Are we seeing a shift in consciousness in the way women are viewed and treated? Is it possible that there will be real change that can result in a more enlightened culture and society?
This week, with International Women’s Day, there was both a celebration of women’s achievements on the one hand, and a continuing call to action for equal rights on the other. First observed as long ago as 1909 in New York as Women’s Day, the 8 March became the following year International Women’s Day.
This year in Britain saw airlines operate all-female crews. In Spain women held their first one-day national strike, blocking roads and halting train services. In Bangladesh women wore masks at a protest rally calling for an end to gender inequality. In India nuns took to the streets supporting equality for women. In Italy people lit flares as they condemned violence against women. International Women’s Day in Russia is a national holiday and men and women give flowers to the women in their lives at home and at work.
Women have come a long way since 1909 but we have to continue to call for change. Following the tsunami of revelations about sexual harassment which began in Hollywood last October, there seems to be a greater willingness to listen to what women are demanding. The #MeToo and Times Up movements have seen women speaking out courageously about their damaging experiences - and let’s not forget that men too have been subjected to sexual harassment. Violence against any gender is no longer acceptable, whatever form it takes – bullying, domestic violence, exploitation, trafficking or rape.
There has been much heated debate too about the gender pay-gap, about the lack of women in senior positions in the professions, in government and in corporations. Speaking out and protesting raises awareness of the issues, but agreeing on how change can be implemented is a difficult challenge. Awareness is the beginning of change however, and maybe now people are really listening and understanding the necessity for this as never before. It’s clear that our whole culture and the way society operate need to change.
Feminine values have been marginalized for far too long and we need fundamental transformation of the way we as human beings live with each other. We all need to focus on what it means to be a human being and how each one of us is worthy of respect and dignity, and how we are connected with all life forms on the planet.
In our world today we are being challenged on every front, with a loss of faith in our institutions – political, economic, social and religious. The old belief systems seem to have divided rather than united us. There is another way of living, however, one of co-operation and compassion, rather than one of control and competition. The wounds that patriarchy has inflicted can be healed – through listening to each other and genuine communication. We have the power to change things - we just need the will to help bring transformation about. Each one of us can play a part in creating a more enlightened society.
We can make a difference immediately by endeavouring to be kinder in our everyday dealings with each other. Feminine values have always been about caring and nurturing. Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK when we publicly acknowledge the importance of those values. The festival has religious origins. Always the fourth Sunday of Lent, in the sixteenth century people visited their ‘mother’ church. Later on it was a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their church and their families. Now a more commercialized event (as it is elsewhere in the world where it is often celebrated in May), it is an opportunity to remember our mothers, to visit them, or send gifts. There’s something special about such a day for it reminds us of the caring and nurturing role that women play in the world, whether or not they are mothers. We can also appreciate that men too have a feminine side to their nature, and many more seem to be in touch with their feminine side than once was the case. So things are changing, and we can hope that much more positive change is on the way.
Eileen Campbell is a writer of inspirational books. The Woman’s Book of Joy is available via Conari Press and Amazon.com. Her latest book on Hope will be published in September 2018.