Trouble in Paradise — by 2/C Anna Paz

Ah, a sunny day spent bouncing around in the waves of the Aegean Sea is exactly what I needed. On Saturday we took a break from all the meetings and conferences to immerse ourselves in Greek culture and learn about their traditions. I spent most of the day with Ashanti and Jess on Aegina Island in the Greek Isles where we explored the beauty of the Mediterranean and indulged ourselves in some tasty treats. I completely understand why Greece is such a popular destination for any traveller; it is truly remarkable. But beneath the crystal clear water, there is obvious trouble in paradise.

As we spend our final day in Greece stuck in the airport, I find myself reflecting on all of the change that is needed around me. Unfortunately, our flight to Sweden was cancelled due to the pilots going on strike. This is so bizarre to me, I couldn’t imagine if an American airline just decided to shutdown after promising people a flight. Chaos would ensue! All credibility and reliability of the company would vanish. But the typical Greek traveller remained unfazed, claiming that many airlines go on strike everyday. Even the train service is currently on strike.

I think that Greece’s problems lay in this very fact: in order to enact positive change, it must come from a credible, reliable source. I have to admit, after all of our talks with Greece’s leaders of gender equality I am surprised at how busy they are trying to implement policies that promote equal opportunity. From the Secretary of Gender Affairs to the Municipality of Athens, there are some very dedicated individuals who are trying to advocate for women’s place in leadership and open doors for women to achieve their goals. Despite these courageous leaders, I am afraid that the slow change in gender equality legislation is falling on deaf ears.

As a professor at Pantieon University stated, the law is not as important for equality as culture. I would feel more comfortable about Greece’s chances of successfully closing the gender gap if I believed that it’s culture was willing to commit itself to actively changing its definition of masculinity and recognizing the necessity of change to better society. Even if legislators were to implement effective gender equality policies, I do not believe that they would hold the culture accountable for making the change. This goes back to the credibility I was talking about earlier. Sure, it is a beautiful thing to see a country immensely proud of its heritage, but it is equally frustrating to observe it’s blindness towards injustice.

Although it eases my mind to know that there are some people who are fighting for justice, it concerns me that the majority of Greeks are content with living in a society that favors its traditions over prosperity. This blindness doesn’t just stop at gender equality; it expands to LGBT rights and support, the worsening economic crisis and treatment of all races. Because the world cannot rely on Greece to commit to positive change, women may never see full liberation.