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Friday, October 28, 2016

International Women's Day: Celebrating Where We Are And Gearing Up For Where We Must Go

While Republicans continue to chip away at women’s rights at home, increasing rights for women around the world is having a huge impact.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and celebrations took place all over the world. Perhaps none were more prominent than the event at the U.S. Department of State where First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave out “Women of Courage” awards for the fourth year in a row. They recognized 10 individuals selected by U.S. embassies around the world as examples of grit and bravery in the global struggle for basic human freedoms and women’s rights. The recipients’ stories are inspiring, if bone-chilling. They need to be heard by American women, whose status as full and equal citizens is being challenged just about every day by outspoken priests, pundits, and politicians who are questioning long-established rights to family planning and other women’s health programs.

Access to safe and reliable contraception has helped make possible the hard-won gains that women in the United States have achieved during the past 40 years in education, employment, and participation in public life. And no irony was lost in the fact that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives marked International Women’s Day by holding another in what has been a constant drumbeat of hearings on some piece of legislation that would roll back fundamental reproductive rights and further politicize women’s health.

Meanwhile, largely unnoticed over in Foggy Bottom, Secretary Clinton handed awards to an Afghani woman persecuted under the Taliban who now runs the one radio station in the country that teaches women about their rights, and to a true heroine from Burma, recently freed by the military regime after 11 years in prison simply because she had campaigned for civilian government, who is now back advocating for women, ethnic minorities, and political prisoners. Recognition also went to a 27-year-old architect from Libya who has became a clarion voice of her country’s liberation movement, to two women’s rights activists protesting the state sanctioned oppression of women in Saudia Arabia and Sudan, and to a women’s affairs minister from the Maldives pressing for laws against domestic violence and female genital cutting. In conferring this prize, Clinton remarked in no uncertain terms to spontaneous applause, “[W]e thank you for improving lives and sending the message that domestic violence is not a cultural practice, it is a crime.”

Rounding out the group was a Turkish parliamentarian who has become an international voice on the rights of the disabled and a Pakistani NGO leader from the country’s most conservative provinces who has challenged a local ban on women seeking political office. And finally there were a Brazilian police official once kidnapped by Rio street gangs and a Columbian journalist once tortured by arms smugglers, both still determined to campaign openly against the endemic violence women still face even as their countries experience modernization and growth.

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Copyright 2012 The National Memo
  • rustacus21

    … translates into the power of the vote! For this reason alone, women remained one of the last ‘class’ (or demographic, if you will) to be liberated by Constitutional imperative. It was of great importance – pre-1920’s, as currently, to suppress women to such a degree as to completely prevent their independence & autonomy. To a greater extent, this is what the collapse of the economy & resistance to re-instatment of equity provisions – by LAW – originally implemented following the Great Depression, to criminalize the types of behaviors which caused the Great Depression & subsequently, the economic collapse of 2008. W/out economic independence & mobility, women (along w/Black & Brown Americans) remain dependent upon the men (or welfare ‘state’) in their lives & the controls that result, causing millions of American women to erroneously vote Conservative (or, in the case of non-Whites, losing the ‘right’ to vote altogether!) – simply b/c the ‘man of the house’/’State’ said so (during 2000-2008). Many will dispute this, but facts don’t lie, as these very same women/non-Whites who post ‘here’, who write (books/articles/blogs), but most importantly, who are now engaged & have become activists in pushing for political, economic, civic & educational reforms, which will restore the virtues, values, honesty & integrity to the overall process, which freed themselves, Black & Brown, the poor & (recent) immigrant Americans, from the tyranny of 2nd & 3rd ‘classism’. Do not misunderstand the fundamental meaning of the last 12 years, which almost nearly erased the gains hard won, to achieve the type of economic mobility which was responsible for creating the American Middle Class. Ideological divisions are meaningless, in the face of deprivations, destitution & poverty, intentionally caused in order to create the powerless underclass that IS the ‘99%’ that corporate media is attempting to bury beneath the ‘contraceptives’, ‘abortion’ & ‘health-care’ hysteria that makes the headlines – NOT reasons FOR canceling tax-cuts for the wealthy/corporations (only), which would result in an overnight ending of this current recession & stubborn unemployment rate (which has NOT changed/improved for women since 2007!!! – see, etc.), that hasn’t ‘recovered’ for women, comparably. This coming election WILL be the most critical, since 1992, w/women again, being the deciding factor…

  • itsadogslife

    In the 1970’s when I got divorced, I was called a slut, had problems finding a place to live, and was point blank told that I should stop looking for a job and just get married. Real Memories. Abortion was not legal than, so it was common to have female friends who had, had the illegal kind. Real Memories. One of my friends almost bled to death after an illegal abortion, she was so afraid to go the doctor. It was only the thought of leaving her three little daughters without a parent and a nagging friend that gave her the courage to go. Real Memories. My granddaughter laughs when I talk about these things, because she has never had to face being: denied birth control, forced into marriage, or questioned because she wants to be a physician. The point being that it’s hard to realize how precious these rights are when you have grown up with them. For young women today control over their reproductive system is part of life, not a “right” that can be taken away. We need “Women’s Day” everyday; girls and young women need to be told over and over that access to family planning, safe and legal abortion, and control of your own life are things women have had for only a few short decades. So I say educated your girls, don’t wait for the schools to do it – they will not. Let them know that women outnumber men and that their power is in their vote. This is the most important part; remind them to vote. I make a point of calling my granddaughter every time there is election, just in case she is so busy with life she forgets the importance of casting her vote on how this Country will be ruled.

  • Sleipnir

    How ironic and sad that just as the rest of the world is celebrating International Women’s Day and the gains women have made in other countries here in the United States the teapublicans and religous conservatives are trying to stip women of their rights that we have fought to have for years. At election time vote for the candidates that believe in women’s rights or next year the women in the United States may be the ones being recognized for fighting for the right to vote, drive cars, run for public office and make decisions about their own body