Monday, October 10, 2011

We Are Dancing!

We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.
-- Thorbjorn Jagland, former Norwegian prime minister & head of the Nobel committee

A new day is dawning, and if you look carefully at those silhouettes against the rose and golden sky, you will see that they are women, dancing. Three women have just shared the Nobel Peace Prize: Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, both of Liberia, and Tawakul Karman, of Yemen.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia and the first woman to be elected president of an African nation, has committed herself to the advancement of gender equality, by increasing the number of women in politics and in the judiciary; by mandating free education for children; by setting up the Women Market Fund; and by implementing international conventions for the protection of women’s rights in Liberia, including SCR 1325 of the UN Security Council, landmark legislation adopted by the United Nations in 2000, that acknowledges the need for the participation of women in peace negotiations, humanitarian planning, peacekeeping operations, and post-conflict peace-building and governance.

Bushuben Keita, a spokesperson for President Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party, responded to the Nobel committee's announcement: “We are dancing! This is the thing that we have been saying, progress has been made in Liberia. We’ve come through fourteen years of war and we have come to sustained peace. We’ve already started dancing!"

Leymah Gbowee is a peace activist who served as the commissioner-designate for the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Also the executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, she is a founding member and former coordinator of the Women in Peacebuilding Program/West African Network for Peacebuilding (WIPNET/WANEP), where she organized collaborative peace-building initiatives for a network of women peace builders from nine of Liberia's fifteen counties.

Tawakal Karman is the chairwoman of Women Journalists Without Chains, an organization that defends human rights and freedom of expression, and is a fierce advocate of Yemeni youth. Featured in TIME magazine in February, Karman said she has protested hundreds of times but her protest was galvanized when the government refused to intervene in the case of the Ja'ashin, a group of thirty families who were expelled from their village when their land was given to a tribal leader with ties to the President. "I couldn't see any sort of human rights or corruption report that could shake this regime. They never responded to one of our demands. It made it clear to me that this regime must fall."

In reading the stories of these three remarkable women, I am struck by how timely my own novel, Commune of Women, is. It addresses the issues of land being given away and the subsequent displacement of families; of tribal violence in Africa; of corrupt political powers that enslave an entire people in Palestine, and more. Apparently, it taps into the zeitgeist that is sweeping the world: women supporting women; women teaching women; women empowering women. It’s a message whose time has come.

Carl Jung, at the end of his life, predicted that the next great psychological dispensation would be the rise of the archetypal Feminine. From the streets of New York and other cities around the world, where Occupy Wall Street activism is democratic rather than hierarchical, to the bold and courageous activities of our three newest Nobelists, the spirit of the Feminine is rising like the Sun at dawn.

 Reach out! Grab the hand of your neighbor. We will circle the globe! And when the day breaks, it will find us, a commune of women, dancing!

Signs of Life:
"Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now" is an excellent article:
"The task of our time is to insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society -- while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take."
Read it at:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ahhh yes, I agree, dance is good for the soul and I reach out for partners to dance with. When times get rough, dance through it!
It may take a village of women...