March is Women’s History Month. President Obama has described Women’s History Month as a time to reflect on “the extraordinary accomplishments of women” in shaping the country’s history.
But it isn’t just Women’s History Month. If you opened up google this morning, you saw the “google doodle” that announces that March 8th is International Women’s Day. The UN also celebrates March 8th as UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
We sometimes need to be reminded of the strides we have made in developing richer, fuller lives for women and our families. We live in an era when our women friends are highly educated, live rich full lives with significant control over our personal destinies. We are mindful of the educational, employment and personal opportunities available to women in this country. But we recognize that women in many parts of the world live their lives subject to rigid societal expectations, unable to be educated, and unable to control their destinies. We are also mindful of the current environment in which women’s issues are once again a focus of political and media attention that harkens back to less progressive times.
Meg and I take seriously the challenge of conflicting personal values concerning the role of women in society. We recognize that people have differing opinions on a wide variety of issues from child care to contraception to employment opportunities. With that said, we believe in the right of all people to be treated with equal respect and equal dignity. We share U.S Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s belief that for women there is little difference between a pedestal and a cage. We believe that Title IX, which requires that women and men receive equal educational opportunities, is invaluable in developing the equal role of women in society. We respect and appreciate the men in our lives. We consider them our equals and consider ourselves equal to them. We respect the choices of women who dedicate themselves to family, home and community. We believe that their choices, like ours, contribute to strong families and to rearing children who are happy, and who are physically and emotionally healthy.
In 1995, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women that “women must enjoy the right to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries if we want freedom and democracy to thrive and endure.” What is true of the rights of women in developing countries is also true of women in this country.
As we support the equal rights of men and women, we should also follow her wisdom that, “What we have to do…is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities.” We are grateful for being part of a community of friends who love and care about each other and endeavor to create a better and more just society.