Thursday, June 6, 2013

Financial Independence of Yesteryears

The World Digital Library today tweeted a women's magazine from its archives. It was first published in 1921 in Iraq and as I scanned down the list of topics, one in particular caught my eye: "Tax Issues".

'Layla', as the magazine was named, was released at a pivotal time during history. You had the women's rights movement gaining momentum and wars were either ending or brewing. Changes were happening at an economic, social and political level. It was a time where the Middle East was not necessarily considering women's issues. 

The magazine was run by a woman, Paulina Hassoun, and covered the arts and domestic issues. To find taxes as one of its prime subjects is interesting. It shows that there have been attempts before contemporary times to keep women abreast of the financial world. 

Unfortunately, the magazine had a short life thanks to budgeting problems and was canceled after its editor left the country. Not surprising, women's empowerment was not an easy feat to accomplish during that period. If the editor was unable to guarantee funding, there was no other recourse but to stop publishing the magazine.

Layla's publication shows that while campaigns to empower women have been around for some time, persistent resistance has become an obstacle in grounding that attempt. Did I mention that it was men who where behind its publishing? Especially in the Middle East, women were chained to traditions that delegated financial matters to males. But since the magazine did find male support, can we finally redeem the male species from holding us back all those years? Sadly, this dynamic (female editor, male publishers) begs that we re-evaluate the real obstacles to women's advancement. 

Regardless, it is impressive to find financial topics being addressed to women at a time when the world was undergoing such massive changes. While the magazine's influence was short-lived,  it represents a milestone in women's causes. To rise above hard lined traditions and social challenges to empower women just shows how critical our deeper commitment to world affairs really is. 

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