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Morning Sun
  • JOY LEEPER: Women's History Month

  • March is Women’s History Month and last Friday was International Women’s Day. Let’s consider some facts:

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  • March is Women’s History Month and last Friday was International Women’s Day. Let’s consider some facts:
    1. Women in the U.S. Congress comprise only 18% of the total. With this puny percentage we fall pretty far down the list - in 2009 we ranked 70th in the world. Rwanda was number 1, with 56% female representation. In fact 3 African countries were in the top 10. What makes us so far behind in this category?  Interestingly, women seem to be uniquely suited to be leaders. There was a recent show on PBS about Dr. Daniel Amen’s brain research. He has scanned thousands and thousands of brains and has made the discovery that women’s brains are far more active than men’s in the pre-frontal and limbic regions. This means women have better judgement and impulse control, and are more collaborative and empathetic to others. Under stress men are more likely to make risky and rash decisions. Dr. Amen says women are our natural born leaders and we are not taking advantage of this treasure trove. We have yet to elect a woman president, although since 1960 there have been over 50 female heads of state - many in supposedly less developed nations. (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Liberia, Argentina, India, etc.)
    2. Women are also generally a better investment. When micro loans are given to women around the globe they achieve better results. Men are more likely to drink and gamble away the money, whereas women use the loans wisely to improve the lot of the entire family. We also know education is better spent on women. Educating a woman will spread benefit to her children as well. We know how violently this idea is fought in some areas of the world. An example of this is 15 year old Malala who was shot and almost killed in Pakistan recently for encouraging the education of girls.
    3. Women are still very oppressed almost everywhere, which is why we need a woman’s movement and a woman’s month to touch base every year with our progress. Abuse of females, physical and sexual, and human trafficking of girls are major problems that stubbornly persist around the world. Right here in our town the number of women and children requiring shelter from abuse is sobering. (Part of the debate about gun control relates to domestic abuse. Abusers who own a gun are 5 times more likely to kill their woman.)
    Of course we often hear how women earn only $.77 for the same work that earns a man $1.00. It may take a long time to correct these inequities. The solutions must be twofold - remaining aware of the problems and passing laws to improve them and efforts by women themselves to move forward. We need more women to stand up, speak out and run for office. A hundred years ago a woman could not even vote. Recent political actions by right wing conservatives threaten to move us backward by limiting access to women’s health. It would be better to throw these dinosaurs out of office and replace them with progressive women.
    Page 2 of 2 - Progress is slow but, I believe, inevitable. We must continue the march of our mothers and grandmothers toward a world where everyone’s talents are appreciated and utilized, regardless of gender. It will benefit society as a whole when women around the world finally achieve equal rights. Then perhaps March will simply be "History Month."
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