"I know what racism is – I grew up in America," says Ensler. "But I didn't really know racism until I tried to get the international community to address what is happening to African women on a daily basis."Bringing Women to the Table
In A Quiet Revolution in the Developing World, Regina Cornwell describes Catherine Bertini, the 2003 World Food Prize laureate with a simple message: "Don't forget the women." She guides the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation with its investment in feeding Africa's poor. Cornwell writes, "As senior fellow in Agricultural Development, they asked her to create a gender policy that would change the way grants are awarded to ensure that women farmers are given their fair share."
While the Taliban burns down schools for girls, Saudi Arabia just appointed its first female deputy minister, who will focus on women's education. Getting women to the table is the driving theme behind The White House Project, where president Marie C. Wilson wrote:
"This fundamental imbalance, with men running the world and women mostly spectators (or victims), is not a trivial detail. It is the problem."
In National Security: Women Must Define the Priorities Debate, Lorelei Kelly agrees: "Given that we need all the nation's leadership talent to move on these urgent topics, the most consistent gasp line in my training is when the audience learns that the United States ranks 69th in the world in Congressional female representation. That's below both Afghanistan and Iraq-countries where the United States exerted influence to make sure that quotas exist for female leadership.
"Number one in the world is Rwanda, where women filled positions after hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens were murdered in 1994. Preliminary research on Rwanda has demonstrated that this critical mass of women in power promotes fundamental democratic values-like public consultation and participation, and that corruption has diminished."
The Institute for Inclusive Security's three-year Rwanda Project "revealed that women leaders drafted a far-reaching law to combat gender-based violence [and] spearheaded efforts to eliminate discrimination and enhance human rights protections," among other findings.
CongoFriends posted this video of Major General Patrick Cammaert, talking about the Congo. "For a former UN general known for his no-nonsense approach, one would expect that he would support the current calls for a tougher mandate or more UN troops. But on the contrary, the former MONUC Commander stresses that the problems in the Democratic Republic of Congo are of a political nature and so should be any solution to those problems:
'It is very disappointing to see that the situation has deteriorated as it's doing now. But it is in fact a combination of factors. [Laurent] Nkunda [CNDP] and the FDLR-Interahamwe - the former genocide Hutus - are political problems. The international community and also President Kabila try to solve these problems in a military way, which I think is not right. The political arguments that Nkunda is using should be dealt with by president Kabila. And you can put on military pressure, and the UN can do that, but first of all, it's a political problem.'"
Pursuing the idea that bringing more women to the table will ensure a less militaristic solution to the various crises facing the world, an international colloquium coinciding with International Women's Day will:
"[B]ring together 1,000 women participants and their champions: heads of state and government, public and private sectors, and community leaders. The conference, co-convened by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Tarja Halonen of Finland, seeks to create an environment for women from around the world to discuss, learn, demonstrate, and act on the lessons learned from women in leadership, peace, and security."