International Women’s Day 2010

Today is the 100th year of International Women’s Day, and all over the interwebs, we are celebrating advances in women’s rights and decrying the obstacles still faced by women and girls everywhere. In a world where women still get attacked with acid; where girls are stoned to death for being raped; where, in certain places, not being born male is a handicap, I feel that the strides that have been made in the past century are still dwarfed by the challenges ahead.

I don’t think of myself as a feminist per se, but I do believe in the equality of men and women in every realm of life (except maybe in sports, fine). As an educated woman from France, I’ve been given every opportunity to realize my full potential, to take advantage of everything life has to offer. Being a woman, for me, has rarely been an hindrance – on the contrary, I’m fully conscious of the advantages that come with it. Professionally, I think I’ve encountered more young-ism than sexism. I credit my parents for having brought me up with solid values, and for providing an exemplary complementary partnership at home. My mother, a faithful reader of this blog, needs to be acknowledged here: in her ability to balance family life and career, in her relentless and vocal support for equality between men and women, she has always been an inspiration and a model.

Another source of inspiration for me has been the women of Liberia. The New York Times – fittingly – just published an article entitled about Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf “A Nation Full of Strong Women“, as part of their Female Factor series. I recently read Ma Ellen’s autobiography, “This Child Will Be Great“, in which her strength of character, intelligence, thoughtfulness and determination come across vividly. In her book, she acknowledges (somewhat in passing) the role that women played in helping her win the presidential election. I wish she had emphasized the critical role of women in the 2005 election, and in bringing an end to the 14 year conflict more than she did.

I’ve had the chance to meet some really incredible Liberian women, both in Liberia and in Ghana. Contrarily to what some may think, Liberia is a rather matriarchal society, where women make signficant economic, political and social contributions. Of course, as is often the case in poor places, women are still not on par with men: rape and violence against women are very real, and large, issues, and girls remain less educated than their male counterparts.

That being said, I’d like to focus on the commendable, inspiring actions undertaken by Liberian women. In particular, I wish to honor this International Women’s Day by recommending that you take an hour of your time to watch “Pray the Devil Back to Hell“,a powerful documentary on the role of women in ending the war in Liberia. (I watched this documentary last year during the Vancouver International Film Festival, in the presence of the film maker and producer, as well as Lovetta Conto, a young lady who survived the war and is now engaged in supporting post-conflict development in her home country.) The women in this film are fearless leaders and peace-makers, the kind of people to draw inspiration and strength from. Seeing their determination in the face of adversity gives me a lot of hope: not only for the continued advancement of women’s rights, but also in the growing capacity of women to affirm themselves as leaders. For this 100th International Women’s Rights Day, my wish is that, 100 years from now, we no longer need to celebrate women, their achievements and their challenges on a specially dedicated day.

Here is the trailer of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”. PBS allows you to watch the full-length documentary for free; part 1 is here, part 2 is here.

4 thoughts on “International Women’s Day 2010

    1. Thanks Tammy! Lovetta is a pretty amazing young woman, and one can only hope that her story will encourage teenage girls to learn from her passion and commitment.

  1. In Celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 1st call for international womens day in 1910, we are making an online reader’s edition of our new book, Wings & Dreams: 4 Elements of a New Feminism, accessible here.

    http://www.sophiasirius.net

    Please share this among your women’s communities.

    The Sophia Sirius Publishing Team

  2. The ‘equality of male and female’? lol
    That is a joke, a delusion, right?

    Differences CAN NEVER be ‘equal’!
    That is true mathematically and it is also true realistically.

    Mother Nature has ‘designed’ male as the dominant gender. That reality will never change for as long as humans shall live. And that is how the vast majority of cultures have naturally lived since the First Man & Woman!

    These idiots from Europe foolishly believe that they can impose their childish and silly values on the rest of the planet. Not going to happen; because Mother Nature wisely designed a ‘multi-cultural’ world to represent geographical differences and to ensure the continuation of the species.

    ‘As a woman of France’? Ha!

    How are the chances of females leading France, compared to males, for now, for the future and in the past? Never ever going to be ‘equal’ chances except in the dreams of overworked imaginations!

    This lie, deception and delusion coming out of Europe about female ‘equality’ with male, is purely political and expedient; because the imagination of this so-called ‘equality’ is not supported by historical realities since time immemorial, no matter how some may wish it to be.

    This is just another evil eurocentric effort to use their deceptive ‘female equality’ nonsense as a tool to promote european domination of other cultures, most of whom have had long periods of social quietude, and who have never had gender problems until the criminal invaders from European destroyed their societies and cultures!

    Africans have been the FIRST and longest on the planet. If so-called ‘female equality’ was a reality, it would have evolved within indigenous African societies. And yet, indigenous African societies did not suffer from gender problems for all these thousands of generations.

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