March 08, 2010
Darwin Cruz is Online Communications Officer for the Grameen Foundation.
Today is International Women's Day. I first learned about this holiday a few years ago. Back then, I didn't understand the nature of the celebration or why it's been celebrated for the past 100 years. But now I realize that though in the US it's not yet a major holiday, around the world this day has a big impact.
Take a look at the over 750 events celebrating this day around the world. This year's theme is: Equal rights, equal opportunities: progress of all. I definitely believe in that last statement: unless we are all making progress together, there is no true progress. I wanted to share a couple excerpts from NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a huge advocate for women worldwide. From his book Half the Sky, he writes:
Yet if the injustices that women in poor countries suffer are of paramount importance, in an economic and geopolitical sense the opportunity they represent is even greater. “Women hold up half the sky,” in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos.
And in response to this, he advocates three steps the world can take to fight this injustice. I'll highlight one of them.
Third, we need more support for women starting businesses. These can be microsavings and microlending programs, or training in entrepreneurship. BRAC and Grameen have done great work in this area, as has Injaz in the Middle East. Such programs lead women to bring in incomes, and that gives them more weight in the home and society. Moreover, they tend to invest the income in their children, so there’s a broader effect in fighting poverty.
We're thankful that he includes the Grameen Bank as part of the solution, as we follow the same philosophies here at the Grameen Foundation. In honor of International Women's Day, we invite you to join us to Stop Poverty Now and you can make a difference for women, and therefore all people.
Learn about the impact you can have on a women's life, and consider what you can do to celebrate Women's Day today in even a small way. Feel free to share what Women's Day means to you in the comments!