The world had been rocked over the past few months by the cataclysmic changes brought about by the Jasmine Revolution. Across the Middle East, seething, roiling masses of humanity are realizing their collective power, and as they spread their wings and test their strength, the earth trembles. Looking around and seeing corruption, oppression, and inequality, they have rightly said ‘enough is enough’. Implacable and resolute, they have refused to relent until they succeed. It is beginning to look as if there is nothing the people cannot do.
As I have watched these events unfold, and as I see the people, regular, ordinary, people, realize the tremendous power that together they can wield, I have to wonder…
Where is the revolution of women? When will women look around at the global state of womankind and say ‘enough is enough’? When will women take to the streets, unified on our Day of Rage, and refuse to leave until the power structures that keep us exploited, and starving, and abused, begin to quiver in fear? Where is our Tahrir Square?
It is typical on March 8, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, for writers to look back over the many tremendous accomplishments made by women and feminist activists throughout history, for our progress to be heralded, and our lucky stars to be thanked. But I can’t do that, not today. When I look around and see the hell that so many women endure, to do anything but demand action and insist upon radical change would be an insult to all that we have gone through, and all that we continue to go through.
When we see facts like these, why don’t we take to the streets?
- More girls have been killed in the last 50 years, because they are girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the 20th century. More girls are killed in this ‘gynocide’ in a single decade, than people were massacred in all of the genocides of the 20th century.
- Between 60 million and 101 million females are missing from the planet today. Every year, two million more little girls vanish because of gender discrimination. In parts of the world with extreme gender discrimination, young girls are often not fed as much as their male siblings, they are not taken to the doctor when sick, or given vaccines, so that the money can go to support the well being of their more valuable brothers. Gender discrimination is often deadly, as in India, where girls from one to five years old are 50% more likely to die than boys of the same age. It is estimated that a little Indian girl dies from gender discrimination every four minutes.
- Globally, one out of three women will be assaulted or raped in their lifetime. One out of three. That right there should be enough to start the revolution. Nearly half of all women report that their first sexual experience was forced and against their will.
“If the occurrence of rape were audible, its decibel level equal to its frequency, it would overpower our days and nights, interrupt our meals, our bedtime stories, howl behind our love-making, an insistent jackhammer of distress. We would demand an end to it. And if we failed to locate its source, we would condemn the whole structure. We would refuse to live under such conditions.” Patricia Weaver Francisco
- Worldwide, a leading cause of death for pregnant women is murder by their partner. In fact, pregnant women worldwide are afforded so little respect that despite the fact that most maternal deaths are easily prevented with simple medical care, tens of thousands of women die every day from simple pregnancy related complications. In Africa, a woman dies every single minute from pregnancy related complications, which is the equivalent of five jumbo jet crashes that kill everyone on board, every single day.
- In the United States of America, where violence against women has reached terrifying proportions, a woman is battered by her partner every 15 seconds. Every 90 seconds a woman in the U.S. is raped.
- Also in the United States of America, working white women still earn only 76 cents to a man’s dollar, and black women only 66 cents, and Hispanic women only 55 cents. It is no wonder then that most of those living in poverty are women and children.
- Women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. One out of three women serving are raped by a fellow soldier.
- 70% of the world’s food is grown by women, and yet 70% of the world’s chronically hungry are women and girls.
- In America, our warped idea of beauty is tormenting girls younger and younger. 80% of 10 year old girls have gone on a diet, and the number one wish of teen girls is to be thinner. Rates of anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders are on the rise, and anorexia carries the highest death rate of any psychological condition.
- Everyday 6,000 little girls, as young as six years old, are forced to undergo female genital mutilation. More than 135 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation and an additional 2 million girls are at risk each year.
- Women make up less than 20% of parliamentary governments worldwide, and continue to be drastically underrepresented in governments around the world, ensuring a lack of participation in the decision making process.
- Funding and supporting women and girls is the surest and quickest way to create a thriving, egalitarian, and peaceful community, and it is the best way to fight chronic hunger. And yet less than 1% of US foreign aid is specifically targeted to women and girls.
This is a global war against women. There is no country and no people that are immune. The sexism that women face may be perpetrated by individuals, but it stems from a systematic, deeply ingrained misogyny that permeates our entire society. The only logical response, when we look around and see the state of the lives of women and girls, is revolution. We need a feminist uprising; we must recognize our collective power and find the courage to use it.
Dedicated women and men worldwide continue the struggle for women’s liberation and equality. Feminists and women’s rights activists put their lives on the line day after day to protest the misogyny endemic to our global culture. It is time to come to their aid, heed their call, join together hand in hand and refuse to back down until we begin to taste freedom. The freedom that will come when we do not live in a world in which one out of every three little girls grows up to be the victim of rape, when we do not have to watch young girls die because they aren’t considered important enough for medical treatment, when we are not missing hundreds of millions of our sisters that were allowed to die simply for the crime of being born female.
On this International Women’s Day, as we mark its centenary, let’s save our celebration for another time, for a time when little girls in South Africa don’t have a better chance of being raped than learning to read. We should instead use this day to rally others to our cause, and to shout from the rooftops about the indignities and violence that are still inflicted upon us. I want to see the same momentum currently sweeping the world take hold of women everywhere and instill within us the determination needed to take action on a massive scale. So, on this International Women’s Day, let us use our many past accomplishments and our innumerable victories to propel us forward, more determined and implacable than ever. We aren’t done, the work is just beginning, the Feminist Revolution is underway.