This is a celebration that is actually much more popular in Europe and Africa than in North America...in all honesty, it is my friend Samantha who reminded me through her blog this week, 3 Limes, that the 100th International Women's Day is was indeed on March 8th this year.
Samantha is sharing a collection of images that celebrate the lives of Ugandan women, in an exhibition in Kampala today. She is living in Africa working as a teacher, educating her students and raising her daughters in a unique and wonderful way. She also shares her thoughtful observations through her writing...take a second to read her post on Ugandan women from last year. It is still relevant. And an appropriate read for today.
There are worldwide activities, with the acheivements of women worldwide being lauded. In Canada, this year's theme is: Strong Leadership. Strong Women. Strong World: Equality.
Sounds very good to me.
Womanhood on different sides of the world is both vastly different and very much the same. There are threads of commonality that are woven between the lives of women. Some of these are shared in loss but many more are shared joyfully in resilience, persistence, love and change.
I am blessed to be where I am, with a world of choices and riches at my fingertips. I take this responsibility very seriously, as do many. There is so much room for progress in our society, from a local to a global level, that I find it hard not to act, to try and bring about change in the lives of other women. I try not to sound soapboxy about it...and I know I fail miserably...but I think it is a responsibility we have as women, for women. Whether you have daughters or sons, ensuring that the rights and opportunities afforded in our society are respected and shared among everyone is something that is paramount to the well being of everyone.
Sometimes it is a life changing event that brings about the act of change.
Amanda Lindhout, the Canadian reporter who was held captive in Somalia for 15 months, is a startling example of this.
Despite the suffering she endured during her captivity, she returned to Canada and turned her recovery and forgiveness into action, creating the Global Enrichment Foundation to support the women of the very society that terrorized her. In her hours of isolation she thought that if the women of this society were given opportunities, then the ripple effect could have longer lasting effects on the men and the wider community, lessening the desperation and brutality that reigns at present. Amanda herself shrugs off the claims that she was so strong during her ordeal, saying that it is the women who live this oppression day to day that are the strong ones...and so then to empower them would in turn empower their communities.
"If you educate a woman, you educate an entire family"
(click to see a short interview with Amanda)
This is a very simple statement that caries an enormous amount of truth.
I have written before about supporting one of the women in Amanda's Somali Women's Scholarship Program. It is something I take great personal satisfaction in and I would encourage others to adopt a student in the program as well.
However, you do not need to step outside your community to bring about change. On the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, simply letting a girl in your life knows she is valued...making sure your talents and strengths are put to use...speaking up when there are injustices for men or women...all these are ways that speak to the unique voice that women have to share.
And it is that being present as a woman in the everyday that leads me to the choice of photos that I am sharing for today. They are nothing earth shattering, and will not speak for everyone...but for me? These are the personal ones that remind me of strengths I possess.
And that is worth celebrating, no?