International Women’s Day March 8I
It’s International Women’s Day, established 102 years ago, and originally known as International Working Women’s Day. A day to take pride. A day to salute the garment workers ~ women pioneers who marched for safer working conditions and equal rights.
Women are more empowered than ever but there’s still plenty of work to do. As you read this post on International Women’s Day March 8, like on any other day, women around the world continue to suffer as victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and discrimination.
But unlike any other day, it’s a day to take stock.
In 1917, Russian women held a strike for “bread and peace” in defiance of political leaders and changed the course of history ~ the government gave women the right to vote. Today, ninety-six years later, the UN theme is The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum. Plus ça change?
In their book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, husband-and-wife Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn argue that the key to economic progress in the world lies in unleashing women’s potential. Here are a few of their suggestions for how we can help ~
Make girls smarter. Many pregnant women living in poverty don’t get enough iodine, so their fetuses’ brains do not develop properly. Their children routinely lose ten to 15 IQ points—particularly the girls, for reasons not fully understood. The solution: Iodize salt, at the cost of a couple of pennies per person per year. To contribute, go to Helen Keller International.
Support a woman’s business. With a micro-loan of $50, a woman can start a business, producing income she can use to feed her children and send them to school. To make a loan, go to Mercy Corps or BRAC, two groups helping women around the world.
Keep a girl in school. A girl who gets an education will have fewer children, earn more money, and be able to help her younger siblings. One excellent support program operates in Cambodia, where uneducated girls are at great risk of being trafficked into brothels. For $10 a month, you can keep a girl in school through American Assistance for Cambodia, or for $13,000, you can build an entire school that will revolutionize a life forever.
I say, why not find an opportunity in your own backyard? Be a mentor, a resume coach, a computer tutor, donate food and clothing. Help take better care of the women around you. Inspire, challenge, help, support, share, change the course of history.
There is still a mountain to climb. Do what you can. Speak up. Offer your hand.
All you have to be is anybody.