On May 15, 2009 Bill McKibben wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times talking about need for a worldwide grassroots action on Oct. 24 for meaningful climate change legislation and action. The web address is www.350.org because 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is considered by scientists to be the safe level. The current level is 387.
I quote: “The environmental movement isn’t big enough. It’s one of the most selfless of advocacy efforts. But the movement has been sized to save whales and build national parks, and force carmakers to stick catalytic converters on exhaust systems. It’s nowhere near big enough to take on the fossil fuel industry. It’s like sending the Food and Drug Administration to fight the war in Afghanistan.”
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The feminist, women’s rights, reproductive health movement is not big enough. The movement has been sized to win small victories, a little more money here, a little law there, an RHREALITYCHECK web site here, a little less impunity for rape and honor crimes there. This most selfless of advocacy efforts is minuscule compared with what is necessary. It’s nowhere near big enough to take on the ignorant, the indifferent, and the foes consisting of individuals, governments, religions, cultures, and customs. Indeed the subject of gender inequality is so enormous that the brain can not get around the mind boggling implications. It’s like sending Raggedy Ann against a juggernaut.
Think about the words of Hillary Clinton at her hearings to become Secretary of State: “Of particular concern to me is the plight of women and girls who comprise the majority of the world’s unhealthy, unschooled, unfed, and unpaid.” Shouldn’t this be banner headlines?
There has never been a human being on this earth who has not come from the womb of a woman. A good start in life, and indeed health throughout life are critically dependent on maternal health. How much a baby weighs at birth is a strong indicator of future potential. In large measure, the mother’s level of education foretells the child’s future. In millions of developing world households, mothers and girls eat last and least. And the trillions of dollars worth of female care-giving is unremunerated and has no formal recognition in GDP.
Change is coming, too slowly, by fits and starts, not nearly enough to meet the future challenges to people and the planet. Profound discouragement is my mental reality check as I’m sure it is for many of you. Yet, we will continue our selfless, noble advocacy efforts. That’s all that we can do.