Freedoms of American Women

Egyptian woman being beaten by soldiers

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.

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One Reason We Can All Celebrate The Outcome Of This Election

In December of 1991, Algeria’s National Liberation Front, cancelled elections after the first round to prevent victory by the Islamic Salvation Front. The government took control of the country, forcing out president Chadili Bendjedid, banning the opposing party and arresting thousands of its members. A coups d’état ensued, resulting in the loss of life for what some estimate to be as high as  200,000 people, including the assassination of more than seventy journalists, before the eventual surrender of the Islamic Salvation Front.

Since the beginning of the world’s collected history, coups d’état and coup attempts have been a part of the shift in power of governments, many coming with an appalling loss of life and ensuing instability in the country’s leadership and economy.

As the results of our country’s election begin rolling in, it is clear that almost half of the voters who participated in the 2012 general election have been disfranchised by the outcome. Early numbers indicate that while the electoral college votes have solidly pointed to Mr. Obama’s selection as our country’s president for the next four years, the popular vote is divided almost down the middle. An article by Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg published in the New York Times on November 7, 2012, describes the deep divide of the popular vote that put Obama in power for a second term. “Mr. Obama, 51, faces governing in a deeply divided country and a partisan-rich capital, where Republicans retained their majority in the House and Democrats kept their control of the Senate. His re-election offers him a second chance that will quickly be tested, given the rapidly escalating fiscal showdown.” It isn’t the first time our country has found itself deeply divided, either. As far back as 1824 when John Quincy Adams won the election, he only had 31% of the popular vote. Similarly, Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860 with only 40% of the popular vote, and when John F. Kennedy became president in 1960, he did so with only 49.72% of the popular vote. And in our last election, when America made history by choosing their first black president to lead the country, over 47% of the country chose John McCain instead.

And here is the remarkable part: not one of those elections resulted in a coup by the opposing party or instability in our government. Transitions in power commence every four years without violence. We do not fear an impending coups d’état after each election, nor do we fear a suspension of elections. Citizens don’t stay awake at night wondering if military tanks will roll into the streets or that they will be dragged out of homes never to be seen again because of supporting the losing candidate.

It is one of the reasons why I am grateful to be a citizen of the United States. I have the right to voice my political beliefs if I so choose. I have the precious right to cast my vote in every election to make my voice heard (and truly do not understand anyone who has the right and with such cavalier disregard chooses not to participate). I can have confidence that whether I like the outcome of an election or not, my country will continue on a path of stability. The way I see it, that is reason for celebrating the outcome of this election, no matter which candidate won.