The news is this: Women gain power and opportunity this week.
But the news is not entirely good.
This week marks several milestones for the world’s women. Some are milestones of pride and justice, some are milestones of freedom, but one milestone is simply tragic.
First the good news: Black designer evening gowns and inspiring speeches celebrated Sunday night’s Golden Globes Awards ceremony, which broadcast the glamorous entertainment industry’s rejection of a culture of gender inequality, sexual harassment and sexual abuse. The Beautiful People - rich, talented and famous all - organized to support victims of gender discrimination and sexual abuse in their community. It was a step forward for respect and power for women.
A day later on the other side of the world another step forward for women took place, but with much less fanfare, and hardly a whisper of international media coverage. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that its women, recently permitted to drive cars, could now also attend soccer games for the first time. It was a step forward for women’s freedom in that deeply patriarchal and repressive country.
The third report showed women advancing in the darkest side of life. 2017 saw the largest number of female suicide bombers ever. According to a study by Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies, released on Sunday, although the total number of suicide bombings was down worldwide, nearly a fifth of the 348 documented suicide attacks perpetrated in 2017 were performed by females, the vast majority of them in Africa, by the jihadist group Boko Haram.
The authors believe that that many, if not most, women and girls who carried out suicide bombings for the Islamic State affiliated group appeared to have been brainwashed, forced or tricked into doing so.
At the Golden Globes Awards the most privileged women in the world spoke up for gender-related concerns. As celebrities, they had the spotlight and the microphone.
With great privilege comes great responsibility.
Speaking about all the world’s women on International Women’s Day last April, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations said,
“…Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in cyberspace and in real life. In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement.
“Despite some improvements, leadership positions across the board are still held by men, and the economic gender gap is widening, thanks to outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism. We must change this, by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.”
The take-away message of the Golden Globes Awards evening is this: The privilege of being a celebrity imposes the burden of leadership.
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