Solving Global Challenges - The Role of Women

Princess Diana - Solving global challenges

Most people are aware of the many unresolved problems not only in the world’s poorest countries but also in the developed nations. Women and men have been working as social activists all over the world to find solutions to the suffering and inequities that exist everywhere.

Opportunities to contribute exist everywhere. It is our right and our responsibility to participate fully. Women should and must come forward as leaders to take their place alongside the men, knowing that their values are critical to creating a world of more equity and balance.

Women are linked around the globe by the heart-centered values they all share: their concerns for the well-being of their children and families; their desires for a world in which their children can have better lives than they have had; their worries about war, disease, education, justice, and the destruction of the environment.

All women have the same heart-centered values wherever they live and whatever they do: women farmers in Bangladesh, Central Africa, and China have the same values and are linked by these values to women working in the developed and lesser developed nations no matter what their profession or religious worldview may be. These are values of peace, justice, compassion, and inclusion. They know their values are sometimes different from men’s values. They are aware that only by bringing their values and principles to the forefront can we work together to create a more balanced, humane, inclusive world.

Individuals, governments, and organizations around the globe have made great progress. Much more can be done if women at all levels begin to realize the tremendous achievements that can be made if they choose to step into leadership roles to correct the inequities that face us all at every level, whether it be international, national, or local.

Women may not choose to exercise leadership roles, but they can use their influence behind the scenes, which is just as effective. As women, we must first acknowledge and embrace our feminine values and acknowledge that these values have a primary role in balancing the values of men in our lives. Only when there is a mutual acknowledgment of the complimentary roles we both have, will there be a chance to heal the imbalance that has created so much suffering.

Both men and women are victims of the tyranny of the global oligarchy. Men and women need to make peace with their gender differences—acknowledge, respect and celebrate them. This peace will empower men and women to collaborate rather than compete with each other and will create powerful partnerships in which both partners are empowered to express their full potential as individuals and partners together. It must start with women. It must start in our homes and places of work. We cannot have peace in the world if there is no peace between men and women.

Male and Female Roles and Responsibilities

Gender roles evolved from the division of labor required to create, protect, and sustain human life. Men’s physical strength enabled ancient civilizations to advance. Men hunted, felled trees for firewood, protected women and children, plowed the fields, and herded animals. Without their physical strength, our species would have become extinct.

The traditional role of women in human history (and in the developing world today) was to give birth, look after helpless infants and children, prepare food, participate in farming activities, and look after small domestic animals. Without women’s innate compassion and nurturing, our species would have become extinct. These independent roles were complimentary and interdependent. A balance, or equilibrium, that sustained the development of the human race was created. Their separate and equal but different roles and responsibilities created a dynamic interdependent unit. Today, this equilibrium between the genders has almost entirely disappeared. Today, our primary values are based on masculine ideals or characteristics. These masculine values drive cultures, businesses, governments, churches, universities; every type of organization is based on a masculine value system only.

Although both men and women share the same aspects or characteristics, men are considered to be more assertive, focused, competitive, action oriented, ambitious, and driven to achieve material success. Women, on the other hand, are perceived as having diffused awareness, being more empathetic, nurturing, compassionate, process oriented, focused on personal relationships, and concern for justice. Both aspects have equal value and are necessary to achieve equilibrium—a dynamic interdependence of both male and female aspects.

Patriarchal systems, both religious and secular, have dominated almost all societies for thousands of years. As a result, the predominately male characteristics have become society’s prized aspects, and female characteristics and ideals are perceived to have little or no value. Male characteristics, such as assertiveness, competitiveness, ambition, and desire for material success, when taken to the extreme, can lead to domination, greed, exploitation, and corruption. These male values pervade the world’s cultures today. The feminine aspects, which sustained the development of the human race, have been demeaned and sidelined. If human history is our guide, patriarchal systems will continue to represent only masculine values. In today’s world, these values have been taken to the extreme: greed and corruption are seen as acceptable and the norm. It is the role of women to restrain men’s sometimes excessive impulses and to bring their feminine values to the forefront. If women do not exercise their power and influence to balance men’s excessive traits, then women are as responsible as men for the current state of affairs that exist today on our planet.

Many women have adopted the patriarchal male value system as their own rather than living from their heart-centered values. Women have often abdicated their feminine role and values to be accepted in the male patriarchal system. Most women in leadership positions today are not authentic women. They have become “men in skirts.” A woman’s true power rests in her feminine values and her willingness to demand those values be treated as equal to men’s values.

John Ruskin (1819–1900) was an English artist, scientist, poet, environmentalist, philosopher, and the preeminent art critic of his time. Ruskin’s lecture Sesame and Lilies, first published in 1865, stands as a classic nineteenth-century statement on the natures and duties of men and women:

There is not a war in the world, not an injustice, but you women are answerable for it; not that you have provoked, but in that you have not hindered. Men, by their nature, are prone to fight; they will fight for any cause, or for none. It is for you to choose their cause for them and to forbid them when there is no cause. There is no suffering, no injustice, no misery, on the earth, but the guilt does not lie with you. Men can bear the sight of it, but you should not be able to bear it. Men may tread it down without sympathy in their struggle, but men are feeble in sympathy, and contracted in hope. It is you only who can feel the depths of pain, and conceive the way of its healing. Instead of trying to do this, you turn away from it. You shut yourselves up within your park walls and garden gates; and you are content to know that there is beyond them a whole world in wilderness—a world of secrets which you dare not penetrate; and of suffering which you dare not conceive.

Women have, for hundreds of years, created and managed charitable organizations and championed volunteerism throughout the world. Feminine characteristics and values have found expression through social and humanitarian causes. Women, as well as men, have utilized these characteristics to address some of the world’s most acute problems: poverty, hunger, homelessness, environmental issues, disease, and social injustice. However, they have not been able to impact or influence the root of the problem: the powerful men who control the global oligarchies that continue to perpetuate the social inequities. It seems obvious that focusing efforts at the source of the problem is more efficient than addressing these problems afterward with volunteerism and charitable outreach.

Today, thousands of men and women around the globe are engaged in activities that are directly impacting the lives of the most impoverished. Their stories are seldom told. Yet they are today’s heroes and heroines—social activists, business leaders, founders of charities, and philanthropists.

The questions become these: Who is in the best position to influence and restrain these male impulses for control, power, domination, and exploitation? Who can best influence, motivate, and change some of the behaviors of the powerful elite who continue to cause so much suffering and deprivation? It is their mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. These women have the proximity, ability, and the most leverage, as family and shareholders to engage in discussions and influence the behavior and decisions of these powerful elites. These women are in a unique position to inspire, motivate, and encourage the men to reassess their goals to be more inclusive and equitable for everyone.

This research and the upcoming book,  is for the millions of mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters who wish to understand and influence the current imbalances that exist in the world today and who know that the vision of a better world begins in their homes.

The Feminine Principle

The feminine principle is a concept that recognizes that “God” or “Source” ultimately is neither male nor female and is an essence beyond form or duality—an essence that is a balance and unification of masculine and feminine principles, a dynamic, complimentary interdependence that pervades all life.

Unfortunately, viewing “God” only in the form of masculine metaphor and symbol has severely limited human potential and elevated masculine values over feminine values, causing imbalance in almost every aspect of human life. For thousands of years, the dominant religious belief systems have been patriarchal, sanctioning societal ethics that elevated “God” the Father above “God” the Mother and man over woman.

Societies have thus far ignored the need for equilibrium and balance in our male/female natures. It is time to balance the masculine and feminine principles in both men and women and to respect, equally, both aspects of our nature. It is imperative to acknowledge that this equilibrium is central to the well-being of the planet and humanity.

Why is it that women at the highest levels in corporations, boards, and governments have as much, maybe more, trepidation discussing issues of social justice as they do with making politically incorrect statements? Why are they silent when the decisions being discussed have potentially unforeseen negative consequences on a community or people or the environment? Certainly, men are aware of the potential negative consequences of their decisions, but they are conditioned to ignore moral issues in pursuit of a predetermined goal. They focus solely on the result.

Women may be surprised to see how much their values concerning social justice and universal rights are appreciated and respected by their male counterparts. It is the responsibility of men not only to encourage this dialog but also to respect and protect the women who see it as their duty and responsibility to widen the debate. Women need to embrace their feminine values and ideals with more certainty and assertiveness. Women need to reclaim their responsibilities as standard bearers for justice and compassion with pride and commitment. In recent times, women have developed and refined their masculine aspects at the expense of their feminine aspects, in order to be seen as “equal” to men. Now that they have successfully proven their abilities, it is time for them to acknowledge, respect, and honor their feminine attributes, ideals, and values and to bring them into the world with wisdom and passion.

Women are responsible for changing the vast inequities in place on the planet today. Only women’s ideals and values will influence the changes needed to address the hunger, poverty, and injustice that have existed under the patriarchal systems of the past and that continue today. Men and women need to regard women’s ideals and values as equal to men’s and not elevate one gender over the other. Together, men and women need to recognize the male and female aspects of each personality and encourage both men and women to cultivate the balance of their own masculine and feminine aspects.

Women everywhere owe a debt to the feminists who fought long and hard to gain women the legal rights that had been previously ignored. One of the unfortunate consequences of the feminist movement was to turn men into the “enemy.” A gender battle, which continues today, has put men and women on the defensive and clouds almost all interactions between men and women. Thus, it is considered “normal” to verbally denigrate men (as often evidenced in movies and TV programming) as if in so doing women will be more powerful. This gender battle has corroded the relationships between men and women; it denies women the ability to recognize their unique feminine identity and personal power and denies men the respect and honor they deserve.

This battle of the genders inhibits men and women to work harmoniously together in families, workplaces, and in the world at large. Women must cease seeing men as the enemy and themselves as victims if they wish to have mutually empowered relationships with men. The dynamic in place today simply does not work. We should be striving to imagine our relationships as a seamless dance between masculine and feminine qualities—a gracefulness that honors, respects, and celebrates our differences. For example, envision a classical ballet pas de deux or a champion ice-skating couple, both in harmony, individually unique and expert, while showcasing and supporting each other with balance, strength, and beauty. Women need to reach deep within themselves to rediscover, respect, honor, and embrace their feminine aspects and to recognize their responsibilities to manifest them in today’s world without apology. The mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters of the well-placed men in the powerful institutions that control the world have a unique ability: they have the most leverage to influence and motivate these men to correct the inequities that exist and encourage them to strive for justice, compassion, and equity for the world’s poorest and disadvantaged people. Thousands of women across the globe are in a position to influence and motivate these elites.

In addition, millions of women around the world can effect positive change in their workplaces and in their homes. It will require personal courage for women to reexamine their feminine values and attributes, as these characteristics must become internalized into women’s psyche, must manifest themselves in women’s daily lives. In general, women have become focused in emulating patriarchal male values, repressing their feminine qualities, lest they be perceived as weak or too soft. Jesus of Nazareth extolled the importance of the more feminine or compassionate values in the Beatitudes, a key part of the Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

—Matthew 5:3–10 (NIV)

John Ruskin, “Sesame and Lilies,” The Works of John Ruskin, vol. 18, ed. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1905), 140.

Chapter 2: The Global Empire’s Worldwide Colonies

You may contact Francesca at: francesca@francescadebardin.com