Written by WFR Correspondent Megan Anderson
My first thoughts on this quote by Madeleine Albright were overwhelmingly in agreement. Women must help women.
I’ve found it hard to explain just why this is. I would like to say that all women are somehow related and bound together, but this feels a bit too essentialist. Words that come to mind are ‘sisterhood’ and ‘second-wave feminism’.
All women are not the same; we do not all have the same universal identity. We are taught that depending on things like race, and socio-economic backgrounds we will have different struggles and one fixed voice and identity cannot represent them all.
With this in mind I guess the quote should read, ‘There is a special place in hell for people who don’t help other women’ or ‘-for people who don’t help other people’. We could argue that there is just as much difference between two women as there is between a man and a woman and so responsibility does not just fall on those of the same gender to look out for one another.
…We could argue that. And I do feel that it is everyone’s responsibility to help other people in general.
But I can’t help feeling that there is a special responsibility for women to help other women, as Albright, first female U.S. Secretary of State, tells us. I found a passage from a article on joinfite.org that was able to explain and support Albright’s quote better than I could:
“In societies where women’s resources are severely limited, women depend on the support of other women. In culture’s where women’s rights are suppressed, the same is true – even if this community exists underground. Because women have been historically excluded from mainstream power, we have learned to do business communally, collectively and cooperatively, especially in the face of brutality and injustice….Women truly flourish when we share the wealth: our ideas, our energy and time, as well as our money. “
On that note, I must point out that today is International Volunteering Day. This is the opportunity for all of us to celebrate those women who do help women.
Today the United Nations recognises volunteers around the world and strives to increase public awareness of the impact of volunteering. Many NGOs support International Volunteering Day and one in particular, Volunteer Action Counts, suggests ways in which we can all celbrate.