Half the Sky

The enemy is not men. The enemy is
indifference and its evil twin inaction.
–Kate Grant, Hufington Post

Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women’s Day. I knew already that March is Women’s History month and that WGBH is airing programs about influential women throughout the month. But I did not know until yesterday that International Women’s Day even existed. Maybe I need to get more connected with the news and print media around me, but I will bet that at least half of my readers consider this news also.

The United Nations has set the theme for this year’s Women’s Day — “A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women.” So it really is a good thing that Congress, despite its other difficulties, was able to agree on one thing: they renewed the Violence Against Women Act at the end of February.

Wikipedia reports that in some countries Women’s Day is a blend of Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. The UN’s emphases, though, aim more to advance women’s access to education, civic equality, and economic empowerment. They seek to reduce human trafficking and to reduce violence against women and girls. The UN themes also celebrate women’s contributions to the peace process in all arenas.

This is a time to consider all the women of the world, a truly heterogeneous collection of all sizes, images, physiques, colors, and ages. What a gloriously mixed bag we are! We are tremendously different and yet we all care for our mothers, our sisters, our children, and want what is best for each of them. We all need food each day. We need responsible and responsive health care. We need protection from the elements and from people who would harm us. We want to have meaningful work which brings economic strength. We want to participate in meaningful ways in creating the future of our nations.

Lt. Col. Pam Moody with Afghan women, March 8, 2011Photo by Spc Tobey White

Lt. Col. Pam Moody with Afghan women, March 8, 2011
Photo by Spc Tobey White

In looking for images to represent the range of women’s experiences in our time I found this fascinating image from Afghanistan. It was taken on Women’s Day two years ago as US Army Lt. Col. Pam Moody from Indianapolis distributed pencils to Afghan women in traditional burkas. Notice that the officer is wearing a scarf (which blends nicely with the camouflage colors of her uniform) as a gesture toward acceptable female garb in the region. Can you imagine women more different from each other than these? Their expectations, childhood aspirations, training and daily duties could not be more different. And yet they understand things about each other that their respective men folk would not know.

A Chinese proverb says “women hold up half the sky.” Men and women share the earth in equal numbers, and yet as a group, women are a “minority” in every other way. Women’s Day observances seek to expose and correct the social and political inequalities which lay waste the energy and power of women of the world. Last year at this time Kate Grant wrote in Huffington Post, “The enemy is not men. The enemy is indifference and its evil twin inaction.”

We have the numbers and the influence to change this. Let’s do it.

Boundaries divide. Travel unites.

7 March 2013

About Travel Unites

A travel agent since 1994, I want people to get together for greater understanding across boundaries.
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