I don’t know who you are, but I’m sure your mom is great, a no doubt annual winner of the somewhat subjective “Mom of the Year” contest. Your grandma, your favorite aunt, they all get some recognition too--some symbolic gift which serves to say “you’re like a mother to me”.
And that’s wonderful, but Mother’s Day should be about a lot more than that. If you love your mom, if you love your wife or girlfriend, if your life has in any way benefited from a woman (and your existence would seem to make that a safe bet), then this day should serve as motivation to not simply provide lip service to the difference women make in your world, but to fight for the rights of women here and throughout the world.
Roses and spa day gift cards are great, women earning 78% of what men do, in the United States, in 2015, despite outpacing men in terms of college degrees, well, yea, not so much.
I’m guessing that “Despite the fact that you--my wonderful Hispanic Mother--make only 53% of what White Men do---you have done a remarkable job providing for our family”, won’t make it on any Hallmark cards this year, but as the chart below sadly speaks to, that is only part of the unacceptable reality.
In fact, over a 40 year working career, the average woman loses $431,000 as a result of the wage gap. Understand, this is not simply explained by saying “well women have different jobs and go into different occupations”, as significant differences exist within occupations, and widens in the highest-paying ones like business, law and medicine (America's top female CEOs earn, on average, 33 cents for every dollar earned by a male CEO).
Furthermore, not only do women earn less, but thanks to the very real “women’s tax”, also pay more, as goods and services marketed to them cost substantially more than similar goods and services marketed to men.
Again, safe to assume that "You Earn Less and Pay More-Happy Mother's Day Mom!" ----also will not be on any cards this year.
Hey how about that Floyd Mayweather---48-0 now! And, what is he up to now-12-0 in getting away with domestic violence? Why did more people not speak up about this? Why were loving sons across the Country and world actively rooting for a man who feels it is ok to literally punch a woman in the face repeatedly?
"Hope you enjoy your Mother's Day as much as I enjoyed watching Floyd Mayweather beat a man like he so often beats women"-also, likely not making the cut for Mother's Day cards this year.
Speaking of violence against women, some more not fit for a Mother’s Day card stats to consider:
- Up to 70% of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime
- Over 22 million women in the US have been raped in their lifetime (every 90 seconds some woman in America is sexually assaulted).
- Only 46% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported
- On university campuses, about one out of four women are sexually assaulted while in college. About four percent, one in 25, ever reports a rape when it's committed
- An estimated 150 million girls under the age of 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002 alone.
- The first sexual experience of some 30 percent of women was forced. The percentage is even higher among those who were under 15 at the time of their sexual initiation, with up to 45 percent reporting that the experience was forced
- Approximately 130 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
- Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.3 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million). Violence and abuse characterize married life for many of these girls. Women who marry early are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife.
- Women and girls are 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across national borders annually, with the majority (79 percent) trafficked for sexual exploitation. Within countries, many more women and girls are trafficked, often for purposes of sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.
As President Carter has said : “Violence against women is the most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on Earth today”.
How about the act of becoming a mother? Some more sobering realities:
- In the nation’s poorest countries, pregnancy and childbirth are still the leading cause of death among women between the ages of 15 and 19. There are still 222 million women without access to contraception and family planning, and 800 women die in childbirth every single day.
- The number of American women dying in childbirth has doubled over the past quarter century, and we are home to the highest rate of first-day infant mortality of any country in the developed world.
- Without access to modern contraception or legal abortion services, an estimated 47,000 women around the globe, including in the United States, are still dying from unsafe abortions.
Look, it’s been well over 150 years since the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments, since the Declaration of the Rights of Women of the United States by the National Woman Suffrage Association, and 70 years since the the preamble to the United Nations (UN) Charter (1945) referred to equal rights for women worldwide----and we’re not even close to there yet.
Honor those women you love by becoming informed, by taking action, signing a petition, donating, bringing attention to these issues, by not allowing those around you, be them friends, coworkers (in my case, students) speak about women in derogatory terms, by supporting candidates and businesses which fight for and support equality for women, and by not supporting candidates, businesses, athletes, sports and yes, religions, which unmistakably hold women in lesser regard than men.
And by the way, 493 million women worldwide, unable to read or write, would not be able to read and understand what I've written.
Education is power, and we must fight, as men, for women everywhere to have access to it.
Because, ultimately “It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women, that we truly measure up as men”- Desmond Tutu
How about that on a Mother's Day card this year?
Be Good Friends,