Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gearing up for International Women's Day

In a little over a month - on March 8 - International Women's Day will be upon us! I get excited about International Women's Day each year, because, let's face it, there are a lot of days on our calendars that celebrate old, mostly white men and their achievements. It's nice to have a few days a year where we can collectively celebrate the strides women have made and look forward to the things to come!

So, don't let this opportunity pass you by! This is a feminist campus organizer's dream! A ready-made day, right at the start of women's history month, to put something fabulous together for your campus.

The one thing I'll say is, whatever you do for International Women's Day, don't let it stop at awareness. Raising awareness is critical for movement building, but what we really like to see is awareness-raisers paired with action, so that participants can get involved right away and you won't lose their energy right at the door.

There's a lot of key things happening on the international stage for women these days, but I'll highlight a few here. If you want help developing events or action kits for your International Women's Day activities, contact your campus organizer and we'll be happy to help you put something together!

Idea #1: International Family Planning This is one of the most critical issues we face today. As Patrice quoted Secretary Clinton in last month's eZine article, " woman dies every minute of every day in pregnancy or childbirth, and for every woman who dies, another 20 suffer from injury, infection or disease every minute."

Despite this, the US is not doing its share to help close the gap between the need for family planning and funding for international family planning (IFP) assistance. Though the Obama administration released funding that the previous administration had previously withheld for IFP, we still fall short of meeting our share as promised in 1994 at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.

If you're interested, be sure to check out some of FMF's resources and campus materials. Some of our friends over at Population Action International, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the Guttmacher Institute have some great materials for further background reading.

Idea #2: CEDAW The Women's Treaty, or the United Nations Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, was adopted by the UN on December 18, 1979. The United States is the only industrialized country that has not ratified the treaty. The treaty addresses basic human rights of women and has been used around the world as a tool for women and girls to achieve important reforms to reduce violence and discrimination.

If you want to put together an event about CEDAW, it couldn't be easier! FMF produced a really fun, short video, called CEDAW: The Secret Treaty. Contact your campus organizer directly or email campusteam [at] feminist [dot] org and we'll send one your way. Use the DVD to get people fired up, host a discussion afterward, and pass around legislative phone numbers, fact sheets, or petitions to get people taking action right there.

This is certainly not the limit or even a cursory glance at the possibilities for your International Women's Day activities. We encourage you to start thinking toward March 8, formulating ideas, and gathering resources. Be sure to be in touch with us if you need any help and to let us know how things are going. We'd love to help bolster your ideas and provide you with more resources you might not know about. Drop us a line or give us a call, any time.

Happy (early!) International Women's Day, everyone!

This article was featured in our February 2010 monthly Choices eZine. Sign up for our alerts to stay up-to-date with the latest feminist news and to receive the monthly eZine.

photo courtesy of atbaker on flickr.

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