Today is International Women’s Day. To start, it’s important to recognize that women are still the most marginalized majority group in the world today. The statistics tell the story: 70% of the world’s 1.3 billion poor people are women; 80% of the world’s refugees are women; a mere 11.7 percent of the world’s parliament seats are held by women; two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women; up to 50% of women experience domestic violence during marriage; the majority of women earn three-fourths less than men performing the same work…Need I continue?
The consequences of excluding women from social, scientific, and political circles have been dire. It is difficult to imagine women wielding the machetes in war-torn Rwanda; difficult to envision women, starved for power and full of genocidal madness, exterminating Armenians or Jews, or waging war on the steppes of Central Asia or the Korean Peninsula or the Great Plains of the United States. Men have always been the purveyors of war and genocide, and our wives and mothers have always been the victims.
Throughout the world, the instinct of motherhood is universal; all women, regardless of ethnicity or culture, tend to their children with equal patience and determination. If we were to leave the decision to the women of this world, it seems that war would become an isolated rarity, replaced by the alternatives of diplomacy and negotiation.
In the past 100 years much progress has been made in the area of human rights, especially towards women. But it is no understatement to say that the fate of humanity is inextricably tied to the fate of the world’s women. To fully confront the many crises of globalization, women must be given equal protection under the law, equal opportunity in politics and business, equal access to health care and education. This isn’t just progressive idealism; in fact, our very lives depend on it.