As we celebrate International Women's Day this Friday, March 8th (and Women's History Month here in the U.S. during the month of March. Did I mention I feel the same way about Women's History Month as I do about Black History Month?), I'm reminded of the progress we've made -- and of the progress yet to be made.
The progress that those who have gone before us have made. The progress that seemed impossible, but was fought for and obtained. The progress I've personally witnessed, just in my lifetime.
But there is much progress needed -- much still ahead of us.
I'm reminded of the fact that -- although women influence 85 percent of all purchases and make up half of the workforce -- we are still not viewed or treated as equal. Here in the U.S., women today still earn only 78 cents for every dollar that a man makes.
But that's not all. As I think of International Women's Day and all that has come behind and is still ahead, I think of...
...the ONE BILLION WOMEN. Around the world.
According to the Fortune article by DeAnne Aguirre, one billion women (yes, that's billion with a B) will be entering the global economy for the first time in the next decade alone. Needless to say, those women will dramatically re-shape and re-structure our business world and the global economy, in general.
But it's really MORE THAN 1,000,000,000 women. All over the world today -- this minute -- there are literally millions MORE women and girls suffering in silence. Suffering in invisibility. Not "suffering" because they're not getting the promotion in corporate America that they deserve. Suffering in forced labor, the sex trade, denial of any medical care, education, and on and on...
In their book, Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn share this:
Americans knew for decades about the unfairness of segregation. But racial discrimination seemed a complex problem deeply rooted in the South's history and culture, and most good-hearted people didn't see what they could do about such injustices. Then along came Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Freedom Riders, along with eye-opening books like John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me. Suddenly the injustices were impossible to look away from...
In the same way, the challenge today is to prod the world to face up to women locked in brothels and teenage girls with fistulas curled up on the floor of isolated huts. We hope to see a broad movement emerge to battle gender inequality around the world and to push for education and opportunities for girls around the world...
The unfortunate reality is that women's issues are marginalized, and in any case sex trafficking and mass rape should no more be seen as women's issues than slavery was a black issue or the Holocaust was a Jewish issue. These are all humanitarian concerns, transcending any one race, gender, or creed. (pgs. 233-234)
So, on this International Women's Day 2013 -- and Every. Single. Day. Hereafter --let's, you and I, together, bring this humanitarian issue to the forefront... and eradicate it.
Demand equality. Far beyond International Women's Day and Women's History Month...
How do we do this? What can we do? Start here. Go to Half the Sky's website and TAKE ACTION RIGHT NOW!
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi
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