Women, fight for rights

Sidey gave us “Women” for this week’s theme because this week is has been Women’s Day in South Africa. Other places have other “Women’s Days”. This week I have been doing more editing work for KK – I have written about this small organisation before – it stands for Khwendo Kor, which means “sisters home“.

So, there are places in the world where women are still property, can be traded or sold. There are places, far away and nearer home, where the chief requirement for survival is to mould ones precious self into something someone else requires. We do not hear enough, or about what is faced by those who work for change.

When I was a young woman at university, I heard about another, my own age, who was locked up for a month because she was pregnant. She miscarried, so was allowed out again. Dear God, or Dear Anyone, what kinds of inhumanity are never very far away because of some so-called moral or ideology.

I, and my sisters, were sent encouraged to university by our mother. When she was 13 she got a scholarship to the grammar school and was not allowed to take it up because her mother had just had a ninth child. My mother was deemed the most suitable (not male and not yet earning) to stay home to help. She minded, and was determined that her daughters would have what she had been denied.

However, when I went to university, I do not remember any notion of choice, or having any sense of self-determination, or the associated sense of responsibility for myself. It was simply ‘expected’, as was getting ‘engaged to be married’.  I am glad I did both, but more glad that I eventually learned (from others) some measure of responsibility and capability for decisions, and found also the self-awareness and other-awareness which has enriched life beyond my dreams.

IMG_2917Now I have grand-daughters. They are self-aware. They understand they have responsibilities and can think for themselves. They are independent but not precocious independent spoiled brats. I have watched them with each other and with their friends, and see them helped to understand that their actions have consequences and that they have to make relationships work and talk things through if there are disagreements or different wants which clash.

Children’s Rights. Human Rights. Some are now allowed participation in the decisions which affect them.

Something is this world is getting better. Our young people.

(I am at this moment writing at the same time as watching University Challenge, a BBC TV programme where bright young people, male and female, are concentrating, thinking and occasionally laughing together. The audience is full of young people also free to be together.)

But Oh I do wish it would get better faster, everywhere.

And, I do not want these young people who are free to grow to their own unknowable potential to ever forget that this right to be, to become, had to be fought for. That some are still having to fight. It seems all too easy to forget the many things which had to be fought for and which can easily disappear again.

Work, equality, rights. For all. Fight. By talking and by writing, and above all by loving and learning to walk alongside those others, past and present. That is how women fight.

Please, women everywhere, remember.

We only become women, when first we have been allowed, and then taken on, being human.

(OK all you real/human men who might read this, you too.)

What is the greatest gift?
by Mary Oliver

What is the greatest gift?
Could it be the world itself — the oceans, the meadowlark,
the patience of the trees in the wind?
Could it be love, with its sweet clamor of passion?

Something else — something else entirely
holds me in thrall.
That you have a life that I wonder about
more than I wonder about my own.
That you have a life — courteous, intelligent —
that I wonder about more than I wonder about my own.
That you have a soul — your own, no one else’s —
that I wonder about more than I wonder about my own.
So that I find my soul clapping its hands for yours
more than my own.


12 thoughts on “Women, fight for rights

    1. You gave us a few reminders yourself in the JH summary. I always worry that when I am passionate about something I will be somehow in the wrong/offensive/boring etc. What a load of rubbish internalisation that shows, I am still learning to get rid of it. Nice to know that instead of being ‘not nice’ it is actually appreciated. Thanks for commenting.


    1. Two steps forward, one back. Your beautiful country is still suffering from the long long time when rights were denied. I think when they are denied to some, then all are lessened in their capacity to enjoy life, though through different sorts of processes and effects and individuals can rise above the general level.


            1. Or the highest reported – huge problems of violence against women in secretive cultures where a raped woman is shamed. Doubly tragic. I do not know how SA is tackling its troubles –
              i hope through help and education as well as no tolerance???


  1. How right you are, Elspeth. It is such a joyful thing to see young people, male and female, who have respect for themselves and others, and think and act responsibly.


    1. It is connected I think – the giving of rights and the creation of a responsible self – they do not emerge separately. The impression that they are there – having arrived through a blind obedience – can last for a long time if no crisis arrives to show the difference between responsibility at depth and one which is just on the surface. There is unfortunately a huge amount of evidence that the latter exists too – double standards are everywhere.


  2. Dam right. Dam straight.

    Ursula Le Guin – “Civilized Man says: I am Self, I am Master, all the rest is other–outside, below, underneath, subservient. I own, I use, I explore, I exploit, I control. What I do is what matters. What I want is what matter is for. I am that I am, and the rest is women & wilderness, to be used as I see fit.”


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