Message of Equality on International Women’s Day08 Mar 2013, Posted by Special message in
oday is a day around the world when we celebrate us amazing creatures – women. Some of us are able to celebrate it from the comfort of our safe homes and societies with the knowledge that we are able to lead the lives that we want. But, as we know, sadly for many women around the world this is not the case.
To celebrate the day, we made a short film that I wish to share here:
Today I am thinking of the many women and girls I’ve met in different parts of the world, who are not living the life they wished for themselves. For example Rina, a 15-year old Bangladeshi child bride and mother to a very sick 1-year old baby. I met her on a shoot with Save the Children last year. She was with her small son in a hospital at the child malnourishment unit, where they were trying to save his life. She was afraid to go back home once her son would get better, because her husband and his family beat her. She felt safer to stay in that small hospital bed, in a large shared room with other mothers and their sick babies. She told us that if her baby dies, her life would be over. She would be outcast, worthless and could not go back to school again.
I often think of Rina’s situation and it always brings tears to my eyes. The reason why Rina’s life ended up the way it did is so deeply ingrained in culture and tradition, which makes it incredibly challenging to change. I firmly believe that change cannot and should not come from outside, but that it needs to start from within. The only way for young girls like Rina to have a better life – including being able to decide over her own body, being able to get education, being able to choose when and who she marries, when to start a family and which career to go for – is for the culture and mentality to change.
Many NGOs around the world are doing good work in this area, but the ultimate step is for people themselves to take responsibility for their own communities and lives. And to take action. This cannot be done by women alone. We need men to believe that equality is a positive thing. That equality does not mean emasculation, but dignity. That equality should be a given, starting from the household level to working life and decision-making. It is only when men see women as their equals in all aspects of life that equality can be a reality.
Equality is not a ‘women’s issue’. My husband always tells me when he posts women’s rights-related articles or videos on social media, they get virtually no likes from men. We would both like to see as many men as possible sharing this video today and becoming part of the debate on gender equality.
Happy International Women’s Day!