Thursday, November 7, 2013

Feminist, Indeed...


I was involved in a conversation recently about domestic violence-
its prevalence and devastating effects- when I stated that I was
totally dismayed that the things for which so many of us had fought
for so hard back in the 1970s and 80s seemed to have regressed,
slipped away, been forgotten...that so many of today's young women
were once again so convinced that their lives were meaningless
and incomplete without a male presence that they were willing to
put up with abusive, disrespectful, unacceptable behaviors from
their boyfriends or spouses. How could this have happened, I
wondered aloud. "It's almost as if the Women's Liberation Movement
had never happened," I lamented.

"Gee, Linda, I didn't know you were such a feminist," one of the
other women responded.

"Absolutely," I affirmed. "Aren't you?"

"Well, I just don't think it's necessary any more. I've never felt any
discrimination because I'm a woman, have you?"

I thought carefully about my answer. "I've been pretty fortunate,
I think, to have had nothing bad happen...nothing really overt or
damaging. But it's not just about me- or you. It's about all of the
girls and women worldwide- our sisters- who have suffered and
continue to suffer from the repercussions of gender bias...from
abuse and mistreatment and discrimination simply because they are
female."

I don't know if my questioner "heard" me or not, but I am grateful
for her challenge because it has made me re-examine my reasons
for being so firmly feminist. And for those of you for whom the
whole feminist business is truly a mystery, for those of you who are
too young to remember the days of the Women's Movement and why
this was- and IS- such an important part of our history, I invite you
to read the following facts...realities...statistics...and then perhaps
you will understand that THIS is why I am a feminist, and will 
remain one until we are no longer necessary.

*Every 90 seconds a woman somewhere in this world dies during pregnancy
or childbirth.
*Women make up 80% of all refugees and displaced persons.
*Sexual violence and rape are increasingly being used against women and
girls as weapons of war.
*Women account for 70% of the population living in absolute poverty (less
than $1 per day). 2 out of 3 poor adults are women.
*Women own only 1% of the world's land.
*Women cultivate, plow, and harvest more than half of all the food in
the world.
*Women make only 77.5 cents for every dollar men earn.
*Due to sex selection in favor of boys in many parts of South, East, and
Central Asia (a symptom of pervasive social, cultural, political, and
economic injustice against women) tens of millions of girls have been
aborted, are undernourished, or terribly neglected.
*2 million girls aged 5-15 are forced into the commercial sex market each
year.
*600 women were raped every day in 2006 (the most recent statistics
I could find) in the U.S.A.
*130 million women have undergone female genital mutilation.
*Gender-based violence kills 1 in 3 women worldwide.
*Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an
intimate partner or family member.
*One in three women and girls will be abused or sexually assaulted in
their lifetime. That's 1 BILLION worldwide.
*Discrimination on the basis of their gender leads to many health hazards
for women, including physical and sexual violence, sexually transmitted
infections, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
*COPD is far more prevalent among women in developing countries due
to cooking over open fires or on traditional stoves.
*Due to recent aggressive tobacco marketing campaigns aimed at women,
tobacco use among younger females in developing countries is rising
rapidly.
*Of all adults living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, 61% are women.*An estimated 100 million girls will marry before their 15th birthday
in the next decade. This is 1/3 of the adolescent girls in developing
countries.
*About 14 million adolescent girls become mothers every year worldwide,
with more than 90% living in developing countries. This means more
complications with deliveries, more low-birth-weight babies, and
increased infant mortality.
*Approximately 219 women die worldwide each day from an unsafe abortion.
*An estimated 150 million women worldwide do not have access to
birth control.
*66% of adult women worldwide are illiterate.
*100 million girls worldwide that begin primary school do not finish.
*Worldwide only 30% of all girls are enrolled in secondary school.
*Education drastically reduces child marriage.
*In sub-Saharan Africa, four out of five women do not receive any
education.
*The education of women helps lift families out of poverty, saves the
lives of young children, improves overall health of populations,
reduces unemployment, dramatically increases a country's agricultural
productivity and overall GDP, reduces the rate of female genital
mutilation, and contributes to an increase in the number of women
in parliamentary bodies.

*Healthy, educated, and empowered women have healthy, educated,
and confident daughters and sons.

(Statistics come from the World Health Organization, Amnesty International,
and the USA Embassy)

Yes, indeed, I AM A FEMINIST...and so I will be until the time when
gender equality  no longer an issue but a reality.



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