The earliest Women’s Day observance, called “National Woman’s Day,” was held on February 28, 1909 in New York. As we know much has happened since then both good and bad and much is still to be done regarding equal pay and opportunities. But ladies we have come a long way and today we witness female heads of state, politicians and CEOs who broke through that glass ceiling making it easier for young women today. We give thanks to those women who did it the hard way, showing that gender was not a barrier to success.
We though are so fortunate to live in the society that we do. My heart goes out to my sisters who live in communities where they are second class citizens, where they have neither rights nor a voice over their bodies and lives, where genital mutilation still exists. Communities where women are supressed, where education is non-existent where young women are raped and subjected to unwanted pregnancies, these are the girls and women we should also be thinking of today.
The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”. Kathryn and I have personally witnessed this in the slums of India where women were once totally voiceless second-class citizens. Urban activists working in these slums have helped many women, educating them with regard to their rights and instilling confidence. Some are granted small loans to start for example a sewing or hairdressing business. This transforms the lives of these once powerless women and elevates them financially, but just as importantly it elevates them socially, giving them a respect that they had never thought possible. This also has a flow on effect throughout the family making education easier for other girls and women.
I was lucky I grew up in a family where women were loved and respected. I never thought for an instant that I was not equal to a male. I know that many women in Australia are subjected to humiliation and disrespect in the home and workplace and this is an ongoing work in progress to rid our society of these abhorrent behaviours.
Ladies we have come a long way and we should stand united and be proud of who we are. While we are raising a glass of bubbles today, I just ask you to pause and reflect on our sisters both near and far who still have a hard road to travel.
Here’s to ALL women around the world today and every day!