Thursday, March 08, 2007

Día Internacional de la Mujer

Today is the International Women's Day, commemorated in dozens of countries around this globe. Commemoration is more appropriate than celebration, in my opinion, because there is still too much ground to cover in the area of gender equality.

It has always been ironic to me as a Xicano, growing up in a machismo atmosphere, how much deference is paid to the father-based lineage of our families. We track our histories through that line, usually in the form of naming children or when telling our stories - using that as our foundation. Yet, it is todas las mujeres that hold our families together (usually).

This past weekend I got to spend a day with my nana and she was feeling pretty nostalgic, so I was treated to many stories of her life and childhood. Moments that I treasure, because in a way, they are a part of my story.

She spoke of the hardship endured raising five children and taking care of an ailing mother-in-law while my tata was away doing construction work to keep food on the table. Now in her late seventies, she spends the majority of her time managing a food bank that provides the same assistance she received all those years ago when the purse was pinched.

The force within las mujeres is one that can't be described - it is felt. There is love, discipline and orgullo - pride - that beams out of them when they are able to share those special moments of realization that the hard work they did paid off in some way.

It could be something as simple as watching a child get a note of Excellence on a paper. I guarantee you that that paper will be prominently displayed on the refrigerator, and whenever there are guests in the house, they will be treated to the lyrical masterpiece.

Today is a day where, yes, we can pay homage to the hardworking and influential women in our lives - but we must also remember that it is yet another call to action to bring equality to the way we structure our social systems.

In addition to that, it is a call to raise awareness on the ways that women are often abused instead of revered. From the United Nations:

Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls

"Violence against women has yet to receive the priority attention and resources needed at all levels to tackle it with the seriousness and visibility necessary."

Secretary-General’s in-depth study on violence against women (2006)(A/61/122/Add.1)

While manifestations of violence against women and girls vary across social, economic, cultural and historical contexts, it is clear that violence against women and girls remains a devastating reality in all parts of the world. Existing research, data and testimonials from women and girls world-wide provide chilling evidence. It is a pervasive violation of human rights and a major impediment to achieving gender equality, development and peace.

Such violence is unacceptable, whether perpetrated by the State and its agents or by family members or strangers, in the public or private sphere, in peacetime or in times of conflict.

In honor of todays holiday - and especially for the power of dignity and equality that can be borne to this world if only we choose to bring it about in our circles of influence - please take the time to discover the many ways you can help. Most of the time, the transformation begins within our own homes.

Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls

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