Posts tagged with: International Women’s Day

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Ivorian widows run a small restaurant in Yopougon. UN Photo/Ky Chung

 “Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.” Deuteronomy 27:19a

Today is International Widows’ Day (IWD), a day to recognize the situation that widows (of all ages) face internationally and at home. From the United Nations:

Absent in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, neglected by national and local authorities and mostly overlooked by civil society organizations – the situation of widows is, in effect, invisible.

Yet abuse of widows and their children constitutes one of the most serious violations of human rights and obstacles to development today. Millions of the world’s widows endure extreme poverty, ostracism, violence, homelessness, ill health and discrimination in law and custom.

Despite some gains in gender equality worldwide, many women are still among the most vulnerable and marginalized. One woman tells of horrific abuse she suffered because she is a widow:

When Clarisse’s husband died of malaria last year in the Cameroonian city of Douala, she was kicked out of their home by his family and forced to marry his brother.

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chinese-baby-girlIt’s no secret that the Chinese “one-child policy” has been brutal. Forced abortion and forced sterilizations have been common for decades. The policy has also left China will a dearth of females, causing issues with men finding suitable spouses and an uptick in human trafficking.

Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, says that while many women around the world are celebrating International Women’s Day, it is not cause for celebration in China. Littlejohn:

I find it impossible to celebrate any advancement of women’s rights anywhere on earth, when one out of five women in the world is subject to a regime that will strap them down to tables, thrust its hands into their wombs and rip their little ones out, as these women scream and plead for the lives of babies they desperately want. The women’s movement can claim no real victory so long as this scourge against women continues to blight the face of the earth. Chinese women cannot stand up against forced abortion without risking detention, for themselves and for their families. It is time for all women to rise up for our sisters in China and be a voice for the voiceless.

Read “International Women’s Day a Travesty for Chinese Women and Baby Girls” at Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated on March 8 since 1911, when Clara Zetkin, a member of the Social Democratic Party in Germany, proposed the yearly event that has its roots in women’s suffrage. It is good to remember that women have not always enjoyed the right to vote, the right to work in a safe environment and to earn a fair wage. Indeed, many women around the world still do not enjoy such basic rights. However, the website promoting International Women’s Day is disheartening, in that it chooses to focus on controversial – and sometimes tasteless – issues.

iwd_squareFor instance, one video highlights women staging a “topless demonstration” (with full frontal nudity) in Istanbul to protest domestic violence; it’s unclear how nudity helps protect women against violence. Another video uses a supermodel in a piece entitled “Smart is the New Sexy”. However, the video equates attractiveness with doing something about global poverty. Sexy is still sexy, and smart is about being hip and beautiful, apparently. Finally, there is a video from the Council of Commonwealth Societies called ‘Women as Agents of Change”.  This video highlights the importance of a girl’s health, education, opportunities and financial freedom. (more…)