I’d originally had a different post in mind for today, but a question in #AXSChat this week and this #womenslives article got me thinking.
|#AXSChat happens on twitter every Tuesday 8 PM London time and 3 PM New York time.
Once again, the powerful parallels of disability and gender have made themselves apparent.
I highly suggest you read the article, but it talks about how there are still places where women lack even the most basic protections and freedoms that we in countries like the US enjoy. It also explains how vital it is to allow women to take part in the business world.
Before the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was enacted 25 years ago in the US, it was legal to discriminate against people with any sort of disability. Discrimination still happens today, but there is at least some sort of protection available.
That question from AXSChat, whether changes in perception of employability of disabled people are possible without government intervention, applies nicely to both issues.
I’m not saying changes in laws will magically change what life is like for repressed groups in every day life, but it is an essential part in the greater whole of creating a more accepting world.
US citizens just have to look at the Labor Movement and study the history of Labor Day to see how much the laws we have on the books now have helped certain labor conditions. Everyone just needs to look at the conditions women endure in the countries mentioned in that article, as well as in other countries to see what things are like now without protections.
The next step is in actually enforcing those laws. One of my side projects is writing about workplace safety in the construction industry, so I read a lot about regulations, accidents and investigations.
Violations happen all the time, but when they’re caught, employers are forced to pay for them in some shape or form. The more severe the incident, the more severe the penalty.
This should go for discrimination, too. The only beneficiaries of discrimination are the culprits. Of course, those who are targeted suffer, but so does the rest of the community.
While I would like to believe that businesses and individuals would naturally act in civil, fair ways without needing laws to keep them from hurting others for their own gain, common sense tells me that’s never the case, and history tells me it never has been.
I’m sure most businesses are ethical, but there are always organizations which are willing to trample over employee health and safety for the sake of the bottom line. Just look at the food, clothing and pharmaceutical industries for examples.
If employers see nothing but dead weight when they see someone with some sort of disability, someone who presents as female, or someone else they deem as “lesser”, they won’t treat them fairly. At least in the US, there is some sort of recourse for legal action when that happens.
As I’d said earlier, though, laws are just one part of the puzzle.
Cultural attitudes, individual stereotyping and certain societal structures must change and strengthen into something we can all rely on.