Feminism is talked about a lot these days; it’s in the media, we talk about it with family and friends and it’s even starting to be taught in schools. But how does it feel to champion equality for your day job? And how do you get there? CARE’s Gender in Emergencies Advisor Isadora Quay tells all.
Dad was a bit before his time. At 65 years old and a lifetime in traditional male roles in construction and the shipyards, he became a full-time Dad. It was not common in the early 1980s to see really old stay-at-home dads. It still isn’t. In between the sandwiches, school trips, sick days and summer holidays he taught me a lot. He showed me that gender roles are always changing and that it is important to find a job you enjoy. And so I became a professional feminist.
It wasn’t easy at first. I spent a lot of time both at and after university in unpaid employment. I finally got a paid volunteering position in Rwanda. I helped HIV positive women who’d survived the 1994 Genocide to make a living and to make sure they had enough food to be able to take their meds. After five years, three countries and a husband, I ended up doing something entirely different. I liked my job but it was a bit too far from my original plan. If I wanted to become a genuine full time professional feminist, more study was needed.
More study led to more unpaid work. I helped the International Women’s Development Agency set up their Gender Matters publication and wrote the very first one. I headed off to the Pacific Islands to write about women’s experiences as leaders. Things got even better when I got a proper job with CARE as their Gender in Emergencies Advisor. I even had business cards.
At CARE it’s my job to make sure that everyone receives the assistance they need. It’s harder than it sounds; especially during a crisis. I try to understand the different issues facing women, men, boys and girls. I work with inspiring women and men who are committed to making sure everyone’s voice is heard and that no one is left behind. There’s a lot of travel, a lot of stories and a lot of writing involved.
If you want to, it might be easier than you think to become a professional feminist. One option is to get a job like mine that pays you to work on gender equality. CARE is always on the lookout for professional gender advisors and for champions of gender equality in other areas. The other option is to become a champion of gender equality in your own workplace.
Outside of CARE (check out our “Women and Girls” page), you can look at websites like AWID for gender jobs or look at the work of Rosalind Eyben on feminist bureaucrats (she calls them Femocrats) who are changing gender norms and policies within the public service and large organisations.
Above all you can share the message that we can all be feminists – professional or not.