The key importance of women’s rights 2017

On November 6th 2012, I wrote a blog post entitled “The Key Importance of Women’s Rights”.

In the post I stated the following:

“Throughout the world, women are treated unequally in respect of men. There are horrible examples of where they are forced into early marriage, have children too young and eventually have to sell their bodies in order to survive. Many of them get Aids and untold numbers suffer from physical problems relating to childbirth or rape.”

Here we are over 4 years later, on International Women’s Day, 2017 and the same words largely apply. In the last four years there have been examples of a horrible gang rape of a young student in India, of women’s continued exploitation in third world sweat factories and the fact that women’s pay still does not come near to equality with men’s pay. In Ireland, as I write there is a huge debate about abortion rights for women that is an ongoing one that has left many young, pregnant Irish women to flee to the U.K. in order to get a chance to have a say on their own future.

Today’s Google has a banner link to a search for the International “”Women’s Day. Here is a photo of the top part of the search:

 

Women1

At the top of the page was a long line of women’s photos. These are all women who have done remarkable things in their lifetime. I looked a cross the list and, with the exception of Miriam Makeba, Ada Lovelace and Sally Ride, I had not heard of any of them.

Women, despite the obvious problems of lack of opportunity for education and overcoming the indifference or downright hostility of men, have been able make huge contributions to our world.

One woman who was known for her looks and her notoriety as a film actress was actually a brilliant inventor, who was able to influence the world of electronic communication and indeed set up the basis of the wireless world that we all inhabit today. She was Hedy Lemarr.

Looking at the Wikipedia link above you will see that the article spends a lot of time telling about the fact that she was a beautiful “pin up girl” who made some  Hollywood films and lived a life that we would nowadays call a “celebrity”. There is one paragraph about her invention, along with George Antheil of a device for changing electronic signals that was originally developed for finding torpedoes but would eventually form the basis of satellite and bluetooth technology.

Lemarr is now lauded as one of the inventors of our modern world but in her own lifetime she was seen by many as just an object, a pin-up, someone to be looked at and dreamed about but not as a brilliant inventor who had a major contribution to make to our world.

It seems so sad to me that we still spend so much time treating women as objects. We want them to fit some ideal of size and looks and are somehow frightened by their abilities. It has never been easy to be a highly intelligent woman in a man’s world, look at the examples of Georges Sand and George Eliot, who along with the Bronte sisters, had to give themselves a male name in order to have any chance to get a readership in a male dominated world.

But Lemarr, Sand and Eliot were successes. They were at least able to develop their potential and make a contribution to the world. What I always wonder about is the women who have lived and died as mothers, factory hands, child-producing machines who had within them so much that they could have given to the world if they would only have been given the chance.

On this International Women’s Day, I feel that the best thing that we can hope for is that I can be able to repeat this post in a few years time and say, there have been developments and 50 percent of the world’s population are now able to develop their potential without fear of exploitation, degradation, mutilation. That they are able to have body shapes that reflect their wants and not other people’s desires and that they are given equal opportunity to men in every walk of life.

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