Saturday, March 6, 2010

Half the Sky

I've spent much of this past week doing exactly what I want to do - dinner with friends, a haircut, an insurance funded doctor visit, picking oranges from my tree, weeding the garden, hiking Sabino Canyon - a National Park within a mile of my house - browsing a new cook book, finishing The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, leading a study group for OLLI, and enjoying my regular double espresso at Stabucks every morning. Lucky woman! yes, I am. I'm independent, comfortable, healthy. I own my own home, I make my own decisions. Not much different I suspect from many of you reading this.

But what a fool's paradise I'd live in if I believed my lot was that of the majority of women in the world!

More than half the women in the world live in subjugation and poverty. Leisure is unheard of as is freedom of choice, comfort, health care, running water, soap, a change of clothing, diapers, sanitary towels, transportation, kindness. Food - a chronic shortage. Education - don't we wish. All the things that you and I take for granted are foreign to half of our sisters. Rape is something horrific that happens in the newspapers, not in my backyard. And yet millions of women are repeatedly subjected to rape - both as a means of control and as a weapon of war. And the children - think of the children.

OK - you're about to quit reading and wonder what the heck got into me on this Saturday morning. I'll tell you what's bugging me. We've just celebrated International Womens Day - one event sponsored by CARE ( - one event to celebrate and raise awareness was a screening throughout the North America on the 4th. of Half the Sky - not sure what happened in your neck of the woods but at my local theatre seventeen, yes, seventeen, fifteen women and two men, showed up for the event! and nine of those as a direct result of my invitation. Meanwhile crowds streamed into the inane movies showing - movies that objectify women, movies in which violence is entertainment. So I'm both frustrated and angry at the lack of concern in my community for the needs of women worldwide.

I'm well into my sixties. I fought the fight for equality in the workplace. I stood up when I was denied a promotion because I was a woman. I raised three children, a girl and two boys, to be respectful of women - to recognise a woman's right to equality. I thought the fight was over. You my younger friends need to take up the challenge.

Do something for your fellow women this spring, something for your children. Read one of two books - either Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn , or Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and see if you can remain indifferent. Pass it on to someone else. These are not coffee table books , they are calls to action.

It's extraordinary what a little hope can do to change the world - read the story of one woman I met in Kenya last year.

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