WARNING: Graphic image follows
Today my thoughts found themselves focused on women, on what it means to be a woman, on how women live, on the challenges we face which can be the same or different to those faced by men. And on how every little step we (both men and women) make and take can be a move toward a better world.
Three separate incidents led to this:
1. Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the abduction of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram. What a horrid anniversary to be marking, all the more so given that the girls are still missing and the world is doing nothing about it. By nothing I mean, can you imagine if 200 schoolgirls were abducted in Rome, or Paris, or London, or New York? What would have happened then? All hell would have broken loose and they would have been traced, come hell or high water. So what on earth is the world waiting for?!
2. Yesterday, around 400 migrants drowned at sea off the coast of Libya. It was reported that many were women and children. Once again, our seas are soaked in blood. And once again, there are voices out there baying for this blood, urging governments to shoot at these boats, to let them drown. What is it in human nature that brings such venom to the fore? What in one’s upbringing marks the switch from empathy to hatred? When are governments going to stop using political rhetoric and get down to action? And when, when, when, will the powers that be (and that includes the media) get the message that words matter? Locally, the only politician I ever felt did something to scale this back, to bring humanity back to the equation, was Lawrence Gonzi. While his politics and policies still left a lot to be desired, in this field at least, steps were being taken in the right direction. Unfortunately, that was the past. Words like invasion, tsunami, influx, exodus have weight. And we have to carefully, oh so carefully weigh what we say, especially when our message is being picked up and passed on, by the man in the street, to each other, to our children, generations to come who are being brought up on hardened words and sentiment.
On another note, while I understand that the idea of children dying tugs at the heart-strings in a special way, that children are our future, I’m not sure I understand why we need to remark on people being women or men. Are the men less important? Or are the women more so? Why? If I were on one of these boats, the thought of my husband or son (both men) drowning would be just as horrific as if I were the one to drown and seen by them, surely?
Watch #TIMES talk on Tuesday as the programme discusses the latest developments in migration with MEP Roberta Metsola and other guests.
3. Yesterday (again!) a single employed mum of two was asking around on a Facebook group for systems of support for her children while she’s at work. She has no family support (she’s foreign – but I’m not, and neither do I), and while she has a very understanding employer who has adjusted her working hours to the best of his ability to accommodate her, she works on public holidays and that’s when she’s stuck. There are many of us in her predicament – for others it’s working on shifts that causes problems, or what happens if your kid is sick the day of your Board Meeting? So this intrepid young mum has set up a Facebook group for parents in difficult circumstances with the aim being that of helping each other out. For example, I don’t work on public holidays so through this group I could help her out when and if the need arises. And she could do the same for me, e.g. when I’m stuck at home unwell and my little one wants to go to the playground. It’s a lovely example of community spirit and women (in this case, so far at least, it’s women) helping each other out, paying it forward, all for the sake of a better world.
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