I just finished watching, once again, “Made in Dagenham” the powerful movie (one of my favorites in recent years) about the fight for equal pay for women in the UK which started in the summer of 1968 with 187 women sewing machinists going on strike in the Ford factory in Dagenham, and ended with the landmark Equal Pay Act of 1970. Stirring stuff for International Women’s Day, which, after all, started as International Working Women’s Day in the first place. It is worth remembering that history lest this day loses its power to become just another hallmark greeting card day when you bring flowers and chocolate to the women in your lives. It should be much more than that!
I am particularly glad I was able to share the film with two of my favorite people who played a huge role in helping shape my social conscience in my youth – my sister Vaijayanta and her husband Anand – and their son Kaustubh. At a time when politicians and corporations are colluding to roll back every hard fought human/worker’s right, especially for women, this is a movie everyone must see, to remind ourselves of those fights that won us the precious rights we do enjoy, and what it takes to keep hold of them.
Here’s one of my favorite moments in the film, when the well educated upper class Lisa Hopkins, married to the manager of the Dagenham Ford plant who treats her like a fool of a trophy wife, tells Rita O’Grady, the woman whose “gob” has made her the leader of the machinists, to make history, and to tell her what that’s like:
As for the men reading this post who are (and also those who aren’t) supportive of women’s rights, and perhaps feel a bit smug about how much they do (including poetry) to support the women in their lives, here’s a little reminder that that is as it should be!
“Rights, not privileges, its that easy!”
Indeed it is, lads, indeed it is that simple. Let’s remember that.
Happy International Women’s Day!