How Are You Supporting International Women’s Day Today?
While at my in-laws for dinner tonight, I asked: "So, what's everyone doing to support International Women's Day (IWD) tomorrow?" My mother-in-law replied: "It's a real holiday?"
She recently returned from 18 months in Ukraine. While there, she learned about IWD when some locals asked her and my father-in-law what we did in the United States to celebrate.
My mother-in-law had never heard of IWD so she explained that we celebrated Mother's Day here. Their Ukrainian friends' response: "But what about the women who aren't mothers?"
While the US hasn't declared IWD an official national holiday, it has dedicated the entire month of March to Womens' History Month and the United Nations and many organizations, including prominent companies, put on conferences during this time to further promote and address women's issues and rights focusing this year's theme on "Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All." (Click here to read conference summaries and progress/challenges.)
So, why is this important? What does this have to do with me as I sit behind my computer in my little corner of the world and you as you sit behind yours?
I watched this video and marveled at how relentlessly Iranian women are fighting for a chance to enjoy the gender equality freedoms I take for granted. I read this article that stated, "A growing number of countries have legislation that supports sexual and reproductive health and promotes gender equality. Nevertheless, maternal mortality remains unacceptably high, too few women have access to family planning, and violence against women remains a cause for global shame."
I sit here behind my computer with the opportunity to work and provide for my family and I am haunted by a scene of 12-year-old girls dancing in the night market in Bangkok right out in the open with hardly any clothes on for all to see, for some to take advantage of. Taken from their homes. No mothers to care for them. I couldn't take it in. I didn't know what to do. Global shame doesn't begin to describe the anger and helplessness that I felt in that moment and still feel 8 years later as I write this post. I turned my head. I kept walking. What could I do? The scene has never left my mind. But maybe there is more I can do. Maybe there's more we all can do to further equality and rights and justice for women everywhere.
As I have researched and watched the #iwd hashtag on Twitter, here's ways to learn more or get involved:
- Check out this site, which has a searchable database of events listed by country and state/city. Is there one in your area? Next year, Utah is going to be on that list!
- Choose an issue that speaks to you, like this one on maternal health perhaps, and look for ways to support the organizations that are dedicated to progressing these causes.
- Check out organizations like Vital Voices and attend one of their celebrations this week.
- Read this article and learn five things you can do to help support IWD.
- Watch the videos below and others like it to be more informed on global issues and how you can help.
- If nothing else, tweet your support for IWD (#iwd) and connect with women globally who share your support. Maybe together we can all make a difference!
XPhoto above used with permission from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/george/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0