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Woman to Woman
Posted: 3/9/2012 | Inspirational Comments
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“The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.” –Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, leader of Burma's democracy movement

Yesterday, March 8, the world celebrated International Women’s Day. Countries all over the world recognized the profound achievements of women, as well as their struggles, issues and inequalities. Women gathered to dance, sing, and march to celebrate and bring awareness to their causes. In some countries, businesses, schools and government offices were closed to observe the holiday. Hundreds of organizations dedicated to the support and growth of women held events on this day, and work all year long to create positive change, protect and empower women.
I was moved deeply by a feature on the news site The Daily Beast that listed “150 Fearless Women," all of whom have made a significant contribution to others. These women range from very young to elderly and come from every corner of the globe. Many of them are public figures, but most of them you’ve never heard of. They are “ordinary” women who’ve made a big difference in their culture, nation and the world, often against staggering odds.
Here are just 10 examples:
1. Noorjahan Akbar, Afghanistan. At only 21 years old, she’s started a creative writing program for orphans and rallied young people to change “politics as usual” in the 2009 presidential election. Recently she’s cofounded Young Women for Change, working for gender equality, a dangerous and exceptionally sensitive issue in Afghanistan.
2. Asenath Andrews, U.S. She’s the principal of Ferguson Academy for Young Women, a college prep school for pregnant teens in Detroit. Asenath turned the school grounds into an urban farm, with chickens, rabbits and horses so the students learn to take care of living creatures. The school boasts classes on nutrition, home repair and parenting along with regular academics and an onsite nursery.
3. Razan Zaitouneh, Syria. A 34-year-old lawyer and winner of the prestigious Anna Politkovskaya award, she co-founded two human-rights groups and risked her life to report to international sources police and military brutality of protesters. She is now in hiding.
4. Julie Zeilinger, U.S. In 8th grade she learned about female infanticide, common in South Asia. She later began to blog and started The F Bomb, a forum and educational site for young feminists.
5. Linna Ben Mhenni, Tunisia. A young blogger, she “gave voice to the uprising of her country.” She blogged under her own name, refusing to use a pseudonym, and had to live with constant government surveillance and threats to her life. 
6. Samira Ibrahim, Egypt. At 25 years old, Samira was detained at a rally, beaten, stripped in front of military men, and given electric shocks. She sued the government, paving the way for the high court to rule that it is illegal for the military to give women virginity tests.
7. Sister Terry Dodge, U.S. When her brother was released from prison, she was shocked to see the lack of support available to him. She is now the executive director of Crossroads, an organization that helps women transition from prison to the outside world. She teaches self-reliance and the practical skills needed for a woman to live successfully after incarceration.
8. Manal al-Sharif, Saudi Arabia. A single mother, Manal was arrested for driving a car, not technically illegal but a prohibited by religion. She was jailed for nine days. She is now suing the traffic police for her license, and is the face of the Women2Drive campaign.
9. Pink Brigade, India. A collective of over 20,000 women who wear bold, pink saris, and fight against injustice. In 2006 they came to fame by physically attacking abusers of women, and they’ve just opened a chapter in Paris. 
10. Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Argentina. This group of grandmothers was started in 1977, when they sought to rescue children and grandchildren kidnapped during the Dirty War. Since then they’ve rescued 100 of 500 missing babies raised by government supporters, and brought international attention to the secret genocide.
There are millions of movers, shakers, muckrakers, and trailblazers who make a difference–politically, socially, and personally–every single day. Sometimes they make a big splash, sometimes their quiet gifts go unnoticed. While a day devoted to honoring women is wonderful, we can acknowledge women, and the organizations that support us, every day. Let’s remember to honor our mothers, sisters, partners and friends all year long!
What women do you honor in your life? How have they contributed to you? Your comments make a difference for all of us!

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