Ruth Bech: A Woman with a Mission
Ruth Bech is the Head administrator of World Wide Women that addresses the empowerment of women through gender equity and equality. Her community addresses stereotyping, discrimination and gender-based violence. She is an educated Production Manager, and have had exposure with various cultural productions like radio and visual media, stage and public events in Norway and other countries like Sweden and the Netherlands. She is a very active women's rights advocate and a human rights defender.
Who is Ruth Bech and what was it like growing up in Norway?
I still struggle with who I am. Actually, I am starting to come to the conclusion that I might never know, really. And maybe that is not such a big deal after all. I am a daughter, a sister and a friend; someone that exist in relation to others. Like my friends, or my family. My upbringing was very strict. I come from a very orthodox Christian belief, called Lestatianere, the followers of Læstadius - a preacher that was preaching against the oligarchs and for better health spiritually, physically, socially and mentally. He caused a great awakening up here in the arctic region. He also introduced new products into farming, like growing potatoes to feed more people. He and the likes of him was called potato-preachers. Kind of fun, really. When I was raised the secularization had started, and frankly, I helped it as much as I could. The followers had gone all narrow-minded and turned into a group of bigots in my opinion. Growing up in the arctic north of Norway was great fun, my father was an intellectual, and we connected very well. My mother was the old fashioned matriarch; we were all her children, daddy included. It still is that way!
What sorts of advocacy are you involved with?
I am involved in women's human rights fights, work for gender equality and end to sexual discrimination - especially of women. I have been advocating other causes, but I believe to do a good job - especially in the first years of funding a good group, one have to stay focused. So I am concentrating on World Wide Women and aside from that, I help my sister run a page called Green Health Club.
What is your inspiration for creating the World Wide Women page?
Starting World Wide Women-I have this feeling that World Wide Women started itself, and brought me along. I have seen first hand what discrimination and the different specters of violence and violent crimes can do to people. I have experienced how gender inequity has robbed us of good thinkers, entrepreneurs, and good leaders. Women, who actually was needed, but not allowed to contribute because of their gender.
I felt that what was done to spread awareness was either too limited or too vague or too damned polite, or, very important to me, it was exclusive in character. Like excluding certain women - and making certain groups of women the enemies of feminism...or excluding men from the equation. It did not work for me. And when more and more women were raped, assaulted, brutalized, murdered, belittled, shamed... I just had to do something. I could not sit still and not do anything. So I started posting on my wall on Facebook. The responses were so many and so encouraging, so I figured, why not make a group so we can elaborate our discussions and share more. And so, World Wide Women was started as a group. And then after a while, WWW grew into a community. I really did start the community to get away from the most angry women, those who hate the opposite sex instead of those people who did them wrong. I could understand these women, but I could not accept their hatred. I am a firm believer in dialogue, in communicating and in respect. Men are not our enemies. There is a system is holding both sexes prisoners. The so-called “patriarchy” is not made for men nor for women. It is made for religions and power, in my not-so-humble opinion.
What I really want in our endeavor for gender equality is to focus more on the Human Rights principles. We are all human beings first and foremost. Then we are women and men. So I feel to change things we must incorporate the women in the term human so much that when we speak of human rights, we automatically recognize we are speaking of rights of both women and men. My hope is that the further development of World Wide Women. We would start work on social structures alongside working on gender role content. I so strongly feel that society adheres to whatever feeds it. And that our cultures in these societies divide roles that are filled by us, spun over a platform that is very basic. A platform that is about survival - what we do to keep alive - thus work, economy and financial systems.
You mentioned your involvement in other initiatives, how are they similar or different from WWW?
Like I said, I am running Green Health Club together with my sister. It is a page that holds sustainable farming, and ecological health - both human and ominous as a mantra. The core ideology is that food is preventive medicine and the base of health, while orthodox medicine is for the sick. To keep healthy, eat healthy - if you are sick, see a doctor. My other activities - except writing, is not tied to gender equality directly. But it is tied to the feminine principle in nature: to nurture and sustain life.
Oh, yes, I do write blogs, news and articles, mostly on World Pulse - I love it there. I can express myself freely without keeping strict to the causes of World Wide Women.
What do you think these initiatives can do and what actions can be done to be heard?
I chose using Facebook as a platform very consciously. It is like a huge melange of thoughts and interests. Contrary to what many Facebook users believe, one can actually turn people on to causes. You can influence people’s opinions and you can make people change their minds. You need to use psychology, of course, and tact. One has to use a strategy in communicating. The way we have chosen to go about things is to use images that communicate certain emotions; words that follow those emotions up. We speak to more than one human sense at once. We use information and art alongside each other, so we try and mix communicating with the hearts and the minds. I think that way of communicating is a good a viable path to get more awareness.
If you were given a chance to be a UN official, what would you change?
The first thing I would change is the group once started by Ban Ki Moon. A group of government officials and leaders from the corporate world put together to improve women's standing in the world. The appointed were all men. I would toss half of them out and replace with women. That would be my first little hell-raiser in UN.
What do you think is your greatest achievement?
I think my greatest achievement have been to survive a situation not all come out of alive and to do so with my sanity more or less intact. It made me realize how strong a person can be - one can bend, but does not have to break. My greatest achievement have been realizing the inner strength we have, mostly untapped. I have learned how to use it.
What are your goals for the future?
My goal for the future are to live life as it comes and to do so not compromising my ideals or my friends or the bonds of togetherness.
What is your message for people out there?
My message to people is: " When we are alone we are nothing. Together we are everything and can do anything. We are one, not millions of pieces in a world puzzle. All that live and breathe in nature is and will be one."
You can find World Wide Women on Facebook. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/pages/World-Wide-Women/317780334906293