Friday, March 9, 2012

{ Happy International Women's Day! }

I am proud to be a woman.

(had to choose a feminine color :))
"Connecting Girls, Inspring Futures"

Young Indian girl
A H'mong hill tribe girl in Vietnam
Dogon women in Mali
Women from the Pacific Islands
From album 'Southeast Asia' by David Terrazas

I write this post in honor of the millions of women who have no opportunity, no resources, and untapped potential. I write this for the women who have had such a profound influence on my life and have helped me to reach for my dreams and see my full potential. I write this for my sweet mom, my greatest example, for my dear little sisters, for my friends, and every other woman.

Let me jump on my soapbox for a minute. 

Women are oppressed. Many of the more developed nations have come a long way in fighting for women's rights and protection; but all over the world, particularly in developing countries, women and girls are fighting violence, rape, female genital mutilation (FGM), bride burning, child marriage, sex slavery and forced prostitution, and many other abuses...maternal mortality rates are disturbingly low...Where is justice? Less than 1% of US aid is targeted at women and girls. Want to know a frightening statistic? "It appears that more girls have been killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the 20th century." Women are more likely than boys to die of preventable diseases like malaria or pneumonia because boys are considered more superior. Boys are more likely to receive an education. But do we realize what education can do for women? Yes, it's empowering.

 We need to protect women's rights, protect their health, help them to get an education, and pursue their dreams. 

"Women's empowerment helps raise economic productivity and reduce infant mortality. It contributes to improved health and nutrition. It increases the chances of education for the next generation." -UNDP - Not only do women face oppression but they are an untapped resource in many communities around the world. Investing in women will improve our global economy. It will stimulate international development. This is why I am such a strong advocate for micro-financing for women. Women will invest about 90% of their income into their family (for children's education, food, health needs, etc.) while men will only invest about 30-40% into their family...10 things that stand in the way of a woman: illiteracy, HIV, lack of ID, pregnancy, safe and decent work, no aid support for women, girls must be distinguished as their own category and addressed separately, little organization reports on girls' statistics, lack of support, and law and policy (girl effect).

When a woman is educated, she stays health and HIV negative, she marries when she chooses, raises and healthy family, and sends her children to school. When she starts a business, she is not only improving her own quality of life but contributing to the economy and life of her community.

Women are not the problem, they are the solution. 

As a woman, I feel like it's my social responsibility to stand up for other women, to inspire them. To help them change the world and pursue their dreams.

Here are a few articles and links I wanted to share that I came across today for International Women's day:
What if YOU were one of the 6 MILLION girls living in the developing world???

"Rina Begum is a real person -- but she's also a statistic. When CARE met her, Rina and other women in her remote village in Bangladesh lived under virtual house arrest. Local tradition forbade women from leaving home without male escorts. Women who dared do so were subjected to public sexual harassment and even violence. 

Many women and girls around the world face similar limits to their freedom. For example, in parts of Nepal, women are confined to sheds while they menstruate. Adolescent girls, who cannot go out in public, are denied the opportunity to go to school. With restricted movement, women are less likely to earn income and less able to access health care. Furthermore, in too many places such rules often go hand-in-hand with forced child marriage."

So, the more important question is, what can YOU do? What are you doing to empower women and inspire futures? What are you doing to #makeadifference?

Find just one way that you can help women. Do you realize how blessed you have been? You have the resources and the opportunity...

I have so many personal examples that I look up to. Marissa Samake is empowering women by donating food to the villages. She is not only feeding the children but giving women an opportunity, EMPOWERING them, to earn money for themselves by selling the food, read more about what she is doing at: Like my mom, Cindee Leavitt Jessop, you can empower women through financial education and inspire women to recognize their own self-worth - find a way to relate to woman. My mom empowered many woman to stand up against abuse and domestic violence because she herself, is a survivor of abuse. How can you help?

Need a few ideas?

I feel so blessed to work with women around the world - from my young girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking living in a safe home in Nepal (check out The Red Thread Movement!) - to the sweet, destitute widows in India (see what Maitri is doing for them) - to inspiring the potential of my own friends and family - to empowering Malian women to become self-sufficient through micro-financing and community activism with Team Samake...
What are you doing?

Some of my girls in the safe home in Nepal. I pray for them and think of them daily.

Love these young Malian girls. 

Dancing with Malian women in the village of Dialakoroba.
Dancing among Malian women.

Sweet widows in India

I'll never forget this woman.
Women on the beach in India - they need a woman's co-op for beach workers in Goa

Sangita - a woman selling products on the beach in Goa. Trying to organize a co-op for beach workers in India...think we can do it? 
My own sweet "mother" and "auntie" in India. Love these women.
Step in and do your part. Inspire and empower women around the world. Together, we can make a difference and make a change in our global community. Are you in? 

1 comment:

  1. Liz....we need to meet and you need to check out I'm working peripherally with Yeah as well!