A month for Women
This month is for the girls.
In celebration of Women’s History Month the Soroptimist International of South Lake Tahoe hosted guest speaker Billie Heller at their weekly luncheon Wednesday at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.
Heller is an internationally renowned feminist, championing the rights of women throughout the world. She is the founder and chair of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.
CEDAW is an international bill of rights for women and was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979. It has been ratified by 167 countries throughout the world. The Untied States is one of the 24 nations that have not. U.S. opposition to the bill is centered in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Heller said Senator Jesse Helms leads the push to keep the U.S. from ratifying the treaty.
“One of the things that bothers (Helms) is he is intensely chauvinistic about the United States,” Heller said. “To Helms all kinds of international treaties are impositions on U.S. sovereignty. He doesn’t want anyone else in the world telling us what we can and can’t do.”
Even thought the U.S. has not adopted CEDAW, Heller feels the U.S. does a good job in promoting the equality of the sexes. She said homemaking is becoming more of a shared endeavor between a man and a woman.
“I think we have come a gigantic way and are moving at a very accelerated pace,” Heller said. “When the women’s movement was growing the men were reevaluating. I know men who refuse to take a promotion if it means moving to another state, or if it meant more hours away from home.”
Heller feels that the roots of sexism start in the home when a children are young.
“It all starts in the home and how we are raised,” Heller said. “Children are growing up with different attitudes about men and women. Attitudes at home and about mom and how she is treated are so terribly important.”
Women’s history month is beneficial to everyone because it shows a different side of the story, according to Heller.
“It educated a lot of people,” Heller said. “People put things on PBS and there are programs in the schools because it is Women’s History Month. It is an educational tool. When I went to school and you learned about history, history really meant memorizing names, dates, and places. And if you went by history there were only about three women who ever did anything.”
Despite the discrimination women often face, Heller stresses that feminism should not be anti-men.
“This is not about demonizing all men,” Heller said. “There are those who look at it as a battle between the sexes. It is not.”
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