Ooops! International Women’s Day came and went (8 March) and I missed it! I was vaguely aware of some items about women on the news and from that ubiquitous source of information: Facebook. But I really didn’t pay much attention.
I suspect I’m not the only one.
So in order to atone for my negligence, I did some catchup.
Message from the United Nations
I discovered a message from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN executive Director for Women. She is a very soft-spoken, articulate lady, expressing her expectation that 2020 will be the year of Generation Equality: realizing women’s rights for an equal future. Obviously we’re not there yet, and she emphasized that she is ‘radically impatient’ to see this happen.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka listed some positives towards that in today’s world: 38% less maternal deaths since 2000, 131 countries have made legal reforms to support gender equality, domestic violence laws are in place in more than three quarters of the world’s countries, and more girls are in school than ever before.
But challenges remain for all countries. One in 10 girls in the world are still unable to read and write, which is essential if they are to become technologically literate.
And in the corridors of power, three quarters of all parliamentarians and peace negotiators are men. Women need protection, funding and resources to enter these arenas.
Living in poverty, caring for children, denies women the ability to earn wages and get out of that poverty. Policies and state support are needed that provide for equality in family responsibilities.
The message concluded with hope that there is a driving will for change and it can be done!
It seems that every now and then people want to remind us of intelligent, innovative women who were cheated of their claim to fame by men who took all the credit for their work for themselves. The first time I heard of some of these (about 45 years ago) I was filled with righteous indignation! Honestly!
How dare these men bignote themselves and ignore their colleagues (who just happen to be women)? They wouldn’t dare do that had their colleagues been other men.
By now I feel sort of ‘ho-hum’ about it all. Not because I don’t think it’s important anymore – it sure is – but because we need to move on. There is no value in wallowing in past grievances. We need to look ahead.
We need more stories of women who have been trailblazers in the world, not years ago, but now.
I found an interesting timeline celebrating Australia’s trailblazing women that you might enjoy.
A National Geographic website features women from all over the world doing incredible things. But there are still some revealing glimpses of gender inequality from this selection of quotes:
“I knew that as the only woman [on the expedition], I had to measure up” – Barbara Washburn (Mountaineer)
Asha de Vos (Marine biologist) “As women, we have to work harder than men,” she says. “Work so hard that people stop seeing you for your gender or background, but instead they see you for your capacity to do what you do.”
Jess Cramp (Marine biologist) still hears the words “You don’t look like a scientist” far too often. “We can’t answer the world’s toughest questions with the status quo,” Cramp says.
Munazza Alam (Astrophysicist) says entering the field wasn’t easy. “I am usually the only person who looks like me in a room full of astronomers,” she says. “Since I am sometimes my own worst critic, I have had to work extra hard to show myself that I am capable and that I belong in astronomy.”
It is apparent that gender inequality is ingrained in our collective psyche. No amount of legislation, equal pay, equal opportunity etc by themselves is going to easily bring about Generation Equality. What I think is needed is for us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, or a total reformation of how we think (Romans chapter 12, verse 2 The Passion Translation).
This includes us, ladies, in case you’re feeling smug that we’re ok and only the men need to change.
It’s about time we stopped trying to be as good or better than the men. If that’s our motivation to excel, it’s wrong. Our motivation should be to live the abundant life that God created us to live and not allow people’s expectations to rob us of living it.
I think that we also need to repent, as women collectively around the world, of putting men down in the process of establishing ourselves. That is not the Way. As someone said, our candle does not glow brighter if we blow out someone else’s candle.
Galatians chapter 3, verses 26 - 28 confirms that we are all one in Christ Jesus – no one of us is better or worse than another. Surely that is a true basis for equality!
Aira Chilcott is a retired secondary school teacher with lots of science andtheology under her belt. Aira is a panellist and editor for PSI and indulges inreading, bushwalking and volunteering at a nature reserve. Aira is married to Billand they have three adult sons.
Aira Chilcott's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aira-chilcott.html