Friday, February 27, 2009

Two Big Events

The Big Events coming soon ... World Day of Prayer (6 March) and International Women's Day (8 March) are important days for all women to celebrate. I'm mentioning them this week, so you will have time to put them on your calendar. This year, the World Day of Prayer reflects on the women of Papua New Guinea. As most of you know, these women are close to my heart, from my time in the Eastern Highlands, PNG last year. The photo above is of a Mando woman making a bilum.
From the World Day of Prayer website ... Papua New Guinea has one of the most heterogeneous indigenous populations in the world. More than 800 languages are spoken. Their diversity is expressed in this saying, “For each village another culture.” Yet, the bilum, a traditional string bag is found nearly everywhere. Bilums come in many colors, sizes, shapes, and styles and often the creative designs identify where the bilums were made. Men usually prefer a long handle style that is worn over the shoulder. Women carry their babies and their market produce. Bilums are also used as a hanging cradle for a sleeping baby.We are also invited to reflect on the collaborative networks among women
Here are photos of some wonderful bilums which we brought back from our project last year. The women in the villages are never idle. If they are not working in their gardens growing food, they are needle weaving thses bilums, even as they are walking to and from places.

The second important event is International Women's Day ( 8 March) which has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. IWD is now an official holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more. ( from the International Women's Day website)
So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.
This is my friend and fellow Rotarian, Lyn Thorpe who will be the guest speaker at our local International Women's Day function on 6 March. Lyn is an amazing woman - as a volunteer theatre nurse she has assisted in operations to correct cleft palates and remove eye cataracts many times in many developing countires such as Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Peru,Cambodia, Kenya .... the list goes on and on. Lyn is also Citizen of the Year in Lake Macquarie. Lyn, you are an inspiration!

And, by the way, thank you, Kathleen for the award last week . You can read about it on Kathleen's blog dated 15 February... I will do the follow up in weeks to come.
What have I been doing this week? Cleaning up my workroom , making a felted handbag as a prize at the International Women's Day function, practising some scrumbling with a couple of friends, grandson sitting... and saw some great live theatre last night , The Thirty-Nine Steps - a comic thriller. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. Yes Wilma, you are so right.i have done Women's Studies years ago, been E.O. Rep etc. But had a recent conversation with a woman from a counrty town who was the eldest of 12. She had to help raise those children and be responsible for them. She left school at 16 although she really wanted to stay on. Even in Australia, we have so much inequality. Between rich/poor/ girls/boys...


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