Help Women Heal
Recently, I have come to a conclusion in response the world’s problems, of which we all know there are many. After some thought, some reading, some listening, and some more thought, I’ve reached the conclusion that we, men, need to hang it up. After thousands of years of leadership, I’m afraid to say we’ve done a great job of fucking up the world (albeit with some good intentions and even innovations along the way here and there). It was a good run (I guess?), but our time has come guys. Perhaps the great philosopher, George Carlin, summed it up best with this, “For the most part, men are vain, ignorant, greedy, brutal assholes who’ve just about ruined this planet… You don’t have to be a political scientist or a history major to see the bigger dick foreign policy theory at work. It goes something like this…”what they have bigger dicks? Bomb them!!!” And of course the bombs and the bullets and the rockets are all shaped like dicks.”
Ahh…such wisdom, he had. War, famine, disease, murder, rape, poverty, global warming, fear, hate, violence. ’tis a sad state of affairs. Fortunately though, all hope need not be lost. Unbeknownst to some, there is a great population of people among us whose resources have gone largely untapped and who’s leadership we are in dire need of. I’m not talking about mutant superheroes guys. I’m talking about women. I will not attempt to argue that women are wired better than we are, though they are certainly wired differently. What I do believe though, is that the status quo (i.e. “HIStory”) ain’t working out too well for us. I’m ready for some herstory.
Which brings me to one of the inspirational books that have led me to writing this entry: “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” I should first mention that this book does not assert that men are the problem (as I, along with Mr. Carlin, have implied). Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn focus on the untold oppression that women continue to face in our world and the inspiring stories of women who overcome that oppression and then help others do the same. They point to a study that reveals somewhere between 60-101 million women have disappeared off the face of the planet – another 2 million every year, due to gender discrimination; simply because they were born female (p. xv). Another set of shocking statistics reveal that the global slave trade is bigger than it ever has been in history: “between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, 80 percent of them women and girls, mostly for sexual exploitation” (p. 10). Yet another failure on the part of humanity, “every day the equivalent of five jumbo jets’ worth of women die in labor each day” (p. 98). The sheer scale at which women are oppressed in our society is staggering. The numbers can be overwhelming. But it is the individual stories of these women that will rip your heart out into pieces. Fortunately, these same stories in “Half the Sky” will put your heart back together again. I highly suggest the read. I assure you, it is far better than this post.
I do, however, want to share a story from the latest of my experiences. Afghanistan today, may very well be the most dangerous place to be a woman. With the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world, it is a health risk simply to be born a woman in Afghanistan. Amidst the brutally Misogynistic culture that still oppresses the country, many women are not allowed to visit male doctors, which leaves their ailments completely unattended to. Enter two young women who seek to address this problem. Jeena & Beena have dreamed, since they were little girls, of becoming doctors; a dream shared by many young girls in Afghanistan. Now in secondary school, nearer to the potential of University but without the financial resources, their dream gradually grew less realistic.
Enter an opportunity to make real positive change in the world. Enter Help Women Heal. A new organization co-founded by the ONE chapter at Curry College and Prof. Patty Kean, to address the needs of these two women, the country of Afghanistan, and the world at large. The mission, inspired by Jeena and Beena, is to “partner with student organizations, humanitarian groups, and individuals to provide Afghan women with scholarship funding for health care education to build a healthier future for the people of Afghanistan.” Jeena and Beena will be our first two scholarship recipients. I have the honor to be a part of this great cause, serving as a Director and VP of Communications.
One might ask, after my tirade against my own gender, what place do I have operating in an organization such as this? Well, there is some clarification in order. See, it is only women who can overcome the mass oppression they face, but we men are not off the hook. I believe it is our responsibility to help facilitate this process and turn back the tide of oppression. We must help women heal a world that men have domineered for far too long. Over and over again, as demonstrated in the stories presented in “Half the Sky”, the key to unlocking that potential is education. Neither gender is solely responsible for the world today, nor is either gender inherently good or bad. Men, we’ve tried to lead the world on our own – epic fail. Together though, as equals, we can create a better place to live.