Today is International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme is Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures. It’s a reminder to every single girl and woman will own their brilliance and beauty today–and every day. It’s a chance for us older gals to think long and hard about how we can raise and empower the girls around us. It’s also an opportunity for those of us who live in comfortable circumstances to think about our sisters across the globe.
Here are some facts* to consider:
Education: Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women, a percentage which hasn’t changed in the past two decades. In the poorest 60 percent of households worldwide, only one in there girls attend school.
Health: Women make up the majority of HIV-positive adults in Africa and the Middle East. And despite increasing availability, HIV anti-retroviral drugs still reach only half of the mothers in need.
Employment: Women are mostly–and still increasingly–finding employment in the service sector. Wage gaps between genders continue to persist worldwide. And women spend twice as much time as men on domestic work.
Power in Politics: When it comes to equal representation in government, the U.S. is waaaay down the list. In the 112th Congress, women constitute only 18% of Representatives and 17% of Senators. In fact, only 23 countries see representation at or above 30 percent of their government.
Power in the Private Sector: Only 13 of the 500 largest corporations in the world have a woman serving as CEO.
Violence Against Women: Physical, sexual, psychological, and economic violence against women happens inside and outside homes across the globe.
Poverty: Women are more likely to be poor than men when living in one-person households across both developed and under-developed regions. Add children to these households, and greater poverty exists when the parent is a woman.
About This Day: In some countries — China, Russia, Vietnam, Bulgaria — International Women’s Day is a national holiday.
The data are depressing, and I think it’s all time we acknowledged at least one more fact: we can’t rely on men to fix gender equality. This is on us.
So it’s a good thing that women have the power to move mountains. And as technology makes the borders between countries less and less relevant, we are, in fact empowered to do more as a global community. We are, in fact, poised to participate in global change that goes far beyond the events of one day. And if nothing else, let’s doing a good deal more talking/taking action amongst ourselves.
For information on International Women’s Day and events across the globe, visit www.internationalwomensday.com.