Written by Shelley Plett Tuesday, 24 February 2009 13:51
“I’m not for women in any job. I don’t want any of want them around. Thank God we don’t have any in the cabinet.... I don’t think a woman should be in any government job whatever. I mean, I really don’t. The reason why I do is mainly because they are erratic. And emotional. Men are erratic and emotional, too, but the point is a woman is more likely to be.” —President Nixon, audiotaped in 1971
As my niece boards a plane for England this week, the world starts shrinking. Or is it growing? I’m not sure.
On one hand, knowing she’ll be a London resident for awhile while her fiancé completes his Air Force tour of duty, it seems much smaller. Tomorrow she’ll be in London. Today she’s in Kansas. Just that quick. Small world.
On the other hand, today she’s in Kansas. Tomorrow she’ll be all the way over there in London. Big world.
International travelers, missionaries, adoptive parents. All of these are my own family members, just one generation behind me. They’re smart. They’re competent. They’re my nieces. And they’re all women in their 20s.
I think I’ll go with a smaller world. They—and others like them—bring the larger world within reach. They are perfect examples of the force behind International Women’s Day, coming up March 8.
Here we are in our little corner of the world, enjoying the freedoms we inherited, the paths we construct, and the benefits we earn.
We can only take partial credit, though. The other part goes to Clara Zetkin, Louisa May Alcott, Amelia Earhart, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Condoleezza Rice and a long list of other women who took the first steps in carving out a smoother road for themselves and more importantly, for the generations of women that would come after them.
The first IWD was in 1911, under the leadership of Clara Zetkin, the head of the “Women’s Office” for the Social Democratic Party in Germany. Her initiative carried over year after year and grew into an international observation. Today, IWD is an official holiday in 16 countries and celebrated in dozens more, including the United States.
The IWD Web site (www.internationalwomensday.com), shows the history and events that make up the holiday. It also lists some gender facts to consider:
n Only 21 percent of all news subjects (people interviewed or whom the news is about) are female.
n Women control $14 trillion in assets and this should grow to $22 trillion over the next 10 years.
n Women do two-thirds of the world’s work but receive only 10 percent of the world’s income.
n Women use 20,000 words a day while men only use 7,000.
Women have gained ground, no doubt. Whatever we want is possible to achieve. We’re not limited by opportunity anymore. Not here, where we work and live. In the grand scheme, we’ve got it good in our neck of the woods. Take a look at www.glamour.com/about/global-diary for stories that will quickly remind you of that fact.
For the stories she’s brought to life from countries all over the world, reporter Mariane Pearl is one of my personal heroes. Commenting on Glamour Magazine’s 2007 Women of the Year candidates, she pointed out the common connection between all of the candidates: courage.
She said: “Everyone has the capacity for courage. We don’t need to face extreme circumstances to become admirable people. Ultimately we must believe we can make a change in the world, that our contribution, no matter how small, has value—and that only we can make it.”
When our heroes talk, we should listen.