On July 4 every year, Americans celebrate the birth and freedom of their country in the best of ways, I think – watching baseball games, enjoying cookouts, spending time with friends, vacationing, and, for many, working. In this economy, the freedom to find work or start a business and earn a living is a freedom that many no longer take lightly. And as a woman, I’ve found myself several times recently considering the wealth of freedom I have because I am an American woman.
In Egypt, news recently broke of women being protected by walls of men simply so they could mingle their voices with the crowds of protestors. When I think of the freedom we have in America, man or woman, to speak our minds and protest, it is sobering to think of women being sexually assaulted as the price of their choice to protest the actions of their government. There worse, far more disturbing photos I found documenting these atrocities, but the one I shared above is disturbing enough.
I have often observed the disparities of funding opportunities for women in our own country, and it is disparate that less than ten percent of venture capital deals go to women-led organizations. (And I have news for the amazing group of investors who have chosen to support our company – a new report indicates that investors of women-led business outperformed those that didn’t.) But when I stop to consider the number of countries where women cannot own property, cannot vote, and do not even have the right to take their children with them when they separate from a spouse, I am deeply grateful for the freedoms I am afforded as a woman business owner in America. I have the freedom to create my own destiny and evoke change for the destiny of others around me if only I have the courage, the fortitude and the wits to persevere in the path I’ve chosen. That is an amazing freedom that I do not take lightly when I consider how rare that still is throughout the globe.
And even as an American wife and mother, I am afforded tremendous freedom compared to my counterparts in less fortunate circumstances throughout the world. I am recognized as an equal partner in a marriage by my government. I have rights to my children, and unless I have behaved so badly that the government decides those rights do more harm than good, I am assured a relationship with my children no matter what happens to my marriage. For me, well, I’ve been married to my husband for over 25 years, and we have shared in the joys and sorrows of raising our children together. But for so many women, their entire future – and that of their children – is wrapped up in the control of someone else. As a mother of three children, that is a horrifying thought.
And so today I am truly celebrating the freedoms I enjoy on this, our nation’s celebration of it’s own freedom from tyranny. But as we all celebrate, I hope we will remember how unique our freedoms are – and that when and where we can, we need to further the consciousness of others that women elsewhere do not enjoy what we do here in America.