The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

Choose To Challenge

Rachel Borg Saturday, 6 March 2021, 08:34 Last update: about 2 months ago

March 8th is the day when the world celebrates International Women’s Day.  The theme chosen this year is “Choose to Challenge”.   This theme is very relevant today where the male dominance in economic and political activity, thought and creation remains a strong influence.  Along with the control of these intellectual fields, the social and personal behaviour that is expected from women still remains conditioned by the cultural and economic reality around them. 


Some countries are further ahead in the freedom and equality that is enjoyed by women and men.  After all, if it is to be equality, then men too should be aware of what they stand to gain by recognizing the worth and value of women and living by the understanding and appreciation of the importance of women in their lives.

By restricting the liberation of women the whole country suffers.  It is entrenched in outdated and socially backward mentalities leading to division and poverty, both financial and cultural.

On the contrary when women are able to realize their self-worth and achieve the goals as per their potential, then there is progress and stability, security and prosperity. 

The theme of “Choose to Challenge” includes a wide range of issues that are common to women around the world.  Each social and family eco-system will have its own but not exclusively.  In Turkey, as one example, there are 200,000 child brides across the country. 40,000 girls a year are facing this reality.  In one area of the Black Sea, in 3 out of 5 villages, there is the lowest number of children.

It is to be expected that if girls are permitted to become child brides, then violence on them will most probably accompany that marriage.  It is not restricted to marriage either and fathers may also be violent with their children, especially the girls whom they choose a life for.  Choose to Challenge therefore becomes the key to stand up and fight for a better way of life.  Protection by a lawful society and empowerment by rights are essential to allow for the courage and fortitude to make a challenge which may come at the cost of their life.

What is the purpose of so much emphasis on celebrating Mother’s Day when celebrating Women’s day is just a fleeting date, with perhaps a branch of mimosa given to the lady as a token?  Being a mother has always been the starting definition for women in a male society. It is from that concept that all other concessions, goals, liberties and opportunities have evolved.  Initially, with women being confined to the house, the idea of granting women the vote was thought of as a contradiction.  As their worth became all too clear during the war, the boundaries began to fall and women started to create and express themselves not just by their motherhood or spinsterhood as it was known then, but by their independent role in a society that needs both men and women. Industry and commerce needs women as much as it needs men.  The experience and insight that women bring to business and education is essential for a healthy and thriving society and economy.

Recent amendments to the election of women in Parliament, enabling a quota, does not achieve a true purpose.  The world does not need to have equal number of men and women or to find a quota that works for them.  What matters is the space that is created for women to choose their careers, their profession or their life-style with serenity and freedom.  It is to be seen then that whatever they choose is receiving equal pay and equal importance.  If they choose to stay home and raise their family, it does not mean that they have less value.  In fact, policies should be in place to enable the return to the work place and career should she so wish it.  Alternatively, it should also be normal for men to take on the role from women at home.

During this pandemic, the value of women has reached a new level.  Whether they have been trying to cope with their job, their home and the education of their children or whether they have been on the front-line in nursing and caring jobs, medical and scientific research, or trying to manage the anxiety and stress of elderly parents confined in isolation, they have had to reach into their deepest source of energy and strength.  Mothers who have mentally challenged children who need special care but who find their children bounced around from one decision to the next were basically left to fend for themselves.

In the latest survey on housing, the result showed that most housing need is required for single- parent women.  In a country where the gender pay gap remains like a black market economy and the power that men still hold over the fortune of the woman, it is not surprising that women are often still perceived as being to blame for their situation.  This judgement must stop.  There is no way that equality can exist if ancient and medieval beliefs still discriminate against women.

Marches will be held around the world to continue to fight for the rights and freedom of women from secular authority.  Here in Malta some men will make some speeches about women.  Many will highlight the injustice they face, like Myriam Pace who was simply enjoying her place in the world and her home, when no thought was given for the fact that a woman could have been at home and the walls that protected her could kill her.  Her life held little value in the minds of those who choose money above all else. 

A brave woman lived her full potential and dedicated herself to being a first class journalist, never afraid of challenging wrong doing and bringing truth to light.  Daphne Caruana Galizia was brutally murdered for her uncomfortable truths and the nerve she had to expose the lies and the unethical behaviour of anyone from the Prime Minister to the crook. 

Ultimately, unless women receive justice for the harm against them, there is no point in quotas and child-care facilities and targets.  For weak men to keep the reins of justice is equal to depriving women of the vote or confining them to a single role and manipulating them.  It remains nothing but a fake show of emancipation.  A modern society cannot exist unless there is justice for women.

As the place of women in life, society, culture, science and industry evolves, it is also important that little girls growing up are surrounded by beauty and love and have access to not just the material and social benefits and pressures of a developed economy but are first and foremost taught to appreciate themselves and their sense of worth and to just be themselves.  Being strong is not the only definition of a modern woman.  Knowing themselves is important too.  Only then can a woman have the chance to live life to their full potential, enjoyment and peacefully take their place, wherever that may be.

  • don't miss