The Future Stands on the Shoulders of the Women

Since I started this blog I signed up for a bunch of different google alerts, news alerts on specific topics that interest me. I give google some keywords of issues I want news updates on and several times a day (which is one of the settings of the application) I receive emails with links to all possible internet sources on those topics…God bless google. So my alerts are about women’s rights in the middle east, the green movement in Iran, etc. And my eyes have been peeled open by some of the things I come across in these alerts. I realized how silly it is to say that women in the middle east are silenced. It’s just not true. Yes, many are…many suffer at the hands of dogma or regulations, we hear all about those things…but soooo many women are so incredibly active, so bold, so fearless and Eloquent, my God.

The most inspiring event that I experienced in my life so far  was hearing Shirin Ebadi talk at Columbia University. It was 2 or 3 years ago, she was there to give a talk about her new autobiography, Iran Awakening and also about the role of women in world peace.

She is such a sweet and endearing lady…tiny with very round features…big Iranian eyes. I wanted to hug her (and I actually did!) she had a translator for the talk, and at the end she had a lengthy q&a session. One student asked her the star question, “Ms. Ebadi, what do you think is the role of women in the future of Iran.” Ebadi smiled knowingly, and in her tone of voice I could hear her saying (eventhough it was in Farsi), “Listen, hunny; the ‘Future of Iran’… it will stand On the Shoulders of the Women.” Meaning, the point is not the “role” women will play in it….it’s just not going to happen WITHOUT the women. Haha :)

My mom would always tell me, if you look at the countries that are suffering the most, they are the ones in which the women are the most oppressed. That’s because, as we all should know by now…a society will never go very far if it ties up the hands of half its population. Period. It’s logic.

So, yes, the inspring article of the evening is the following: http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2010/04/05/feature-02

Let’s just note, please, what this woman looks like…oh, yes, she is in a black burkah

But guess what? I’m alllllll the way here, thousands of miles away and I can identify her words, her name, her message. So I guess forcing us to speak behind a black bag still doesn’t drown out our voices, amazing! And it sure doesn’t make the clerics’ postulations and fatwas any louder.

So how did I hug Shirin Ebadi? :) After her talk they had a little cocktail thing where she was signing books for people. I bought her book and went to her to sign. At this point i knew ummm…five words in farsi. But I managed to walk over, say “salaam, hale shomaa khoobe?” (formal way of saying, hello, how are you?) She responded graciously and said something to the effect of (i believe) “shall I sign this for you?” I answered with my eyes, since i had exhausted my farsi at that point. Then when she was done she asked me, “Farsi harf mizani?” (Do you speak farsi?) And i said something like “ye kam” (a little). She got very enthusiastic, took me by the arms and told me “Learn Farsi, learn it well and use your words, you are Iranian.”

I know what I am. I am Turkish born, and my father is Iranian and has super genes that completely dominated my phenotype :) But she hit it on the mark…words are incredible power. May we use our words to bring peace.

Shabbat Shalom!

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3 Comments

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3 Responses to “The Future Stands on the Shoulders of the Women”
  1. Esther Nefesh says:

    Beautiful Shiva!!! I love your insights and positive energy. Please write more often :):)

    Love you :))
    Esther

  2. Rachel says:

    Good job, Shiva!

    Yes, women have to be empowered but not only in the Middle East. There are so many women throughout the world who have no sense of who they are and what their power is. These women raise boys and girls who sometimes end up contributing to more and more suffering in the world. A woman born and raised and living in the Western world, in the US, etc., even with a high socio-economic status may need to change her consciousness and attitude by becoming aware of her potential. A well to do US woman trying to steal another woman’s husband needs as much attention as an opressed Middle Eastern woman. They are both suffering from the same disease of lack of self worth. I think sometimes education by itself is not enough to change people’s consciousness. Women need to build awareness to realize their self worth.

    By the way, I didn’t know you were Iranian. ;)

  3. Luke says:

    It is so wonderful that you were able to hear her speak. She is so right in saying that the future is not going to happen without women. There are so many fields which can benefit from the unique perspective and talents which women will bring when they are truly incorporated and not just brought in as a good will gesture or forced to take on male characteristics. I can particularly see this in diplomacy where pride and male ego play a very large part in the current interactions. There is such a need for women. A bird cannot fly with one wing crippled.

    Luke

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