This is not the blog post I was hoping to write today.
I was hoping to write something about smashing the glass ceiling, about women and politics and milestone moments in history. About role models and the importance of ‘what you see, you can be’. I even selected a powerful picture to go with it.*
But the people of the United States chose differently.
Yesterday, around the same time voting started in the US, some of my students presented their research around the topic of women and violence. They compared the situation in the US, France and Yemen. I asked them what had shocked them most.
‘How little I knew about Yemen’, said one of them.
‘How a lot is being done to prevent it and still, the number of cases of violence against women keeps rising’, said someone else.
‘I actually find it shocking that none of this is shocking to me anymore’, said the third. ‘How I keep reading the most horrible things about FGM and honor killings and date rape and harrassment at college and I just think to myself: that’s just how it is. It’s almost like.. normal. ’
‘It’s still a man’s world’, another student agreed.
I was really hoping that yesterday’s elections would prove them wrong. That the results would show these promising young men and women that the glass ceiling is not unbreakable, and that in 2016, a woman can be elected US president.
But yesterday’s results proved me wrong, and I had to write another blog post than I thought I would. Thank you, America.
I decided to keep the picture though. Maybe all of us who still believe in equal opportunities, in gender parity, in representative democracy, in women in politics, should print it and put it up on our walls. May it serve as a gentle reminder that it’s still an awfully male and pale political landscape out there. And that there are only two ways we can change that: by voting for a female leader, or by becoming one.
*a picture of heads of state participating in the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands, where apart from Queen Maxima and Angela Merkel female leaders were few and far between