And I spoke out on women’s rights, like equal pay for equal work.

—Karen Morley


Two years ago, I was at the Cannes Film Festival, attending an intimate talk with American actress Robin Wright. Kering Foundation whose work centers on combating violence against women put an event together in one of the hotels on the French Riviera for no more than thirty people.

While many were disappointed that they did not get a ticket, it was also a smart move by the organizers as it meant that there was an opportunity to have a real conversation with the leading lady of the House of Cards.

Did she say equal pay?

As the talk with Robin Wright unfolded, the issue of equal pay suddenly came up. She revealed that yes; they told her she was paid equally, but then, she found out that was not a case.

Robin’s words came as a surprise. It made me realize why among all of the issues we had to discuss, this one was raised to the top. Women in Hollywood were starting to take hold of their power and their identity, not wanting to work for less than their male counterparts. It was a prelude to #MeToo movement, at a time in Cannes when Harvey Weinstein and alikes were still omnipotent.

In a glamourized industry of moving pictures, one of the most powerful stars, Robin Wright was still talking about equal recognition, about demands for women’s value and worth to be equally recognized. While in the end it comes down to the money, it actually had nothing to do with money.

Equal pay and women’s worth

Many are missing the point about the maths of equal pay. What women are saying is that this is an issue of values and personal worth that goes way beyond the just numbers.

A disparity in a few thousand pounds may not seem significant, but it is detrimental to a woman’s worth .

Women have suffered through centuries to have their voice and input heard. The recent groundbreaking exhibition “Voice and Vote”: Women place in Parliament” at Westminster hall told as a story about Alice Hawkins, a WSPU suffragette from Leicester who was jailed five times for campaigning for women’s rights. 

Although they refer to a period in the history of humankind that happened a long time ago, the women suffrage is still a relevant reminder that the fight for gender equality is far from over. Throughout the whole of 2018, we were reminded of the century of women suffrage and their fight for women’s voice in the Parliament. In hundred years from now, our grandchildren will not have to discuss these issues if we do our job today and make gender equality a must.

Equal pay in a popular culture

I get to hear many stories about the limitations of equal pay. It’s almost like a looming tower of the music industry, film industry, tech industry, you name it. While the problem is old news, what’s new is the global conversation we are having  around this subject.

There is an interesting TV series in America called “Good trouble”, following the lives of two sisters just out of college in L.A. I’ve noticed how issues of equal pay are finding their way into contemporary popular culture among millennials.

In Gray’s Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes put into a script this issue and as a result in real life, actress Ellen Pompeo was empowered to ask for a salary increase and get paid for what she believed was the value she brings to the show.

My message is loud and clear: there is no excuse for women not to be paid the same as men. If a woman is qualified, she should be paid and valued by her employer under gender blind universal standards.


Deal with it

If a man has an issue over having a female co worker as an equal at the workplace or at home, let him deal with it. We do not need to and can no longer accept anyone reducing our worth in order to fit in or to not rock the boat. We do not need to put up with this anymore.

Nevena Bridgen
Nevena Bridgen

Founder

Nevena Bridgen is the Founder of The Wives of Westminster. She is an opera singer and a wife of MP Andrew Bridgen.

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