Editorial

What happens when a woman takes a day (or more) off

What happens when a woman takes a day  (or more) off
On International Women’s Day, March 8, women were being encouraged to take the day off from both paid and unpaid work as a form of demonstration.

I couldn’t help chuckling to myself when I heard this because it immediately brought back to mind an incident from years ago that I had forgotten.
At the time, one of my sisters, who had always worked outside the home, had taken maternity leave.
Now, from what I recall back then, out of all of us sisters, she probably kept the cleanest house, so I am not sure what brought about the following incident. My brother-in-law would make comments pondering out loud just what was it that women (who stayed home) did all day.
Now, irrespective of how much of this was simply a tease, my sister finally got tired of hearing it. She threatened to go “on strike” in order to prove just how much even a stay-at-home wife does, which of course was met with laughter. But her response was in no way meant to be rhetorical… she actually meant it.
And so, decades before the day when organizers urged women, paid or unpaid, career or home-based to “take a day off”, that is exactly what my sister did, and more.
The implications of her seriousness in proving a point were realized sooner than later when no supper was prepared that first evening. The next morning, the boys had to make their own breakfast.
As much of an inconvenience as this was, the husband and sons were certain that she would soon weary of her challenge, give in, and return to her regular duties.
After a few days my brother-in-law said, “Okay, you’ve proved your point.”
My sister, however, did not agree. She felt the family still “didn’t get it” and was urging her to go back to the former routine more for their comfort than realizing her value.
So, she dug in her heels and continued on with her mission.
After a while, the place was an absolute mess, with her only washing up after herself. The dishes stacked up, as did the laundry.
It wasn’t until she felt that her husband and sons really got the point did my sister resume her duties. Of course this was only after everybody had to make their own lunches and meals and do their own laundry.
I can’t remember how long it took for the lesson to be learned, for sure at least a week, maybe two. Every time the topic came up, we would laugh.
While it may seem like my sister went overboard to make her point, I don’t think so.
The truth is that women, on average, are the most under-valued worldwide.
The point of the challenge on International Women’s Day for women both paid and unpaid (such as housewives) to take the day off had less to do with how much work didn’t get done, than realizing that person’s value both at home and in the workplace.
Too often we take for granted just how much others do for us, and unfortunately family members, especially female family members, are on average the least recognized.
How can you tell?
Just let them take a day off, or several, and you’ll soon find out.