International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate what women around the globe have accomplished. It is also a reminder of all the issues that still need to be addressed and tackled.
Often, I hear that fighting for women’s rights is not necessary. And part of me aches inside to hear that. Because, as long as one woman is not free, then none of us truly are. To state that fighting for women’s rights isn’t necessary anymore is to dismiss the girls and women who want to receive an education, but are prevented from doing so because of their gender. The girls and women whose lives are lost in honor killings. The girls who miss out on school because they don’t have access to tampons or pads. It’s to presume that everyone in the world has the same privileges that you do, when many do not.
A right to an education is something that I believe is vital to empowering women. When women receive an education, everyone benefits. These women can help their communities, as well as their families. Worldwide, 62 million girls are not in a classroom and women around the globe make up for two-thirds of the illiterate population. Societal pressures or stereotypical norms could be part be part of the reason so many girls and women never complete their education or even attend school. Maybe a young woman is expected to marry, or her family needs her to help with chores at home. And so, young men are allowed to receive an education while girls remain at home. Those are only a few reasons that girls are held back from school.
Education is just one of the many issues that women face in the world, and it is an issue that affects everyone. How can societies expect to take on global issues like poverty and climate change when often times women are not included? When young girls are discouraged from certain job paths because that is not a “girl” job?
Women everywhere are still fighting for their voices to be heard. For their right to learn. For their right to choose their own lives. Each country faces its own set of issues, but we are all in this together. International Women’s Day gives everyone a chance to step back and examine the journey women have been on. There have been mistakes and set-backs, but there has also been progress. It is also a chance to for women to connect globally, to learn form each other.
In her 1995 Beijing speech Hilary Clinton said, “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” And, that is something I think is important for the world to remember.