Spongia: Philosophy Blog EUR

Walking a Day in Her Shoes

Posted on: 2012/03/08

International Women’s Day is for me strongly related with the indigenous women of Oaxaca, Mexico. Today, it is precisely ten years ago that I spent it with some of them and their families in the mountains of Oaxaca. They celebrated it in a very special way, namely by switching roles with their husbands for one day!
From early morning onwards the women retreated into the workshops they had organized for themselves, ranging from teaching each other computer skills, over political discussions up to singing and dancing circles. Their husbands took over the `women’s duties’ in the meanwhile: undertaking the walks to fetch water and firewood, preparing the food, washing the clothes, going to the fields and –above all- caring for the kids.
On our way back to the city a week later, one of the women told me about the role this day has in their struggle for women’s rights: `After years of discussion and little progress, our demands made a leap forward after we had started to celebrate international women’s day in this way.’
What would happen in our societies, with our perceptions of each other and our ideas of social inequalities and justice if we were to organize such swaps in our communities as well? Turning factory workers into CEOs, members of parliament into (illegal) migrants for one day…

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1 Response to "Walking a Day in Her Shoes"

Thanks, Constanze for this post. It is an eyeopener for me!

I thought of role switching as merely symbolic, if not lip service (of course it is nice that these women have a day off and that their man do the work for a day, but what is a day in a whole life?), but apparently the experience of performing the other’s role is a great vehicle for change!

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