A better future for women means that it is a better future for all.
I believe that when women are equally valued to men, atrocities such as honor killings, child brides, employment discrimination, pay gaps, and sexual assault will be seen as what they really are: horrors that have plagued this world for far too long. I hope such terrible and unjust acts will cease—the truth that this is what really happens to women should be a lie. Women do not deserve these crimes, nor do men.
I believe that this world where women and men are equally valued exists. It exists in the stories and data points rarely read, where husbands and wives love one another wholly and share everything equally; where women and men treat another fairly and listen respectfully to each other. This world does not have to be fictitious, imagined, and unlived. Although it is the story that isn’t told often, I believe it does exist in the world we share and the world we each individually experience.
I believe we can live this world of equality when we acknowledge that women are different than men. I come from a bias that believes sameness is not equality, and I know some people disagree with me. My conviction that women and men are not the same comes from my viewpoint that I am not the same as a man nor is a man the same as me (a woman).
I do not discount that there are similarities with women and men – I find great comfort in these similarities – but often the fight for equality seems to forget the space for differences. I hold the idea that this space gives room for genuine respect because listening to people’s differences, women with men amongst women and men (and vice versa), can naturally result in valuing another equally.
This learning and knowledge does not have to start with some grand protest. I know that small things have great impact. I know thinking and asking questions to peers, relatives, and friends about the cruelties women face can change the way we treat another; it can bring greater understanding and more tolerance when we listen with hope to understand rather than prove only our point. When we speak to share our thoughts and empathize with one another, we share the burden of pain, even if we may never experience it ourselves.
If men and women will have more courage in this world to start conversations with questions like, “Why do you think women are told not to go out alone at night?” I believe humbly hearing responses will lead to less discrimination and sincere solidarity. For it is through these ordinary conversations that I have seen men and women realize these horrors (like honor shaming and killing) happen to ordinary people just like them. And as the world and news becomes inundated with scary and unfair stories, I hope there will also be clear examples of good people as we think and speak to another. We all need hope. It can only start when we begin thinking and then speaking.
– Myrtle Dalumpines/MLFD