Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, a day set aside by the United Nations to recognize the contributions of women to societies around the world and the important work we have still to do to ensure equal access to health care, educational opportunities, and employment.
I first celebrated International Women’s Day as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso, West Africa. I worked with women in my village to coordinate a soccer match between two teams of women and a soccer match between two teams of my female students. We held a ceremony with lots of fantastic speeches (my French still wasn’t so great so I can only imagine the full impact of the oratory), and finally a dance in the evening. It was one of the most successful events of which I’ve ever been a part.
Although there have been many improvements made in women’s lives since 1911, many of the same issues persist – in the United States and around the world. In most of the world, women are still likely to make less money than their male counterparts. Women continue to struggle for equal access to – and authority over – their health care. Education is still a major issue for women.
So while women have won many of the same rights as men, the struggle for equality continues.