International Women’s Day is at once a problematic and worthy idea; Shoe-horning half the world’s population into a day on the UN’s calendar, along with other hard-pressed categories like migratory birds (14-15 May) and world intellectual property (26th of April) should make you more than a little uneasy, as should the fact that more than a hundred years on from a March 8th campaign, held in New York in 1908, for the Suffrage of Women (under the umbrella of the the Socialist party of the United States) only 30 countries have had women heads of state.
Having a designated day, though, where we celebrate the women in our lives, and focus on the challenges that face women in virtually every society, can be a great opportunity to take stock, and more importantly to take action. If you’re one of the thousands (perhaps millions) who’ve sent out good wishes via social networks/email to your friends, colleagues, family, partners on this International Women’s Day, why not take another moment to do something in the spirit of International Women’s Day but which won’t be limited to a single day in March.
Three Monkeys is happy to suggest five campaigns that need your support:
One Hundred Steps to Equality
One Hundred Steps to Equality is a campaign launched by the Equality Now organisation with, as the name suggests, a hundred different relatively small steps that taken together can have a huge effect. They range from ideas like encouraging women to write op-ed pieces for their local newspapers (Fewer than 25% of op-eds in newspapers are written by women), through to campaigning for the appointment of a woman as Secretary General to the UN. Lots of important issues, and a great place to start if you’re one of those people who think that women’s rights have already been won.
What you can do: Check out the list of 100 different steps here
V-Day One Billion Rising
V-Day, a non-profit corporation founded by, amongst others, playwright Eve Ensler (author of The Vagina Monologues), distributes funds to grassroots, national and international organizations and programs that work to stop violence against women and girls.
One of the projects they launched was this year’s hugely succesful One Billion Rising project that saw women (and men) taking to the streets en-masse to call for an end to violence on women.
What you can do: Sign up to V-day to be kept informed of their initiatives
The Nobel Women’s Initiative
The Nobel Women’s Initiative was established in 2006 by sister Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan Maguire. The initiative campaigns for women’s rights and social justice around the world. The initiative highlights many different campaigns, spotlighting the work being done by and for women across the world. For example, they support the 16 days of activism campaign held each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.
What you can do: visit the site’s ‘take action’ page for ideas
Support Women with Microfinance
According to some studies on the feminization of poverty up to two thirds of the world’s poor are women; access to credit has, traditionally, in many parts of the world has been limited by gender. Using your money to finance women’s initiatives is a positive way to effect change from the ground up.
There can be problems involved with Microfinance, as outlined in this useful document (pdf) from the International Labour Organisation, but that simply means you should investigate the platform you use, and the projects funded. Some Microcredit platforms include Kiva, Zidisha, and The Women’s Microcredit Initiative
What you can do: Find out more about microcredit here, and make a loan.
Counting Women In
This is a UK campaign to hold British Prime Minister David Cameron to his pledge that by the end of his first term in office 1/3 of his cabinet ministers will be Women. Currently only five of his 23 Cabinet ministers are women. Shamefully, but not all that surprisingly, there are currently more millionaires than women in the British Cabinet. The campaign seeks full 50/50 representation, and while it’s only related to the U.K there are similar movements in many other countries.
What you can do: if you’re a u.k citizen, you can sign the peition here.