Dead-on observations like the ones Mr. Bob Herbert presented in this recent New York Times Op-Ed can leave me in a something of a crisis. Women’s prosperity and well-being are so important to me, and I feel that our lives should be a higher priority across the globe. Current conditions for women cause me much dismay — I cope with it, for lack of better methods, by doing what I do well to the best of my ability. I’ve been in a creative whirlwind, which is why you haven’t heard much from me. I’ll show you the paintings later. But back to information dissemination.
As Mr. Herbert explains, Americans cope with violence in their communities every day. Hate crimes toward women are particularly common, yet infrequently addressed. But as more people engage in women’s concerns, clear facts emerge: the world community depends on half its population to provide talent and other resources that increase security, economic stability, and peace.
I was charmed by a reaction to BBC News’ question, “Can Women Solve Africa’s Problems?”
You know God could not be everywhere so He made women to spread His love. Mrs Sirleaf would make a great president, I think. African women are strong and capable of such delicate responsibilities as presidency.
Josephat M. Mwanzi, Tanzania
Whether “spreading love” is a gender-specific pursuit (or whether I believe in dualism at all), it is apparent from the history told in the Tribeca Film Festival Best Documentary winner, Pray The Devil Back To Hell, that women can stop a war. And it is no small part of my interest that the women of Liberia used music as a primary weapon. Fela Kuti, the Future is here.
Now, I’m not trying to promote the idea that women are mystical magical creatures with extraordinary powers, though they are. It’s not going to do anyone any good to be made into a cartoon. The fact is that human beings, when they access their humanity, are extraordinary, mystical, magical. Often this power is accessed through adversity, a condition with which women tend to be intimately familiar.
Okay. Get Inspired:
Beyond acts of incredible courage, beyond the horrors that women around the world suffer each day, economists and foreign aid workers are finding that investing in the advancement of women and girls is buying into a bull market. Education, family planning/reproductive health, and microbusiness loans for women are routinely reinvested directly into families and local economies, strengthening developing infrastructures in very tangible ways. This business model seems to work in poor and isolated communities in the far corners of the earth as well as here in the U.S., where women enjoy “freedom” and “lack of discrimination” (which is to say that while we still get murdered a lot, we aren’t set on fire as frequently.)
In an excerpt from their book, Half The Sky, journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn explain many of the critical issues facing the world community. As you may expect, while there numerous anecdotes of heartbreak, there is also evidence of soaring success.
Tererai began to study on her own, in hiding from her husband, while raising her five children. Painstakingly, with the help of friends, she wrote down her goals on a piece of paper: “One day I will go to the United States of America,” she began, for Goal 1. She added that she would earn a college degree, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. — all exquisitely absurd dreams for a married cattle herder in Zimbabwe who had less than one year’s formal education. But Tererai took the piece of paper and folded it inside three layers of plastic to protect it, and then placed it in an old can. She buried the can under a rock where she herded cattle.
Tererai, I might add, has been accomplishing all of her goals, earning her Ph.D. and reinvesting her education into her home community. This whole process started for her because one person, at the right moment, told her the definition of a word she previously did not know — “achievable.”
It’s not enough just to learn a new word. Words are idle unless you have faith in them, and are willing to act upon them with diligence and patience. Like Tererai, I’m going to put my hopes for women and the world in a bottle and chip away at accomplishing those goals until I can dig up that list and cross things off. I hope that we all do. By putting a small amount of faith in the world’s women, we may one day discover a jar unearthed and find that, say, the drug war has ended.
More on that some other time. Much love to all of you.
[Special thanks to Emily Mitchell for sharing the NY Times Magazine article.]