Women Students at Ohio State University in 1910
This is International Women’s Day. What does that mean to you? There has been an International Women’s Day since 1910. Women all over the world have been in a struggle much longer than that. It might seem that it is hopeless but through the years there has been some progress made for women, but sometimes for every step forward there are several steps back. Rallys and commemorations, do have some place in this struggle. Ideas of how women can achieve gender equity on a broad level are still being imagined and those that are imagined cue up for some kind of implementation.
Over time I have come to understand the strange twist of words and actions that sometimes prevent women from achieving gender equity. Probably the most important prevention to gender equity is ignorance, lack of education, for both sexes. Countries which keep women back from power, even in their own lives, over their own destinies tend to be countries where women are restricted in their education. Without access to education, even rudimentary education, those in authority have a way of controlling women from finding out what they can be, what they can do, what they can learn. Women must be as valuable as men in a culture and until that overall principle is embraced globally, restrictions on what women can access in the way of education is going to continue to be the largest stumbling block.
Elevating women out of poverty, allowing them to have venture capital to start businesses, even in the most uneducated and poor countries, allows women a place of prominence in their communities. It provides the ability to care for themselves and their children. It also instills within, the beginning of what they will need to fight the status they are culturally forced to endure because of ignorance and some traditions. What they need to fight this negative status is self confidence, a sense of indignation, the ability to use their new found power to begin to break the chains of male dominance in their cultures. They need to turn back the surge of anti women sentiment with a shower of what women can do for their cultures and countries.
Female children in many countries are still unwanted. The reasons for this are many, but the main reason is that they are considered valueless. Giving women an opportunity to create their own livelihood teaches their value to their societies in the basest of terms. Money seems to be always what talks the loudest.
Economic March 1974, Chicago Women's Liberation Union
photo from Illinois State University
I was raised with a feminist attitude. I enjoyed my brief interlude almost all the way through college, that life would be a place where men and women were equals. No matter how hard I tried to change the playing field in my twenties, I found that the world I was in was not the one I thought. Okay I admit it. I have now raised a feminist daughter. What I have learned is what I am offering here. In this world money motivates. To be sure, the rape, mutilation, slavery, social imprisonment of women are all issues that are very real and part of the devaluation of women in our world, but what seems to conquer that on many fronts is economic stability. What we seem to respect most in this world is the power of money. So there, women need financial stability, they need control over their own lives, they need to be valued for the fantastic people that they are.
Indian Woman Entrepreneurs Learning -Photo from the International Development and Relief Foundation
Ah, if women ruled the world…would there be war, would there be famine, would there be poverty, would there be unloved children? We can only guess about these things as the reality is, we women are certainly a long way from ruling it, we are still trying to survive it. Until the day when a woman in any country is free from violence, oppression and submission, I fear our work in this world is not done.
Lilly Ledbetter and I, she was the inspiration for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, and advocates for equal pay in the United States.
Copyright 2010 SheilaTGTG55