Women Empowerment: Today’s Vision for Tomorrow’s Mission In a globalized world, gender equality And empowerment of women are tools To achieve sustainable development of societies, As admitted even by fools! Still, the violence towards women is an epidemic Against which no country is immune. And today, we face more challenges to peace Due to poverty, hunger, and disease. In the arena of politics, the poor are excluded From governance, irrespective of gender. And women are victims of other people’s decisions Because they are assumed to be tender! Yet development strategies will fail Unless women become central players They must be included in peacemaking, Despite the objections of naysayers Women suffer disproportionately from the fallout Of the armed conflicts we’re seeing While rape, forced pregnancies, and sexual slavery Persist and endanger their wellbeing Determined efforts must be made To prevent abuse and violations And lawmakers must be enabled To punish violence and predations Civilized minds can’t but hover over All the ways basic standards of dignity And humanity have been trampled over To oppress women’s rights and equality I too have spent many a night Thinking without cessation Trying to solve the plight Of women in developing nations Men need education on the rights of women To keep them safe from violence or abuse. They must recognize women’s place in every sphere, Without blowing their “mental fuse”! Remember, violence against women is not a “Women’s issue” alone. It affects us all. The grounds for tolerance of such acts, the edifice Of laws granting impunity must fall! I am assured that no peace strategy is likely to be Durable in the absence of women’s voices. Men must hear the perspectives Of women before making hard choices. We should capitalize on the impetus That women and girls can bring. To resolve conflicts and make peace Let’s make women the king! Studies show that globalization may contribute To making the issue of women’s rights better known. Yet the negative impacts of new tech continue And on reports they are neatly shown. Criminal networks still traffic women For sexual exploitation and cheap labor. Around the world dirty money flows To the detriment of young women and girls. Democracy, to my mind, will succeed Only if there’s true representation for all. And women in all communities must be allowed To voice their opinions, large or small. Tunnel vision about women’s roles And abilities has to change. If we want to build a better future. Heed my call: Be an agent of change! To reduce gender inequality, women have to be made Part of politics more than ever before, And encouraged to “sink or swim” Until they reach the executive shore. Yet statistics reveal that politics remain A bastion of male dominance today. Even in countries where women are active, In fields like business, they have little sway. Women of developed nations have to raise The consciousness of the world now And serve as engines of progress for women Of developing nations with an indelible vow! A shift in outlooks and attitudes Towards women is needed this hour To eliminate violence, honour Their basic rights, and empower. Let’s focus today on creating societies Built on the strength of women, young and old, And honour their role in establishing peace and security Rather than as commodities to be traded or sold. Let us endeavour to make real these goals To clear all obstacles and collectively say, Erect bridges and ladders instead of walls, Tomorrow’s mission must start today. Friends, the fight has just begun for Gender equality and women’s might. To promote security, trust, and contentment Let’s all get on women’s side. Today I offer my unstinting support for creating A culture of peace and laws we won’t doubt, Ones that help us harness the power of women And the wisdom and fortitude we can’t do without.
The original version of this poem was recited at the Federal Women’s Equality
Day Celebration Workshop (held on August 26, 2006), in the Dallas
Infomart Auditorium, and at the Third International Women’s Peace
Conference, July 13, 2007 (at the Adams Mark Hotel, in Downtown
Dallas, Texas, USA).
Hillol Ray is a Poet Laureate, Author, and Song Writer. By profession, Ray is an Environmental Engineer and Manager of the Drinking Water Supply Enforcement Program with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Dallas, Texas.
Born and raised in a suburb of Calcutta, India, he has been writing poetry since the age of six, in his native language Bengali. His poems are regularly published in Bengali magazines from Asia, Europe, Canada, Sweden, and North America and are currently being translated into English, Swedish, Spanish, German and French languages.
For further information, please visit https://bwesner.wixsite.com/hillolrayawards
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