Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Watching Wronged Women Win Worldwide

As I write this article, the 100th Anniversary of InternationalWomen’s Day is being celebrated worldwide.  I thought this was a good time for me to pay tribute to the efforts of women in their war against oppression and in their struggle for equality.

Records show that International Women’s Day was commemorated for the first time on March 19, 1911. The date was specifically chosen because it was the day that the Prussian King promised to introduce votes for women. This promise was not kept however. The date was later changed to March 8th.

About 30 years ago, I was a lucky delegate to the first United Nation’s sponsored World Youth Assembly in New York. Outside of the assembly was another conference being held – a conference of Liberation or Revolutionary Movements in the United States. Among the participants were the Black Panthers’ Party, the Puerto Rican Young Lords, the Gay Liberation Movement, the Black Community for Self-Defense and the Women’s Liberation Movement.

I was invited as one of the speakers having represented an activist organization in Asia. I followed Gloria Steinem of the Women’s Liberation Movement as a speaker. I remember delivering the following words:

            “There is this never-ending debate as to who is superior, man or woman? It is so never-ending that we had to look for some signs from God, the Almighty as to who is superior.
            The success or failure of any project or endeavor is dependent upon three factors: first, you must be innovative – must conceive of new ideas; two, you must work or labor hard to implement such ideas; and third, perform or deliver.
            The key words are: CONCEIVE, LABOR AND DELIVER.  Who did God choose to conceive, labor and deliver? Debate settled.”

Although it was meant only to generate laughter and it did, I always thought that women indeed, have shown superiority in many areas. I have seen it in the way my mother ran our family efficiently and effectively. I noticed it in the way my five sisters ran theirs. My wife, of course, is the best in this field.

As a college student, I had this group called “ADEBNAS” which is San Beda in reverse. We used to get invited to parties for one major reason – we believed and made sure that no girl would remain a “wall flower” so everyone would enjoy the dancing party. As I watched the girls dancing without stopping from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. I wondered why they would not get tired while I usually took a break after a few dances. It made me conclude that in endurance, the women had no equal!

In a book entitled, “The Natural Superiority of Women”, author, biological and social anthropologist Ashley Montagu contends that “irrefutable and scientific evidence supports the conclusion that women as biological organisms are superior to men.”

As reviewed by Maureen Slade, “Women apparently have a more powerful immunological system, which affords them greater protection against and better recovery from starvation, fatigue, shock and illness…….Consequently, the female brain is more highly developed structurally and functionally, and it is capable of thinking more soundly and intuitively than the male brain. Montagu says, “The end result is that women are insightful and have greater stamina and longevity --- or, in other words, women stand the test of time.”

And yet sadly, according to the World Vision Magazine, “….in our world today, being female often means being sentenced to a life of poverty, abuse, exploitation, and deprivation. Compared to her male counterpart, a girl growing up in the developing world is more likely to die before her fifth birthday and less likely to go to school. She is less likely to receive adequate food or health care, less likely to receive economic opportunities, more likely to be forced to marry before the age of 16, and more likely to be the victim of sexual and domestic abuse. Girls are forced to stay home from school to work. In fact, two thirds of the nearly 800 million illiterate people in the world are women. Only one in 10 women in Niger can read. Five hundred thousand women die every year from childbirth complications— that’s one woman every minute. Girl babies are even killed in countries where males are considered more valuable. Women are denied property rights and inheritance in many countries. Worldwide, women own only 1 percent of the world’s property. They work two-thirds of all the world’s labor hours but earn just 10 percent of the world’s wages. Being female, in much of our world, is not “heavenly.”

That’s why it is not surprising that emerging as the driving force in the revolts against dictatorships in the Middle East are the women. They have been showing up in rallies in big numbers without fear. They are fighting not just for their lives but more for freedom, for equality, for hope and for their future.

The People Power Revolution in the Philippines was led and won by female leader Cory Aquino joined by nuns, female teachers, students, mothers, the young and the old in large numbers. They bravely faced the military tanks with spiritual inspiration from the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ.

As a tribute to women in general, Newsweek magazine featured “150 Women Who Shake the World”. In its cover was Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State and the second most admired woman in the United States. In its poll survey, the magazine reported that a large majority of women approve of the way Hillary Clinton is performing her job as secretary of state with 76% approving and 9% disapproving. Women across the political spectrum approve of Clinton’s performance. Democrats approve 94 to 0 percent, Independents approve 81 to 9 percent, and Republicans approve 54 to 18 percent. Liberals approve 98 to 0 percent, Moderates approve 84 to 4 percent and conservatives approve 63 to 8 percent.

Having endorsed and campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the last presidential primaries, I feel vindicated in my choice of a woman presidential candidate.

An English professor wrote the words, “Woman without her man is a savage” on the blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly.

The men wrote: “Woman, without her man, is a savage.”
The women wrote: “Woman! Without her, man is a savage.”

What would you write?

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