Thursday, March 8, 2007

International Women's Day 2007

Today the world celebrates International Women's Day. Conceived in 1911 by German activist Klara Zetkin, IWD seeks to honor and celebrate the contributions of women to society, the human race and the planet. The theme for 2007's event is "Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls." A very good cause that I have championed in a previous post.

It strikes me as a very appropriate moment to reflect on the role of women in our societies. With a declared female candidate for president of the United States, a female German Chancellor, a strong female contender for the French PM spot, and president "Ma Ellen" delivering Liberia from decades of strife, women are on the ascendancy. Some poetic justice in that, as stupid white men have mucked-up the planet with their short-sighted aggressive bluster, cowboy justice and insatiable lust for power and material possessions.

In some parts of the world, like Burma, it is a single female that stands bravely against oppression. As of today, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 11 years and 135 days under house arrest in her home country. All for speaking out for individual freedom and liberty. If you're planning a trip to Burma, don't go. There is simply no excuse for spending money and offering any support at all for this pariah nation.

Also today, China issued its annual "Human Rights Record of the United States" report. To provide some perspective for our own IWD events, I thought I'd cut-and-paste some of that report's findings regarding the human rights of women in the U.S. So here goes:

"Women in the United States do not share equal rights with men in politics. Despite the fact that women outnumber men in the U.S. population, they hold only 82 seats in the 109th U.S. Congress, including 14 seats or 14 percent of the Senate and 68 or 15.6 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives. Low-income American women lack proper labor protection and social security and live a hard life. A survey by the Community Service Society showed that among low-income working mothers living on less than 32,000 U.S. dollars for a family of three, more than half were not entitled to even a single day of paid sick leave; 61 percent did not have paid vacation; and 80 percent did not receive any employee health benefits for themselves or their children. In 2005, 37 percent of the low-wage mothers had to give up necessary medical care, and a third had their electricity or phone turned off because they could not pay the bills. Forty-three percent had to rely on food pantries, and 42 percent fell behind in their rent."

How to get involved: Check out Women for Women, an organization that facilitates women sponsoring other women in third word countries.

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