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International Women's Day!



Women, Onward and Upward!
by Jean Harper

Thursday, March 8th is International Women’s Day.  Women have come a long way but we have more to do.  

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." That was Margaret Mead's conclusion after a lifetime of observing very diverse cultures around the world.

The Women's Rights Movement can be traced back to July 13, 1848. On that sizzling summer day in upstate New York, a young housewife and mother, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was invited to tea with four women friends.  When their conversation progressed to the situation of women, Stanton emptied out her discontent with the limitations placed on her own situation under America's new democracy. The American Revolution had been fought just 70 years earlier to win freedom from oppression.  But women had not gained freedom even though they'd taken equally tremendous risks through those dangerous years. Stanton's friends agreed with her, passionately. This was not the first small group of women to have such a conversation, but it was the first to plan and carry out a specific, large-scale program.  Today we are living the legacy of this afternoon conversation among women friends.

Stanton and her friends went on to draft a “Declaration of their Sentiments” in which they judiciously enumerated areas of life where women were treated unjustly. Eighteen was precisely the number of grievances America's revolutionary forefathers had listed in their Declaration of Independence from England.

Stanton's version read, "The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world." Then it went into specifics:

  • Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law
  • Women were not allowed to vote
  • Women had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation
  • Married women had no property rights
  • Husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity
  • Divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women
  • Women had to pay property taxes although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes
  • Most occupations were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned
  • Women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law
  • Women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students
  • With only a few exceptions, women were not allowed to participate in the affairs of the church
  • Women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men

While these rights above are now enjoyed by most women, there are many parts of the world where women still have little or no rights.

"The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race." -- Susan B. Anthony

Perhaps women like Hiliary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and the first US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright have realized what Susan B. Anthony saw in our future. I would love to hear from them, first hand, what they might share in this regard.

Sources- The National Women's History Project website; Betterworld.net

 

Let's Celebrate Women!

 

Phenomenal Woman
 ~ Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.  

 

 

 



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