‘Where are the women business leaders in Vietnam?’. It sounds like a question at a pub trivia night. The answer might well be ‘in gaol, with all the other capitalist enemies of the people’, or ‘in one of the ghastly re-education camps that that communist country maintains and carefully keeps from the gaze of tourists and sales reps buying cheap artefacts’. That is not, however, the response required to what is actually a rhetorical question on an Australian government-sponsored website. The correct answer is ‘at home’, where they are ‘prisoners of the “gender bias”…confining Vietnamese women to caregiving roles, stopping them from considering different types of work and from advancing professionally.’ Why, these victims of male oppression are ‘doing 12 household tasks’ for every ‘one or two chores’ done by men, the latter being too busy hogging the workplace.
What conceivable business is it of the Australian government what women do with their lives in Vietnam? Obviously none at all. That hasn’t stopped the feminist harpies who hold disproportionate sway in our public service allocating taxpayer’s money to themselves for the project ‘Investing in Women’, which seeks to export their leftist ideological notions of women’s ‘empowerment’ to Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar. As such, it is a blatant intrusion into the internal affairs of these countries. It’s what the Chinese are always accused of doing. The Australian government should not be spending public money trying to persuade female citizens of foreign countries to turn against their traditional roles and adopt the lifestyle of the charmless frustrated feminists of the West.
The arrogance of ‘Investing in Women’ is breathtaking. Suppose a clutch of busybodies turned up here as emissaries of overseas governments to tell us that women have too much say in Australia. That they should be seen and not heard, stay in the home, not take paid jobs, not be in positions of authority, dress modestly and generally be seen and not heard. Imagine not only the screams of outrage from feminists and their male myrmidons, but the diplomatic protests at the highest level. It could lead to an international crisis. Yet that’s exactly what the Australian government is doing, in reverse.
Nor is this interference simply a case of bossy feminists making a nuisance of themselves. As ‘an initiative of the Australian government’, ‘Investing in Women’ is an instrument of our national foreign policy and comes under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s ‘Australian Aid’ umbrella. Its Australian female CEO is described on the website as a ‘globally acknowledged leader, social innovator and advocate for women’s empowerment’. Her own empowerment previously saw her in the top job at CARE Australia, where she ‘drove the case for gender equality’ in ‘23 countries’. Quite an empire. The ‘team’ under her at ‘Investing in Women’ (‘Our people are our most valuable asset – they are skilled problem solvers that [sic] believe challenges can be opportunities’) are busy with ‘advocacy’, ‘monitoring and evaluation’, ‘strategic implementation’ and other pseudo-jobs of contemporary bureaucratic device, all the while no doubt skilfully solving problems like a convention of Sudoku addicts. Happily there is no risk of any woman falling victim to gender bias in this enterprise: only three of the ‘team’ of 23 are men.
Also in on the act, and presumably being reimbursed out of the taxpayer’s pocket, is an American contracting firm which describes itself as ‘an engine for social impact, fuelled by caring, curiosity and cutting-edge research that moves people from vulnerability to security.’ Translate that as you will.
Though the irony is lost on them, ‘Investing in Women’ et al. are the missionaries of today, zealously proselytising as did the missionaries of yesterday, of whom they heartily disapprove. Those Christian missionaries to Asia and the Pacific of the last three centuries are now universally derided by the Left as ‘cultural imperialists’ who sought to foist an alien religion on peoples who preferred graven images and cannibalism. (Cannibalism, where it existed, as for example in Fiji, was the missionaries’ first target, and opponents of cultural colonialism, to be consistent, must surely approve of it, as they tacitly do of female genital mutilation and other rituals of Islam, since Islam and the Left are, for the time being, allies of a sort.) Yet what is ‘Investing in Women’ if not an instrument of cultural imperialism?
‘Investing in Women’ exercises its colonising mission by ‘partnering with large employers’ in the countries it targets ‘to prioritise gender equality as a business imperative’. One imagines the ‘large employers’ as those keenest to signal their right-on gender credentials to the PC dispensers of Western largesse. But in a fallen world there is also the commercial motive. ‘The economic arguments for gender equality are overwhelming,’ the ‘Investing in Women’ website claims tantalisingly. ‘Many studies reveal that gender diversity in leadership boosts profits.’
This sounds like the carrot to get employers in traditional societies to lure women into their workplace. But this remaking of Third World (now a taboo term, by the way) women into business executives is a direct assault on the position of women in those countries. The Philippines, for example, is a Roman Catholic country. Catholicism respects women in a feminine not a feminist way. ‘Investing in Women’ wants to turn them into faux-men. And who will look after the children? What’s the point of a female wage-earner if she has to blow half her salary on an expensive crèche?
Does it never occur to the man-haters who run the ‘women’s movement’ that not all women might want to live their vision of ‘gender justice’, with its downgrading of motherhood, its warped view of men and its dispiriting and tragic corollaries of divorce and abortion? That some women might see caring for a husband and children as a noble vocation – nobler than slogging it out in the workplace to become a ‘business leader’ – and not as something they are ‘confined’ to by what ‘Investing in Women’ sneeringly describes as ‘rigid outdated attitudes’. God knows there are already enough defeminised women in overpaid jobs here in Australia, generally at taxpayers’ expense. Just look at the websites of any of the myriad NGOs dedicated to ‘gender’ and ‘diversity’. Note how few males there are to females. ‘Diversity’ in fact is the least diverse of all the areas of publicly-funded social tinkering. Perhaps it’s time for investing in men – or better still, people, without the malign distinctions of identity politics.
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