Thursday, 6 August 2009

TUC to debate if high heels should be banned

Now this is the thing - I am not a tall person. It so happens that I am also a reasonably fashion savvy person who prefers how she looks in high heels than in flat shoes for many outfits. But being not a tall person and also not an altogether thin person, combined with some fashion sense, I have always erred towards preferring high heels.

So I am a little taken aback by today's report from the TUC which has been extensively and ambiguously covered in today's media. It is being reported that the TUC's Working Feet and Footwear report - - is advising companies not to have policies which oblige women to wear high heels. But apparently, the TUC is also planning to debate whether there should be a national policy that women should only wear one inch heels to work. Now this is cause for concern indeed.

What a remarkale amount of media this report has garnered! Good for the TUC though. Those companies - ranging from City banks to fashion stores to airlines - who tell women what to wear on their feet should reconsider. In fact, isn't there too much obsession with dress codes all round? Surely we live in more liberal times.

As for me - even when I walk my children to school I am still loathe to put aside my high heels. What would traditional feminists say of me? I'm not sure I care. I like high heels and I shall wear them.

I read the piece on my way home from work - and suddenly for no apparent reason I thought about the proposed closure of schools in the Autumn which will be considered as part of emergency measures to control the spread of swine flu. The current policy is that women will be permitted time off work to make provision for childcare should schools be closed. That's useful, for sure, though the options for many women will be very limited and may not be the most savoury nor beneficial for the children.

And what about the unexpected cost of additional childcare? Has the government made provision for that?

The economics of being a working mother are generally very tight, except for the highest earning executives, bankers, lawyers and so forth. I would be interested to know the average salary of a working mother, but I doubt there is much scope for too much emergency childcare. I think that I should write a letter to someone - and encourage friends to pen similar letters to the same or similar people - protesting and requesting that some sort of funding be provided to families where both parents work.

From imposed high heels to imposed school closures, there are many policies which either directly or indirectly complicate and limit the life of a working woman. As for the impact on the life of a working mother, it can be hard to imagine. Challenging and campaigning against all these restrictions and limitations is time consuming and onerous on an individual basis. My perception is that most working mothers learn to pick their battles very, very carefully, and generally allow many unfair impositions to persist because there is not enough energy let alone hours in the day, to fight them all.

The letter that I should write to someone about the funds and the childcare and the swine flu and the emergency school closure will most likely go unwritten.

So thank you, TUC, for picking up a fight on my behalf. Many will say that given all the inequities that working women generally face - and that working mothers in particular face - fighting for the right to choose footwear seems paltry. But at least you're fighting for me.

I will be sad to lose my high heels if companies do one day ban them in the workplace on the grounds of health and safety. But thank you for caring about the little details of my welfare.


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