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Special Feature

On Gender Equality

Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton (Yale University Law, former US First Lady, former US Senator, former US Secretary of State and, now, the undisputed front-runner for Democratic Party nomination for US President come 2016), reportedly “writing in a new book of essays, says” that ‘she fears the clock is turning back on women in the United States and that opportunities for women and girls must be prioritized”.

Perhaps, one of the most distinguished, world-famous, successful, female politicians in the so-called, historical “male’s world”, and beneficiary, also, perhaps, of the Women Liberation or Feminist Movement of Phyllis Schafly, Gloria Steinem, etc., Mrs. Clinton makes a point recently that is sure to re-ignite or, in fact, continues the age-old debate on male-female relationship, in terms of leadership, especially, head of household and outside of the home. For us in Africa, particularly, Liberia, where tradition is steep in “male-head-of-house-hold” and male-dominance in general, despite modern, western thought, I think that it will be useful to publish the article on the issue, arising from Mrs. Clinton’s expressed thoughts, for the benefit of the public.

The Article

Hillary Clinton, writing in a new book of essays, says she fears the “clock is turning back on women in the United States and that opportunities for women and girls must be prioritized”. Yahoo News asked women to lend their experiences with gender-equality issues, share what they learned from other women and previous generations, and write about the obstacles they think women face. Here’s one story:

I Refuse To Chase the Myth of Gender Equality
By Tavia Fuller Armstrong (Biologist)

As a woman, and a mother of two daughters, ages 6 and 12, I read with interest Hillary Clinton’s statements on gender equality this week. She noted in an essay that, for young women in our country, things might actually be getting tougher. Clinton wrote, “In places throughout America large and small, the clock is turning back.”

I agree. In many places, the clock does seem to have turned back a bit for a lot of families. But I think that’s a good thing.

Embracing old-fashioned ideals

I live in Tahlequah, a university town in northeastern Oklahoma. In this cozy community of about 16,000 residents, my friend and I lead a home-school group that includes approximately 50 families and draws in members from as far as an hour away. The majority of parents in our group is moms (mothers) and most are educated women who hold degrees in everything from fine arts to hard sciences. We could be working in exciting careers, earning decent wages and competing with men in the climb up the professional ladder.

But almost without exception, the women in my home-school group have made a choice to embrace old-fashioned ideals instead. We’ve embraced our roles as mothers and wives, and some of us even as homesteaders. We’ve made our presence felt within our community, regardless of salary or position. We’ve chosen to turn back the clock on ourselves, and give our families the kind of structure that was common 50 years ago and more.

Gender equality is often a myth

At 41, I have come to realize there is no gender equality in most families today. In the two-parent household we have chosen to embrace, one parent takes the role of primary caregiver and the other assumes the role of the provider. In a single-parent household, one does it all the best he or she can. But the most important responsibility shared by most of the moms (mothers) I know is the care and keeping of the family.

Gender equality is a myth. It only exists when both men and women have the same priorities and responsibilities at work as they do at home, and rarely are those divided equally between two parents, much less among a set of coworkers.

What I’m teaching my kids

As a mother and a home educator, I am acutely aware of the fact that every moment of the day, I am teaching my children. My daughters, and my 12-year-old son, are always watching and listening. So we talk about gender issues and how they might affect the kids’ lives as they grow up.

My older daughter became concerned when she was just 7 that heroic girls were vastly underrepresented in movies, even among dogs. I helped her research K-9 officers all across Oklahoma to find out if the gender gap among police dogs really existed. It does.

With regard to families and careers, we talk a lot about choices. My husband and I encourage our kids to study hard and pursue any goals they want. We also counsel them to choose wisely when deciding whom they build a life with, because that decision can make all the difference. Our kids know that all roads are open to them, but some are difficult to travel simultaneously without a lot of support, and sometimes choosing more of one means giving up more of another. Life is all about choices.

Leaving the chase behind me

I know dads can be great caregivers, and my own husband is an awesome father, but in our family I chose the role of primary caregiver. I left behind my fledgling career as a biologist after five years, even though I could have been very competitive, and became a full-time mom instead. My husband chose to continue his career as a mechanical engineer, and assume the pressures associated with the role of a family provider. In essence, we both made a conscious decision to leave the chase for gender equality behind and turn back the clock a generation or more.

But I could’ve never been happy chasing after equal pay and equal advancement in the workplace knowing that my greatest responsibility, having chosen to become a mother, is to my kids. And I wouldn’t have felt it was fair to demand equality at work if I couldn’t or wouldn’t put in the same hours as my male peers. I made my choice to put family first, whether I stayed home or went back to work, and the rewards have been greater than I ever imagined.

Cultural Groups * Family & Relationships * Hillary Clinton * Gender equality

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