There has been a lot in the media lately on women – from different perspectives but mostly on their position in the world in relation to men. Julia Gillard’s much acclaimed outburst in Australia on the sexist behaviour of the leader of the opposition (which I can verify, having been heading up an organisation against the Iraq invasion in 2003 that Tony Abbott said was being run by a group of ‘doctor’s wives’!). More seriously there is the Taliban attack on the young Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai because she was campaigning for girls’ education. The denigration of women in war zones and the view that women must be covered up so men are not tempted are just two examples of females being regarded as inferior – to be treated in the way men dictate. Misogyny is not a question of whether anyone loves an individual wife or daughter, it is how men regard the position of women within society.
What I would like to raise here is not so much equal rights but the position of women’s values and how these are being belittled and undermined. Amongst these I would count warmth and kindness to others, collaboration, positive communication, sharing, forgiveness and support – the values needed to nurture the next generation. The language of strength these days seems to refer to physical (and military) capacity rather than diplomacy and emotional intelligence. It is understandable that some women have adopted traditional male values of aggression and competition, but this is a plea for all of us, men and women, to hold onto the values that promote the common good and our shared humanity and strive for their precedence in our society in the same way as Malalia stood up for equal education rights. These are the values of maturity and hope.