Sunday, March 04, 2012

International Women's Day - Be the Change

photo credit: Chau Doan/Oxfam America
March 8th is International Women's Day.  
My friend and colleague Rachel Seda reminded me about it and I got to thinking about all the women I know who make such an amazing difference in the world and especially in the world of prevention and community change.  I thought about what prevention means to me and how I've seen it and experienced it over the years. I thought of my mother, Jessie Faye, a natural preventionist. 

My mom is the best mom in the world and I feel lucky to be her daughter.  She grew up on a farm and worked hard as a child -- like so many women in the world today.  She gathered cows from the far corners of the fields at 4:30 in the morning in the dark. I don't even like going outside in my own backyard in the dark. For a little girl of nine, it must have been scary.  She then milked the cows and separate the cream before cleaning up and catching the bus to school.  She worked in the garden (which was a bit more like a working farm), she planted, weeded, tended, harvested, canned and enjoyed the bounty. She can process a deer and even knows how to clean fish! I have no doubt she'd have given Daniel Boone a run for his money.

She completed the ninth grade before dropping out of school and getting married at 16 -- not all that unusual in those days. She'll tell you she isn't very smart but she really is!  She went back to school not once but twice and in both cases she successfully completed the course work and promptly put what she learned to work for good.  She can do just about anything she sets her mind and heart on, always working hard and making sure that my sister and I had the best she and dad could provide.  She is the strongest woman I know - filled with courage and an abiding faith. My International Women's Day Award goes to my Mom.

My mom, in some ways,  is like a lot of mom's in the world.  She has always wanted the best for her children and faced a lot barriers to making it so. Too many mom's in the world face challenges that even my Mom never had to face -- every day in abject poverty, looking into the faces of hungry children with few if any options for changing her conditions. 

Did you know ...
  • 66% of the world's work falls on women's shoulders, yet they earn only 10% of the world's income.
  • If women were given the same level of access to resources that men have, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%.
  • Hunger and poverty are about power and inequality, and women and girls face the biggest inequalities of all.
What can we do to make a difference on such a huge problem in this great big world? As I think about it, I feel so overwhelmed.  But then I remembered this from Clarissa Pinkola-Estes:
"Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach."           --Clarissa Pinkola-Estes
This is what my Mom has done her entire life.  I hope you'll celebrate a woman who makes a difference in your life too.  Click and send her an ecard to let her know you noticed, thank her and celebrate her presence in your life and the world.  Then drop by Oxfam America and see how you can support women around the world.

If we come together, we may not be able to remove the imbalances between men and women immediately. But we will show women around the world ... and in our own neighborhoods ... that we care about them. That's not too much to ask for half the world's population, is it?


Beth Wilson said...

Beautifully written, my dear friend. Your mom's strength and solid character lives on through you; I am so grateful and blessed by your gift of lifting others to the heights of their dreams. keep on keeping on!

Much love to you!

Rasa Dawson, Oxfam America said...

Thank you for such a wonderful post.  And thank you for framing what can be an overwhelming issue, in a way that is empowering by showing that change is possible, one person at a time.  Happy International Women's Day!

Rachael Seda said...

LaDonna this is such a touching post! Thank you for graciously sharing why your Mother has inspired you. She sounds like an amazing woman and I figured that someone as inspiring as you had to have a wonderful mother! 

Coyenator said...

 You are so kind Rachael. My mom really is an amazing woman and I
treasure every moment we get to spend together. She's overcome a lot and
her strength inspires we every day of my life.

Coyenator said...

 Hi Rasa -- thank you for your comment. Isn't it strange how a moment of quiet reflection can open so much gratitude? I believe that each of us makes a difference in our own way and we can do even greater things when we come together for good.  I also believe it is up to women to change the world for good. Thank you and thanks to Oxfam for empowering women ... everywhere.

coyenator said...

 Hey Beth -- what a wonderful thing to hear. Thank you.  I'm not sure I could ever live up to my Mom's example but will spend my life trying. She is the rock and spiritual strength of our family - we are blessed to have her influence and love.