We are voting in the past – the future is female

Gayle Edmunds
Gayle Edmunds

There are three men vying for my attention right now. They give me broad smiles and come-hither looks.

They are grinning down at me from every lamppost – some festooned in bright blue, some in bright red and others in an ensemble of yellow, black and green.

I am unmoved by all their attempts to tell me they know what I am looking for in a leader. They aren’t even close.

All I wonder is: Where are the young women? Where are those who represent 52% of the population?

I have been reading reviews of Caroline Criado Perez’s book Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, and, quite frankly, it explains a lot.

Perez points out some of the most glaring examples of how women are invisible – for example, because the “average man” is used as a crash-test dummy in car safety tests, women are 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a car accident and 17% more likely to die in an accident.

I wonder if men would be prepared to take that much more of a risk every time they drive their cars.

Her book also explains other dangers, such as medical trials that don’t include women because their bodies are “too complicated and hormonal”.

But the medicine is also sold to women.

There are more everyday examples of inconvenience, and all of it explains why the world often feels ill-fitting to so many women and underlines why it matters who represents you when decisions are made about what is most important.

Only now – in 2019 – is our government crowing about launching (limited) free sanitary product programmes around the country.

Just consider how crazy this is. For four decades of their lives (give or take five years), women menstruate.

Not once have our leaders thought, “Wow, shouldn’t this stuff be free for 52% of our population? Shouldn’t we be preventing multinational companies from profiteering from periods?”

Consider that, according to a report released in 2016 by Allied Market Research, the global feminine hygiene products market is expected to garner revenue of $42.7 billion (R595 billion) by 2022.

That’s profit from an unavoidable biological function. Talk about a captured market.

Look at the leadership of New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern; of 22-year-old Alaa Salah in Sudan; of young women’s responses in the US to the old-man politics of Donald Trump.

I can’t vote for them – I have only a selection of leering men stuck in the past to choose from and far removed from the future. Which is female.

Follow me on Twitter @GayleMahala

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