Tuesday, March 8, 2011


www.huffingtonpost.com - Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (IWD) with events taking place all over the world. This global celebration honors women’s success, and reminds of inequities that still need to be redressed. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.  In the USA, President Obama proclaimed March 2011 as “Women’s History Month” calling Americans to mark IWD by reflecting on “the extraordinary accomplishments of women in shaping the country’s history.”  We can celebrate the launch of UN Women, the UN body for gender equality and the empowerment of women, but we have to be realistic about the patchy progress in embedding gender concerns into development initiatives, and in promoting women’s economic, political and social empowerment.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the 100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges. “So let us mark this day by finding ways to ensure women and girls’ access to education, healthcare, jobs, and credit, and to protect their right to live free from violence,” said Secretary Clinton.  Many of us will celebrate the day with local efforts to support women’s equality on a global level. Others will take the occasion to recognize a woman who has made a difference in her life - whether it is a mentor, mother, sister, or daughter, or girlfriend.  But as many inequities remain, we urgently need political commitment to foster gender equity, backed by adequate and sustainable funding to combat them.

We can celebrate a century of impressive economic, political and social achievements by and for women since 1911, but we must be realistic about the many inequities that remain.  While there has been impressive progress on girls’ access to education, maternal mortality rates remain shockingly high in much of sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia - representing the greatest global health disparity between industrialized and developing countries.  The levels of violence against women remain appalling.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, rampant sexual violence against women is the norm in parts of the country.  We must understand that we are all spiritual sparks, parts and parcels of God.

If we truly believe, even theoretically, that we “are not this body,” then why do we care whether our bodily duties are “higher” or “lower” than someone else’s?  Such things are temporary, external, and don’t touch the real self. If doing a “lower” duty will please Krishna and Prabhupada and help us fix our minds on the glorious holy name, why for the sake of pride will we reject it? ... Most difficulties with understanding the position of women can be solved if we understand that all of us have two duties: material and spiritual.  The spiritual duties, the nine processes of devotional service, are equally available to every human being regardless of age, gender, race, intelligence, health, etc. etc. ... Why not just accept the body we have for this life, and work with it so as to please Krishna and make our life peaceful, so that we can concentrate our time and energy on what’s truly important-loving and remembering Krishna.

Śrīmati Urmila devi dasi :
“Prabhupada's Views on Women” - http://urmila.me.uk/

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