together and supporting and helping one another to achieve progress. We cannot stand on the shoulders of the women who carved the path for us with their blood, sweat and tears and declare the job done because we are satisfied with our particular circumstances, knowing that women the world over are still struggling and suffering. Even more importantly, it requires the understanding and support of the people who have the power, men.
These are the issues explored in this fascinating book by Paola Diana, who is setting out the case for why feminism is still relevant and necessary in modern society, why equality has not yet been achieved for women worldwide and why, most importantly, everyone should be striving for it, regardless of gender, because gender equality helps everyone. The countries that have the best track record for this across the globe are the most prosperous and happiest. The book gives details of all the ways in which women are still treated as second class around the world, from veiling and FGM to economic inequality and political under-representation in the western world. The way it is written is not dry and academic, it is easily accessible to all and I wish all would read it.
A lot of what Paola is saying here I agree with, but there are also some new points and a lot of things to think about. It made me reassess some of the decisions I have taken in the past and some of my current behaviours and given me ideas of what more I can do, for myself and on a larger scale, to try and further the cause. However, I do think parts of it need updating again because things are in constant flux. In particular, she seems to see the UK as a beacon of hope in this area, which maybe it is in relation to her native Italy but, as a woman growing up and living here, there is still so much to be done. The part where she discusses the effect that electing a misogynistic male to a position of power has on the discourse of feminism, as happened in the US with Trump, has sadly now happened here two, with a serial philanderer sitting as our PM and no women in positions of power in the UK cabinet obviously promoting feminism as a cause celebre. The UK is no female utopia, as has been shown as women have been disproportionately effected by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
I enjoyed this book very much, and found it very thought-provoking. I read it in a single day, it is fascinating and very easy to digest. I wish there were more solutions available, but I agree that education is key. Education for women the world over to empower them, and education for men as to how equality between the sexes will help them too. Because, most of the male problems that I hear discussed in conversations about gender equality arise from that same inequality, from the unreasonable demands put on men, from toxic masculinity, from rigid and unnatural roles imposed on our genders for no reason other than outdated traditions. I think we need to change the narrative around this issue as a starting point. It has always been framed as a fight – battle of the sexes, gender war, fight for emancipation – the implication being that there are winners and losers and that giving power and equality to women takes something from men. This is not and should not be the case. We are human beings, all with something to offer, and we should all be working together for the happiness and benefit of all. Society would work so much better for everyone, on both a macro and micro scale, if we had this approach. We have to share this world, so let us share it and work together to improve it as a single, human race. This is the big takeaway from this book, and education of the next generations is key to achieving it. This book makes me want to do my bit, and I hope other people, male and female, will read it and feel the same.
Saving The World is out now and you can buy it in paperback here.
About the Author
A native of Italy, Paola achieved a BA in Political Science and an MA in Institutional Relations from the University of Bologna before probing into the world of Italian politics. Since the day that she embarked on a career directing the Think Tank in support of former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s political campaign, Paola has never been one to adhere to gender stereotypes – challenging the ideologies of male supremacists at every opportunity.
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