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The Party is Just Starting for UN Women

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 The launch of UN Women in the UN General Assembly Hall this week, February 24th, felt like a celebration.  There was indeed a reason to celebrate.  Who wouldn’t celebrate the vision set forth by the United Nations for global gender equality and the empowerment of women.   The leaders and celebrities participating in the program were impressive.  Hosted by former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, energized in her new roles as UN Women’s Executive Director and UN Under-Secretary General, the speakers ranged from top UN dignitaries to celebrities live and on video, including Geena Davis, Nicole Kidman and Shakira, among others.  Ted Turner, who founded the UN Foundation with $1 billion in 1997 made a rare appearance.  Here’s hoping the Foundation will make a major contribution to UN Women. According to UN Women, $500 million is needed to run the program in  the first year alone.  The goal is ending discrimination against women.  It’s money well spent, since countries with greater gender equality have economies that are far more competitive and grow faster, as shown through research in 114 countries by the Global Gender Report, World Economic Forum, 2010.

  While I was basking in the hopeful optimism of the UN Women launch, I glanced at my Blackberry and noticed at least 5 emails regarding Congressional anti-women activity bubbling up like a volcano on Capitol Hill.  Was I in parallel worlds?  Which world was reality?    Our very own Congress, specifically the Republican leadership, is threatening to take away women’s liberties in healthcare and reproductive health services.  This includes women’s right to access lifesaving medical care. In fact they want to slash all funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest provider of family planning services, and for roughly 60 percent of their patients, PP serves as primary care physicians. For the gorey details read what Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has to say in her blog http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-carolyn-maloney/acts-of-outrage-indiffere_b_827574.html.    If there is no gender equality here in the U.S., how can we possibly expect it in the rest of the world?  Are we the example for the world to follow?  If so, UN Women and US women - we’re in big trouble.    Now that the celebration is over, we have to face the fact that there is enormous work required,  attitudes that must be changed, a Congress to educate, and money to be raised, to mention only a few of the tasks at hand in order to realize this goal of gender equality.  As far as women go, we need to start with ourselves.   How are we supporting the women in our life?  Are we treating women with respect? Are we making women’s successes, healthcare, leadership, security, and economic empowerment a top priority?  If not, the time to do it is now.  If not now, we’ll leaving our work to future generations. .....Leslie Grossman, Women's Leadership Exchange  

Reader Comments

Posted: February 28, 2011, 12:14 PM by Leslie Grossman

 Dani,

Your commentary is very interesting!  Never thought about  how those super high heels slow us down. I wondering who is designing them.  Men or women?  Most women will probably just learn to run in them because we are so used to having obstacles to overcome that we figure out a way to compensate.  Of course, many women choose to be slaves to fashion, especially when we are young!  Thanks for the very insightful comments.  Major food for thought!!!

Posted: February 26, 2011, 11:31 AM by Dani Ticktin Koplik

There is definitely something weird going on.  Usually, I subscribe to the notion that antithetical thoughts can co-exist in a sort of (often healthy) dynamic that ultimately results in something completely new and better. But this latest onslaught that attacks women's well-being (we're not even talking professional issues like equal pay) is seriously disturbing and actually frightening. Fade out, fade in.

Has anyone been through the high-end women's shoe department lately? Aside from the astronomical prices, the styles are sadisting and misogynistic. Seven inch heels? Three inch platforms? Spikes and hobnails? Crippling heights but more to the point, crippling slopes.  Much more passive aggressive than foot binding but probably as effective at slowing women down. What's up with this? And why are we buying in? Well, not me but I was told at Neiman Marcus that the $1,200 Laboutins (of the 7 inch heels) sported by Lady Gaga have a waiting list. Really? Obscene on several levels, so to speak.

 

 Anyone see a parallel here? Funny how all this comes just at the time when business -- and European business is at the forefront on this -- is finally realizing the revenue-positive effect women have at the highest levels of management.  Not to mention the collateral effect of reduced turnover, increased stability and more centered leadership.

So here we are, in the 21st Century and I'm comparing our latest fashion trend to the ancient Chinese practice of foot-binding. I feel like we're lambs being led to the slaughter, hopelessly naive and silent. We have a voice -- in fact, we have the numbers and we have the power of the purchasing purse -- so let's raise it. This cannot hold.

 

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