March 8th is International Women's Day. Celebrated around the world, it's even an official holiday in more than 20 countries, including Afghanistan, China, Russia, Vietnam, and Zambia. Depending on where you are in the world, International Women's Day may simply be a day for men to express and celebrate their love for the wives, daughters, mothers, and grandmothers in their lives. In other places, the political roots of the holiday remain, and the human rights and social awareness themes designated by the United Nations are discussed and examined.
International Women's Day 2013 has declared the year's theme as "The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum" while this year's UN theme for International Women's Day is "A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women." Ban Ki-moon has this to say:
As we commemorate International Women’s Day, we must look back on a year of shocking crimes of violence against women and girls and ask ourselves how to usher in a better future.
One young woman was gang-raped to death. Another committed suicide out of a sense of shame that should have attached to the perpetrators. Young teens were shot at close range for daring to seek an education.
These atrocities, which rightly sparked global outrage, were part of a much larger problem that pervades virtually every society and every realm of life.
Look around at the women you are with. Think of those you cherish in your families and your communities. And understand that there is a statistical likelihood that many of them have suffered violence in their lifetime. Even more have comforted a sister or friend, sharing their grief and anger following an attack.