If someone asked me what comes to mind when I think of Italy, I would say: high fashion, wine, Leaning Tower of Pisa, romance, pizza, pasta, gelato (Eat, Pray, Love anyone ?),Silvio Berlusconi but never murder… well unless you talk of the Mafia and The Godfather.

A couple of weeks ago, Newsweek dated 29.10.2012 had horrific accounts of feminicide. More accurately, the writer aptly titled her piece Stiletto Murders.  This has nothing to do with high fashion but women being killed by enraged husbands, boyfriends and exs just to soothe their bruised egos.  If you were to attend a court session where perpetrators were being tried, you would hear their reasons for committing the crimes as “she called me by the wrong name” or “she wanted a divorce’’ or ‘’she was spending too much time in church with the women’s group”.

Women Empowerment....
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The main underlying  reason that is being cited for these hideous crimes of passion is women’s liberation. Ms. Nadeau’s article says:

“It’s not easy for men: until now it has been enough to just be male to ensure that they would find a woman or two who only had one wish: to be married. Now men are faced with having to respect and relate to women, and to listen. And it’s not easy for them.”

It seems that men have not fully understood what they stand to gain from women’s empowerment.

By empowering a woman to realize her intrinsic value, she develops high self-esteem, recognizes her purpose and her opportunity to dream. She will strive to better herself by improving her quality of life through self-reliance. Blessed are you, if you are related to her, because she will be great company, you should expect good meals as she will be health conscious and she will become your emotional pillar. Of course, she will also provide you with additional income, because she wants to become a productive member of society. On a more personal level, I would like to have a fancy answer for  the question, what do you do?

Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) developed the Three Billion Index that assesses how leaders are empowering women as economic agents.  According to Dr. Leila Hoteit, “The data shows a very strong correlation between index scores and beneficial outcomes. This relationship indicates that positive steps intended to economically empower women not only contribute to the immediate goals of mobilizing the female workforce, but also lead to broader gains for all citizens.”

The authors highlight that Microfinance is only part of the solution in empowering women. Truth be told, it’s not everyone who will venture into entrepreneurship. It is important to take into consideration women in the workforce. In her words:

The challenge of empowering women is sufficiently broad that success will require pursuit of all avenues. That means improving microfinance for the millions of women who want to launch their own companies, but also acknowledging that there are millions of others for whom traditional company employment may be a better fit

As I mentioned in my earlier post, women have been also forced to step up because men have decided to play small in their various roles in society. Women have long been associated with microfinance, which is all good as they have made significant strides in developing countries such as Kenya and India. In the Blue Sweater, Jacqueline shares the journey of a Rwandese woman in post-genocide Rwanda who quickly picked up the pieces of her life and started a small eatery  with the help of microfinance. She is now courting big banks and her business has visibly expanded.

Women do not want pity or to be looked down upon, The  need the men in their lives to support them in their endeavours. The men in turn should accommodate them in the economy and take a more active role in their familial duties. They need men to mentor and coach them in the workplace and as entrepreneurs not to take advantage of them. They need their male family members to understand that being a career woman who wants to have it all is not easy and that they are doing the best they can.

The increased participation of women  in the economy should bring healthy competition rather than victimization and “playing dirty” as witnessed in Italy and the world over.  I don’t think I have to list examples of women who are excelling in various spheres because  I know that you can name at least five even in your own community.

In a family set-up, the man should be glad to have a partner who is able bring in extra income especially in this crazy economy.  The man should be glad that he has a woman with a mind of her own, someone he can make important decisions with and not someone who follows his every whim. I would not want to be in a relationship with a robot. BORING!!!

This is 2012. Women are not subservient to men. It is imperative that everyone, men and women know that we are equally unequal. I mean, we have the same intrinsic because we exist but because of genetic make-up, men  and women handle life differently. Variety is the spice of life. A world of only men or women -perish the thought! (Who would do all the heavy lifting? 😉 )

Men should get over their insecurity and focus on the more important issues of life such as good leadership, the economy, educating for their children, climate change and their family life.

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