Recently, while standing in line at a local coffee shop, my eyes met a headline from the New York Times, related to the attack, gang rape, and the ultimate death of a young Indian woman. Along with Google's ad that aired recently with pictures of women with their mouths taped shut, and a list of can'ts listed underneath, and the coverage of the courageous women in Saudi Arabia who are demonstrating to earn the right to drive, I have been pondering the issues that women face across the globe. It occurs to me that women are the largest and and perhaps the most oppressed group of humans on the planet. Many other groups can, unfortunately, compete for that position, but even amongst those groups there are women and girls. Female Circumcision (aka Female Genital Mutilation), is yet another atrocity practiced on women and girls in some cultures, and when female fetuses are aborted across the globe because some societies prefer to produce sons, we continue to brutally suppress half of the population for the purpose of domination, and denying females the benefits of education, opportunity and the fulfillment that comes from living up to one's potential.
Even in the developed world, where women are treated with relative equality, women earned the right to vote long after other groups had been granted that fundamental right. Here in America, women do not make equal pay when compared to men, nor do women command and/or receive the respect and regard of our countrymen. Remember the debate that raged a few years ago, when a young woman testified before Congress affirming her right to make her own healthcare decisions, based on what is best for, and determined by her? She was heckled and subjected to sexual slurs, and name calling. Some of our elected officials went as far as to not condemn colleagues' behavior, whether they actually participated in the defamation of an American citizen. just because she is a woman and concerned about maintaining her freedom to make her own decisions about her reproductive health. How could it possibly matter to a male, whether a woman has the right to choose how to live her life?
By suppressing women and their human rights: fertility rates remain too high in many countries with the obvious pressure on the planet. Among other consequences associated with suppressing a group of humans, we miss opportunity to benefit from others' perspective when grappling with tough societal and policy issues. In another checkout line, also recently, I heard a young woman talking with a checker about why we cannot seem to treat all humans, as humans. A very good, and important question indeed.