“Let us go forward with courage, conviction and commitment, with the message that women’s issues are global issues that deserve urgent priority. There can be no peace, no progress as long as women live under the fear of violence”. ~Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director, UN Women.
The future for women looks brighter than ever as we celebrate another international women’s day. Over 160 countries around the world have enacted laws that address the issue of violence against women. In the past decade alone, more than ever before in our modern history, more women have risen to positions of authority in different countries around the world. This has helped to break down some of the traditions and stereotypes that often support violence against women.
It has also placed women in a unique position to both enact and influence policy that will hopefully address and eliminate violence against women. It is clear that much has been achieved since the UN declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women in 1993. Although, we should be proud of how far we have come, we must also be aware that a lot still needs to be done. Different women’s organizations and agencies along with governments and businesses will be engaged in a variety of events and activities to mark 2013’s International Women’s Day.
In Canada, the White Ribbon campaign is focusing on engaging Men and boys in the elimination of violence against women. The UN programme for gender equality in collaboration with UN Women is releasing a one-off single called One Woman. Even Wall Street (along with the Dow Jones), is joining in on the celebrations by recognizing female Executives of the past decade.
All over the world women will be coming together to acknowledge the successes and some of the challenges facing societies moving forward. What will you do in solidarity with other women on this important International Women’s Day? You do not have to be a Malala Yousafzai, battling aggressive ignorance in a hostile environment. Recognize that in your day-to-day lives as mothers, lovers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends, bosses etc., you too are on the front lines and can contribute to the story of women.
Do something to acknowledge yourself, where you have come from and what you have achieved. It is the efforts of individual women and men that make up the foundation of our collective success, so own your part of the story. If you are a mother, you can work with your young children to build a ‘Society Tree’ with the roots made up of the traits that you believe underlay a violence-free and equitable society for women; for older children it can be getting them engaged in a discussion about the issues of a safe, violent-free world for all women.
If you are a wife, lover or friend, take your significant other through a journey of some of your challenges, triumphs and successes. Show them the beautiful, confident and loving person you are. Even if you start this as a one day activity each year, for that one day in the year, you would have created a sphere of positive energy for yourself and those around you. Try to expand this for more than one day in small ways, believe me, it becomes a deep-seated habit where you and those around you develop an awareness that makes violence harder to spread.
Remember, the most important person in your life is YOU! As the bible states and other major religions also espouse, treat your body as a sacred temple; this requires self-love and self-respect. Love and value yourself; learn to recognize signs of potential violence; remove yourself from a potentially violent situation or environment and do not be afraid to ask for help. This is a challenge we can only win individually and collectively, together! Happy International Women’s Day!
The preceding is a guest post from Diana Barikor, M.Ed- Program Manager at Whole Woman Network. Diana is an Educator and Community Developer with over 15 years experience. She’s passionate about facilitating conversations on growth and empowerment for women both personally and professionally. Her mission is simply to engage life with a deep sense of curiosity and an understanding that development is dynamic and always evolving. Follow Whole Woman Network on Twitter @wholewomaninc.