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Friday, March 6, 2009

Celebrate International Women's Day this Sunday

Sunday is International Women's Day (IWD). So what exactly is IWD? I've been trying to find out more information about an event that will be held here locally which will benefit Women for Women International, a non-profit organization that supports women in war-torn regions of the world in the rebuilding of their lives www.womenforwomen.org. Sounds like a good cause that will help out women who are struggling across the world.

I dug around the Internet to learn more about what other women are doing across the world to celebrate IWD. I love reading idiotic comments on forums. Here were some of the comments in response to the post about celebrating women on Sunday: "Get back in the bloody kitchen!" Others posted that women have the vote so they should just shut up and stop whining.

Why should we shut up? Why shouldn't we rally for other women who are suffering in war-torn countries? There are 60 countries celebrating IWD events across the world. Countries such as Russia and China have made IWD a national holiday. The first IWD event started in 1911 and has been going strong ever since.

Obviously, the morons who posted those comments are a) not married and/or aren't in a relationship b) pre-pubescent teens who were raised by wolves or c) clearly lacking brain cells and social graces.

After working with domestic violence victims and survivors, I have heard first hand from women about these heinous acts of abuse and violence. I heard a women tell me how her husband beat their face so badly with a frying pan and broke every bone in her face. When her kids walked into the hospital room, her face was so disfigured that they didn't even recognize her.

We've come a long way with domestic violence laws but I just have to look around Placer County to see the heinous crimes against women (like the Christy Wilson case whose body was never recovered). We have Scott Peterson serving a life sentence for murdering his wife and unborn child. What happens to these men to drive them to murder women? I don't know if I want to delve into the psyche of psychotic murderers but why is this still happening? In the United States, we pass the buck to other more barbaric countries who rape and kill women, yet crimes against women are still happening - right here in our own backyard.

If we look outside the U.S., the grotesque practice of female genital mutilation (FMG) is still practiced in Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), three million young females (ranging from the time of their birth up to 15 years old) are at risk for female genital mutilation each year in Africa. Not three hundred - three million. It's noted by WHO that FMG is clearly a worldwide violation of the human rights of girls and women and are working to stop this horrifying practice that often results in death for these young women.

So that comment "Go back to the bloody kitchen!" obviously strikes a chord with me. Yes, we got the vote and we still need to continue to vote and make our collective voices heard. I recently started a group here locally in Auburn - a group for women to make their voices heard within the local community. The group is a safe, comfortable place where women can share their dreams and passions (whether it's business or personal goals). I am working with fellow dynamic women who feel the same way- that women want and need to support each other. We need a space - a collective space in which we can create, dream, and plan without scrutiny or judgement.

I've dealt with men in business situations that pointedly told me that women didn't belong in business (and definitely not in fundraising). I've been treated like a secretary even though I was a director and my job was to lead and raise money. I felt this glass ceiling hit my head over the years. Although, women have made huge strides in business and achievements, there's more that needs to be done.

So yeah, I don't think I'll be heading back to the kitchen anytime soon and I definitely won't be shutting up anytime soon. I have too much work to do.

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