|Young Women: Silence, Suspectibility and the HIV Epidemic (UNDP, 10 p.)|
The growing numbers of women infected and dying bring a deep sadness but must sound an urgent alarm. We must be aware of what the world will lose through the deaths of so many young, and older, women.
Because we live in sharply gender-divided worlds, the impact of women's deaths is different from that of men. Most, if not all, cultures raise girls differently from boys and treat women differently from men. As a result, women bring to daily life different qualities from men. Women tend to be the guardians of compassion rather than ambition, of connectedness rather than control, of healing rather than harming, of closeness rather than conquest, of mercy rather than judgement. They make possible the circle of the dance as an alternative to the ladder.
Women are the creators of new life, the caretakers of daily life and the custodians and transmitters of community norms and social values. However, in some parts of the world, one third or one half or more of all women are infected. How will the loss be borne?
Cabbage soup, writes Hel Cixous, can only warm us passingly. To live, we need the presence of women who pay attention to life.33 Yet even soup is usually prepared by women. It is not solely a matter of appeasing hunger, of providing shelter, of resolving conflict, of raising children, of tending fields. Women bring much more to life.