Hillary Clinton now famously said: “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights—once and for all.” Generation after generation we, as women, have discussed our place in the national conversation: how we’ve struggled and striven, where we stand, our contributions to society, our responsibilities as daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, grandmothers. We err, we love, we empathize, we protest, we embrace, we create, we commit, we concede, we defy, we fail, we soar. In short, we are women.
March 8th is International Women’s Day, a “global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.” It is a day of remembrance, of gratitude and solidarity. It also reminds us that the shape of the world to come is ours to define. The work we do and the conversations we have are profoundly important.
On a global scale, it’s a day to pause and think about our momentum in the world as women. We’ve come so far, and yet still so many face insurmountable hardships. Let’s not forget the women caught in powerless places like the school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, girls who are sold into sex slavery around the world and in our country too, women who work multiple jobs solely to feed their children and so many others who feel oppressed, stuck and helpless. 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai asks us, “If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?” Her strength in adversity gives us hope.
On a national scale, we remember the work women in our midst are doing today to impact us all—Melanne Verveer, the first U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues and now executive director for Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice and champion of women’s rights; Maria Shriver, founder of The Shriver Report, an initiative that raises awareness around defining issues and fundamental changes facing women. And this is to name only a few of the many pushing for our human rights, women’s rights.
And as individuals—let us embrace our womanhood on March 8th, and remember we are all on the same side. Whether we choose to lean in, lean out or lean sideways, we’re all just fighting for the opportunity to make our dreams come true, to feel as though who we are is enough. Maya Angelou reminds us, “I’m a woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.”
And as for our day on Sunday? Engage in the conversation with Emma Watson as she hosts a live Q&A about gender equality; hug your daughter a little tighter and tell her she can do anything and everything; call your mother and ask her who inspires her; write a letter to your grandmother and thank her for blazing the trail; pause and think about the woman you want to be and the causes you want to champion. Because most likely you already are that woman, and society needs us all as stewards of human rights.