IWD 2010: It Will Take More Than Ovaries
When Cora Weiss, President of the Hague Appeal for Peace, declared at a recent CSW meeting that building peace “takes more than ovaries” I was tempted to rise to my feet, maybe even stand on my seat, and applaud loudly. Well-behaved women, after all, seldom make history.
In the end, I refrained from a raucous outburst. But today – International Women’s Day – seems like a perfect opportunity to discuss why it is that I think we’ll need more than just ovaries on our side if we are going to achieve either equality or sustainable peace.
International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate what women around the world have achieved, often against great odds. It is a day to remind the world of the struggles that women continue to face. And in many parts of the world, it is a day to honor the women who grace our families and communities. In the United States florists are inundated with requests for roses on Valentine’s Day; in many other parts of the world roses are saved for Women’s Day. They are offered as a sign of love, appreciation, and honor to mothers, daughters, wives, and friends on March 8th.
All women are worthy of this respect and appreciation. We all deserve roses – and much, much more.
However, it is not strictly our womanhood that makes us a critical resource in the quest to create a more just and fair world. That’s why I agree that it takes more than just ovaries to be positive agents for change.
Women support and uplift other women; at times they also put their sisters in struggle down. Mothers give and nurture the life in all of us; sometimes it is also mothers who stand between their daughters and self-confidence or assertiveness. As women we are blessed with ovaries at birth, and with the potential for greatness, compassion, and care. This potential is ours to realize – and to help bring forth in others. Let’s strive to bring out the best in ourselves and lift up the best in other women.
Let’s also encourage men to realize their potential. By asserting that women are necessarily more kind, compassionate and caring than men we are letting half the population off the hook. Men may have to strive harder to realize it – they are socialized with rigid expectations to be tough, stoic, and aggressive – yet they possess a similar potential for greatness, compassion, and care. I don’t want men as allies in the fight for my equality; I want men as partners in a struggle that they embrace as their own. Men need to relinquish some of their power, but they stand to gain as much from equality as women do.
On International Women’s Day I would like to honor the woman in all of us and encourage the best that has yet to emerge in each of us, women and men alike. I believe equality is a partnership that honors both women and men at our best – and offers us our most probable opportunity to achieve a more peaceful, just future.
UPDATE: Cora Weiss posted on Peace X Peace. Read what she had to say here: