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Strength, Unity, Courage, Respect, Equality: It’s International Women’s Day
March 8, 2013
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Today is International Women's Day - a day to celebrate and stand up for women's rights around the world.

The idea actually started in the early 1900s, out of the labour and socialist movement and was marked for the first time in 1911.

As The Independent writes, "At the time, it seemed radical. Now, it is far from it. The day is recognized by governments and organizations around the world and is an official holiday in dozens of countries."

Of course, as much as today is about celebrating achievements, it's also a call to end violence against women and inequality around the world.

This year, the United Nations' theme speaks to that - "A promise is a promise: time for action to end violence against women."

As part of that message, the UN has put together a charity single called 'One Woman', featuring 25 artists from 20 countries.

The music was composed by Graham Lyle (who was behind Tina Turner's 'What's Love Got To Do With It'), and British/Somali singer-songwriter Fahan Hassan, with lyrics by Beth Blatt.

It also features sitar player Anoushka Shankar, daughter of the legendary Ravi Shankar.

Here's the video. And you can read UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's message here.

Canada's theme this year is 'Working Together: Engaging Men to End Violence against Women'.

It's an important goal considering half of all Canadian women have been assaulted at least once in their life and 83% of victims of sexual violence are women, while 99% of perpetrators are men.

The United States is honouring a group of women with the Secretary of State's 'International Women of Courage Award'.

It was established in 2007 to recognize "women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women's rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk".

This year's recipients include a Russian journalist and human rights activist, a Somali peace activist, and an Afghan law enforcement sergeant.

Three honourees won't be at the ceremony - one is a Vietnamese political blogger who's in prison; another is a human rights lawyer who's in hiding from the regime in Syria.

The other is known as Nirbhaya or 'Fearless', the murdered 23-year-old victim of the bus gang rape in India.

The awards will be presented in Washington by Secretary of State John Kerry and First Lady Michelle Obama.

You can read the list of nominees here and check out their biographies with photos right here.

Google is celebrating the day with a doodle featuring 27 faces of women from around the world, of different nationalities and cultures.


The UN World Food Programme is using today to highlight the link between women, violence and food security.

As the WFP writes in a press release, "Gender discrimination fuels female malnutrition and disempowerment."

"Poor families may marry off under-age daughters during times of famine so there's one less mouth to feed. Refugee women may be forced to trade sex for food. Women spend hours collecting firewood to cook the family meal, leaving themselves vulnerable to rape and other attacks."

It goes on to say "For many women struggling to feed themselves and their children today, food security would mean personal and legal security."

As part of an event it's hosting, the WFP is showing a film entitled 'Women Lead The Way Out Of Hunger In Darfur'. Check it out below.

The WFP is also featuring a video message from Mt Kilimanjaro, from an all-female climbing team from Nepal and Africa, who reached the summit to highlight the importance of girls' education and school meals.

You can read more about that here or go to Twitter as the women documented their journey using the hashtag #WFPkili2013.

Plus, here's 10 important facts the WFP wants you to know about women and hunger.

There's also a new documentary called 'Girl Rising', which highlights the importance of educating and empowering girls in the developing world.

66 million girls worldwide are out of school. In this film, Oscar nominated director Richard Robbins follows nine girls who share their stories and dreams.

In a bit of a twist, Robbins said the nine girls are actually "playing themselves in scripted stories from their own lives."

And he said the most inspiring thing is "these girls aren't after personal fame and fortune, they want to make the world they grew up in better."

The film is part of the global 10x10 campaign. Here's the trailer.

There are also a number of events happening around the world.

In Afghanistan, the Herat International Women's Film Festival opens. It's the first of its kind, and will feature 30 films by and about women.

In Dubai, there's a global women leaders conference, bringing together women executives and entrepreneurs.

Delhi, Cape Town, Johannesburg and New York are coordinating 'Ring the Bell' marches, inspired by a domestic violence campaign started in India.

Over the next year, the campaign's goal is to "get a million men to make a million promises to act to end violence against women."

On the lighter side, in Ottawa, for the fifth year in a row, there's an event at the Library and Archives Canada building meant to be a celebration and satire.

As the Ottawa Citizen writes, "this year's theme is FEMICON, a nod to ComicCon the massive San Diego conference for fans of comics and science fiction."

Organizers are calling on feminist and women "Superheroes" to show off their super powers and even throw on a cape.


In Moscow, celebrations are happening in parks around the city, with free ice skating for women at eight major rinks.

With that in mind, The Washington Post has a great piece from their Moscow correspondent Kathy Lally entitled 'Russian Women Get Flowers, Not Power'.

CNN, as part of a feature called 'Leading Women', asked readers, staff and guests to share words of inspiration from women they admire. You can read those quotes here.

Talk Radio Host Supriya Dwivedi wrote an opinion piece for The Montreal Gazette entitled 'We Must Not Be Indifferent To Women's Day'.

Michèle Taïna Audette (president of the Native Women's Association of Canada) and Robert Fox (executive director of Oxfam Canada) did an editorial for The Vancouver Sun entitled 'Canada Needs Plan To End Violence Against Women'.

Julia Baird of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has a piece entitled 'Voice Of Feminism A Force For Change'. The tag line reads "Anger, especially when springing from a desire for freedom, is a powerful and bonding force."

The Huffington Post has an article from Zenita Nicholson, a human rights advocate from Guyana. She calls on people to remember lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women on this day and the "social stigma and daily discrimination they face."

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International Women's Day: Are We Really Equals?

Will Giving Equal Rights To Women Around The World Save The Human Race?


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