During the spring of 2011 I was living in Kampala, Uganda working for an NGO and they told me that I would be off work on March 8th for a national holiday. I asked what the holiday was, and they told me it was International Women's Day. I'd never heard of this "Women's Day" they spoke of, as it's not a national holiday in America. The more I learned, the more I loved the idea of this day celebrating women - which is why I'm so excited to get to spend International Women's Day 2016 telling you all about it.
International Women's Day (IWD) was created to celebrate the social, economic, political, and cultural achievements of women around the world. Let's face it - we've come a long way with earning voting rights, gaining access to higher education, and earning competitive wages and leadership roles.
The focus of IWD 2016 is "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up for Gender Equality". The 2030 year references the United Nation's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals which include:
- Ending discrimination against women and girls everywhere.
- Making sure all boys and girls have access to quality childcare, as well as primary and secondary education.
- Ending all forms of violence against women in both the public and private spheres.
- Eliminating harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriages and female genital mutilation.
I think we can all agree those are incredible goals and accomplishing those would certainly make the world better. But what can we actually do about it? What are some small ways we can get involved in effecting real change for women in our communities and around the world? Here are a few of my favorite ways to celebrate, honor, and help women:
Micro-loans. There are really incredible organizations out there, like Kiva who help women fund small business and education through $25 micro-loans. These small loans help women all around the world, and these loans have an very high repayment rate.
Sponsor a Girl's Education. Once again, there are so many wonderful organizations already working in this sphere looking for you to partner with them to help provide for the educational costs in many parts of the world where primary and secondary education aren't free. I personally recommend sponsoring through World Vision. They make it really easy to set-up your monthly donation and help girls around the world get access to quality education.
Take your Daughters to Self Defense Class. This was one request my dad made of me in college, and so I signed up for a 1 credit hour self-defense class offered through my university. The sad truth is violence against women is still prevalent, and knowing how to protect yourself is a great skill to have. Encourage your daughters, nieces, cousins, and friends to take control of their safety and learn basic self-defense skills.
Be Educated. Find out more about issues facing women in your communities, volunteer at a domestic violence shelter, go oversees and listen to the stories about growing up as a woman in a different culture. The more educated we can be, the better we can all be. We are all in this humanity thing together.
What are some other ways you can help honor women on International Women's Day? What other organizations are already doing great work?