08 March 2013

Today is International Women’s Day. I didn’t realize until I did a little research that the roots of  IWD are more than 150 years old. 

The origin goes back to protests by garment workers in New York against poor working conditions in 1987. The uprising eventually led to the first women’s labor union.  IWD became an annual day in 1909, the year following another protest by women in New York, that also included the demand for voting rights. 

According to this website,  IWD is an official holiday in more than 20 countries.  

I know strides are being made, but it feels like there is still so far to go  in the U.S. alone, when it comes to equal pay for equal work or paid time off after having a child.

I travel a lot and what’s been clear to me is that even though they may not have the official power, women rule the world. In Mali, we met with a woman’s co-op who made soap and other commodities and sold them to feed their village.  The women also tended to the farms.  In Peru, every where we went,  we saw females selling wares they had made with simple looms and were supporting their families that way.  

One of favorite organizations is Women For Women International.  I came into contact with the executive director, Zainab Salbi, through completely random circumstances a few years ago and started supporting them then. Women for Women helps female survivors of war by providing them with resources to move from poverty to self-sustainability. 

Women for Women operates in eight countries and offers training programs that last up to one year and teach everything from job training to income and asset management.  For example, in Afghanistan, where 81% of women have no formal education, and are subject to human trafficking and horrible violence, Women For Women offers job training in such areas as gem cutting, goat keeping, rug weaving and other occupations. 

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67 down, 298 to go!

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