It is International Women's Day, a day we celebrate the achievements made and raise awareness about the gender inequality and injustice for women and girls in 2012. We have come a long way in the past century, especially in the western world. What we are seeing now is also strong women's rights movements taking place in developing and poor countries around the world from Colombia to Liberia to Yemen. Women are rising up on an unprecedented scale to challenge patriarchal values and power structures that do not work for them.
International Women's Day is also a day that we mourn that 1 in 3 women in the world will be raped or abused in their lifetime. A day that we mourn that hundreds of thousands of women have been raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A day that we mourn that hundreds of thousands of girls are still subjected to female genital mutilation. A day that we mourn that women lack the vote and the right to run for political office in Saudi Arabia. A day that we mourn that girls as young as 7 or 8 are married off in Afghanistan and Yemen. A day that we mourn that young girls from Nepal are trafficked and sold into brothels in India. A day that we mourn that young women from Eastern Europe are raped and abused and forced to sell sex in Amsterdam and Stockholm. The list could be made long, too long.
International Women's Day is also a day that we should look at our own lives and the societies we live in. Many westerners are under the false impression that International Women's Day is a waste of time, because we allready live in a equal society. I beg to differ.
In an equal society women's work is valued as highly as that of men. A Woman is payed the same wage as a man for doing the same job. In an equal society 1 in 6 american women will not be raped in her lifetime. In an equal society women do not have to worry about sexual harassment in every school yard, office, or night club. In an equal society 1 in 3 women doing military service (as in the US) will not be sexually assaulted. In an equal society women are not trafficked and sold as sex slaves (as in all of the western world). In an equal society being a rape survivor is not something to be ashamed of. In an equal society men do not abuse or kill their spouses.
As we continue the struggle for global equality we must never forget that the struggle begins at home, in one's own family, friend circle, and community. Most of all that struggle begins with you and me.
Knowing the harrowing reality of millions of women around the globe from Sweden to the Democratic Republic of Congo who have their rights violated every day, one could become cynical and feel powerless. I choose to see this reality as a call to action!
We are half the worlds population. We have a voice. We are changemakers. Together we can change women's reality. Yes we can!
Happy International Women's Day!
Founder of the Women, Peace, Security Blog