I know many facts do not speak to this. In the last two years of our economic meltdown, young men gained 178,000 jobs while young women lost 255,000. I know we are still considered second class citizens, given less credence, less pay, less credit and less attention. Still, everywhere I look and everywhere I go, I finally see women supporting one another, giving one another more credence, more credit, more attention, and in the cases where they have the power, more pay. It’s about time for that.
As recently as the last presidential elections, we were all made painfully aware of how far we are from where we should be. Not only did Hillary Clinton, daring to run for President of the U.S., have to deal with abuse from men -- constant references to her style and appearance, her “pimping out Chelsea” and “her chipmunk cheeks,” statements and criticisms that never would have been leveled at her male counterparts -- but even worse, abuse from women, women in power who could have been there for her. Women in the media, for example, who made mincemeat of her intentions and her efforts every chance they got. Hello Maureen Dowd, who should be restricted from all events that celebrate women for the sheer level of nastiness of her attacks against Hillary.
But significant events have happened recently to demonstrate what many of us have known for a long time: women are changing the world, slowly but surely, and finally coming together, celebrating their accomplishments, taking power, and empowering one another.
It’s thanks to women that the Arab Spring was launched. It was their incentive on the streets that ignited a revolution in Egypt and elsewhere. Last weekend’s three-day symposium at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, Women in the World, paid tribute to women from all walks of life who are have made an impact and are bettering the world. Among those featured in this amazing and exhilarating event, hosted by The Daily Beast and moderated by its editor, Tina Brown, were: a Burmese activist who had spent 11 years in prison for passing a pamphlet to democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, then imprisoned under house arrest; Pulitzer-prize winning war correspondent Lyndsey Addario, who spoke of the recent loss of foreign correspondent Marie Colvin and the need to bear witness in times of war and conflict; two young women who invented Socket, a soccer ball that carries electricity to underprivileged villages around the globe; Meryl Streep, Oscar winning actor and supporter of the cause of women; and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is as much to be admired for what she has accomplished as a politician as for what she has endured as a human being in the face of attacks from media and public over the course of her career. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was there, and Margaret Albright, whose hair-trigger response to the question, "What is the single biggest reason women have not been able to pierce the glass ceiling?" was one word, "Men."
Although there is no woman running for President of the United States, the spirit of woman and her presence is everywhere in politics. Currently, we have the highest ever total record of female leaders serving in top positions around the globe, among them, 36-year old Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga, who also attended the recent New York City symposium. These leaders speak openly of the need to network and harness female power on a local, regional and global level, and to end war and worldwide conflicts.
In the literary realm, women’s creative power is gaining momentum. The winners of this year's National Book Critics Circle Awards, announced last week in New York City, were Edith Pearlman, for her fourth collection of stories, Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories (Lookout Books) ; poet Laura Kasischke, for her collection Space, in Chains (Copper Canyon Press), and Mira Bartok, for her memoir, The Memory Palace (Free Press). Kathyrn Schulz also received the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. See the video of Pearlman reading from her award-winning collection on the Poets and Writers website.Read women’s writing. Listen to their words. Support them. As an Egyptian activist at the women’s symposium said, “There is no spring without flowers, just as there is no Arab spring without women.” The Arab spring is a women’s revolution. Help make way for a better, kinder world. Join the revolution.