Sunday, January 31, 2010

Peace Corps Memories

At a gathering of people who recently had finished their Peace Corps time, participants shared their experiences. They'd spent time in various locations - Africa, South America, Asia, and others. They'd engaged in various forms of help to developing nations - education, medical work, structural engineering, etc. They came from a variety of backgrounds, in terms of their own religions, educational levels, and socio-economic status. They had encountered a broad spectrum of cultures, languages, and religions.

Discussing their observations, a common thread emerged: they all agreed that the United States was the best place to be a woman.

Stories of countries in which women are not allowed to vote, cultures in which women must ask permission of their male relatives before making decisions, societies in which women are essentially still bought and sold, and a general relegation of females to a lower status were plentiful. It is a clear pattern that, outside of western civilization, women are stilling waiting for the simplest forms of equality. In Saudi Arabia, women are not even allowed to drive cars or obtain a driver's licence.

To be sure, America still owes women some more justice: domestic violence against women still happens here, and rape is often unpunished, or too lightly punished. But, according to the reports of the returning Peace Corps workers, there's no place that they'd rather be women than in the United States.