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Violence, Poverty, Illiteracy Affect Far Too Many Women. What You Should Know, What You Can Do

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The 2014 theme for the 2014 United Nations' International Women's Day, "Equality for women is progress for all," underscores the fact that a better world for women is simply a better world for everyone.

As people everywhere celebrate the advocacy day March 8, we're also reminded of how many of the world's women have been left behind -- and left without. Left without clean drinking water and access to contraceptives, left to suffer staggering rates of violence and left without legislation to protect them. Left in extreme poverty and left without opportunities to do something about it.

Regardless of your gender, today we look at how far we have to go -- and what we can do to get there.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Stop violence against women.
Learn more about The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) from Amnesty International. Sign a petition, download the activist tool kit or use social media to spread the word.

Increase access to clean water.
Join charity:water and use your next birthday to give the gift of healthy, safe drinking water. The organization makes it simple, allowing you to pledge your birthday to the cause. The website has built-in tools to invite your friends to make donations in lieu of giving gifts.

Help women help themselves out of poverty.
Kiva connects you with female entrepreneurs around the world who are looking for small-scale loans to get their businesses off of the ground. Loans start as low as $25 and the repayment rate is almost 99 percent. When your loan is repaid, you can either take it back or re-invest it in another up-and coming entrepreneur of your choice.

Increase women's access to contraception.
Sir Richard's Condoms works with partner organizations to provide condoms to those who lack access to contraception. The one-for-one model means each time you buy one, you provide for someone in need.

Stop Female Genital Mutilation.
Equality Now has frequently updated information on the fight to end FGM around the world. They also provide a wealth of ways to get involved and take action, such as petitioning legislative bodies and putting public pressure on government officials.

Know the names behind the numbers of female refugees.
The International Rescue Committee works around the world to help refugees who were forced to flee from war or disaster. One of its campaigns, Vision Not Victim, works with young refugees by helping them reshape their futures. Learn more in the video below.

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