I had the most wonderful happenstance to see the movie Suffragette with my niece today. As the credits rolled I couldn't help thinking what an important film it is and that women and men everywhere should see this movie.
It is hard to imagine that it has been a mere 97 years that women have had the right to vote here in Canada. Even more mind boggling were the dates that rolled in the credits of other countries of when women received the right to vote.
What struck me was that just recently the women of Saudi Arabia have received this right. A friend of mine mentioned it to me when it happened and I remember thinking that it was great but without really much thought to what it really meant. After viewing this movie it has occurred to me that I have been taking a lot for granted.
A few weeks ago I was at a gathering at my parents house which included an interesting mix of ages and a broad spectrum of political views. Since the change in our political arena here in Canada in November of 2015 there seems to be a lot of discussion surrounding the current political party and what changes are taking place within the mandate of this party and how it affects Canadians.
In particular that day there was a group of women between the ages of 21 to 83. The topic was raised by my Aunt who is soon turning 80 that we need to figure out how to get rid of the niqab. It appeared to be her that the niqab was a huge injustice to our civil rights as Canadians and that all people that wear them are trying to hide something and are not to be trusted.
Of course she assumed that all of us in the room would jump on board the band wagon to rid our Canadian World of these heinous head pieces.
I asked her if she had ever spoken to someone wearing a niqab and, of course, her answer was no.
It became clear very quickly that the political left and right in the room were not going to agree on the topic but we all moved around the table and she brought up the idea that women need to band together to instigate change. It was not necessarily directed at the niqab issue but it was directed toward the ever growing thoughts around the World that, in fact, it is women who can invoke changes in the attitudes and lives of those around them and promote peace throughout this ever shrinking World.
A photo was snapped of these women and my sister then posted this photo on Facebook with the caption "Women at the Round Table.........trying to save the World with little success".
To which I commented the following:
This round table of women is proof that women around the world can join together and make a difference regardless of political allegiance.
And my niece commented as well:
Cheech is wrong- we had great success! The formal conclusion was that love is louder than hate!
This day has been riding under the surface of my subconscious ever since and was suddenly ignited when I had the opportunity to see the movie Suffragette.
I have made a grave error in thinking that women can change the World by just sitting in our safe little living rooms having coffee and staying in our small white Canadian environments. We take pride in the fact that we are trying to overcome prejudices that we all have but we don't really step outside our comfort zone and really invoke change.
To be honest I was actually quite afraid to even bring up my ideas around the table in my own parent's home with the wide cross section of political views. Why on Earth would I reach out even further than that and really seek change?
So as open minded as I think I am I really am no different than those that I oppose politically and it is time to change that.
I got thinking what would be the way to extend a hand to help break down barriers and remove prejudice between me as a born and bred Canadian to those who are just entering this wonderful Country we all call home.
When I see the fear in the faces of the people that are the nearest and dearest to me what can I do to help them understand that even though we have huge differences in culture and background we really all just want the same things in life?
If we are going to bring Women together and dis-spell these ideas how do I get out of my very white surroundings and reach out to other Women who have just become Canadian?
At first when I faced this question I thought, well if they just understood me as a woman......a Mother, Daughter, Niece, Sister, Grandmother, Aunt, then they could have a better picture of what I am as a Canadian.
But then I realized that is a very selfish view of the World. Even though I have thousands of questions for them as New Canadian Women I thought about what they must be going through and just how many questions they must have with the onslaught of both a new Country and language and culture.
So now I believe the first order of business is to seek out these New Canadians and extend my hand in friendship and to let them know that I am open to discussion and I am open to any questions they may have of me as a Canadian woman.
By giving them the chance to ask questions so they can see that we are really all the same I can also learn that we are all the same. And in doing so I can find out what is really behind the niqab.