Today is International Women’s Day so it seems appropriate to celebrate some of the wonderful females of our planet with a photo post of portraits. Those that read this site regularly will already be aware of my love of portraiture so any excuse to share. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder apparently but few can deny that everyone of the fabulous ladies featured here is a vision of loveliness.
The day is about more than pretty women however, the motivation is to highlight the important role women play in society and the injustice they often have to deal with. In some parts of the world they also suffer oppression, domestic violence and sexual aggression/rape being used as a weapon. The unfortunate truth is that throughout the world women face intolerable mistreatment.
There are cultures that force women to dress to merely avoid men being tempted by their attractiveness, there was even some recent discussion of women being forced to cover their eyes. Genital mutilation is an especially horrific act carried out supposedly to protect the honour of females prior to marriage.
In Darfur and Chad mass rape is commonly used as a weapon of terror. Young women are being subjected to sexual assault almost on a daily basis, many having to endure these attacks completing daily tasks essential for their family survival. It is a choice forced upon them, their male relatives would be murdered if they visited the local water source therefore they must continually risk horrendous attacks. In these countries rape is a weapon, women are being terrorised by criminals masquerading as rebel groups and even security forces that are supposed to be protecting them have been implicated.
It is not only in the developing world that women are subjected to injustice, domestic violence is disturbingly common. Many cases are not reported and while plenty of us have probably been touched by domestic violence, we are probably not even aware of some female friends or acquaintances that regularly suffer abuse. It is an everyday occurrence in our own neighbourhoods.
Women and children are usually the ones exploited by human trafficking, they are traded like commodities for sexual or domestic labour reasons. Slavery may have been officially abolished but it is still a large and lucrative industry which is alive, well and trading on women.
Additionally women are subjected to inequality in the workplace. Men are often offered executive positions ahead of women that are at least equally well qualified. Even when a woman is successful in securing a position, her rate of pay maybe lower than that of her male colleagues.
Women are often preyed upon or unjustly treated as they are wrongly perceived as the weaker sex. Both sexes have to face their own challenges, women are required to learn how to be women but equally men have the same learning process. This process of education is how we are expected to act, a result of our upbringing, parents, examples from other role models, media, literature and environment all shape the manner in which we behave. Women have to cope with additional challenges and pressures, usually placed upon them by men. That they often manage very ably is a sign of their strength.
Today is about highlighting the challenges that women face but it is also about celebrating their strength, inner beauty and accomplishments. Womenkind appears to understand that aggression and intolerance is true weakness, mankind it seems has yet to fully comprehend this.
Female divinity has been celebrated throughout history and in many cultures, modern society appears to have forgotten the importance of women. Progress is not always a good thing, many supposedly undeveloped cultures not only live in harmony with their environment but women are the main focus of their culture; matriarchal societies. These are often peaceful cultures and this is unlikely to be a coincidence.
It is important that there are days which are devoted to drawing our attention to any injustice but equally provides a chance to realise the potential and the positives within our society. Women have made great strides in achieving recognition and equality but there is still some distance to go.
This is my own small way of participating in International Women’s Day, by celebrating the female of our species.