Happy International Women's Day!
"Let us devote solid funding, courageous advocacy and unbending political will to achieving gender equality around the world. There is no greater investment in our common future." — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
It’s International Women’s Day and March is Women’s History Month. Many would argue we don’t need such an allocation. But have you read a history book lately? A vast majority of them are written by men about men. I’m not arguing for the erasure or rewriting of history. Men have historically dominated the political landscape that wages wars and redraws the maps. But there are unspoken stories in the tomes that document history’s progression. Women were undoubtedly there, whether or not they were allowed a voice. What I argue for is inclusion and balance.
We’re in the midst of the 114th Congress now, and although it’s heralded as the most diverse in American history, it’s still 80% male—and men account for only 49.2% of the U.S. population (according to the 2010 census).
Despite the iniquities that still exist, women have made great strides in this country, from suffrage to better opportunities in education and the job force. I am immensely grateful to live in the 21st century and enjoy the freedoms purchased with the fervor and dedication of the women who came before me.
Today is a day to acknowledge their contributions and evaluate how we can continue their work—a day of self-reflection on what it means to be a woman in the post-modern era.
For me, it’s also day of thanksgiving. I’m thankful for my voice, the right to use it, and for the choices I have. Some of the choices I’ve made align with the traditional roles of wife and mother, but they were my choices, not roles thrust upon me while I dreamed of another life.
Before I married and became a mother, I traveled the world, lived alone, earned my own money, earned undergraduate and graduate degrees, made mistakes and learned from them. When I was ready, I found an amazing man who loved and respected me not just as his wife, but as his partner and friend. Together we have a daughter, and we're raising her to be cognizant of her intellect, her power, her voice, and her choices. And as her mother and primary caregiver, I take my place among the legions of mothers who shaped history behind the scenes, the women who literally gave birth to nations. They were the hands who rocked the cradles and ruled the world quietly— and not so quietly—and I’m grateful to them all.
A classic poem to commemorate the day:
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle is the Hand That Rules The World
By William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)
BLESSINGS on the hand of women! Angels guard its strength and grace. In the palace, cottage, hovel, Oh, no matter where the place; Would that never storms assailed it, Rainbows ever gently curled, For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.
Infancy's the tender fountain, Power may with beauty flow, Mothers first to guide the streamlets, From them souls unresting grow— Grow on for the good or evil, Sunshine streamed or evil hurled, For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.
Woman, how divine your mission, Here upon our natal sod; Keep—oh, keep the young heart open Always to the breath of God! All true trophies of the ages Are from mother-love impearled, For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.
Blessings on the hand of women! Fathers, sons, and daughters cry, And the sacred song is mingled With the worship in the sky— Mingles where no tempest darkens, Rainbows evermore are hurled; For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.