Dedicated readers, happy International Women’s Day!! In the wake of One Billion Rising and President Obama signing into law the Violence Against Women Act, there is much to celebrate this year. (For a short history on International Women’s Day, click here.)
This morning, I followed my normal routine: I woke up, made coffee, and curled up in my chair by the window to read the headlines before my morning run. I was surprised to see so many news stories focusing on violence against women, then soon realized that it was the media’s effort to participate in this day. As grateful as I was to see these stories “above the fold” as it were, I also felt my intrigue drop when I realized the media wasn’t covering these as top stories because they felt they deserved the spotlight; they were written for International Women’s Day.
In an ideal world, violence against women would always get more coverage. Alas, this is not yet the case, but there are two things I want to highlight on this historic day.
We Are Moving Forward
First, it is imperative in any movement to focus on the positive, and acknowledge the improvements that have come. In the context of our country’s political landscape, it is easy to feel nothing but rage and distress that so many within our own borders still aren’t “getting it” when it comes to violence against women. Which is why we must give credit when credit is due.
Less than one month ago, One Billion Rising shone a light on violence against women, by asking men, women, and children to come together on February 14th to dance, sing, and protest with our sisters and brothers around the globe. In the wake of the resounding success of this event, Eve Ensler and Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda are demanding an end to the impunity with which rape is treated, particularly in international tribunals.
“We have seen the power of one billion women and men breaking the silence, rising, healing trauma through dance and outrage, building global solidarity and energy, and rising on a scale never before seen. Next we must rise against impunity,” stated Ensler.
I could not agree more. You can follow this discussion on Twitter with hashtag #Rise2EndImpunity. (A story on impunity toward rape in war is coming soon, so stay tuned.)
CARE is also engaging in this issue by providing a petition slated to be sent to Secretary of State Kerry, demanding that he make violence against women an international priority. You can sign it here.
I would also like to thank our ridiculously dysfunctional government for finally, after 500 days of stalling, passing the Violence Against Women Act, with new and vital protections for immigrants and Native American women. President Obama signed this legislation into law yesterday. Mr. President, I thank you.
What is Missing?
The answer to this question may feel endless, too open ended, and absolutely impossible to answer simply. That’s because it is.
But, for issues that feel larger than life, incapable of fixing, we have to start somewhere and we have to be careful not to bite off more than we can chew.
For now, I’m going to focus on one glaringly obvious missing piece in the women’s movement: the engagement of men. I recently participated in a training on domestic violence and there was only one man in the room. The only way we can finally put an end to violence against women, as Ms. Ensler and others so bravely demand, we must find a way to get more men joining us in solidarity.
So, I pose the question to you: what do we, as a movement, need to do to increase the participation of men?
In the meantime, and especially today, let’s bask in the light of the positivity that has come this year, and use its energy to shine light into those corners that have yet to be illuminated.
Thanks for reading and, as always, pass this along.