“Strong women lead to strong nations.” – Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International
We like to celebrate women every day – no matter where they are from or what religion they practice. But today is special. On March 8th each year, people around the world recognize the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Today is International Women’s Day.
There are infinite reasons to celebrate women. But what strikes us as particularly noteworthy is the strength and resilience demonstrated by women to overcome sexism and inequity.
We have traveled throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. To China, Russia, Afghanistan and India. Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kenya. Haiti, Honduras, Argentina and Bolivia. Morocco, Lesotho, Uganda and Ethiopia. Eastern, Central and Western Europe. Mexico, Canada and all over the United States. Collectively, to over 50 countries.
Is there any place where we can honestly say women have equal opportunity?
There are certainly countries notorious for holding women and girls back, where they are denied education, representation and simple freedoms we take for granted like driving a car or taking a stroll down the street on your own. Many such places are known for much, much worse.
But nowhere does there exist a truly even playing field, whether in rural Pakistan where Malala bravely stood up to her oppressors or in the board rooms of American business. As much progress as has been made over the last century, this remains a stubborn truth.
Which is why it is so admirable when women around the world achieve success despite the additional obstacles they face. Aung San Suu Kyi is one example. Following decades of being obstructed and harassed by a military regime ruled by men, and being held under house arrest for 15 years, she has risen to political power in Myanmar (Burma) and stands as a powerful voice for democracy around the world.
Her courage and determination are unquestionably worth celebrating on this day.
Among the 10 values championed by International Women’s Day, the ones that especially speak to us are dignity, respect and equality. It’s surely a result of all that travel. Seeing and listening first-hand affects you more than reading about oppression… it changes your understanding, and your life.
There are many things we would like to see happen to create a more just world. Chief among them is recognizing the dignity, advancing the respect, and guaranteeing the equality of women. Equal opportunities for women and girls everywhere will help build a brighter future for all.
For videos, events, resources and more visit International Women’s Day, and carry the message of #BeBoldForChange throughout the year wherever you are.
And if you would like to purchase a candle handmade by a woman refugee that shares the values of International Women’s Day in a unique way, we will donate 10% to the Global Fund for Women supporting the rights of women and girls around the world through groups working to ensure that women everywhere can own property, vote, run for office, get paid fair wages, and live free from violence.
Thank you. Time to celebrate.
Top photo courtesy of The Boston Globe