western women will save the world ( + the fight to end sex trafficking)
At the Vancouver Peace Summit a few Septembers ago, the Dalai Lama shocked some and delighted others when he said: “The world will be saved by the Western woman.”*
He might have been agreeing with Bishop Desmond Tutu, who wrote:
“Our earth home and all forms of life in it are at grave risk. We men have had our turn and made a proper mess of things. We need women to save us.”
(I like to interpret his use of “women” as “women and the friends of women.”)
I don’t believe that either man is suggesting a move to matriarchy, which is just patriarchy turned upside down: one gender declared as superior to the other, hence naturally entitled to rule.
But imagine a world where all people had the ability and opportunity to be who they are without harm, to express themselves, to fully use their gifts and talents to contribute to the world, to be educated without fear of harassment or worse, to participate in the global economy, to engage deeply in a warm diverse web of relationships. To change the world. And maybe, just maybe, to save it.
Where the values of compassion, care and empathy were promoted alongside competition and conquest.
Where men and women quit “the battle of the sexes” in order to honor the other’s perspective, to listen, to bring a diversity of voice and insight to the problem-solving table.
I agree with Jean Shinoda Bolen when she writes that
“Full equality between men and women is one of the most important prerequisites for peace. Without full equality, there is injustice and the promotion of harmful attitudes in boys and men which is carried from the schoolyard and family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations. Without full equality, qualities associated with women are suppressed in boys and men.”
Those involved in microfinance will tell you that women pose a low credit risk. More importantly, as study after study shows, women tend to reinvest their profits in family and community. When a woman rises, she takes others with her.
Yet girls and women continue to be devalued, oppressed, disempowered and abused in so many parts of the world.
All that talent and potential: untapped.
All those voices: lost.
All those families and communities: mired in poverty.
As Western women (and the friends of women), we have made great strides toward equality. We don’t have the stark, often-violent cultural oppression that women in other countries must still find ways to navigate, and we are no longer bound to rigid gender roles. Our economic, reproductive and social freedoms give us the freedom to act.
The question is: what will we do with that freedom?
Will we focus just on ourselves and our families? Or will we realize that the forces chaining one woman ripple out, in subtle ways and variations, to chain all women? That in this age of interconnectedness, on this threatened planet, our family is the global family, and our home is the world?
That’s why I’m so pleased to report how one Western woman (and my friend), Erin Giles, set out to raise $25,000 in thirty days to help the tens of millions of people caught in the worldwide nightmare of human trafficking.
Abroad — and also in America — children as young as seven are sold for sex.
A trafficked child has an expected lifespan of about seven years. She is dead within seven years. She is beaten to death or shot. She falls sick and is not treated. She is sold to a buyer to act out a deadly fantasy. She is, like this survivor, dumped into a trash can and left to die.
Erin will divide the money among five nonprofits that are fighting for awareness, prevention, and the rescue and rehabilitation of the enslaved. Although technically she’s already met her goal (yay Erin!), she tells me that any contributions made from now until midnight go toward fees and shipping. That way, the nonprofits can receive “every penny of that five thousand”.
So I ask you to please contribute. You have until midnight tonight.
As Chris Brogan put it, it will cost you the price of maybe two lattes and the time it takes to watch a cat video.
It might seem hard to believe that ten dollars can mean so much, or go so far – but it can. When we act with intention, we walk in power. When we walk in power – together — we have a voice that can change the world. click to tweet
Let’s use it.
* Some have taken offense to this, thinking that he meant white women. My interpretation is that he was referring to all women living with Western freedoms and possibilities (although some are obviously more free — and privileged — than others).