Happy International Women’s Day

Because of a rather unfortunate circumstance known as “being a student at the University of Chicago,” I have been too busy to write about the myriad of topics that I do want to cover. And I’m even late for this one.

But I hope you just had a great International Women’s Day. We in the West like to talk about topics like reproductive rights and “equal pay for equal work.” These discussions are really important, and they should by all means continue.

But let us not forget about less fortunate women in countries and cultures.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali said this in an International Women’s Day speech in 2006. She was specifically addressing the crime of honor killing.

Cultural and moral relativists sap our sense of moral outrage by defending the position that human rights are a Western invention. Men who abuse women rarely fail to use the vocabulary the relativists have kindly provided them. They claim the right to adhere to an alternative set of values- an “Asian”, “African” or “Islamic” approach to human rights. According to this point of view, when husbands, fathers and brothers seek to own us as their property, this is an expression of culture or religion and should be respected.

March 8th is Women’s Day. Every year on this day we celebrate our accomplishments and condemn our suffering. But one day isn’t enough. We need more than a day–more than a year or a decade. We would need a whole century to fight the ongoing gendercide against us.

Finally, we need a worldwide campaign against the cultures which permit this kind of crime. Cultures which endorse the physical elimination of girl babies, which do not feed and care for them, which deny women their rights over their own bodies and fail to protect them in any way from the worst kind of physical abuse–these cultures need to reform. They are not respectable members of the community of nations. Today, on International Women’s Day let’s name them and shame them.

Though not nearly as bad as others, my very own culture is also notorious for its gender bias. In places like southern China, obsession with having a son has led to an overflow of unwanted infant girls and a surplus of as many as 32 million extra males. The result is a society where many females have a dim future and where many males will not be able to find a wife, contributing to problems like human trafficking and crime.

Different places, different problems, same need for reform.

Societies must change, and we should start now.


Posted on March 9, 2011, in Humanism, Politics, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Gender Bind / Unfair Share

    In Times of India [ March 08,2011 ], Ms. Rema Nagarajan provides following insights :

     Women own 1 per cent of the world’s wealth, have a 10 per cent share in global income

     Women comprise half the world’s population but occupy just 14 per cent of leadership positions in the private and public sector

     Of the 1.4 billion people living on less than $ 1 a day, 70 per cent are women and girls

     Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, but earn only 10 percent of the income

     Women produce half of the world’s food, but own just 1 per cent of its land

     Of the almost 900 million adults worldwide who can’t read or write, two-thirds are women

    Will mankind [ on “ Women’s Day “ 2011, should I say, womankind ? ] manage to bridge this gender gap by end of 21st Century ?

    With regards

    hemen parekh


    Jobs for All = Peace on Earth

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