Lets begin by introducing our speakers. Luísa Cativo is a fashion designer, a photographer, an enthusiast of the visual arts and one of the faces behind Thug Unicorn, one of the best loved parties in the city. Over our conversation she tells us that on its 5th edition it has “joined efforts” with Marcha das Galdérias (Slut Walk), because she believes that ‘the streets should be safe for everyone’.
Luísa Cativo © Sofia Miranda
For Vânia Gonçalves, the fight against prejudice had an early start, when she decided- and announced - she would become an IT Engineer. She clung to this conviction through thick and thin, and made it. But she kept on fighting for the right to be herself all her life. Despite having started her career in one of the biggest national companies, she felt the need to quit her job so she could evolve professionally. After specialising in Technology Policy and working in Brussels – from where Girl Geek Dinners were imported – for several years, she returned to Portugal and went back to studying. At 36 she is a mother, a teacher and a role model for courage.
Vânia Gonçalves © Sofia Miranda
An Industrial Management engineer, only 25 and a with a career in one of the biggest national companies, Diana Martins is one of the co-founders of w/sessions, informal sessions where we people reflect about their professional future and share experiences, dreams and aspirations, all declined in the feminine.
Diana kicks off the conversation. ‘In Portugal, only 16% of top jobs are held by women’, she says, emphasising that we need to balance this inequality.
Diana Martins © Sofia Miranda
‘Women have been part of the workforce for over a century, but they are still paid significantly lower wages than men, wages that are more like a man’s complementary wage ’adds Luísa Cativo. In Vânia Gonçalves’s opinion, inequality in the world of labour manifests itself immediately when ‘men’s parental leave is quite shorter than women’s. She believes that ‘women have to be better than society thinks they can be’. Which is why when she found out she was pregnant she thought it would be time to quit her job, and why she sought a woman to report the situation. Her answer came as a surprise to Vânia. Having a baby would not mean she would have to give up her career in the company. An example of good practice in the professional world, she says, when she knows many women who have been fired or have had their contracts terminated for the same reason.
© Sofia Miranda
‘Women are not mystical creatures that have to be super professional, super mothers and super housewives’ironizes the DJ and fashion designer, explaining that ‘it is enough that they are the best version of themselves, it is impossible for them to be all that society expects them to.’
Simultaneously, Luísa Cativo reminds us that, even nowadays, ‘a man who stays home taking care of his children and the house chores is completely emasculated by society’.
© Sofia Miranda
On the same day this round table was held, the Slut Walk was out in the streets, fighting for sexual self-determination, for the right to make decisions about your own body and for the end of the blame game, one in which the victims are the target of all the accusations. The parade started with an picnic open to anyone wishing to take part, where signs were made and watchwords were thought up.
In the process of organising this walk, Luísa Cativo was witness to many testimonials. That was how she found out that despite discrimination happening across all social classes, gender and ages, the first signs of abuse manifest themselves over childhood or adolescence. Either because boys like playing with girl’s toys or because girls dress ‘too provocatively’, because boys realise they are attracted to same sex people or even because people still think there are such things as ‘men’s jobs’ and ‘women’s jobs’.
© Sofia Miranda
Would you like to carry on this conversation and stay tuned to what is happening with these initiatives? You are hereby invited to take part in the next W/sessions, Girl Geek Dinners and the lgbt friendly Thug Unicorn party.