March 8th is International Women’s Day, a holiday established 101 years ago as a day when people throughout the globe unite around issues that affect women. International Women’s Day is also a time for reflection and recognition, when we celebrate the achievements of women throughout history to move towards greater equality while recognizing there is still much work to be done for women’s rights.
The scope of women’s issues in need of protection and progressive change are vast, including issues of health, education, political access, violence, economic access and many more. At their core, each of these issues represents the continued lack of equality and persistent discrimination against women that exists on every continent and in every community. While the Voices Against Violence Project focuses specifically on issues of abuse and gender-based violence, the central theme of international women’s day is absolutely key to ending violence against women and girls – living in a world where women are equal. Without gender equality, discrimination on the basis of harmful gender-stereotyping will continue to perpetuate the cycle of violence against women that results in abuse, rape, servitude, exploitation, femicide, and numerous other crimes of violence. As long as people believe that women should be the subservient, weaker, meeker sex – violence against women and girls will continue.
Although some may choose to believe that women’s issues are a thing of the past and that things like gender-based discrimination have been resolved, women (and men who advocate alongside them) continue to fight the often grueling battle for equality every single day. Maybe to some it is easy to ignore or choose not to notice, but concerned women and men recognize that gender inequality is still very present…
Every time there is yet another news story involving degrading and harmful language towards women;
Every time a sexist remark finds its’ way into our everyday lives;
Every time that victim blaming perpetuates myths and leads to injustice;
Every time a young girl is denied education based on her sex;
Every time that a woman’s safety is threatened or she is harmed because she is a woman.
While it is important to recognize that we are making great strides in issues that affect women, these unfortunate realities of the present must keep us moving forward for equality. These are the things that I hope will call you to action to support the women and girls in your life and to help end gender-based violence and discrimination.
Today on International Women’s Day, I would be remiss not to honor the survivors, advocates, family members and friends, law enforcement, attorneys and community members that work tirelessly on issues of women’s rights. I am so fortunate to have been mentored by so many amazing advocates who work long hours for little pay or recognition because they are inspired to make a difference to combat the unacceptably high rate of gender-based violence. I am also incredibly blessed to have learned from and been inspired by so many women who have survived some of life’s most heinous experiences and had unimaginable strength to face their perpetrator in trial, educate their children or others on violence, or work to make our world safer by sharing their story. Thank you to all of you – you are my inspiration.
Happy International Women’s Day!
To learn more about International Women’s Day or Women’s Issues, check out some of the following websites, news stories and press releases: