Remember the Ladies! (updated to our time: Remember the Marginalized!)
Happy Women’s History Month!
Many American women have read the quote by Abigail Adams, the second First Lady of the U.S., who admonished her husband, John, to “remember the ladies” as he and his brethren were drafting the U.S. Constitution. Mrs. Adams letters to her husband are epic, and a fuller version of “remember the ladies” bears repeating, over and over: "Remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation."
What VERY few of us know is that Ben Franklin, a famous American founder, enlisted the help of two Iroquois Confederation Chiefs to come to Philadelphia for the drafting of the constitution because the Iroquois had a working, sustainable and ancient democracy. The FIRST thing the chiefs said upon arrival was, “Where are the women?” Indeed. We need to stand on their shoulders and keep asking, “Where are the women?” “Where are the women?” “Where are the women?”
Many of them are here in New York City The last two weeks in March. My heart is full to bursting level as I hide from all the joyous chaos that the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) provides when as many as 4000 women from all over the world gather to report and share “best practices” for increasing women and girls’ standing in the world.
My best practice for writing is to find a quiet, hidden place so I can focus on writing this blog for ESD Global. What an appropriate way to spend time during Women’s History Month!
This is the 63rd annual meeting and there are actually two parallel events for two weeks every March, here at the United Nations in New York City. One conference is the official meeting of U.N. delegates from the member states and the other corollary event is the Non-Governmental Organizations’ (NGO) convention. Officially, I’m part of the NGO delegation of the United Nations Association San Diego chapter.
As a delegate, I hosted two parallel NGO events; the first was a screening of Beauty Bites Beast in the Chapel of the Church Center. It was PACKED!!! El Halev of Jerusalem, was my co-host and I heard today that one of the women from Sweden who attended BBB raved about it in a larger meeting today.
Dr. Nina Smart, a professor and Soroptimists International Advocacy chair sat next to me, identified me, and said, “You’re getting a lot of attention for Beauty Bites Beast. People are talking about it a lot!” She’s now vowed to get BBB spread through the Soroptomist network!
My second event was co-hosted with Take The Lead and its CEO, Gloria Feldt. We led “Amplify Women’s Voices” a practical workshop on speaking up! Emblematic of the dangerous nature of having a loud voice: I had to surrender my megaphone at security as I entered the U.N. property. Having a voice makes lots of people nervous and we need to all encourage women to speak up, in their families, communities, societies and the world.
People often talk about how fear is catching. But bravery is also communicable; ideas are contagious and the more we can spread the idea of women’s empowerment, the more everyone will thrive. Male domination is not good for ANYONE, including men. The Iroquois knew that. We seem to be slow on the up-take.
I’ll close with two other feminist quotes, the first by the BADASS writer George Bernard Shaw, the second by my favorite justice torch-bearer, Gloria Steinem.
“This is the true joy in life: being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
And finally, Gloria Steinem said, “People often ask me at this age, ‘Who am I passing the torch to?’ First of all, I’m not giving up my torch, thank you! I’m using my torch to light other people’s torches. … If we each have a torch, there’s a lot more light."
Light someone’s torch today, remember EVERYONE and wish them a happy Women’s History Month. And also when appropriate, ask, “Where are the women (or missing people here?)