Having overcome the numerous legal obstacles, however have women had such difficulty in affirming themselves in those areas occupied in the past by men? In other words why is it that women remain scarcely represented in the sectors of power and influence? Why do they continue to earn so much less than men when they are employed in the same type of work? In short, why has equality proved so unattainable for women?
The statistics, at least in the United States, speak clearly. Women who have no responsibilities connected with caring, who have no children, have driven themselves a little closer to parity of salaries and remuneration with men. The same cannot be said for women who have children, despite the high levels of participation in work and in education which women as a group have attained.
In the United States and throughout the world women who have responsibilities linked to dependence are poorer and have always found equality unattainable. Despite all the progress that women have made, societies in most of the world, but markedly in the richer nations, such as the United States, have not succeeded in understanding the needs of dependency. Until we conceive of ourselves as creatures whose lives are not only profoundly interdependent but also, at certain times, inevitably and necessarily dependent, these needs will continue to render utopian a world in which full gender equality would prevail. We must reject the view that dependency, when it is inevitable and not merely the consequence of unjust structures, is a wretched state to be shunned. As long as we do not accept or even understand this dependency as the origin of our deepest bonds and the root of all human social organization, we shall never find the way to a society that is fully just and helps all in which gender equality is achieved.
I have struggled with these very questions and have reached the conclusion that it is only through a structural changes in society that we can begin to be determined with respect to what has been so significant for the most important close relationships, as regards relationships of dependency and a place for disability too, even at the time while women were seeking to fulfil themselves in new ways.
The independence that women often seek is not that form of isolated independence which liberal philosophy proclaims but rather a form which demands the presupposition of social responsibility in order to help and to support relationships of dependence.
If we must work for a world in which the achievements of certain women do not depend on the exploitation of the “work of dependence” of other women (who leave their own families unprotected) we must think of assistance and justice in a global context.
St. Peter’s Square
Aug. 23, 2019
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