Guest post by Peg Mulqueen:
"Do you care?"
It was 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.I was lying on my back, working through a
beginning hip sequence in my early morning yoga class, along with about seventy-five other women in hotel
Seane Corn, a founder of Off the Mat and Into the World
and my teacher for the class, made me feel like I could change the world in
just the first few sun salutations she powerfully led us through.
But first, she asked this one simple question: Do I care?
Sure I care ... I mean, of course I care.
"Then do something.Make a
commitment and engage in action!"
And thus began a day celebrating the 100th
anniversary of International Women's Day at the 65th annual CARE conference in Washington,
D.C.CARE is a leading humanitarian organization, founded in 1945 to provide relief to survivors of World War II,
and now devotes its resources to fighting global poverty with a special focus
on empowering women.
In a two-day event kicked off with uplifting performances by
Michael Franti and Indi.Arie, some 1,100 people gathered from all across the
world.Each came emblazoned with a
passion and firm commitment to work towards a day when every girl and every
woman can be recognized for the power and potential she each possesses.
But by lunchtime,
guest speaker Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
hit us with the more somber reality facing women who live in poor and
developing countries - where girls are uneducated and often brutally
mistreated.Where a young girl's future
can be so bleak that Gates says her chances of dying are greater than that of
her being left-handed.Mothers
desperately save every penny they can to get their children into school, knowing it is perhaps their only
chance for survival.
As the mother of a daughter in college, Girl Effect
Video hit me in the heart.Sure, I worry about her.I worry
that she's not getting enough sleep.I
worry she has enough spending money.I
worry when she gets a cold and I'm not there to take care of her.
But as countless speakers, including Helene Gayle, CARE's
president and CEO reminded us - right now, there is a mother in rural Niger who
is not sure she can feed her child at the end of the day.And a mother in Uganda who is watching her
child suffer from pneumonia, one of the leading causes of death among children,
fighting for each breath - knowing her little one is literally dying before her
Can you even imagine?
"Change comes when people stand
up, speak out,
and refuse to accept things the
way they are today."
Helene Gayle, CARE President and CEO
I felt the tears well up as I felt the sorrows of these
mothers, and in that moment, I felt helpless.
But then I looked around the room and felt the collective power of a
people gathered unified in a singular belief that all life has equal
And for the rest of the day, the CARE conference attendees
learned how to put that belief and their passion into action.Just as women led the march a hundred years
ago to fight for the right to vote, to hold elected office, and to be paid fair
and equal wages - now we live that legacy of strength and courage to become the
voice for those women today whose voice is weakened by poverty and stolen
On Thursday, this powerful group marched that voice of
mighty compassion to representatives in Congress and let them know - a life
is not a line item in a budget.
"We are here to move mountains!"
Michael Franti, musician and yogi
As yogis, we can play a special role.Karma is a term we are most familiar with as
the energy associated with our individual actions.But there is another kind of karma - collective karma.This is the idea that a collective action
can actually work towards shifting the energy of the universe.
Tomorrow, thousands of yogis in over 20 countries and from
countless yoga studios are putting this in action as they roll out their mats
in a worldwide yoga event, Yoga Stops Traffick, to raise
awareness and support in the fight against the exploitation of women and
children in India.
My few sun salutations may seem like a drop in the
bucket - but as Helen Keller once said, "I may be one, but still I am one ... and
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."
Sitting at the airport and waiting for my
daughter to arrive home from college, I can't help but count blessings.But I know I must do more than that -
because intention without action is useless.
As Melinda Gates so aptly said, "We
already know what to do and how to do it.
So it's not a matter of can we ... it's a question, will we?