Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. Since its induction in 1911, women have achieved many milestones. From opening up a school for girls to OWNing her network, Oprah Winfrey fits into this year's theme of equal access to education, training, science and technology. Yet Oprah's achievements are not enough, as the need to campaign for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination is a global issue.

I have been raised to believe there are no limitations to achieving my dreams, so I live accordingly. When I wanted to open a gift cage boutique, I did it, sans the cushion of capital and plenty of naysayers ("you can't do that without thousands of dollars!"). Not only did I open it, it was done with plenty of media and an anointing from Dr. Maya Angelou when I presented a gift cage to her at her Lifetime Achievement Awards. She was so appreciative that she personally recited her poem I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to me in front of the sold-out audience.

Because of that moment, I was asked to be a panelist of women business owners for the first year of Voices of Experience, where we spoke to school-age girls. I will never forget the young woman who walked up to me afterwards and thanked me for inspiring her. That experience was indeed a full-circle moment, because fulfilling my dream wasn't the end result. The boutique was a success when I was able to pass on the permission to dream big to future women business owners.

I do realize that world-wide inequalities still clip the wings of women. From Aghanistan women who are excluded in their country’s peace processes to 70 per cent of women experiencing physical or sexual violence, the call to action is not only today, but everyday.

Today's events will inspire women and celebrate achievements. Global awareness will merge with local events that you can participate in, such as a Join Women on The Bridge which connects women from all around the world.

My dream is that one day, International Women's Day will only be for celebrating how the caged bird sings for ALL women who have been freed from inequality.

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