Recently, Foreign Policy Magazine published a special issue. Inside was a list of the 100 top global thinkers of the past year. I follow and study politics closely. I will not comment in this forum on their ranking decisions. What struck me the most was the demographics of the list. Out of 100 minds, only eighteen were female. I want to make it clear that I do not fault Foreign Policy for this, but it rekindled a question that has puzzled me for years:
Are women being ignored or are we simply not qualified to have equal footing on such a list? Many women of my generation believe that there are no more glass ceilings to break. I disagree. I do not doubt that, in America, women have equal opportunity to men. I am living proof of such advancements. I wonder though how women are using those opportunities. I know many young women that have given up careers and quit professional schools to get married and start families. I do not judge them for this decision; my own mother turned down career opportunities so that she could stay at home with me when I was young, a decision which I am very thankful and grateful for. I hope the women who make such decisions are happy and successful in whatever they choose to do—I simply have different priorities, though I cannot say that someday I will not make the choice my mother did.
There are many places in the world, however, where women are not given such opportunity—they have no choice. This is something many women have forgotten. There are other issues on the national and global agenda, but many times those who bring up the issue of global female empowerment are labeled “crazy feminists.” I beg to differ. I feel so immensely blessed to be born during a time and in a place that affords women substantial opportunities and innumerable choices. I challenge other women to take full advantage of those opportunities. I fear, however, that we will forget that such opportunity comes with a certain degree of responsibility. We must use our talents for the betterment of those around us. We must challenge ourselves to do better than those who came before us – to excel further and reach for goals that a few decades ago would have been deemed impossible.
There are still trails to blaze and walls to break down. I hope that in 2010 we can have more than two women appear in the Foreign Policy top twenty, and have them hold that rank on their own, without sharing the slot with their spouse. There are immense opportunities and challenges out there and I plan to always face them head on.