On this 101st anniversary of International Women’s Day, I’m able to reflect on how different women truly are. 25 years ago I thought I discovered the real difference when I was watching Shirley MacLaine’s made for TV movie, Out on a Limb in 1987. It was based on her book of the same name and one I read with great interest.
In one scene, MacLaine is talking to actress Anne Jackson, who plays famed New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug. MacLaine was preparing lunch in her posh apartment while they were discussing Abzug’s race for mayor of NYC. I was supposed to be paying attention to the dialogue but I was distracted by the meal MacLaine was preparing for lunch. As she was tossing the salad, it dawned on me that it was going to be the entire meal. This university student, who ate the most horrible student-prepared food as long as it was on sale, couldn’t believe that a salad could be a whole meal. That’s when I knew women were truly different from men.
I’d like to say I’m joking but I’m not…at least not from a 28 year-old’s perspective. Ok, perhaps it didn’t define for me the true differences between men and women, but here we are 25 years later and I still remember that scene…vividly. The good news is that I’ve come a long way in a quarter century and realize there are wonderful differences between men and women and on this day, or any day, we must celebrate the accomplishments of women and continue to support women for true equality.
After all, we now have women premiers in B.C., Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut. Of course there should be more, or have been more over the years, but it’s better than where we were.
15 days ago I wrote a newsletter indicating we’re not truly valuing women…even in Canada. I’d like to think things can change drastically in half a month, but alas I’m still concerned. For example:
EU looking at quotas for boards. There are so few women on boards of companies that the European Union is considering imposing quotas. Women comprise 14% of certain corporate boards in Canada, but on our biggest firms, we languish with the Europeans at a mere 10%.
First Nations pulls out of Missing Women Commission. Stating that the commission looking into the murders of dozens of women in B.C. “has no credibility”, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs pulled out of the process. The lawyer for the B.C. Chiefs, Robyn Gervais, told commissioner Wally Oppal this week, “Given that these hearings are largely about missing and murdered aboriginal women, I feel I shouldn’t have to fight to have the voices of the aboriginals heard.” The Chiefs are just the latest of organizations who pulled out of the commission.
Women going back to Taliban era. New guidelines established by Afghanistan’s top clerics and published by President Hamid Karzai, states that women must not work or be educated with men, must be subordinate to men and must have a man guardian whenever they travel. The Afghan government is trying to make peace by negotiating with the Taliban and it seems women will be sacrificed in the process. For years I have heard that all the suffering and killing in Afghanistan was at least for the purpose of supporting women. I guess I don't know what "support" means.
Rush Limbaugh calls woman a slut and prostitute. When Georgetown university student Sandra Fluke testified about birth control policy to U.S. congressional leaders, radio host Rush Limbaugh referred to her as a slut and prostitute. And he said that if she wants him to pay for her to have sex, then she should tape her sexual acts and put them on the web so he can enjoy them. Mr. Limbaugh thought that somehow his taxes paid for the birth control women receive from private insurance companies. He’s not only offensive and wrong but he’s actually quite stupid. A lot of advertisers felt the same way and have pulled their ads from his show.
Eve teasing in India. Now this isn’t new, but I stumbled upon this terminology which is used in India and a few other countries. It is another way to describe inappropriate actions towards women: Anything from public sexual harassment to molestation. I figured it had something to do with the Bible’s first woman and sure enough it does. Seems the reference is to the fact that women are responsible for these behaviours from men. After all, they’re teasing the men and what are we supposed to do but respond by groping them. Whew! That explains a lot.
Well, compared to all this cheery news, I don't feel quite so stupid about my youthful analysis of women and salads for lunch. Cripe, why aren't I President of Pakistan, or head of a Canadian commission or making millions as a radio talk show host? I guess I just have to try a little harder.
I dunno. Maybe there's a few of us who have to try a little harder. Happy International Women's Day.
Winner of last skill testing question: Géraldine Faure from Vancouver was the first to give the correct answer that Agnes Macphail was Canada's first woman Member of Parliament. She had other "firsts" but that was the one I was looking for. Géraldine received a copy of my book, Managing Human Rights at Work.
Today's skill testing question: Bella Abzug was famous for many things and I Iove some of her quotes, such as, "This woman's place in in the house...the House of Reprentatives." She was also famous for her hats. The first person to tell me why she wore hats will win a copy of my book, Managing Human Rights at Work.
This blog: http://www.humanrightseachday.com/
My website: http://www.stephenhammond.ca
My Podcast: Type in “HumanRightsaDay” to the iTunes store and listen to each day's event from my book, Steps in the Rights Direction, or just click here.
My Twitter: http://twitter.com/Rightstoday (each day has historical human rights info)
Stephen Hammond, B.A., LL.B., CSP, is a lawyer-turned professional speaker. He’s written two books, Managing Human Rights at Work: 101 practical tips to prevent human rights disasters and Steps in the Rights Direction: 365 human rights celebrations and tragedies that inspired Canada and the world. Both can be purchased on his website www.StephenHammond.ca
copyright - Stephen Hammond - Happy International Women's Day...I guess