When we discern the character of minorities it becomes clearer that minorities are always defined by those in control, who may actually be a minority. Minorities, as immigrants, usually strive to become accepted into the fold of the majority, or develop their own “majority enclaves” so that they become accepted, at least within their own cultural community. First generation minorities usually follow these patterns, with individual exceptions. Second generation minorities usually have become enculturated by the majority population leading to cultural assimilation.
In the case of women, their exclusion from the ranks, status, positions and associations of men is cultural. Women are a “cultural minority” rather than an “intentional minority” where deliberate and intentional exclusion takes place. Ethnic and national minorities are intentional minorities, receiving intentional and conscious exclusion by the majority population. Women’s minority treatment is an endemic part of the global male culture. It is a cultural “given” that women are treated as lesser than and less than of equal status and treatment. This is the case of women across the globe. I have not seen policies or laws that say, “Women are to be ignored.” (Period) Rather, the bias against women is really not evident except when it is exposed through comparative processes that reveal women do not receive “fair and equal” consideration. And that is where women must begin to exert themselves.
I do not expect that women will ever received the respect, support and “fair and equal” consideration they have earned, deserve, and are more than worthy of receiving as equal partners in the management of families, states, nations and global organizations and in life with men. Do not expect that the old paradigm of “good ol’ boy” cliques with their exclusion of women will be overturned. Women will not be able to achieve gender equality until they take the reins of creating Social Sustainabile families, communities, governments and economies. It will begin as always with that remarkable 1% of every population who will initiate learning how to become the local, national and cultural innovators of sustainable families and societies. This is particularly poignant for women of western democracies.
As the Dalai Lama said January 25, 2010 at the Vancouver Peace Summit, “The world will be saved by western women.” Yesterday I provided women with the injunction “Ladies, Women-Up!” I am amending that today, to “Western women, stand up for your sisters around the world who are intentional minorities.”
[This Post is dedicated to Marthe Muller, Chief Operations Officer, South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID), Pretoria, S. Africa, who has demonstrated an exemplary model for standing up for her minority sisters.]