Today, March 8, 2012 is International Women’s Day and is the 55th that I’ve been around to observe, though I may not have understood the first 12 or 13 occurrences.  The history of the day can be found in the 19th century suffrage movements.  And here we are in 2012 and in the United States we continue to have political debate on the rights of women; we have talk show hosts who take scholarly debate and debase the intellect of the individual, by attacking the personal character vice the merits of the discussion.  This whole scenario caused me to reflect on my own mother.

My mother was as good as any individual, regardless of gender.  She could run, swim, throw a baseball and let fly with a right-hook that once took out a “golden-glove” boxing champ (out cold).  She also had a backbone of steel, and a heart the size of the state of Alaska.  I loved hearing what my mother did during the “war.”  Apart from being a mother to a toddler (my eldest sibling was born five months before Pearl Harbor), she held a full-time job (or two).  In the early 1940’s my mother worked in a factory, an armament factory to be exact.  You see, she was a master-welder and her skill was such that she was in charge of welding the sights on the M-1 rifles being manufactured and shipped to the front to be used by the soldiers, marines and seaman of the US military and those of the allied nations.  I doubt any of them asked if the sights had been welded by a women or a man, they were grateful they were put in place with precision.   I now my mother is but one of the millions of examples available – my point is – gender matters less than ability.

We owe it to our society, global society, to close the gender-gap in pay and opportunity.  We owe it to ourselves to ensure education is available for all, not just the boys of the villages in the developing world.  We owe it to ourselves, to ensure that freedom of choice is afforded to women of all nationalities.

So I ask you to do something this International Women’s Day – find a way to make a difference in the life of the women in your community.   I know I won’t have to look far to recognize one making a difference in my life or community – my wife, Kathy.

I’ll close with a quote my mother used from Faith Whittlesey, on more than one occasion which she felt summed up her ability to accomplish anything a man could:  “Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.” ~ Faith Whittlesey