March 8 marks the 100th celebration of International Women’s Day. While there is so much work to be done in America, for women’s equality, there is so much greater work that remains throughout the world. So, on today, Women’s International Day, I thought it would be good to reflect on the many blessings that we enjoy as women in this country versus those that are still lacking in countries abroad. Two years ago, I attended the first awards ceremony for Peace X Peace.org (pronounced Peace by Peace). Peace X Peace is an organization which empowers, encourages and amplifies women to build and sustain peace around the world. They are based in Washington, DC. Two of their 2009 Peace awards honorees were Suraya Pakzad, founder of Voices of Women, who is from Afghanistan and filmaker Abigail Disney. Pakzad spoke about the risks Afghanistan women take every day just trying to get an education to read and write. While President Obama is making education a priority and focusing on girls taking the sciences and technology careers seriously, many women and girls throughout the world do not have the luxury of being able to go to school. Pakzad also commented that her entire life has known nothing but war. Sometimes, we need to be mindful of the many opportunities that we do have available in the US.
Another 2009 Peace X Peace honoree was filmmaker Abigail Disney, whose film Pray the Devil Back to Hell, won many awards for its depiction of Liberian women taking a stand against oppression and civil war. Her film reflected the many injustices, rapes and sexual assaults committed on an ongoing basis against many Liberian women. The theme that resonated for all women in the film is to never give up hoping and trying for a better life.
I urge everyone to reflect on today at how far we as women have come in this country. At the same time, I urge everyone to take a role in making sure that we do not lose the freedoms that we, as women, enjoy. And that means telling our lawmakers that any bills that limit, deny or restrict the rights of women will not be tolerated.
Debbie Hines is a lawyer and political and legal commentator. She addresses issues on women and race in law and politics. She is frequently seen in the media. She also writes for the Huffington Post. She holds a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.