Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury and death for women worldwide between the ages of 15 and 44, a third of all women. As the authors of the remarkable book "Sex and World Peace" document, "The physical security of women is strongly associated with the peacefulness of the state."
States with higher levels of gender equality are less likely to rely on military force to settle international disputes -- to threaten, display or use force -- or go to war once engaged in an intrastate dispute. They're also less likely to experience domestic conflict.
As the authors show, "States that have improved the status of women are as a rule healthier, wealthier, less corrupt, more democratic, and more powerful on the world stage in the early 21st century."
The authors conclude: "The primary challenge of the 21st century is to eliminate violence against women and remove the barriers to the development of their strength and creativity and voice. Establishing gender equality in interpersonal relationships, in homes, in the workplace, and in decision-making bodies at all levels will change states and their behaviors, and in turn will bring prosperity and peace to the world."
They say we need to work for women's physical security, equity in family law, and parity in the councils of human decision-making. "The true clash of civilizations will not be along the lines envisioned by Samuel Huntington [between Islam and the West] but along the fault lines between civilizations that treat women as equal members of the human species and civilizations that cannot or will not do so."
Underlying these realities is, says social psychologist Alice Eagly, that "Gender stereotypes trump race stereotypes in every social science test."
According to philosopher Sylviane Agacinski: "It is always the difference of the sexes that serves as a model for all other differences, and the male/female hierarchy that is taken as a metaphor for all inter-ethnic hierarchies."
To address this profound gender wound, Will Keepin and Cynthia Brix developed a process called Gender Reconciliation. It applies the principles of racial truth and reconciliation from South Africa's Apartheid era. They create a Truth Forum for women and men to come together safely to speak truth to their experience and seek healing.
South Africa has the world's worst rate of violence against women and girls. Will and Cynthia were invited there by the deputy minister of health to work with members of Parliament and senior government and NGO leaders. It led to a partnership with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.
At the end of the workshop, the men made this statement: "The bonds of humanity have been broken. We acknowledge that we have shared in the unfair and unjust advantage that has upset the Creator's intended balance of human relationships for love, companionship, and cooperation. We further acknowledge that we have been complicit in breaking the intended dream of equality. So now we come forward to you to say we are sorry. We affirm that we want to start anew, and we ask you to accept our offer to take responsibility as we commit ourselves to live out and challenge and support all men everywhere to live and work for gender equality, and thereby seek reconciliation."
As Will observes, "What men discover is that the greatest male privilege is to participate in the deconstruction of the patriarchy itself." He sees a direct parallel between our relationship to the feminine and our relationship to the Earth.
This is what transformative change looks like.
As Adam Hochschild describes in his landmark book, "Buried in Chains," on May 22nd in 1787 in London, "Twelve determined men [gathered] to begin one of the most ambitious and brilliantly organized citizens' movements of all time. The British Abolitionists were shocked by what they came to learn about slavery and the slave trade.
At the end of the eighteenth century, well over three quarters of all people were in bondage of one kind or another... of various systems of slavery or serfdom." Slavery was foundational to the world economy.
As Hochschild observes, "There is always something mysterious about human empathy, and when we feel it and when we don't. Its sudden upwelling at this particular moment caught everyone by surprise.... It was the first time a large number of people became outraged, and stayed outraged for many years, over someone else's rights."
Within five years, the issue of slavery was center stage in British political life and soon made illegal. By the close of the next century, "Slavery was, at least on paper, illegal almost everywhere."
The Abolition we seek today is the abolition of fossil fuels and the injustice and blood this plutocracy is built on. But we have years, not a century, to make this epic change.
Chief Oren Lyons of the Iroquois Six Nations recalls the Original Instructions the Peacemaker gave his people brought to close a horrific era of never-ending war. The principles are peace, equity, to be united, and to make your decisions based on the wellbeing of the seventh generation to come.
As Oren recounts, "When the leaders received these instructions, to tell the people, they called it 'One Bowl, One Spoon' -- one bowl being the Earth, one spoon being to share.
We are not alone. In his astonishing book "Beyond Words: What Animals Think," Carl Safina tells this story.
In the Bahamas, wild dolphins had developed a close relationship with scientific researcher Denise Herzing and her crew. Over decades, the dolphins greeted the expeditions like a "reunion of friends." Then one year the dolphins refused to approach the boat, even to bow-ride, their special pleasure.
When the boat's captain dove into the water, the dolphins strangely kept their distance. Then the crew discovered an expeditioner had died in his bunk. As the vessel chugged toward port, Herzing recalls, "The dolphins came to the side of our boat, not riding the bow as usual, but instead flanking us fifty feet away in an aquatic escort." They appeared to be conducting a solemn organized funeral ceremony.
We are so not alone.
One bowl, one spoon.