Weâ€™ve been marinating on 2008; what an incredible year! Turbulent, exciting and really most of our wishes seemed to be granted in one fell swoop with the outcome of the US election.
There was Chinaâ€™s Olympic moment of glory, the first female Mayor in Egypt and of course the highs and lows of the U.S. election and then the same sex marriage Proposition in California. For all the leaps forward there is still more to be done for gender equality globally. Next year we want more inclusion! We wanted to share our top 5 wishes en route to inclusion. Enjoy and add your own in comments.
Our Top 5:
5. Darfur. Iraq. Afghanistan. This is the 21st Century and itâ€™s about time human beings find an alternative means of negotiation… We are simply tired of war. As previously reported Darfur has resulted in more than 2.5 million people having been displaced in Darfur (with up to 300,000 dead); tens of thousands of them are women and children. It is no surprise that womenâ€™s rights fade when confronted by war.
4. International organizations have claimed an understanding of the importance of adopting a gendered lens. So, itâ€™s unacceptable that the World Bank hasnâ€™t fit gender equality into its approach in its 2009 World Development Report, subtitled â€œReshaping Economic Geography.â€ This yearâ€™s report doesnâ€™t include even a misguided or incomplete take on gender inequities, or the gender differentials in economic growth, despite nearly three decades of work on the topic by feminist economists, geographers, and other researchers in the field of gender and development. â€œGenderâ€ is literally mentioned once in the 17 chapters of the report, a brief reference on page 93 to the gender gap in literacy rates in Egypt. Given that this is a report which purports to examine the unbalanced nature of economic growth in development, it is rather unfathomable that there is no reference to the gendered nature of this (im)balance, even more so given the 30-odd years of work by gender and development researchers, academics and activists on the topic. This omission brings to mind a quote from the recently published Gender Myths and Feminist Fables, in which editors Andrea Cornwall, Elizabeth Harrison and Ann Whitehead remark, â€œâ€¦ power relations within development ensure that feminist thought remains thoroughly marginal. It is seen as perfectly respectable to be an expert on poverty without having read any feminist work on poverty and to regard it as the responsibility of gender experts to convince the mainstream of its relevance.â€
3. Since the U.S. has proved that anything in politics is possible, itâ€™s time for the rest of the world to showcase its political potential and prowess! Itâ€™s more than just quantity its quality. There is a long list of women in politics who we could really do without. Some of us are still waiting for Condi to emerge from the Dark Sideâ€¦What we need are men and women in politics who will deliver on the promise of gender equality.
Eva Habil is not only Egyptâ€™s first female mayor, she remembers a more equitable Egypt where she was able to travel on her own before witnessing her country and culture co-opted by a more conservative regime. It will be exciting to see how her memories of a more equitable Egypt will affect the way she governs. President-elect Obamaâ€™s cabinet has only five women but includes men who are strong supporters of equity and womenâ€™s rights. If the National Review complains that Eric Holder (AG to be) is â€œHe is convinced justice in America needs to be “established” rather than enforced; he’s excited about hate crimes and enthusiastic about the constitutionally dubious Violence Against Women Actâ€, heâ€™s A-Ok in our books! So we part ways with Bonnie Erbe on this one, there are more pressing matters on which we will take President-elect Obama to task.
Quality is better than quantity but numbers do help: Sometimes, the more women the better. The incoming Rwandan Parliament will be the first in the world to have women in the majority. A whopping 56%! This is one development indicator in which Africa is leading the way. In the New Year we wish for this to be less the exception and more the norm.
2. Gay marriage, please! Actually, no more â€˜pleaseâ€™, this time we demand it. Newsweekâ€™s article in support of gay marriage did a great job of using scripture in support of inclusion. Thus far only Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and South Africa have nationalized same-sex marriage. Equality is equality.
And for numero unoâ€¦
1. Global Financial and Environmental Sustainability! We already spoke of the effects of the financial crisis on women before; itâ€™s time for women and minorities to be more included in the global economy. Increased productivity means the entire workforce is engaged. Stateside, President-elect Obama has indicated that Mary Shapiro is his choice to head the SEC. Maybe a woman can whip the financial situation in the States into a more inclusive shape. If anything, the financial crisis, the war and all that wasnâ€™t great about the last few years has led us to an exciting new understanding of our world, our relationship with it, and with one another. Change isnâ€™t always easy but the journey is never dull. Our wish is that wherever we end up, it is more inclusive.
Next year weâ€™ll explore the effects of renewable energy on womenâ€¦a more equitable source of energy perhaps. Until then very happy wishes for a fabulous new year!
-Gwendolyn Beetham and Tonni Ann Brodber