Tuesday, March 8, 2011

100 Years of International Women's Day

My introduction to International Women's Day was nine years ago, when a few blushing students in Prague brought me flowers and thanked me for being their teacher. Since then I've learned that many countries, especially eastern European ones, revere Women's Day as a celebration and a challenge.

I'm lucky - I grew up in a family where my parents respected one another and treated each other as equals in a partnership. That's how my marriage is, too - we're a team. I am so grateful for this. And for my freedom to speak about the atrocities that happen to women each day. This article by the brilliant Mariella Frostrup is a necessary read on a day like today, but if you're pressed for time, here are some terrifying stats (see the article for citations): 75% of civilians killed in war are women and children. 64% of the world's illiterate adults are women. Conviction in rape cases hovers around 6.5%. Women hold 19% of the world's parliamentary seats. And no, it's not just stats from developing countries. We westerners are included here, too.

One hundred years of International Women's Day. We've made huge strides since then - the right to vote, to work, to drink, to own property, to control our pregnancies. But is it enough?

The video above is a simple, moving reminder of how far we have to go.

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