Yesterday I read about a girl named Nujood Ali from Yemen and it made both my mother and I extremely emotional. Aged 10 she was sold to a man three times her age to be married, he took her virginity on their wedding night, and she was regularly abused by both him and his mother. One day she took the money she had been given to buy bread and took a taxi to the capital city where she found a lawyer who fought for her and she was divorced. The strength, determination and courage this girl showed is incredible. Fighting for her rights, fighting for her freedom, and in a country and society that sees her for the most part as property. It broke my heart that she knew she couldn’t go home to her mother for protection, no doubt her father would have beaten her then sent her straight back to her husband. She showed the nouse and the courage to take that money and find a lawyer when nothing about her situation should have given her that strength. An incredible young woman. She needs to be held up world over as an example to us all.
Why do men feel the need to oppress women so often? Because they know they need us, they know we are strong, they know we are equal, and it frightens them. If they were not scared they wouldn’t need to control us. The reason we keep the tiger in the cage is because if we didn’t he would kill us. We let the kitten run free because they pose no threat.
I was raised in a home where the main bread winner was a woman, my mother, and I was surrounded every day by strong, confident, independent women. Women who worked in high pressured jobs, women who worked in the home, but all of them strong and all of them examples of why women are of equal value to both the family and the world as men are. For this reason I find this sexual inequality in religion, in the work place, and in extreme ways in great swathes of the world to be stupid, confusing, and upsetting.
A recent story came to light that in Saudi Arabia women have now been permitted to ride bicycles. Of course, this is so long as it is for pleasure not transport, only in designated areas, and as long as they have a man to accompany them. I have very little respect for the way women are treated in large areas of the Arab world, but I have particular disgust for the Saudis. The regime is hideous and the idea that they should be applauded for this new rule is as funny as it is offensive. Do they think that if women are allowed to ride a bike they will suddenly throw off the burka, ride on their bikes to the capital, and over throw the powerful family in charge? Perhaps, and perhaps this is why they feel the need to put such tight controls on it. Fear. Women will one day rise up and realise they do have equal abilities, they are equally strong, equally intelligent, and equally capable. They do not need a man to control them in order to be both safe and alive.
What is perhaps even more offensive is that even in our country where we are all about equal rights and giving everyone respect and treating nobody differently because of race, religion etc, is that even here women are still not given equal rights. We, as a sisterhood, prove day in day out that we are just as capable as men. We are different, don’t get me wrong, and in some things such as physical strength men (generally) hold a greater ability, but that doesn’t mean we are lesser, and we show this in business settings, hospitals, class rooms every single day, yet we are still not given equality. Karren Brady is an amazing example of a business woman who is still seen as an anomaly. She is smart, capable, and fought for her place in the business world in the face of extreme sexism. She is still unusual even now. But why? Because powerful men keep women out of the boardroom, out of the top levels of politics.
Miss Rose is going to know. She is going to understand. If she resists knowing and understanding I will make her stay where she is until she does. There are few things I would force on her, but this is one of them. She will be made to understand how blessed she is to live where she does and in what time she does. To know that her free access to a wonderful education is to be celebrated and respected. To know that no matter what she is told she can do whatever and be whoever she chooses. She has to work for it, she may have to fight against people who don’t believe in her because of her sex, but she can. Nujood Ali did. She did in a country where she shouldn’t have been able to. Where women two, three, four times her age don’t manage because they are too afraid, too controlled, and she did it. A child, a little girl who should have been playing with dolls. Miss Rose will NEVER be in a position where she has to do what Nujood Ali did, but she will learn about her and she will grow up understanding why she has to be proud of her gender and proud of her intelligence. No little girls should ever have to do what Nujood Ali did, but the more who do the more other oppressed women will take notice. I have taken notice, and reading this you have taken notice.
Spread the word, tell everyone; the women are coming.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!