Today is International Women’s Day. For over a hundred years the day has been a recognition of the contribution that 50% of the Earth’s population make to our global community. It is also a time to reflect how that 50% live their lives, deal with adversity and make a difference. It’s heartbreaking that many women still live lives of quiet despair. That rape, violence and aggression are the ‘norm’ for many women and girls. And that the men who care about the women in their lives are outnumbered by men who see women as objects, possessions or slaves. It’s not the world I want for my daughter and I’m sure it’s not the one you want for yours.
In my lifetime there have been some really significant changes but some dreadful injustices still persist. Taking a view on the international rights of women presents a patchy picture. Women in some countries have no vote, no representation in government and work for low pay. Women who have children are still penalised in many ways – even to being told how & when to feed their babies. How you dress can still be the deciding factor in whether your rapist goes to trial or not. In some instances you are merely the spoils of war. I watched a heart wrenching interview recently with a young Yazidi girl not too different in age to my daughter. She had been captured, raped, sold, raped again, become pregnant by her umpteenth rapist and finally escaped but had to leave her child behind. Yet she held herself together. Her faith remained at the core of her life.
When I read, hear or experience the effects of still being a second class human being I challenge my Guides. How can it be that people do this to each other. What has happend? Have we have drifted so far away from a sense of community and compassion that we can create these situations. Their answer is always that we have both the right to free will and the obligation of personal responsibility. If we act only on the belief that we can do anything and everything we choose the door is open wide for any kind of behaviour. However we must always, in the end, take responsibility for those actions. If not on this side of life then certainly when we pass to the Spirit side of life. They remind me that I have both the free will to voice what I wish and the responsibility to deal with the impact of what I have said.
I want my daughter’s daughter to grow up in a very different world. I want more effort being made to address the casual and pervasive sexism that surrounds me every day. I want to encourage women to stop thinking that the be all and end all of life is a partner, children and loads of housework. I want women’s voices to shake up the international indifference to women being brutalised as war trophies. There are so many women who have emerged to show us the way over my lifetime. They can do so because of the hard work of the women who have blazed a path before them. It’s important not to forget all of the intelligent, strong, creative and powerful women who to whom we owe a huge debt. A way to recognise and return that gift is to try every day to be a role model to others too.
Encorage your daughters to explore all their talents. Encourage your sons to reject sexism and violence against women (the White Ribbon Campaign is one example). Most of all, be mindful of how you relate as women and men to each other. Listen to the words you say and understand the deeper assumptions you are making about each other. Ask yourself ‘if she was a man would I dare to talk like this?’ If you are a woman recognise the ways in which you allow your life to be restricted by men and choose differently. If you are a man recognise that you are restricting another person’s life and choose differently. We are all part of the global community. We all need each other. Together we can change the world for the better.
Day 113 of my blogging challenge.