The Anti-Racist Contingent has their banner ready for this afternoon’s march. Uncredited photo posted on Twitter.
On International Women’s Day
What women say for themselves will matter far more than what some male editor writes.
Which is not to say that men should not take notice, or only pay enough attention to react with fear and rejection. So many of the “women’s issues” are about the ways that men behave, and the most effective solutions are up to men. Like the domestic violence that runs in families, and little boys who grew up seeing that making and keeping the difficult vow that “I am not that man from whom I learned, and I refuse to live that way.”
Sexism is an international problem, with manifestations that cut across the boundaries of nations, legal systems, cultures, religions and political orientations. It crosses gender lines, too, with women who embrace male culture by choice or under compulsion.
As the world looks on in horror, women are fighting — attacking and defending — with the forces of both sides in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, women dying and killing, getting terribly wounded and having their minds warped by shocking traumas, in the wake of one man’s order.
That awful unfolding tragedy has taken a national disgrace off of our front pages. The combined actions of a rapist and then government officials apparently under the tutelage of the religious right that’s part of Nito’s governing coalition forced an eight-year-old girl to give birth, when the pregnancy was discovered by the government in time for her to have legally had an abortion. There has been and likely will be no accountability for the government’s willful inaction, nor for the roles that individuals played in that.
One of the issue’s that today’s marchers will bring up is the disproportionate economic hit that women have taken from the COVID epidemic’s disruptions. The participating labor union women will raise it from their perspective with the formal economy, but the increased and ever more female informal economy ought to get attention. Perhaps the biggest thing that Panama might do for women in the current situation is make it possible for women to cheaply legalize their now informal sole proprietorships and partnerships so as to gain access to company bank accounts, post office boxes, formal dealings with the government and protection from overbearing and richer monopolists.
We now have a female-majority Supreme Court to interpret and carry out laws and regulations mostly made by male-dominated legislative and executive branches. It’s about time, given who is graduating from Panamanian law schools these days. The truth of the matter is that on the whole women are now better educated than men in this society — but are still held down by these pervasive, controlling boys’ clubs.
So women have a lot to talk about on this day. It’s a day for men — and women and children to listen.
Panamanian kids went back to school on March 7, after a two-year disruption of traditional education. There has been lost study time, and those studies that did continue were largely done online. They go back to school systems that have changed, in an economy that has changed, and with new habits and expectations. Ministry of Commerce and Industry photo.
Education resumes in a changed Panama
Overall, Panama is a young country. Also, in comparison with the rest of the world, a poorly educated country.
Classroom learning is now back in session, so will education pick up where it left off?
After a shift to online learning drove so many students out, because they lived where there was no reliable telecommunications infrastructure, or because their families were too poor to given them the proper computer equipment to study, or because their families were bewildered and unable to lend a hand in their cyber-learning? With an economically forced downsizing of private education, that has swelled public school enrollments? With a larger percentage of schoolkids having received crash informal lessons in poverty, illness and death?
Nothing goes back to what it was. Fortunately, human beings are part of an adaptable species.
Also fortunately, Panama will have a shortage of pompous politicians who berate kids for wearing masks, belligerent parents who attack teachers and school staff over anti-COVID protections, and unvaccinated people in the schools. Lacking in formal education, you see, equals neither stupid nor delusional.
Back to school isn’t just for the kids. It’s also a good time for all of Panama to wise up — advance our knowledge, recharge our eagerness to learn, and sharpen our ability to distinguish what’s undoubtedly true from what’s clearly fraudulent. It’s a time for each of us to admit that we don’t know everything and regain our curiosity about the world around us.
Bear in mind…
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.
Listen to the people who are talking about how to fix what’s wrong, not the ones who just work people into a snit over the problems. Listen to the people who have ideas about how to fix things, not the ones who just blame others.
It is not enough to profess faith in the democratic process; we must do something about it.
Ella T. Grasso
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