Women’s Voices

October 23rd, 2014 | Posted by Barbara Belknap in Gather the Women | Inspiration

Refugee Woman and ChildI believe that women are the greatest force for good in the world today. Yes, that is a blanket statement big enough for a theoretical King Size Bed, but I believe it’s true. Countries where women are empowered do better than countries where women’s voices are silenced. All over the world, there are conflicts that disproportionately impact women who have no say in the matter.

As a woman, when I read a story in the New York Times (link below) about the Zaatari refugee camp for Syrians in Jordan, and the reporter is walking through rows of identical sand-colored tents pitched on dirt, I see the women. I pay attention when a woman TV reporter ducks into a tent to interview the women. There are always four or five kids, the mother is often nursing an infant. Maybe there is also a grandmother sitting nearby.

How are the refugee women staying sane week after week, month after month? They don’t know if their homes are still standing, but the odds aren’t good. Are they safe walking through the camp? Do they worry when they send their girls to the community spigot for water? Slowly, the refugee camp has become a small city. The women are doing the best they can. That is what women do.

What would change if women truly had a voice in how our countries and communities are managed? If women had an equal voice in the Middle East, would there be less fighting and more peace? I want to believe that there would be fewer guns and wars, free health care, affordable and magical daycare centers everywhere. Actually, that would be wonderful if the United States had it.

Our local city Assembly now has a majority of women. First time ever. Last week, I was interviewed on our public radio station KTOO by Casey Kelly about this encouraging development. I said that just the optics of five women and three men assembly members sitting at that big semi-circular dais would speak volumes because it is so rare. That image will have an impact on all women and girls who see it precisely because it’s not the norm. Casey told me that he was chatting with the young women in the office before I got there, and they didn’t think having more women than men on the Assembly for the first time was news-worthy. We’ll see.

As has been said many times at Gather the Women, women will save the world. I believe that with every fiber of my feminine being. It may take a long time, but the world will finally tire of war, the bullying of people and nations, the objectifying of women, violence against women and children, destruction of the environment, murdering elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns for aphrodisiacs and ornaments, obscene disparity between the wealthy and the poor, and guns-on-demand. That’s just a Starter List. Let us, the Women, make it so.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/05/world/middleeast/zaatari-refugee-camp-in-jordan-evolves-as-a-do-it-yourself-city.html?_r=0

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