“Women are not Physically Fit to Operate Automobiles”

When today’s meeting of the Environmental Policy & Sustainability Committee for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce came to a close, I was approached by one of my favorite committee colleagues, Brad Currey, who told me how delighted he is to see young women like me actively involved in environmental and social issues.  He recalled that one of his sisters had passion to see change happen, but “back then” women were excluded.  Being called “young lady” already had me smiling; receiving a compliment from Mr. Currey only enlarged the smile. 

To provide some background, Brad Currey, 80, while retired from his business executive roles including CEO and Chairman of Rock Tenn Company, has certainly not retired from serving and contributing in and beyond Atlanta.  A 1951 Princeton graduate, Mr. Currey has and continues to serve on many boards including Genuine Parts Company, Fresh Frozen Foods, Inc., and Brown & Brown, Inc., Enzymatic Deinking Technologies, Inc., Emory University, the Woodruff Arts Center and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He is also a past Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and was a founding member of the Paper Recycling Coalition. (There’s so much more.....)

I thanked Mr. Currey for his comment and said “Do you realize that you’ve just said that to me on International Women’s Day?”  He didn’t know there was such a day.  We spoke for a few minutes on how things have changed.  An example I gave was that in 1908, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Breith stood before the city council and announced that, "women are not physically fit to operate automobiles."  Today, women in the U.S. purchase about 65% of all automobiles sold. 

There’s much to celebrate beyond how many BMWs, Fords, or Toyotas are sold to women.  And there’s far more to do to create a world where women and girls have opportunities to live safe, full and productive lives.  Women represent 40% of the global labor force, yet in many parts of the world, too many girls still die in childhood, can’t own land or inherit property or go to school.  Many still suffer from pervasive sexual abuse, and political, economic and social disenfranchisement. 

In business, women continue to have low representation on boards of large companies:  approximately 12% in Europe, 10% in the Americas, 7% in Asia/Pacific and 3% in the Middle East and North Africa.  Many choose the entrepreneur route. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) now has over 10,000 certified Women Business Enterprises in the U.S. with average annual revenues of $10 million+.   In developing nations, micro-finance and social enterprise programs provide funding and support for women to start small businesses. 

So, as we mark International Women's Day (and month – March) by celebrating progress, let's realize that there’s so much more to do.  It is up to each of us to continue to redefine perspectives and societal "norms" among men and women about gender.  Too many women today hope for a better life for their daughters, yet have given up on change in their own lifetime.  Learn more and provide support in your own communities or through one of the many organizations promoting change.  Here are just a few:

“Women for Women” http://www.womenforwomen.org/help-women/reach-out-spread-the-word.php

Oprah Winfrey’s “For All Women Registry” http://www.oprah.com/packages/for-all-women-registry.html

ChildFund International  http://www.childfund.org/

Save the Children  http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.6115947/k.8D6E/Official_Site.htm

Care http://www.care.org/getinvolved/iwd/?s_src=redppcggwomenadvocacy557&s_subsrc=takepartinadvocacy557women&cr=womensday&gclid=CP6FwOir2q4CFUqR7QodPCpcaw

Heifer International  http://www.heifer.org/

Women in the World Summit http://womenintheworld.org/index.php/pages/women-in-the-world-summit-2012

Educating Girls Matters http://www.educatinggirlsmatters.org/howtohelp.html

Amnesty International  http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/women-s-rights/violence-against-women?id=1011012

Stop Child Slavery  http://stopchildslavery.com/

Invisible Children  http://www.invisiblechildren.com.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/

 

 

Home Page Teaser: 
When today’s meeting of the Environmental Policy & Sustainability Committee for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce came to a close, I was approached by one of my favorite committee colleagues, Brad Currey, who told me how delighted he is to see young women like me actively involved in environmental and social issues. He recalled that one of his sisters had passion to see change happen, but “back then” women were excluded. Being called “young lady” already had me smiling; receiving a compliment from Mr. Currey only enlarged the smile.

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