March 8, 2010 –It’s perhaps fitting that the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director, a gender-neutral awards category and one of the most prestigious in the entertainment industry, did so on the eve of today’s International Women’s Day.
“In the more than 100 years since Women’s Day has been celebrated, and in the more than 80 years since the Academy Awards have been conducted, director Katherine Bigelow serves as a luminous reminder to the entertainment industry, and to the world, that women are dynamic contributors and worthy of equal consideration in the workplace,” says Rebecca Yee, national director of the Screen Actors Guild Affirmative Action and Diversity Department.
The Guild and its National Women’s Committee joins the AFL-CIO in giving its full support to International Women’s Day, which promotes gender equality in all aspects, including in the workplace.
“SAG proudly builds awareness of the contributions of women on this day and throughout the year,” says L. Scott Caldwell, national chair of the National Women’s Committee.
That includes tonight’s Out of Silence: Readings from The Afghan Women’s Writing Project, which SAG is participating in along with other Hollywood labor groups. (Click here to learn more. Note: Due to overwhelming support, tonight’s event is currently at capacity.)
The quest for true gender equality has become a unified effort. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler says the nation’s largest federation of unions is “standing firm with workers around the world to call for a more equitable and inclusive future for women."
But the statistics are still sobering. A release from the AFL-CIO cites the following:
In the U.S., women’s presence in the workforce and in labor unions is still on the rise. Women now make up nearly half of union members and over half of the total workforce, but remain disadvantaged relative to men in the vast majority of labor markets, according to the International Labor Organization.
In addition to higher poverty rates and the ongoing prevalence of sexual and domestic violence, the United Nations reports that women earn between 30 and 40 percent less pay than men for equivalent work. And in the wake of the financial collapse, women in the U.S. are shouldering the added burdens of sky-high unemployment, rampant foreclosures, and inadequate access to health care.
To read more about AFL-CIO support of International Women’s Day, check out their blog post. Happy Women’s Day!