Thoughts on what led to India recently being ranked as the fourth-worst place in the world to be female
The Globe and Mail, June 18, 2011
My mother began her career as a high-school teacher in a country that regarded women as the property of men. She could not get a bank account or a credit card of her own, only one bearing my father's name - and only with his permission and under his control. Most jobs were open only to men. Only a quarter of drivers were women, and the whole phenomenon of women driving was hotly debated in the media.
That was Canada in the 1960s. I kept that in mind on Friday as I watched the ebullient spectacle of dozens of Saudi Arabian women daring to defy their country's laws by getting into cars and driving. You might think their humble rebellion is doomed to failure. But we forget how fast things can change, and how suddenly that change can begin.
We tend to think of the gross mistreatment of women as a matter of deeply rooted tradition and custom: Some places are just like that. Religion and culture are timeless, we like to believe. Sexual equality, then, is pointless: It would be an utterly alien import.
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