Rocío Escobar (Image by Rocío Escobar) Coinciding with the International Day against Violence against Women (25 November), which also marks the beginning of the 16 days of activism against gender violence promoted by the IANSA Network (International Action Network against Small Arms and Light Weapons) and culminating on 10 December, International Human Rights Day, I dare to write these brief lines to praise those marvellous beings to whom we owe our lives: women.

Women have raised us from birth with an unconditional, sublime and sacred love that has allowed us to grow and develop as people and to nurture us with that loving feeling that they gave us and that we can then project to others throughout our lives.

When we grow up and have our first female friends, we recognise in them a sensitivity that is different from that of men, undoubtedly more loving and affectionate, but above all with a more humane, more tolerant, more understanding, more fraternal way of seeing life and other people. In them we can confide more sensitive issues and receive truly kind advice.

When we go out with them, they become our best friends and companions, always with their wise and timely advice, their deep and disinterested affection. They create for us a new and different Universe, with wider horizons and brighter colours. It is to enter an atmosphere where one breathes pure air and fresh breeze, where desires and secrets are shared.

In our marriage, they become our best partners in the very challenging enterprise of raising a family, procreating and raising children and passing on our best values to them, in a society where resources have to be managed with great care. They are always there with their best advice and ideas. Educating their children with all the love they themselves received from their mothers. Carrying out their housework with a lot of effort, but with joy and constant dedication. In their more mature years, they become the loving grandmothers who delight their grandchildren with their kindness.

With their loving dedication, they become second mothers, always with more affection and tenderness than with challenges, unlike their legitimate mothers who are obliged to impart a certain amount of discipline. Grandmothers are remembered with that special feeling of love and gratitude.

How can such idyllic feelings for women be transformed into aggression that often leads to violence? What unacceptable mental state of affairs makes it possible to commit unacceptable abuses against women such as rape, harassment, femicide, exploitation and all kinds of mistreatment? What unhealthy cultural climate allows us to mutilate, stone and torture them for faults that men praise for themselves?

The prevailing macho culture in all cultures is not enough to justify such aberration. There are certainly cultural elements that go beyond gender alone. It is a situation of disrespect that goes beyond that, a psychological aggressiveness that is unloaded on the weakest, from the biggest to the smallest, from the richest to the poorest, from the strongest to the weakest, from men to women.

The lack of recognition of human beings as equals, irrespective of race, gender and social status, conspires in the same direction. As long as we do not recognise each other as beings of equal value, there will always be violence and abuse. And that is part of our patriarchal culture.

An education based on competition, on ambition as the engine of development and growth, can only lead to aggressiveness and violence, not only of gender, but of all kinds. On the other hand, an education based on cooperation, mutual help, sharing and serving rather than receiving will create a climate of fraternity that will put an end to all violence, including gender-based violence.

We are throwing away our future and that of our children and grandchildren by not learning to live with our women, by not recognising them, caring for them, supporting them and helping them as we should. We all build each other as people, with generosity, with respect, with affection. We reap what we sow, and if we strive to give the best of ourselves, we will receive the best from others as well. It is the law of reciprocity. It does not fail. The advice that needs to be given to women is not to be sexist mothers, not to perpetuate sexism, to bring up their children in the purest equality between boys and girls, to teach them to respect women, to love and serve them, to give the best of themselves when they are friends, boyfriends, fathers or grandfathers. And then they will be happy in their relationships with them. Always tender and kind, loving, respectful and helpful.

Finally, a brief tribute to our dear women:

“The woman mother is the crucible in which our own existence is melted, the woman sister is the balm in our hours of bitterness, the woman friend is the companion who gives us the essence of her spirit, the woman bride is the artist who tints our horizons with pink, the woman wife is the magnificent amphora in which we empty our creative instinct, the woman daughter is the solid point of support in our old age”.