International Women’s Day

March 07, 2008

The event we now call International Women’s Day began 95 years ago, a day promoting women’s rights and peace on a global level. Some great websites detail the turbulent times that gave birth to this movement and describe its history since then. Type “International Women’s Day” into any online search engine for a good read.

I’ve been fortunate in having visited more than 70 countries over the years, many times on business trips that allowed me to get to know people personally. While there is no doubt about the distinct differences between us, there are common threads. Do we have a place to call home, enough food for our family, and the chance to live the life of equality?

It didn’t take long for the women I met to develop a sense of community as we worked behind the scenes at a conference. From Papua New Guinea to Germany, Australia to China, once we settled around a home-cooked meal, we would share stories about the problems we faced as women and how we tried to find solutions. The similarities were striking, the sense of immediate bonding no matter our backgrounds — wonderful.

This year for International Women’s Day, why not ask your U.S. senators to support the Global Resources and Opportunities for Women to Thrive Act (H.R. 2965/S. 2069)? This legislation would shape U.S. international assistance and trade policy to enhance women’s economic security. It would help impoverished women start businesses, promote women’s property rights, increase women’s access to employment, and improve the quality and working conditions of jobs dominated by women.

While I believe in celebrating women’s rights and peace, I wish we didn’t need to make a separate point of doing so. All women and men should already be living equally, in a peaceful environment. Since that’s not the case, at least we have organizations like AAUW, International Women’s Day, One Shared World, CARE, and many others who continue the diligent work of getting us there. What experiences in the international community made you aware of the power women can bring to issues of equality?

By:   |   March 07, 2008

3 Comments

  1. Martha DiCicco says:

    This morning I attended an Nobel Peace Prize Conference at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. The , 2006 speaker was Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. He opened his speech by saying how glad he was to be speaking on the International Women’s Day and went on to talk about how 97% of the 7 million micro-loans made by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh are made to women. He elaborated on how women have a longer vision and helping women helps the entire family. Women who receive the loans are encouraged to send their children to school as well which many of them are doing. These children are doing very well in school and many are going on to college. Poverty is being reduced in Bangladesh and Millenial Goals are being reached. How wonderful to hear of this success on this day! You can get more information in his book “Banker to the Poor.” He would be a wonderful speaker at an AAUW national convention!

  2. Eileen Menton says:

    As the convener of the Project Grants Grants Committee of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (www.vgif.org), I am inspired by the groups of women who have received grants from VGIF and by the women who donate funds to VGIF. In rural regions of Senegal where fewer than 15% of girls ever get to junior high school, after-school tutoring for girls is preparing them for grade-level exams, which they must pass in order to continue their education. The Hurnan Women’s Group in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya is building ferro-cement water tanks to ensure safe and accessible water for bathing, cooking, and drinking. In Taakija, Cameroon, women are receiving training in bee farming and given supplies to start their own beekeeping businesses. In rural Tamil Nadu, India, women and teen girls are attending literacy training and are learning to make soft toys and leather toys and garments. In Azerbaijan, a phone line called “The Hope Line” was created to provide psychological support to victims of domestic abuse and connect them to appropriate support services.

    Many AAUW members and branches are donors to VGIF. They are providing the funds to empower women world-wide.

  3. [...] The American Association of University Women (AAUW) offers graduate fellowships to women who are not citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. For more information write to: AAUW Educational Foundation, Department 60, 2201 N. Dodge St., Iowa City, IA 52243-4030; phone (319) 337-1716, fax (319) 337-1204; or visit their web site:http://www.aauw.org/3000/fdnfelgra.html#International Fellowships [...]

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