Today, on March 8th, we celebrate International Women’s Day. And I can’t help but think of and be thankful for all the strong women I know who have filled my life through the years. Their hard-work, passion for life, ability to endure, and love are inspirational and heartwarming. Unfortunately, I have to also remember the limitations, struggles, and injustices many of these women experienced in their own lives such as poverty, gender violence, and inequality, among others.
When I read recently about the United Nations’ initiative for empowering women and help them overcome violence, in a small way I felt the struggles of so many women were validated. The focus of International Women’s Day is ending gender-based violence in the globe, as you might remember from my last post, the statistics in Latin America and the Caribbean are alarming when it comes to violence against women.
To commemorate the day and advocate for women in need, the initiative has helped launch a song with The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) called “One Woman.” UN Women is a global advocacy organization for women and girls dedicated to improving the lives of women worldwide.
“One Woman” is a musical celebration of women worldwide, featuring 25 artists from 20 countries across the globe. The song calls for change and celebrates acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who daily make extraordinary contributions to their countries and communities. The lyrics are inspired by stories of women whom UN Women has supported.
“One Woman gives us a message of hope and inspiration”, said UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet in a press release. “This song carries a message of unity and solidarity with women worldwide and reminds us that equality, human rights and human dignity are the birthright of all of us, every human being. I thank everyone who made this song possible.”
Making it Happen
Creating awareness is very important, and for many of us is the only contribution we are able to make, however, there are many heroes who are making it happen on the ground and I was filled with hope reading their stories and how they are helping their communities. Their work is a great celebration of women they do every day.
On International Women’s Day we must celebrate and recognize what they are doing.
One of those heroes, Mayerlis Angarita, survived a conflict with guerrilla groups in Colombia. Sadly, Angarita lost her mother in the conflict when she was still a child. Working alongside other leaders in Colombia, she opened a forum for dialogue so women who have been victims of the conflict can tell their stories and through sharing and describing their difficulties experience healing.
Another powerful woman is Guiselly Flores, an HIV-positive activist from Perú. She’s the director of the Peruvian Network of Women Living with HIV (RPM+) and has been an advocate for more than a decade. Flores’ husband’s HIV-positive diagnosis was concealed from her, resulting not only in her contracting the virus but also leading to the death of one of her sons. Flores now advocates for and works to empower women living with the virus by fighting to get them high-quality health services as well as demanding they enjoy all of their rights.
Like these two heroínas (female heroes), there are other powerful stories on the One Woman site that we should celebrate. Visit the site, and read, share, and help build collective knowledge for the empowerment of women everywhere.
Let’s Honor & Celebrate Each Other
There are numerous ways you can get involved in International Women’s Day and contribute to the efforts to stop the human rights violations that affect seven out of every 10 women worldwide. Here are some ideas:
1) Join One Woman and share the song created by acclaimed singers and musicians from China to Costa Rica, Mali to Malaysia—both women and men—to spread a message of unity and solidarity: We are “One Woman.”
2) Use social media to share the stories of all 12 heroínas (heroes) featured on the UN Women website
3) Volunteer at a local organization that works to stop violence against women
4) Talk to your daughters and sons about International Women’s Day, its history and importance
5) Discuss gender equality with your kids
6) Help a woman in need. If you have a friend, sister, or coworker you suspect is experiencing inequality or violence, talk to her, provide information, offer support
And let’s not forget:
“We are One Woman,
Your courage keeps me strong.
We are One Woman,
You sing, I sing along.
We are One Woman,
Your dreams are mine.
And we shall shine.
We shall shine.”
~ Excerpt from the One Woman song launched today by UN Women. Lyrics written by: Beth Blatt, Graham Lyle and Fahan Hassan. To purchase the song, you can go to their website or download from iTunes and Amazon. It only cost $0.99 and all proceeds go directly to support UN Women programs.