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As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day on March 8, I feel overwhelming gratitude for the opportunities I have today that women over the past century fought for me to have.
In 1911, women were rallying together, marching towards a shared vision, advocating for each other, and making a lot of noise for their right to vote. These brave noisemakers dared to dream that their daughters and daughter's daughters would grow up in a world where women had power and equal opportunity.
Today, I run my own company, have a University degree, and I proudly cast a ballot in the last election. The noisemakers that fought for my rights would probably be proud.
There is a lot to celebrate for the centenary of International Women's Day but we still need women rallying together, working towards common goals, and advocating for other women who don't have the same rights and opportunities that we do. We still need noisemakers.
Opportunity disparity is a critical challenge facing girls and women today, especially those living in developing countries whose basic needs are still not being met. It is essential that we make noise on behalf of these girls and women and arm them with simple tools and social technologies that empower them to create opportunities for themselves, their families, and their communities.
One thousand girls and women are still dying needlessly every day during pregnancy or childbirth. The White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) is leading a global movement to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for women and newborns around the world. The WRA has been equipping women with camera equipment to share their stories. These women make their own short films which get shared through the WRA's film platform and via social media, giving a voice to those who often feel unheard.
Another shocking reality in developing countries is that girls and women miss up to fifty days of school or work every year while menstruating because they do not have access to affordable sanitary pads. This is a problem being addressed by social venture, Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), which is making sanitary pads more accessible by partnering with local women to start up businesses that manufacture and sell affordable sanitary pads made out of local raw materials. It is these kinds of simple yet innovative solutions that we need more of.
I think Gloria Vanderbilt said it best with her statement, "I've always believed that one woman's success can only help another woman's success." Each of us can use our unique strengths and platforms to contribute to a world where every woman is empowered to reach her full potential. Whether through social networking, blogging, fundraising, volunteering, or campaigning, raise your voice for International Women's Day to create a world in which every girl and woman has an opportunity to shine.