March has always been a special month for our family, with birthdays popping up left, right and centre and celebrations and get-togethers taking up every weekend. Whilst I love the opportunity to see family more regularly than normal, March is particularly important to me because it’s a month all about important women. On the 8th of March each year the world joins together to celebrate International Women’s Day, a date conjuring up messages of hope, pride and accomplishment of women worldwide. Eleven days later a birthday is celebrated. It’s a day that I am particularly grateful for as it brought a remarkable female role-model into the world that I am blessed to be able to call my Mum.
This month as we celebrate women and their achievements, if I’ve learnt anything from my mum through childhood, it’s that we must stand up for injustice and the poor, and thus it’s a good month to remember that we still have a long way to go before women’s rights are realised globally. In the developing world particularly, women are still fighting for their rights for basic things like education, safety, employment, healthcare and democracy. Many women still lack the opportunity to gain a complete education, work in a safe and dignified environment or use their voice in an election. Whilst the current situation is bleak for some, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves, spread this message to others and make a commitment to the positive future of all women internationally.
My mum was blessed with life, education and safety during child-birth, and as a result, I’ve also been blessed with life, education and many opportunities. I am always grateful for my inherited passion for learning thanks to Mum and in celebration of women and learning, I’ve collated a list of ways for you to learn, act and contribute to the plight of women internationally. Don’t let March 8 slip by as a day we take token actions, a commitment to justice and equality should last a lifetime.
A book to read… Gogo Mama. One of my all-time favourite books and an absolute must read. I reviewed this book on my blog last year and reflected; “Gogo Mama is perhaps the most heart-wrenching, uplifting, challenging and inspiring book I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. This book shares the stories of 12 African Mamas; women who have lived through conflict, famine or natural disaster, women who have entertained guests as belly dancers or singers and women who have above all been mothers whether to their own offspring or those of their communities. Gogo Mama journeys across 12 African countries spanning the continent, from Zanzibar in the east to Ghana in the West, from South Africa in the South to Egypt in the North, I truly feel like I’ve experienced the diversity of livelihoods, landscapes and hardships that Africa embodies.” Read the rest of the review here to find out where to get your hands on it. This book is worth your time, tears and your attention.
A documentary to watch… Half the Sky. My own International Women’s Day celebration took the form of heading to a screening of the powerful documentary Half the Sky. Inspired by the book of the same name (you should read this too!) by New York Times journalists, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn, Half the Sky explores the lives of women in 6 countries facing issues ranging from sex trafficking in Cambodia to domestic and sexual violence in Sierra Leone. I was moved through so many emotions during the first two-hour half of the documentary – I cried through their loss of innocence and failed pursuits of justice and smiled through their resilience and ability to see light and hope in dark circumstances but above all felt hope and admiration for the remarkable women who are standing up for their rights amidst failed political and social policies. Check out the trailer below and I’ll post dates as soon as it’s on TV in Australia! I’ve just ordered a copy that I hope to receive in April so if you’re keen to see it, let me know!
An email to send… On International Women’s Day, Prime Minister Gillard made an important announcement that is going to have a huge impact on women worldwide. Too often we pay attention to the negative decisions, sign angry petitions and complain about politics, but in light of this announcement I urge you to congratulate Ms Gillard on her commitment to strengthening the Commonwealth’s procurement guidelines to ensure that no slavery or forced labour is used in the production of goods that they purchase. This means our country is making a big step forward towards a future free of slaves and trafficking.
A song to listen to… One Woman, Varied Artists.
A photo to celebrate… An afternoon I’ll never forget was spent in a western region of Nepal, sitting amongst a circle of women who meet regularly to talk about maternal health, best sexual practices and community development thanks to the wonderful work of the International Nepal Fellowship (INF). Sitting amongst the shades of pink sarees (their uniform!) next to their own farm they work and harvest themselves, I was reminded of the great resilience, determination and power of women. As they sung, gossiped, and learn together I was encouraged by their commitment to female community and collaboration as a means of lifting themselves out of poverty. I took this photo of one of the women who couldn’t quite wipe the smile off her face, in disbelief that we’d take the time to come and sit with them for an afternoon! I hope this photo puts a smile on your face and reminds you of the powerful community of women around the world. Nepal photo
A project to support… Just under two months ago I started a new job (praise God!) with Baptist World Aid Australia (explaining my seven week absence from the blog as I’ve settled in sorry!) and as I’ve learnt more about this organisation I’ve been moved and challenged by its commitment to empowering anyone and everyone with the belief that we can end poverty. Our development work around the world is smart and ensures women are given a voice in the countries we work amongst. I think one of the greatest ways to commit to women’s development is to sponsor a little girl through Baptist World Aid – the money contributes to the development of her whole community and gives her hope and opportunity for a brighter future. We just started sponsoring a 6-year-old girl named Gita from Nepal to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary and I’m really looking forward to seeing the progress of Gita and her community over the years to come. Why not join me in sponsoring a little girl today?
Phew – have you made it this far? That was definitely a long post but an important one, and one I urge you to act upon.
I encourage you to take up one of these actions this evening, or maybe even dedicate the rest of March to reading a book, watching the documentary and looking into projects to support. It’s so easy to like or share something these days, so I challenge you to push beyond that and act today.
PS – Happy Birthday for tomorrow, Mum! 🙂