I didn't get a chance to post this yesterday, but don't want to miss it altogether.
Yesterday, March 8th, Was International Women's Day, the culmination of International Women's Week. A chance to acknowledge and celebrate the advances that we've seen in women's rights and the achievements of those that came before us.
Much has changed for women in the world. We have the right to vote. To work (though sadly, not to earn the same wage as a man. Did you know that Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production). We have most careers open to us, in most places the opportuntity to study, to join the armed services and to be heard.
But not everywhere. Still, so much more needs to be done. There are still horrific acts of violence and oppression being committed against women all over the world. Countries like Pakistan stkll turn a blind eye to so called "Honour Killings". The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports that at least 80% of Pakistani women are victims of male aggression. The burning of women is part of a widespread pattern of everyday violence. In Rwanda, Kosovo, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, women are repeatedly raped and beaten, so called spoils of war. In Thailand, Burma, Nigeria, The Dominican Republic, women and girls are routinely sold into slavery and forced into prostitution.
Women in Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia face government-sponsored discrimination that renders them unequal before the law - including discriminatory family codes that take away women's legal authority and place it in the hands of male family members - and restricts women's participation in public life.
The displaced women in Darfur, largely forgotten by the outside world are unable to step outside their camps to collect firewood, knowing they will almost certainly be raped. Women are wrenched from their families and forced to live as sex slaves in militia camps.
Across Africa, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Indonesia, Syria and Iran (as well as other areas), the heartbreaking practice of Female Genital Mutilation is routinely practiced. Young girls are maimed in this abhorrent ritual and not enough is being done to stop it. I clicked on a New York Times link to share with you. There was nothing graphic in them, simply stills of the girls faces. Nothing they showed me could have haunted me more than the eyes of the tiny girls and babies that had to endure this. I chose not to include it. It's just to devestating.
There is so much further still to go. Women's rights still need to be fought for every day, all over the world.
It's not all bad, of course. There are some amazing women to be celebrated, women who have inspired girls all over the world to aspire to new heights. Here are just a few women who have changed the world for us all.
Jane Addams.The first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. A charter member of the NAACP and a was tireless in the lobbying for laws governing child labour, juvenile justice, protection of immigrants and Women's Suffrage. She was the first Vice President of the Women Suffrage Association.
She founded the International Congress of Women and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Susan B.Anthony Dedicated her life to woman suffrage movement. Her efforts paved the way (in fact she even wrote) for the passing of the 19th Amendment in the US Constitution, affording women the right to vote.
Margaret Bourke-White The first woman ever hired as a photojournalist. The first western journalist allowed into the Soviet Union and she was the first female war correspondent and the first to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II, and one of the first photographers to enter and document the death camps.
Amelia Earhart Aviation Pioneer.
Mary McLeod Bethune - One of 17 children born to former slaves, working in the cotton fields. She was an educator, founding a college for African American Girls and became advisor to a President.
Eleanor Roosevelt - The first American First Lady to take on the role of Activist. She worked tirelessly for disadvantaged black americans; convinced her husband to start an initiative which provided financial assistance to students and job training for young workers. After her husband's death, she became a delegate to the United Nations and helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Sandra Day O’Connor - The first female Supreme Court Justice.
Marie Curie - Who inspired me as a girl of ten to feel passionate about academia. I fell in love with the image of the 'smart woman', and feel it still today.
Nellie Bly A jounalist who, determined to investigate rumours of brutality in a mental insitution, faked insanity to be committed. Her expose - Ten Days In A Mad House saw changes to the treatment of the mentally ill and increased funds in the budget. She then went on (after suggesting to her editor that she could match the feats read in Around the World in 80 days) to travel around the world (shockingly, unaccompanied by a man) in just 72 days, making her a role model for independant women around the world.
Shirin Ebadi - The first Muslim and the first Iranian to win the Nobel Peace Prize. An Iranian Lawyer known for her pioneering efforts for human rights, especaially the rights of women and children.
Rosa Parks whose simple, brave act set alight the Civil Rights Movement and propelled Martin Luther King into the spotlight.
There are so many more. It's late, and I need to post this. But I want us all to take a moment and think of the women that have influenced us. Women we've never met that inspire us. Women we love, that have helped us become the women we are now. Our mothers. Our sisters. Our teachers. Our friends.
Then look at your daughters. Hold them close, and hope that they and their friends live in a time when the rights of women all over the world are respected, and they never, ever meet the kind of obstacles that the women before them worked so hard to break down.
May the Elfing and Monkey, Aurora, Bella, Willow,Milly, Lucy, Charlotte and Ella, Lauren, Heidi and Juliet (and all of the other daughters of those who read my blog) grow up to be brave, happy women, congnizant of the gifts they've been given and the right for women and girls all over the world to receive them.
So, my friends, members of the sisterhood. A belated Happy International Woman's Day to you all.
Tell me about the women who inspired you. I'll tell you a bit about the one who inspired me the most.