The traditional question, "What do women want?" has been answered. The answer is, "Try asking them." The modern feminist movement has made it easier for women to give their own personal and group answers with some hope that they will be listened to.
Now, there's a new question, I think, it's, "What are women worth? What is their value, both collectively and as individuals?"
I just read an answer, a serious one, that provides a needed shock to American feminists (and those who don't want to call themselves that, but will gladly take the benefits feminists have obtained for them) who may think that their work is done.
In India, the Art of Living Foundation spiritual head Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, in an effort to send, out a message that there can be no greater sin than killing a girl child, said:
"People are forgetting their religious values as they fail to realise that killing one girl child is equivalent to killing one million cows. We are planning a campaign in all villages across the country to spread the message."
Now, we know. Each woman is worth one million cows, at least in India. The quote comes from a news report of a meeting of religious leaders to help stem the tide of prenatal gender selection that is seriously reducing the number of females born in India.
The report ended with, "In some cases, the lack of women of marriageable age is witnessing a trend where brothers are being forced to share a wife."
The problem isn't, though, an inconvenience for brothers who have to share a wife. Prenatal gender selection is a serious social problem, and India isn't alone in it. China is having the same problem.
What happens when there aren't enough women? Traditionally women's work is done by women. Duh. And if there are only half of the women to do the work, each woman will do twice as much. Or, she will die trying. And many will, as will those who needed her to aid in their survival and well being.
The problem of missing women is even worse in Africa. Women in Africa are dying now in huge numbers, from both AIDS and the sexual brutality from war.
When the women are not there, the children are not well cared for, or not cared for at all. When the women are missing, the sick and dying are not adequately cared for, or not cared for at all. When the women are missing, there is not enough food to eat, and not enough products taken to market, not enough, not enough, not enough of so many essential goods and services.
Research shows that when the status of women goes up in a society, child mortality goes down, population growth slows, and economic prosperity rises.
The best thing any country or society can do is to raise the status of women--educate them, protect their reproductive rights, open all doors of opportunity to them, allow them a voice.
And the first, most essential step in valuing women, is letting girl babies live.