Critical Concern for Women

We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.“– Malala Yousafzai

“The day will come when man 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

Statistical data from 2017 presented by the World Bank indicates that in most countries of the world, the percentage of males to females is about equal.

However, according to the World Economic Forum in 2016, in terms of closing the gender gaps and disparities between men and women worldwide in the areas of health, education, economy, and politics, “data has revealed that progress is still too slow for realizing the full potential of one half of humanity within our lifetimes.” 

As we enter 2019 here at Maria College, the Mercy and Justice Committee (which is part of the College’s Mission Animation Team) will be featuring activities, initiatives, and advocacy focusing on one of the five critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy—“Women: We believe that women’s education, health and spirituality need special attention. We continue this mission in our schools, colleges, health-care institutions and spirituality centers. We advocate for equal pay, for services for domestic violence victims, and for the rights of girls and women in especially repressive societies.”

I was excited to share this blog to welcome in the Critical Concern of Women as the Spring 2019 semester begins at Maria. Although much change is still needed, I have been thinking about the positive strides that are currently being made here and worldwide for women.

Every day here at Maria College, I applaud those women on campus who are working, raising children (many times on their own), or taking care of aging parents and still have made the choice in their busy lives to pursue their college degrees in nursing, occupational therapy assistant, healthcare management, and more in order to improve their lives and the lives of others. I find myself in awe of the female students who have found their way to Maria College from places in Africa and the Middle East where their status as women put them in the path of violence and excessive discrimination.

In the ENG 211 writing course that I am teaching this semester, students will have the opportunity to read and analyze Oprah Winfrey’s speech from the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony as she received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. Ms. Winfrey used the opportunity to share her story of success as a woman of color and to draw attention to the work that needs to continue in order to eliminate abuses against women. Her speech caused quite a powerful and positive response (even “Oprah for President in 2020”!!!), so please take a few minutes to watch the speech here.

On January 3, 2019, the 116th Congress was sworn in and made history with the largest number of women entering the Senate and House of Representatives. And that is only one of the history-making characteristics of the 116th Congress. Read about others here.

On January 1, 2019, approximately 5 million people, primarily women, formed a “human wall” that was 385 miles long (!) in India to protest attempts to keep women out of a southern Indian shrine, just one example of injustices against women in India. You can view some powerful photos and video footage of the wall here.

And continually, the Sisters of Mercy take action to better the situation of women around the world. As the Sisters note: “Mercy embraces a particular concern for women by:

  • empowering women experiencing poverty, domestic violence and other social ills
  • prioritizing the education of girls and women
  • speaking out against human trafficking and the particular risks for women and girls
  • advocating for strong, inclusive laws for domestic violence victims
  • using our power as investors to call for more women on corporate boards
  • examining gender impacts of violence, climate change, immigration and many other issues we address”

As 2019 gets underway here at Maria College, please keep your eyes open for the various ways that you can engage with the Mercy and Justice Committee to advance the cause of women here and worldwide!

Until next time…..
Anne

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