Bringing Light to Women: Gloria Steinem

By Jacqueline Monet, Social Media Manager, Kitechild

Photo: Annie Leibovitz/Random House

Photo: Annie Leibovitz/Random House

It’s Gloria Steinem’s birthday today and as part of Women’s History Month, we couldn’t think of a better time to honor this pioneer of equality. At 82 and still going strong, the feminist icon has said that one of the fundamental issues of the women’s liberation movement has still gone unresolved: violence against women. Steinem has worked tirelessly to bring attention to this important and sad reality, which affects women and girls all over the planet. 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence, according to the UN. Most of the time, women who experience violence, do so at the hands of an intimate partner. When children grow up seeing violence against women in the home, it becomes normalized. “Certainly the question of violence against females is deep and urgent, not only for women but for everybody, since it turns out that violence against females is the biggest predictor of all other violence,” says Gloria. A culture of violence against women, also perpetuates the idea of ownership over women, which contributes to sexual trafficking and child marriages. The abuse of women’s bodies in this way also leads to children that they cannot care for, due to unwanted or forced pregnancies. So, this epidemic also adds to the number of vulnerable and orphaned children in the world.

 

Photo: Suzanne Gamboa

Photo: Suzanne Gamboa

Another important issue that Gloria continues to be at the forefront is the fight for immigration reform. She has spoken out about the economic and gender issues at hand within the immigration debate, as the majority of people crossing into the United States are women and children. “There is no such thing as a border that is proof against poverty, or against the natural migration of workers back and forth. We are simply asking that we have rules that recognize reality so that we do not declare righteous human beings to be criminals,” she said.

Photo:Leigh Vogel/WireImage

Photo:Leigh Vogel/WireImage

Gloria has helped to bring feminism into the mainstream consciousness and along with it, to stop making the word something to be afraid to use. As Gloria says, “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”For all her work she’s done over the years, she received the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, who said it was to honor her “fight for equality and social justice for more than four decades.” It was there that she was asked what advice she has to impart onto the next generation of women. She had this to say: Don’t listen to me. Listen to yourself … People often ask me ‘Who am I passing the torch to?’ First of all, I’m not giving up my torch, thank you! I’m using my torch to light other people’s torches. If we each have a torch, there’s a lot more light.”

This kind of empowerment is what is needed to bring equality and change to the world, which is what we strive to do. Following Gloria’s lead, we work to empower women to make the best choices for themselves. Our projects support women and girls through education, nutrition and community, which allows women to make their own family planning choices, which leads to less vulnerable children and happier families. We each do have our own torches and it’s up to us to use them to bring more light into the world. And together, we can.

 

 

References:

http://www.npr.org/2015/10/26/451862822/at-81-feminist-gloria-steinem-finds-herself-free-of-the-demands-of-gender

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/gloria-steinem-quotes-feminism-gender-periods-equality/1/626400.html

http://nbclatino.com/2013/11/19/feminist-gloria-steinem-gives-immigration-activists-a-pep-talk/

http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures

http://fortune.com/2015/12/22/gloria-steinem-feminism-turning-point/

http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/11/20/gloria-steinem-receives-top-national-honor/

http://www.blogher.com/why-gloria-steinem-supports-immigration-reform

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3925120/

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