“Women’s Rights as Human Rights”
About two weeks ago, I received a newsletter from the American Corner on their regular monthly program of activities and what a surprise it was to see that they were having a lecture or more exactly a round table led by Allida M. Black, a Research Professor of History and International Affairs from the US on the topic: “Women’s Rights as Human Rights”. Taking into consideration that we don’t have so many opportunities for something like this, I immediately signed up since the participation was limited - on the first come first served basis.
The round table was about to take place somewhere around between the third and fourth week of the Voices of Our Future program and I was so energized and excited and passionate from the experience I was getting in World Pulse that I promised myself I can’t miss this occasion.
The lecture was scheduled to start half an hour before my working hours end, but I managed to get out of work with the excuse that I have something urgent to do. I did! The things to be more interesting, it started to rain that day, maybe half an hour before I was supposed to leave work and head to the American Corner. However, rain is an extraordinary circumstance in Skopje. Not that we don’t have it often; but people suddenly get away from the streets and get into taxis and cars as if the water would melt every bit of them. Therefore, in rainy days it is impossible to get somewhere on time or to find a taxi ride for that matter. I started calling taxi companies 30 minutes before I was supposed to be leaving, knowing what will happen, and there was nobody available to give me a ride and since I never could get used to umbrellas I got out of the office on the rain in a desperate desire to get to my set destination. A colleague of mine at work, seeing in what situation I am, offered me her umbrella and I went out at the rain with a smiling heart. To cut the long story short, after I was thrown out of a taxi I found on the way, because the taxi driver thought I was going to go in the opposite direction which didn’t suit him, and lots of walking, I finally reached the Corner – half an hour late and soaked.
I know it is rude to storm somewhere so late, but I really wanted to attend this lecture, so I decided to enter no matter what. I left the umbrella outside, along with the other ones and opened the door. Allida was having a speech and around a dozen people were looking at her with admirable eyes. I found an available chair and started listening carefully to what she was saying.
At that moment, she was saying the important thing is not to have laws, but to make them work, to enforce them in reality. ‘Passing a law means nothing; the money and energy to enforce the law is very important. Nothing happens without the civil society pressing the government to reallocate money’.
She was making irony about our law on quotas i.e. 30% women’s coverage in Parliament, pointing out that the US have only 17% women in the US congress, but each one of them is a fighter. ‘US’s big achievement is the health care law, because of Nancy, the Speaker of the US Congress, who managed to stick to her stands and dared to say “No” to Obama until she got what she wanted’. She was making a comparison between Obama and Hillary Clinton (a good friend of hers): ‘He rules the US, but she rules the world’.
Then, the focus turned to Michelle Bachelet, who was President of Chile from 11 March 2006 to 11 March 2010—the first woman president in the country's history. She won the 2006 presidential election in a tight fight. What Michelle said when she took the rule was that she will reorganize how the government spends the money, meaning that every agency and program had to be reorganized. Can you all grasp what this means? It implies on complete reorganization of everything it was before. And – it worked. She was a president for two mandates and then she quit. At the end of her second mandate, the public poll showed that she had 95% approval: 81% men and 90% women! Imagine this – 95% approval after a second mandate!! She rebuilt the country, the economy and helped in building a more equal society.
Allida was so passionate and inspiring in her speech, like she was born to be a motivational speaker. Everyone knows that feeling; it doesn’t have to come from a prominent person, because there are people like that in everyday life: a wise friend, a caring mother, an extraordinary person with a vision and energy. After talking to people like that, I personally feel like I can almost touch the sky. That’s why I have always tried to stay positive in bad situations in my life, searching for a bit of bright light that can make everything else a shadow.
To get back to the Chilean President Michelle, from last month there is another department within the UN, called UN Women. It is at the same level with the Security Council and higher than UNICEF, with a huge allocated budget and guess who has been appointed to run it?! Who if not Michelle Bachelet! I advise each of the extraordinary women here in Pulse Wire to explore these funds and opportunities offered and I am hoping that everyone will find it useful, helpful and provide personal development spreading to development of local communities.
And I for that matter would try to explore every possible option, find people who share my vision for a better society and start acting fully equipped! Allida was right: there’s no excuse, fight is the answer!
P.S. As I was about to leave, I realized that someone has stolen my umbrella! Motivated as I was, I got outside and while the rain was washing my hair, splashing to my face I started laughing and felt like I have been reborn again!