The Most Beautiful Flower is a Woman!

This was a big weekend in Colombia. It was International Women’s Day on Saturday and Election Day on Sunday.

Women’s Day is a big deal here. It’s like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day rolled into one. Restaurants are all booked up, rose petals are thrown around and random people send you their best wishes for a happy day of the woman. It’s a nice idea, but it can get a little strange… like when you receive a note from the school suggesting that all the girls dress up like princesses and the boys bring candy to give to each little princess on their big day. I have a feeling they’re not using the opportunity to discuss rights and equality, but I could be wrong.

Signs like this are common:

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I received a card from Sam’s teacher wishing me a happy day of the woman, reminding me that a woman is a symbol of tenderness and love. I haven’t been feeling very tender lately, especially towards Sam, who continues to wake me up at least twice a night. (He’s almost 5! When will this end??)

International Women’s Day also coincided with Ley Seca, the dry law. No alcohol was sold anywhere from Saturday afternoon through Monday morning, due to Sunday’s congressional elections. No voting while hungover or drunk. It was pretty quiet around town this weekend, a perfect storm of respecting women, and sobriety. Unlike every other significant event in Colombia, there were no fireworks or loud music. Fortunately we had no plans this weekend. If it had been my birthday, or if I had a big Woman’s Day night out planned, this would have made me sad:

Danger do not cross! Forget it!

Danger do not cross. Forget it.

The elections seemed to go smoothly; only 42 people arrested for attempted vote-buying or intimidation, which is a 90% decrease from the last election. And there was an increase in the number of women elected to the House and Senate. Representation of women increased from 12% to 16% in the House, and from 16% to 21% in the Senate. The presidential elections take place in a few months, and there are several female candidates. Marta Lucia Ramirez was a Senator and former Minister of National Defense. She was also a Fellow at Harvard.  Here she is giving a boy scout the finger:
12_Agosto_2003_Ceremonia_Esc_Cadetes_Polic_a_Faca_Ministra_C
Or is that two fingers? Did he offer her candy?
Here is some art from her campaign:
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The other female candidate, Clara Lopez Obregon, is a Harvard educated Economist and former Mayor of Bogotá. (Interesting fact: she attended a girls’ high school outside of Washington, DC, whose alumnae include Katherine Graham, Stockard Channing and Campbell Brown.)
Lopez's 'tough on crime' pose.

Lopez’s tough-on-crime pose.

Clara López Obregón, alcaldesa (e.) de Bogotá., Foto: Andrea Moreno / EL TIEMPO

Marta Lucia and Clara Lopez represent the far right and far left parties, respectively, and neither is likely to win more than a few percent of the vote. But it is good to see them in the race.  Maybe one day, the most powerful flower will be a woman.



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