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Amanda, I completely agree with you. We all know women , well a lot of women are naturally less stronger than men in physique, but that doesn't stop them to join the workforce where they want to, be it a mine or roadworks, or anything. The stereotypical concept of "Woman" and the vision of her always being a damsel in distress has to be taken away. I mean it is nice to be feminine because and soft and delicate because we are and can be. But it doesn't mean we don't have the endurance, the toughness within us. Hasn't there been a research already done that women actually function better in workplaces?
The notion of man and woman has to stop first (which I feel will not ever) since it has always been a very very paternalistic society, whether it is the west or the east.
The first world countries have freedom through which women can grow, not that they don't face some ridiculous remarks at times. (I was there for sometime). And in the developing countries, the lack of empowerment , education and freedom (in the sense of choice) build an immense wall for women to grow, to choose. It is changing very very slowly..but it will take time because every individual community has to be awakened, every generation should be made aware of the idea that we are all the same.
But in the countries so entrenched with religion and tradition, it will take a very long time. This is not just about safety for women, we cannot isolate them and it is indeed imprisoning someone by having people protect them all the time. Women are not diamond necklaces to be safeguarded. They are human beings like any man or third gender.
We should think of long term goals and strategies that will change the community, the individuals, the elder generation to the young ones.
I will be interested to participate in anyway. Because I believe empowerment is the road to sustainability and this is what we need for the well being of women all over the world, giving them freedom, the strength, the confidence. Then they can look after themselves.