Saturday, March 11, 2006


Okay, so it's three days after International Women's Day and I'm taking some flack for the piece I wrote in honour of the day. All right, I admit my offering may have been somewhat over the top. And that it isn't enough to say, well, I wrote that because I'm so worried. Everybody is worried about something. But I wish we women could get at least some of our worries synchronized in order to demand that women's priorities become paramount in government and society.

I listened to a discussion this morning on"The House"on CBC radio concerning whether the Canadian Senate should be appointed (which it is now) or elected. I called in with a message that appointed or elected, given the paucity of women in government, the Senate should be composed entirely of women. Of course they will snicker. But I also left this point: "Taxation without representation is tyranny". That little ditty prompted the Revolutionary War in the the United States, surely it should get us a little air play. Because women pay equal taxes but have no real representation in government, not only in numbers, but in so far as women's priorities are put forward as serious concerns.

What are women's priorities? And are they universal? I think so. Certainly the desire for peace. The entire world is becoming unnerved by powerful men's desire for dominance that infects whole nations and results in rattling the war chains and threatening nuclear weapons. Of course George Bush is the biggest bully on the block at the moment. However, an imbalance of power between the sexes insures that there will never be a shortage of bullies because the male dominance system the world lives under encourages aggression and brutality in males.

Rwanda is a good case in point. Now, after the genocide, women are seventy per cent of the population. Men are only thirty per cent. Not that the men didn't kill women and children, too, but they killed each other more frequently. But a interesting development has occurred out of this. Women now compose half of the government in Rwanda (I understand the only government in the entire world where women must fill half of the seats) and apparently the Hutus and Tutsi women are working together peacefully.

But that happened way over there in Rwanda, right? What has that to do with us? I think it has a lot to do with us. We may not be killing each other en mass over here but the imbalance between men and women is playing out in other ways. Like in the destruction of our environment. I just don't believe our priceless public old growth forests would be liquidated the way they are being if women had power, or even just realized the power we do have. We just wouldn't put up with it. Not when we know that these public forests are being stolen out from under our noses, away from our children and grandchildren, First Nations, and ourselves. And I grow faint with indignation when I remember that just one of these old growth trees can bring up to one hundred thousand dollars to the transnational logging companies. Just one. Just one tree. One hundred thousand dollars. Think what a whole public forest is worth. Billions. And what that money would mean to women and children of British Columbia. Because it does rightfully belong to us. Those are our trees. But if women were in charge, or equally in charge, the trees wouldn't be clear cut. I don't think women would be interested in the deforestation of our entire province for whatever amount of money. And in a sense, because of the destruction involved in clear cutting, that money is blood money. It can bring no good to the world.

But these kind of questions won't even be raised unless women raise them. I believe this to be one of our missions as women activists, to raise these questions of the imbalance of power and speak and act to address it. This was what I was trying to say in my little epistle on International Women's Day.

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