Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, which the United Nations has celebrated officially since 1975 (but unofficially since the early 1900s). International Women’s Day is both about celebrating the achievements of women and about recognizing how much further we have to go.
Some worldwide statistics (from the UN Website):
- Up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16.
- Globally, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime.
- Up to 70% of women in the world report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.
- Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18.
These numbers are astounding. As a woman, a traveler, and a global citizen, I reflect constantly on the added vulnerabilities that women face around the world – simply because of their gender. But at the same time, I have seen firsthand how much work is being done globally – by women, for women – to bring about positive change and women’s empowerment. I connected this summer with an inspirational woman named Willa Shalit, whose social movement MaidenNation brings together women designers, artisans and “citizens” in connecting ethical fashion, design, and innovation around the globe. Previously, I was able to see – and participate – the amazing empowerment work that the organization Thirteen Threads is doing in the rural highlands of Guatemala, work that inspired my coworkers to travel upwards of two hours each day from their hometowns to the office in Panajachel, or even further for community visits. And closer to home, I work everyday with a team of incredible, inspirational Peer Adviser women for Berkeley’s Global Poverty and Practice minor who keep me (and the students of the minor!) motivated and excited about the work that we’re all doing to alleviate poverty – for women, and for everyone.
I never “tried” to be a “feminist” – but really, its hard not to be.