Thursday, March 8, 2007

Awareness Ribbons

It is almost impossible to keep track of them. Pink ribbons for breast cancer, pale blue for prostate cancer - we have metal pins for both of these. Goodness knows where they came from, but we have had them for years. I think possibly from when Kevin was a prostate cancer victim.

No longer - he is a survivor.

Our friend Margaret is an ovarian and breast cancer survivor. With chemo she lost all her hair. When she was on holidays in Queensland last year her butch hairdo provoked many stares. Later she said that she thought she should design a T-shirt that says 'I am a cancer survivor, not whatever else you are thinking' because she became tired of the immediate stereotypes.

"Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree" - I can't remember what the yellow ribbon is currently representing, but you can check it out here.

One of the first uses of this kind of symbol was the WSPU (Women's Social and Political Union), a suffragette organisation established by Emily Pankhurst in England in the early years of the 20th century. Their colours were purple, white and green.

Today is International Women's Day. It was decreed by the the UN in 1977 - thirty years ago. Probably many people will have worn a ribbon or bunch of ribbons with these colours today. The suffragettes won their battle for the vote but I don't think women have won the war for equality or even recognition. An example is the rape victim recently sentenced to 90 lashes in Saudi Arabia.

Tomorrow I will meet with a group of women teacher friends to celebrate International Women's Day. We are not extreme feminists, but we will wear the purple white and green ribbon, celebrate the fact that 35 years ago female teachers in WA achieved equal pay and remind ourselves that the battle for female equality continues across the world.

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