Happy International Women’s Day!
Today we’re celebrating the 100th International Women’s Day.
In 1910, at the second International Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen, the delegates voted that an annual Women’s Day should be celebrated worldwide to bring attention to women’s needs. At the time, women didn’t have many political or civil rights and couldn’t demand them because most women didn’t have the right to vote. This happened ten years before women in the United States were able to vote.
The following year, in 1911, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated. Over time, many countries made this a yearly national holiday. For women struggling for gender equality and empowerment this day of celebration brings focus to our needs.
Since then, women in many countries have made significant progress toward gender equality. Most of us have the right to vote, access to good education and jobs, although we still don’t get paid as much as men do on average. We’re also not equally represented in government when compared to men.
In developing countries women have not fared as well. Girls have less access to education than boys and consequently many women are illiterate. Most are poor. Arranged marriage for girls under age 18 is common. This is followed by early motherhood and many bear up to seven children. For them this is the only choice they know.
There is a movement to end abuse of women and to improve education of girls and allow women access to employment because countries where women have a voice tend to be more peaceful and more viable economically. Improving the lot of women benefits the whole society.
In some countries, the International Women’s Day helps focus on a struggle for basic rights while in other countries it is a day for honoring women rather like celebrating a Mother’s Day. It is their special day and they get flowers and small gifts from friends, co-workers and family. In a few countries, even large ones like the United States, it’s not celebrated at all.
As I watch the events in the world, I see more women and girls stepping into the limelight and standing their ground without first asking for permission. I’m happy to see this trend and I hope it grows. I hope it grows everywhere around the world!
For more information about the International Women’s Day see http://www.internationalwomensday.com/first.asp and http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/womensday/index.aspWomen.
I’d like to encourage people to help women in underdeveloped countries by donating to organizations like Heifer International, http://www.heifer.org/ which allows women to feed their families and earn small amounts of money by raising livestock, or to Global Fund for Women, http://www.globalfundforwomen.org/ which funds programs dedicated to improving women’s rights around the world.