Women-A A +A
Saturday, March 9, 2013
LAST March 8, the world celebrated International Women’s Day. Sometimes I wonder if the day is still relevant.
I’m lucky to live in a country where the matriarch still reigns supreme. Hear that? Not equal. Supreme. Generally, that is. I admit that despite my propensity to ignore what people think and say of me, I do notice raised eyebrows and hushed tones. Yes, still.
The year is 2013. But some people are still stuck in 1913. It’s a shame, really. My grandmother was more open-minded. And she was born in 1898.
Yes, I speak of women (not men) who still believe that women can only be virgin, wife or whore.
It riles me when my own kind think that we should put labels on our daughters. Or compel them to make ludicrous decisions. Like marry the first man they date. Or not be able to make the decision to stay single or never have a child. Ever.
I am irked by men who box women into roles. But I am infuriated by women who choose to perpetuate an enfeebling legacy for fellow women.
I’ve never felt limited by my gender. Being a woman has never been an obstacle for me in my life. I do as I believe. But while I am proud of how I live, I am aware that some women do not aspire for their daughters to grow up to be like me.
While that saddens me, that truth emboldens me to continue to work for a different world for generations after mine.
And yet, we are still the lucky ones. Though occasionally surrounded by chauvinists and maidens still chained by their chastity belts, we cannot possibly imagine what Malala Yousafzai’s world might have been like. Gunned down by the Taliban for simply speaking up about the importance of girls’ education, this 15-year old girl shows us how to be a real woman.
While Malala’s plight sounds tragic, let us not forget that once upon a time, women who learned how to read were burned at the stake. If not for the many yet seemingly mad steps that bra-burning women took before us, we would still be shackled by small minds and brute force today.
But the fight continues. We fight for our sisters, our fellow women around the world who are not as lucky as we are. We fight against institutions that systematically oppress women. Preposterous as it may seem, women are still being penalized today for wearing nail varnish, wearing brightly-colored clothing or driving a car.
According to the United Nations, more than two-thirds of the women in the world have experienced sexual or physical violence.
We can take the first step to ending violence against women by giving women access to education, skills training, jobs, incomes, health services, counseling and support. At the same time, we should abolish legislation that is discriminatory to women and prosecute to the full extent of the law, violence against women.
We should fight to create a safer world for women. A world where women do not have to be afraid of being molested, sexually assaulted, beaten black and blue, flogged or forced to have sex without the benefit of contraception.
Yes, International Women’s Day is still relevant. After all.
(Email: email@example.com,Twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 10, 2013.