International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2004—Stockholm, Sweden
Women—the Human beings vs. Women—the Victims
By: Donia Gobar, MD, MPH
As a politically independent individual, I offer my sincere thanks to the Sweden Committee for Afghanistan, for providing this opportunity to share views and opinions with the world. It is a pleasure to listen and exchange ideas about people and about our world. It is vital to realize the importance of women’s role in today’s world, where violence and war has defeated common sense.
I would like to begin with the statements I made in The Invisibles:
“Humanity survives through wisdom, courage, and justice. Violence is never the answer to problems of the world. And, truth—the unconditional truth, is the key to humanity.”
“Regardless of who, where, and when, we all are responsible for the path that humanity takes, and for what the history of humanity will hold for its future generations.”
The Invisibles, is dedicated to the innocent people of the world—the noble human beings that are pressured by social injustice, being caught in the crossfire of mindless and violent powers.
In the poem, “A quarter of a Century—Imagine…” I wrote:
Imagine you were a child
woken by the loud sounds,
as the mother of bombs
has shaken the grounds
and broken homes and body parts
the disfigured body of your mother
laying down, on a mud floor,
and the sudden lash of pain...
"Whose leg is there?-A yard away…"
Imagine you trudge along
through ruins of a lost city…
Your bloody half-leg
through bits and pieces of bodies
leaving a red trail behind.
Under a misty gray sky,
all alone-a six-year-old child.
and you cry quietly,
The military bases
The winning hounds,
And the gloating generals,
The panicked losing troops,
And the plans for the next bombing
The bottles of vodka…
And the innocent, sacrificial solders -
whose names you may never know -
saluting, following orders…
Destroyed towns and cultures…
And the dried-up wells...
And you ask yourself,
About 100,000 years ago, humans started their migrations from Africa. Since then, history has witnessed various actions and up-risings by men and women, for the purpose of human rights, many of which have remained unknown to others. This has been true for small countries and those suppressed by the internal and external injustice, since the contents and subjects of the news in these countries have been controlled by the ruling despotic powers, and thus factual news have had little chance to cross the barriers set by the selfish governments, the government-paid media, and the un-informed, superficial generalizations by the amateur reporters.
Three small examples of women’s rights actions by women in Afghanistan, which I had personally witnessed, are:
*In late 40s, two teachers (Maria Gobar and Rona Gobar) were fired from Zarghoona Girl schools, because they had started the movement for women civil rights, and beyond that the use of locally made fabrics for clothing, to support the national economy against the large businesses who were in favor of the imported fabrics.
*In early 50s, a medical student, Rona Gobar, was thrown out of medical school permanently, the day after her speech about freedom for women and getting rid of burquas (chaadarees), and drawing the example of simple dress to wear. Months later, the prime minister of the time, without giving slightest credit to the girl students’ actions, broadcasted that the government has decided to give permission to women not to wear chaadaree.
*During late 60s, university students in Kabul who struggled for the establishment of Students Union, included girls and boys, both. They demonstrated on the streets. Some were shot at the door of the parliament. The Student Union Constitution, that was written by a girl student (Donia Gobar), and prepared and approved by the students’ representatives (4 boys and one girl), was rejected by the government
I am sure that there are many examples as such, that has remained in darkness with the name of women who have suffered because of their actions, in Afghanistan and other countries.
Now however, through the Internet communication process more and more information are available about the examples of women’s actions, and numerous organizations by women and for women in the world.
In regards to the International Women’s Day, following are some of the facts documented:
1903: In USA, Women’s trade Union League raised the work conditions and voting rights for women.
1908: Socialist women in America (with the support of Women’s Trade Union League, feminists, socialist women) arranged the First Women’s Day, the issues being right to vote, political/economical rights.
1909: 1st National Women’s Day was held.
1910: In Copenhagen, the 2nd International Conference of Socialist Women, included also delegates from USA. Clara Zetkin’s proposal for an International Women’s Day was approved by 100 delegates from 17 countries.
1911: In Germany, Austria, Denmark, and further European countries, in March, the First I.W.D. was held. Interesting is that men was very supportive, stayed home, took care of children, and gave their work places for women. It was the police force who took their banners away and blocked their way. At this time in the US many socialist women were put in prisons and were treated badly.
1917: In Petrograd, Russia, the women’s strike for “bread and peace”, marked that I.W.D.
1828: In Sydney, the 1st Australian Women’s Day was held.
Here it is interesting to notice that in 1929 IWD rally, thee were more men in the audience than women.
1938: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) got involved in IWD activities, the issues being against war and fascism. Other supporters were Mothers Union, Women’s Section of Primary Producers, Young Labor League, Association of University Women, National Council of Women, Spanish Relief Committee, Women’s Service Guild, and some other groups.
1939: In Sydney, the largest I.W.D. was held.
1945: With war ending, the oppositional activities of IWD slowed down.
1950s: Political pressures on radical groups, limited also the IWD’s radical actions.
Gradually, the criteria for IWDs changed. Rise of some conflicts among
various groups of women, promoting various agendas (“for or against”
marriage, rage against men, intolerance between old and new groups,
contraception, abortion, work, education, salaries, etc), was another causing
factor for the decline of IWD’s radical activities.
One of the chants commonly used by the group against men and marriage was:
“Men like birds; birds live in cages,
They have done for ages; on second-class wages;
Women’s Liberation’s going to smash that cage,
Come join us now and rage, rage, rage”
Eventually, the International Women’s Day took over the role of making the
women’s issues part of the political agendas. Also, it became and opportunity for
performances for women’s theater, music and arts.
1960: In Copenhagen, in 50the anniversary of IWD—729 delegates from 73 countries adopted the general declaration to “Support political, economic and social rights of women”
1977: IWD was officially recognized by the United Nations!
IWD remains to be an opportunity to review the political, economical and
social rights of women. Its initial radical nature has given place to peaceful activity days, at occasions even government-supported and public ceremonies for celebration of women’s economic, social, political, and cultural achievements.
Now, taking this opportunity, we may ask:
· Has the history shown that throughout the centuries, the self-serving elements in power positions, or those in search of power, have used every devious means of manipulation to control the world for their own benefits?
· Have instigating divisions and conflicts among people been the most effective and shrewd means of manipulation, as the power greedy elements have used and promoted ignorance and falsified information?
· Is not this a fact that through falsified and self-serving interpretation of religion, the minds of the people have been easily and conveniently manipulated? …And that this has been a very dangerous and inhumane strategy to control lives?
· Is there still social, political, economical injustice, suppression, and violence in the world?
· Is violence and injustice in the world gender based?… or, the gender-based problems are the intensified symptomatic results of the unsolved, deep-rooted social and political problems in societies?
· Is not this a fact that in any society, where women are suppressed, men and children are also suppressed?
· Should the women’s issues be discussed under the subject of women—the victims or women—the human being?
· What would be the mental state of a woman—the victim? And her actions?
· What would be the reactions of men, children, and establishments towards women—the victims?
· Would the identity code “women—the human beings” be empowering to women’s state of mind and their actions?
· What would be the reactions of men, children, and establishments towards women—the human beings?
Let us look at both issues:
· She suffers.
· She is considered to be emotionally weak.
· She needs assistance, guidance, and support.
· She strives for self-preservation.
· She reflects upon gender-based injustice based on personal issues.
· She is separated from men—the very essential co-existing human being.
· She is separated from children, (boys and girls)—the future of humanity.
· The issues focused upon, are what show the very surface of the problems—isolated from their depth and connections—thus less effective for the purpose of problem solving methods on long-term basis.
· She proposes the innocently arranged “band-aids”, gender based, on the shelves of the sickly organized societies—the “band-aid” solutions.
· Most dangerously woman—the victim tends to resent and blame men—their co-existing human being.
However, if we discuss the problems of “Woman—The human being”:
· She understands suffering.
· She is emotionally strong.
· She demands solutions.
· She gives guidance.
· She offers support.
· She strives for preservation of humanity.
· She objectively reflects upon the global injustice, considering both genders and all ages—all human beings who are caught in various levels of deprivation of human rights—thus, she walks beside the man, with and for the human race—for peace and for justice, searching for most constructive solutions.
· She studies the issues, identifying the core of the problem, its depth, and its connections—thus a shortcut to the selection of the problem solving methods—most likely looking for long-term solutions.
· She does not blame men for problems, does not manipulate them to influence them, and does not isolate her issues from them.
Men and women are two equal but different human beings, each with specific natural capabilities, and certain responsibilities, which are fundamental for the survival of humanity. Regardless how many guns are picked and shot, how many executive positions are controlled by woman and men, how many wonderful baby sitters are around, how many fathers turn into house-sitting fathers and mothers to skillful solders—none of these, right or wrong, will ever eliminate the natural differences between human woman and human man.
So, should not the conceptual solutions be based upon the following?
· Global awareness and knowledge about the roots of the problems
· Global resistance to the political, economical manipulations, and suppression
· Global cooperation to expose hypocrisy, and the factual states of human miseries.
· Global efforts to search for truth and logical solutions.
· Global recognition of complications caused by human identity crisis, partly in results of confusing the “gender issues”—(dealing with biological identities—required for the continuation of human race), with the “human rights issues”—(dealing with sociopolitical factors—affected and controlled by the human beings).
The hidden, deep rooted self-loss and inferiority complex, covered by chauvinistic approaches, may result into identity crisis and loss of the natural qualities of the women, who by nature tend to be the source of peace and nourishment for life—the carriers of life, and the only protectors of fragile human fetus.
In case of identity crisis, men and women get confused about their purposes in life. For example, in order to prove their equality to men, women may adapt the socially accepted norms of masculinity, wrong or right,--even going to war, having to take lives, killing others, and abandoning their own infants in the name of equality.
Victimized human beings are genderless and ageless—suffering under various levels of deprivations of human rights.
In order to systematically eradicate the creeping infections injustice and violence in our world, all human beings—women, men and children must:
· Study the analytical history of countries, understand the effects on the present, and use logical methods of prevention for a better future.
· Recognize the identities of the enemies—despite of disguise and camouflage of the self-serving politics, perverted religions, and their corrupt propaganda.
· Expose the enemies’ hidden agendas in order to deactivate their malignant actions.
· Oppose any form of violence against any living things.
· Oppose any form of suppression and injustice.
· Promote togetherness and cooperation of men and women in care for children.
· Provide and ensure economical independence for women, especially when caring for infants.
· Educate children through life examples and the use of humane intelligence:
*about peaceful and logical solutions to problems instead of bloodshed
*about the gravity of our responsibility to the future of humanity
*about honesty, and about love
*about true faith and the real meaning of religion
· Make sure that the media, being the important tool of communication, locally and internationally, must project the truth, and it must justify its sacred role—being the objective and honest informing power for the people of the world.
· Promote the international communications and conferences about the issues related to human right, the future of humanity, and the safety of our world, for the purpose of global cooperation towards justice and freedom for all human beings.
I conclude my views with some poems from my book, The Invisibles:
Voyager (by: Donia Gobar)
Ye' life, show me your cards;
empty hands do not scare me anymore.
And you-the winding roads ahead,
your slippery twists and turns
do not weary me anymore.
Show me the darkest of sights,
and the creepiest of nights!
My heart does not
race in fear anymore.
And you, the cowardly powers of hypocrisy,
your calculated and evil harmony,
your fierce dark symphony,
and the slippery, shapeless nature
of your two-faced face
do not deceive me anymore.
And ah, disaster,
your unpredictable hit and run cruelty
does not astonish me anymore;
and your raving, blindfolded tyranny
does not stop me anymore…
But oh, you-memories from the past,
and hopes of tomorrow
rain on me, softly, softly!
You are the only pleasures I would ask for,
more and more…
Freedom (by: Donia Gobar)
In the face of ravishing sorrows,
through the race of gruesome nights,
and threatening tomorrows,
through the chains of despotic powers
and the deceitful facade of plotting towers,
stepping on the sharp knives of
Freedom keeps walking…
Freedom keeps laughing…
They Can't Take Freedom From Me (by: Donia Gobar)
Do not pity me!
Think of me!
I won't let them take freedom from me.
Just a child I am, look at me!
Only a child, remember?
Superpower is passing through.
The invader's shrewd and shameless,
have made a masterpiece out of me.
Look at me!
My eyes used to sparkle with smiles.
My hands, while I still had them,
were soft and skilled.
I could run, my feet swift-like you.
I could jump and dance-like you.
I could see and laugh-like you.
Look at me!
It was a doll-a present from invaders.
Unlike Trojan horse,
this one had explosives
for children-like me.
I am not the child I used to be.
Go and tell the world,
Here are millions of masterpieces-
just like me;
the background-no more green,
no more alive,
is signed in blood-
Remember me, as my silent vow
in Afghanistan valleys,
"They can't take freedom from me."
"They can't take freedom from me."
Confusion (by: Donia Gobar)
Eagles whispered to eagles,
"Look upon MAN, rushing along...
Meeting to meeting, day after day."
Trees trembled, shedding leaves in sorrow,
office to office, and files to files."
Rats stayed silent in awe, while
Chairmen cleared their throats,
motioned, and seconded the items in agendas.
Old janitors on night shifts,
their backs bent, walked slowly,
wiping the cigar dust off leather furniture
and carpeted floors...
Problems spread their skirts in darkness,
grew in sparkles of blind lights...
Eagles circled in the sky above,
and the child looked up and wondered,
“What are the grownups doing?”
Hypocrisy (by: Donia Gobar)
"Do not fight!" they command,
watching the upturned young faces,
"Trust us!" they demand.
While the secret doors open and shut,
before where weapons are put to test,
"Our weapons must be the best!"
They make it their quest.
"Be fair!" they declare
as children play,
"Tell the truth!" with care
they, as adults,
may hide the facts every day,
as they play and play.
"Share what is yours!"
they give orders
to the young - and to the weak.
"Not yours!" they claim
as they take
that of others,
fencing the new borders.
O… what for?
They will regret
at the gates of death-
leaving this world-
with no power, with no wealth…
And the curtains will fall-someday,
revealing the face of Hypocrisy-
The Ugly Face of Power (by: Donia Gobar)
They all shine,
sinking in soft velvet seats,
where ruby-colored drapes
mark the theater.
we all watch,
in the face of undeniable reality
the dissolving process of the "Nobodies"
have not touched the tips
of golden skirts;
have not polished spotted shoes
in the murky halls of power.
We all sigh,
hearing the sound of imitated wisdom,
as twisted images fall into the mosaic
of popular subjects;
as hollow ideas bubble out
of a suffocated marshland,
where the bodies of truth and wisdom
have been slaughtered
the misplaced peaceful observers
struggle in dark,
as the lefts and rights lie in wait,
in the battlefield of contradictions,
the scattered feverish emotions;
as the distinct smell of rotted facts
marks the unmarked marshlands,
quietly, we house
the wounded images of the intellect
and of the innocent
in the concentration fields of survivors;
so that the great ugly powers may not ridicule
the hunchbacked carriers of freedom,
as we gasp for truth
at the edges of unmarked marshlands
in the battlefield of our lives.
War (by: Donia Gobar)
Did you see?
The lifeless limbs, the limbless lives,
and the bloody curls
around pain-struck faces...
Did you hear?
The voiceless screams,
in the pause of rushing time...
Did you shudder with rage?
Thinking of the cowards,
watching the criminals
and their self-serving ideals...
Were you there?
Watching the children's lives set
in chilling, bloody twilights of war
All those unspoken words...
Tell me, did you weep?
Did you ask?
"Listen... Oh watch...
You-People of the Earth, Watch!" (by: Donia Gobar)
I am here to stay in this world,
In this vast no man's world--not yours, not mine.
I saw the bombs devastate the land where I used to play.
I saw the ghastly choppers invade where I used to stay.
I cried when they stomped their dirty paws upon humanity,
and when they crushed honor and honesty.
I walked on this world-not yours, not mine,
nor dead, nor alive-a sad silent twine,
letting the hurt bleed itself dry-no words, no sigh…
in this vast no man's world--not yours, not mine.
My tears burned in rage when they misused
the words Faith, Religion, God, and Nation,
their atrocities, their shameless perversions
reflecting-in innocent blood, in children's horrified gaze
hiding-in graves, in women's mute life-that horrible maze.
I cried when they insulted mothers and fathers,
and when crippled orphans wandered-in daze.
I wept bitterly when they robbed the dignity of my people,
and when they stole the name of my people,
invisible in this world--not yours, not mine.
And then the Nightmare crept, suffocating, ugly, insane-
covering the mouths of my people;
hiding the truth about my people;
speaking falsely about my people… my people?
And I screamed, "No, this is not the truth!"
I sobbed quietly when heroes died-unknown.
They will not see the people free.
They will not smile again; walk again on a land-free.
The nightmare continued spreading dastardly crimes
in this amazing world--not yours, not mine.
Listen... O watch… You-people of the earth, watch!
The war-worn human beings, stripped of dignity,
running away in rags and dirt-from the assisted thieves
towards the closed doors, behind which the world marches...
I did cry; I threw my small fists up in the sky, asking, "Why?"
And the nightmare continues, creeping-decreed to destroy.
But the people are here to stay in this world-
in this vast no-man's world--not yours, not mine.
And we will shout out the voiceless truth-about people,
about innocent people in this world--not yours not mine.
The Beautiful World(by: Donia Gobar)
If only we all
were truly kind,
and knew empathy.
If only we all
did never lie,
and knew honesty.
If only we all
did not hurt others,
and knew sympathy.
If greed was used
and seek humanity.
If invention was for
love, and equality.
If honor and dignity,
If we worked to live
and did not
live to work-for wealth.
If "the Earth"
If "human beings"
And if "the law of life"
justice for humanity
Then… O then,
this would be a