Okay, the Oscars are over and the Hollywood hype has died down a bit. However, for some activists, they are memorializing the event and pushing the PR. If you didn’t watch the Oscars, you might not know that Octavia Spencer, from The Help, won an Academy Award for best supporting actress. Watch parties were organized all over the U.S. and women everywhere chanted, “We are ‘The Help’” when Octavia took the stage.
What’s the big deal? You don’t have to be a sociology or poli sci major to realize how momentous this occasion actually was—and still is—for many women. With the advent of social media used to reach international audiences and to solicit political involvement, the National Domestic Workers Alliance saw an opportunity to create awareness for their cause—“to build spirit and self-esteem” for domestic workers and for “political lobbying campaigns.”
Just because The Help didn’t take the best picture award doesn’t mean that domestic worker activists weren’t excited. In fact, Participant Media, a company that believes they can help “make a difference in how one sees the world,” produced a number of video shorts that involved nannies sharing their personal stories as domestic workers. These “shorts” have become so popular they have received over 100,000 hits. Not too shabby.
The alliance even started a tweet fest by using the hashtag #BeTheHelp to share news about the group’s political activities and to keep the Oscar chatter going. The Help has been included in a lobbying move to garner support for a ‘domestic workers bill of rights’ to be adopted into the California legislature. This bill of rights would address pay, working conditions and hours spent working to assist in determining appropriate guidelines. So far, more than 8,000 signatures have been gained in allegiance with the bill at change.org.
Since March is Women’s History Month, it seems fitting that we can take away some inspiration from the women—and men—who are working to make a difference in others’ lives. National Women’s History Month, was initiated—of course—by women who were protesting the working conditions in NYC factories in March of 1857. Although it took a few years to gain the recognition of Women’s History Month as we know it today, it eventually happened and was made official in 1987 by Congress.
In keeping with Women’s History Month, here are a few interesting facts about women taken from the 2010 Census:
- Women, 15 or older who worked full-time and all year, made an average of $36,931. This figure has not changed from 2009.
- In 2010, women ages 25 and up who held bachelor degrees numbered 30.7 million and this number is higher than the 29.2 million of men with bachelor’s.
- 11.3 million women enrolled in college in the fall of 2010 were women.
- In 2007, women-owned businesses equaled 52% of the total businesses in social service and health care industries.
- In 2010, working women ages 16 plus who held professional or management jobs equaled 40.6% as opposed to 34.2% of men.