By Tracey L. Hurd, Executive Director
We celebrate the start of our Spring 2012 series in just a few days. We will consider the topic, “Women’s Alternatives to Competition and Aggression,’ through film, prepared reflection, and discussion. Sarah Roche-Mahdi will bring her history as a scholar, writer, feminist, and activist to reflection about her engagement with CODEPINK (originally called Code Pink Women for Peace). We will view a portion of Anne Macksoud’s film, “Missing Peace: Women of Faith and the Failure of War.” And we will discuss together the question, “How do women deal with competition and aggression? What strengths do women—in all their diversities—bring to these issues?” We will name women as a focal point to our explorations and see how that opens doors to new understandings.
We open our spring series on, March 8th, which is International Women’s Day. Though individually and as a group we have honored International Women’s Day in many ways, 2012 is the first year that we do so with our official name, WomenExplore Lecture and Discussion Forum. This matters. To name is to attribute significance. Women matter and our name, WomenExplore, makes a focus on women visible.
International Women’s Day was marked for the first time in 1911 on March 19th in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. It was tied to political movements. In 1975 the United Nations began celebrating March 8th as International Women's Day and two years later (1977), the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed by Member States.
Writers from the United Nations website ask: “Why dedicate a day exclusively to the celebration of the world's women?” They answer, “ In adopting the resolution on the observance of Women's Day, the General Assembly cites two reasons: to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.”
Just months ago, President Barack Obama and Secretary Hilary Clinton issued the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. It has many specific points about the importance of strategic continued attention to women. They wrote: “The goal is as simple as it is profound: to empower half the world’s population as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence and insecurity. Achieving this goal is critical to our national and global security.” (Department of State, December 19, 2011)
Women matter. Many gains have been made both by and for women. Globally, International Women’s Day gives nations permission and encouragement to pause to consider “half the world’s population.” WomenExplore gives all who participate similar license. But we go one step further. WomenExplore, as it was in TOP before, embodies the message that women hold great promise for the transformation of the world. In our sessions, processes and mission we say: Listen to women, let their words and lives speak. Together we can understand and heal this world, always moving towards our better visions of it. We both start and celebrate this on March 8th, at 10 am at University Lutheran Church…there’s a great session, a small reception, and a seat for you. See you there!