Friday is International Women’s Day and the Commission on the Status of Women (a functional commission of the United National Economic and Social Council) is meeting at the UN headquarters in New York City. The commission was established in 1946 with the purpose of preparing reports and recommendations to the council to promote women’s rights in a diverse range of fields: political, economic, civil, social and educational. Representatives of the member states gather to “evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide.”
March 8 is a day to celebrate, and a day to reflect on where we have been and on the work in front of us.
Many of us know a statistic about women worldwide that is disturbing or infuriating. Consider that:
- Up to 70% of women in the world report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.
- According to the United Nations Population Fund, at least 200 million women want access to safe and effective contraception but lack information, services, and family or community support
- Women produce half of the world’s food, but own only 1% of the world’s farmland.
- Women earn only 80 cents on the dollar when compared to men, and African American women and Latinas earn even less. This discrepancy adds up to a loss of about $380,000 over the course of a woman's career in the U.S.
We know there is always work left to do. However, along with a re-commitment to promoting women’s rights, we can celebrate inspiring examples and those who are leading the charge.
Here are 3 ways you can celebrate International Women's Day.
1. Contribute to the narrative and discussion.
If you have a personal story, it might help raise awareness on a key issue, or inspire others. If you have an experience, or an opinion on a debate or current event that concerns any aspect of women’s rights, empowerment or equity, consider sharing it with your local paper.
2. Bring the discussion into your local community.
Not everyone has the same viewpoint, or same priorities, and we owe it to each other to diversify the debate. Engage with your elected officials on policy issues that affect you, from access to health care, to family policies in the workplace, to fair pay.
3) Connect with and mentor young women around you.
Step up and apply for leadership positions within organizations, consider running for office, support women candidates running for office, or for those of you with more years of career experience, consider mentoring young women who are in the process of charting their career path.
We know that we make progress, and we know we have work left to do, and the UN Commission will affirm both areas of strength and of weakness as it meets in New York. International Women’s Day is just one day out of an entire year, but the work goes on for the other 364 days. We all can contribute in any number of ways.
As I personally develop my career, I greatly enjoy mentoring and supporting recent college graduates whenever possible, sharing with them the lessons I've learned about the workplace and life decisions. I am proud to contribute to strong inspiring female candidates running for public office, or organizations that invest in and support these candidates. Life is full of competing priorities and it’s not always easy to find the time or resources to contribute, but any small action has the potential to make a difference.