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How far are we on the road to equality, if we have a day dedicated to the upliftment and empowerment of women?
Far from far enough.
I hear the the impassioned cries that acknowledging such a day places women in the shadow of the “superiority” of an otherwise male world, the remaining 355 (356?) days belonging to this favoured sex.
The options we face are, amongst a few others, utopian idealism and academic exploration of women’s rights issues or an acknowledgment of the disparities and a decision to undertake practical solutions to use every opportunity to raise the alarm and let the world take note. International Women’s Day is one such alarm call.
Every other day, we are aware, or we say that we are, of the particular difficulties faced by women and girls in the most impoverished areas from cultural discrimination based on gender, early and forced marriages, sex trade, the burden of providing for their families alone, of having to work instead of learning to read. Every other day the world knows of these facts, and yet the status quo remains.
A call to action
International Women’s day isn’t necessarily about calling your Mom or sending flowers to your wife (though I’m sure the gestures will not go amiss). It is about recognition of the discrimination and disparities that the poorest and most helpless women suffer and the sacrifices that they make for their families and for future generations.
It is the voice for the quiet suffering endured all year long. It is a spotlight on these issues that you (yes, you) may not have really taken the time to address. It is also hope. For the women and children who bear this burden and hope that people like us will want to get involved during the rest of the year to make small changes to make a difference to their lives.
Protesting against corrupt governments, world economic policies and the senselessness of war, writing an intelligent treatise on the sorry state of affairs is one way to go about it. It will make you feel smug and clever and useful, possibly, but will not have the same effect as reaching out to people like Molly (below).
There must be acknowledgement that these very real problems have become our problems. Our future and the future of our daughters depend on our actions. We must combine thought activation with action – speaking out, giving of our time and money if possible.
Meet Molly, now aged 13, living in Nairobi
In this video you will meet Molly. She is now 13 and lives in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya. She attends a tiny school supported by the World Food Programme that feeds the learners a nutritious meal daily. Molly is bright, she is kind and she is perceptive. She is the young woman that this special day is meant to honour. Please, take a few minutes of your time to watch her video and the responses from a few children in Rome to her when they watched her video.
In the words of Mama Hope, another organisation I really admire : “Stop the Pity and Unlock the Potential“.
This is precisely how we should view Molly and her friends. She wants to be a nun when she grows up. It’s quite possible that like many teens, she will change her mind about her career, her interests, hobbies and friends as she grows, develops and experiences more of life. I sincerely hope she will have the chance to live out her potential.
Please take this quiz after you watch the video. Every quiz answered, will feed one child on the World Food Programme:
So glad you posted this — here in the U.S., a lot of anti-woman sentiment is going around among politicians claiming to be protecting “family values.” We’ve come a long way, but still have a ways to go.
I am a teacher in South Africa. I have taught many children who come from areas like Molly’s. I am always amazed at the extra effort a lot of these chidlren and their parents go to to make a differnece so that they can break that cycle. I know I am observing a shift taking place in their lives. When I am old and retired, they will be making a life for themselves out of the slums.Fantastic stuff!
Hi Carol-Ann. I firmly believe teachers serve humanity and have one of the most important jobs. There are challenges and rewards and I wish we could compensate teachers more appropriately. Thank you for your comment and for the work that you do/have done.