The Power and Solidarity of Women

In Chapter 13 of Constructing and Reconstructing Gender: The Links Among Communication, Language and Genderhttp://www.sunypress.edu/p-1346-constructing-and-reconstructing.aspxAlice Deakins
writes
, that in all-women groups, "women understand solidarity as their main goal, with power coming from successful interaction." American actress Phylicia Rashad describes that power this way: "Any time women come together with a collective intention, it's a powerful thing. Whether it's sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens."

And since there are millions of women in the world, that's the opportunity for a lot of power and magic. According to the World Bank, the percentage of women in a given country varies from the low of 26.3 (United Arab Emirates) to a high of 54.2 (Latvia). And just as the percentage of women in a country varies, so do women's rights. The end of 2015 saw a historic election in Saudi Arabia, for example, as women finally were granted the right to vote and to run for office. According to National Public Radio, over 1000 Saudi women ran for municipal offices and 21 were elected.

In 1995, when addressing the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijng, Hillary Rodham Clinton
said
, "Human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights."

In a Forbes article titled "The Women's Issues We Should Care about in 2016", writer Karin Agness, cites women's full participation in elections worldwide, access to good education, and threats from war and violence as the issues we should care about. But these are not new issues. Jane Addams said in the later 1800s, "I believe that peace is not merely an absence of war, but the nurture of human life, and that in time this nurture will do away with war as a natural process...Only in freedom is permanent peace possible. To unite women in all countries who are opposed to any kind of war, exploitation and oppression, and who work for universal disarmament...and by the establishment of social, political, and economic justice for all without distinction of sex, race, class, or creeds."

In 1938, with the publication of Three Guineas,Virginia Woolf writes, "As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world."

And at the 2003 Powerful Voices Annual Luncheon Melinda Gates addressed
the issue of strong women and education with the comment, "A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult. It's complicated by the fact that in most nations women receive substantially less education than men."

As we listen to the United States presidential candidates comments, women's issues and human issues cannot be far from our minds. Publications such Teen Vogue to the candidates themselves are discussingreproductive rights (and access to Planned Parenthood in particular),paid family leave ,the gender pay gap, minimum wage increase (since according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 6 out of every 10 minimum wage earners are women, and cost of education.

And all one has to do is scan the news to find issues affecting women, from theZika virus to the plight of female refugees. But today, on International Women's Day, we are reminded of women's strength and power and how coming together towards common purposes helps us create solutions.An Irish proverb, often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, says, "A woman is like a teabag--you cannot tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water."

In 2016, with all of the issues, the water temperature rises but so is our solidarity and power.