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This is a recent press release from the International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) about International Day of Families which is celebrated on the 15th of May each year. This year’s theme is “Men in Charge? Gender Equality and Children’s Rights in Contemporary Families”.

The International Day of Families is celebrated on the 15th of May. This day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of family issues and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic conditions affecting families. The theme for the International Day of Family 2015 is “Men in Charge? Gender Equality and Children’s Rights in Contemporary Families”. The IFHE supports the approach of the UN DESA, that “family laws govern family relations and seek to protect the vulnerable family members, including women, children and older persons. Fair family law frameworks are especially vital to ensure gender equality and tackle various forms of violence in families” (Background Note, IDF, 2015). Home Economists acknowledge the importance of gender equality in education, law, employment and business. All efforts towards gender equality such as legal frameworks encourage personal empowerment. The IFHE believes that women and men should have equal access to primary and higher education. This facilitates the development of empowerment to act responsibly for their families, women and young girls. Women should be given the tools, such as education and legal rights, to gain self-confidence and the ability to speak and act for themselves and for their children. In cultures and traditions where discrimination of women and girls prevails, men should be encouraged to act as reliable partners for women’s and children’s rights, their health and wellbeing. They should know about the link between the quality of life for women and children and the opportunity for sustainable economic and social development of their family and communities. The International Federation for Home Economics supports:

  • Improvements to women’s and children’s rights in national laws that remove gender inequality.
  • Actions that realise gender equality in families, economics and politics through access to education.
  • Empowering women to achieve self-determined actions for their wellbeing and that of their children.
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I don’t think I need to say much about the following excerpt taken from a Home Economics book published in 1880… it speaks about “the tyranny of fashion”. Have we moved forward since then? Have a read and discuss…

Excerpt taken from Home and Health: Home Economics: a cyclopedia of facts and hints for all departments of home life, health and domestic economy.  Written by C. H. Fowler and W.H. De Puy. Published by Phillips & Hunt, 1880. (Open the link to read the whole book, courtesy of University of Toronto – Gerstein Science Information Centre).

A lady of extensive and intelligent observation, tells the story of the tyranny of fashion, and of the evil results of fashionable dress: “Fashion kills more women than toil and sorrow. Obedience to fashion is a greater transgression of the laws of woman’s nature, a greater injury to her physical and mental constitution, than the hardships of poverty and neglect. The slave-woman at her task will live and grow old, and see two or three generations of her mistresses fade and pass away. The washer-woman, with scarce a ray of hope to cheer her in her toils, will live to see her fashionable sisters die all around her. The kitchen-maid is hearty and strong, when her lady has to be nursed like a sick baby. “It is a sad truth that fashion-pampered women are almost worthless for all the good ends of human life. They have but little force of character; they have still less power of moral will, and quite as little physical energy. They live for no great purpose in life; they accomplish no worthy ones. They are only doll-forms in the hands of milliners and servants, to be dressed and fed. They dress nobody, they feed nobody, they instruct nobody, they bless nobody. They write no books; they set no example of virtue and womanly life. They rear children, the latter are left to the care of servants and nurses. And when reared what are the children? What do they ever amount to but weak scions of the old stock? Who ever heard of a fashionable woman’s child exhibiting any virtue or power of mind for which it became eminent? Read the biographies of our great and good men. Not one of them had a fashionable mother. They nearly all sprang from strong-minded women, who had as little to do with fashion as the changing clouds.” (page 193)

469px-Summer_corset_1880Don’t forget – in 1880 – corsets were still the height of fashion… you should read the whole section they wrote about that… whoa!!!

Laughter, crying and singing were considered healthy pursuits. Sunshine and fresh air was prescribed for all sorts of aliments. I loved this book. I was amazed at how much they knew. Based on hundreds of years of scientific evidence, much of this Home Economics knowledge has become “common knowledge” in 21st century life… BUT we still seem to be ignoring the good advice!

Warning: ubiquitous use of a Christian belief system and the overt patriarchy may taint some readers against appreciating this book; evil and fear at every turn. Although the “Church Manners” section (page 46) was an eye opener and particularly funny to a non-church goer like me. It sounds like boredom was problematic. Happy reading! Would love to see a discussion happen! Perhaps contribute to the Miss Representation conversation?

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