Every year on March 8, and throughout the month, we recognize the achievements of women around the world, evaluate the progress we have made and collectively gain momentum to start all over again.
We mark International Women’s Dayby virtue of the economic, political and social achievements of women.
The theme for 2013, “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum,” celebrates these feats while remaining vigilant and tenacious for further sustainable change.
Every day, we are reminded of the threats women face and the scourge of gender violence.
Two tragic events in late 2012 shook the world and spurred the drive for championing women’s equality and human rights: The October 9 dramatic shooting by the Taliban of 14-year-old Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai for going to school and advocating for girls’ education, and the December 16 gang-rape in Delhi that killed Jyoti Singh.
Such outrages take place daily throughout the world. They have prompted greater efforts to fight violence against women and rape.
On a brighter side, women now hold the president’s office in 17 countries; worldwide the maternal mortality rate has fallen by more than one-third; and global literacy rates for girls have shot up to 74% from 55%.
Over two-thirds of the world's 793 million illiterate adults are found in only eight countries -- Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan. But of all the illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are women. Extremely low literacy rates are concentrated in three regions -- the Arab states, South and West Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa -- where around one-third of the men and half of all women are illiterate.
This brings me back to my belief that education can win us the future.
Cultural, social and political benefits can be translated into society through education.
The first step on the long road to equal opportunities and development has to be through education.
The Internet has made the world a smaller place. It would have taken us weeks to hear or read about cases such as those in India and Pakistan a little over a decade ago. In the online era, such cases of violence against women can no longer be ignored or hushed up.
The same goes for countries such as Egypt and Syria where women are at the forefront the uprisings and holding communities together. But we still hear of them being raped and beaten in public squares or regime dungeons.
It is strange and sad that after 21 centuries (and I am only counting the AD ones) parts of the human race have not yet learned men and women can be partners. It is sad and repulsive that many men still need to show their superiority through violence and rape.
This year -- already dubbed the “Year to End Rape” -- will hopefully help reduce this scourge. It will be a year were our rights as human beings are non-negotiable.
There should be a special place -- like Dante’s “anti-Inferno”-- for those who do not speak out against these injustices, who have no opinion and who compromise on such important issues as rape and violence against women.
Today, on Women’s Day, as I do most days, I thank the women in my life for being who they are, for guiding me and for shining a light on me.
I celebrate the women from all walks of life -- each talented in her special way – who I meet daily and from whom I draw strength.
On this special day, I equally give thanks and celebrate the men in my life who have helped and continue to help and support me.
We are preordained to be a team – women and men. There’s no escape.
Let’s walk life hand in hand and make everyday Women's Day. Let’s try to do whatever we can to ensure the future for women is bright, equal, safe and rewarding. Maybe, one day, we will celebrate Human’s Day, with no need to qualify the gender!
March 8: Education can win the future – March 6, 2012
The women in my life – March 8, 2011
Dearest Mom… -- March 21, 2011
Soulmates for life -- November 2, 2010
A tribute to breast cancer survivors -- October 2, 2010
Emma’s star – August 20, 2010