Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, which is sponsored around the world by the United Nations. A century ago, it sprang up from women's socialist movements and early women's trade union groups. It focuses on women workers, women in politics, and women in society.
We may have come a long way, baby, but violence against women is epidemic in every society. On one day alone in the good old U.S.A., three women will be murdered by an intimate partner; domestic violence programs will provide services to 70,000 domestic violence victims, while 10,000 more will be turned away for lack of funding of these types of programs; and hotlines will answer more than 22,000 calls about domestic violence. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Homicide Victims by Gender.)
The worldwide picture isn't pretty either. A UNIFEM report, "Not A Minute More: Ending Violence Against Women," states that one out of every three women will be raped, beaten, forced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
As one of those statistics myself, I feel strongly (and that's putting it mildly) about stopping violence against women. I have written about the sexual abuse I suffered as a young girl and how it affected my life in both of my books, Truth Heals and Be Your Own Shaman: Healing Yourself and Others with 21st-Century Energy Medicine. And I've worked to help heal countless thousands of women who have been sexually molested, raped, and run over in general by the patriarchal mindset that considers women to be "less than" men.
Women may have gotten the vote; there may be more women in political office; there may be more women in executive positions; and there may be more women airlines pilots, military personnel, and cops... but... they are still earning less than men who do the same jobs, and are still being sexually abused, raped, and killed by their intimate partners in vastly larger numbers than are men.
What does it mean? Not only that women are the "weaker" sex and can be physically overpowered, but also that the sacred feminine is clearly not being regarded as sacred at all. And it's not just men who have to change their thinking in order for women to heal; women have absorbed the same thinking. They may believe they "deserve" whatever treatment they are receiving. They may accept the fact that men get paid more for doing the same work. They may believe that God created them as secondary beings -- Eve from Adam's rib -- rather than having been created equal.
Men may not understand that when they abuse their wives or girlfriends emotionally or physically, they are pummeling to death their own feminine nature, because, indeed, we all have both masculine and feminine sides. As the Dalai Lama has said, "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." Yet, as I watch the news and read online, I can't help but wonder when enough people will open their hearts wide enough to embrace all of humanity. When will that hundredth monkey turn the tide against violence as a means to resolve any sort of conflict? When will we heal, not only as individual men or women, not only as a nation, but as the world?
Today, I honor the women who have for the last century stood up against injustice. I honor the women who have gone before me and cleared the way. And I honor you women and men who have opened yourselves to your feminine side, bringing more nurturing and compassion to the world. Together, may we help bring peace to the hearts of all.