Women, Peace and Health Care

It gives me hope to see that health care reform has passed, but there is still so much work that we all must do, as evidenced by the ongoing debate and derisiveness.

We watched the debates fall along party lines and this in itself is troubling for our long-term future because as Lincoln said, "A country divided cannot stand."

While the level of political rhetoric and dogma is disappointing, it is also exhilarating to see Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the House declare, "Being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition." Her stalwart shepherding of the bill was so necessary for its passage.

Her belief and efforts on behalf of President Obama and this Health Security Act in the face of so many personal and political attacks is a guiding beacon for future leaders. I hope that in my lifetime I will see the election of the first woman president and I believe that in my grandson's time gender will not be even a point of discussion. If we continue to only look toward our primary representation through male leaders who refuse to embrace the nurturing instincts that are symbolized by the feminine then we will miss the opportunity for a better future for our children.

And while Rush Limbaugh is packing his bags for Costa Rica, a country praised by the World Health Organization for its exceptional government-run health care system, it's important to note that many of the Latin American countries are not only ahead on health initiatives, but also have been elevating women to positions of power.

As I wrote in Hoodwinked, it is significant that two of the leading presidents voted into office in Latin America during the past decade were women (in Argentina and Chile), and that Costa Rica in February added its first female president, Laura Chinchilla. This is a trend that began back in the '70s when I was an economic hit man and was impressed by the number of women in key government positions in Panama and other Latin American countries.

Abandoning our preoccupation with material wealth and profits and elevating ourselves to a more empathic worldview will require embracing feminine characteristics that foster peaceful communities and sustainable economies. Women such as those Latin American leaders and also Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer and Department of Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius serve as powerful role models for generations of future leaders.

Dr. Riane Eisler, in her book, "The Real Wealth of Nations" stated, "When the status and power of women is higher, so also is a nation's quality of life, and when it is lower, so is the quality of life for all."

I marvel when I think of how women, during my lifetime, have taught us the importance of embracing the nurturing and sustainable aspects of society. Women in positions of power typically demand more health care, childcare, education, and other social services; they eschew war and violence. According to social scientists, women value peace and stability above all else. It is part of their "biological imperative" as mothers and guardians of the family. I also know that many of us men want those same things and that one of the best ways for us to stand up for them is by having more women in leadership roles to guide us.

Peace and stability offer multiple benefits to all - just as universal health care will benefit everyone. Such things do not divide along party lines, ethnic groupings, gender or economic wealth. They create a type of co-existence where all of us can enjoy the divine right of being human and living in a sustainable world.

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