This time last year, I was celebrating International Women’s Day in Rome, Italy. I woke up that morning like it was any other day and headed to my local café for my morning espresso. I was standing at the bar, sipping my espresso and chatting to a friend when an older gentleman walked up to us and handed us both a yellow flower. Graciously accepting the flower in broken Italian, my friend and I stared at each other stunned and confused but still smiling at the surprising act. Throughout the day, I would go on to collect yellow flowers from men all over Rome
In Italy, it is traditional for men to give yellow flowers to women on Women’s Day. In most situations, if a random man walked up to me and handed me a flower, I would be really uncomfortable and confused. However, on Women’s Day, it is endearing to receive this token. You see little girls and older women weighed down with flowers and the joy on their faces from such a simple act. These men are celebrating and honoring the women who are in their everyday lives, whether it’s their mother, their grandmother, their daughter or a random American student in their local café.
International Women’s Day is this Friday, March 8th and even though I won’t be in Rome receiving flowers, I’ll still be celebrating. I’ll be joining Pathfinder International as we honor “women who dare” around the world not with flowers, but with powerful, inspiring stories.
Every day, women dare. They dare to dream and to lead. They dare to challenge the status quo. And they dare to speak out for those who lack the resources to advocate for themselves. And for International Women’s Day, Pathfinder is daring to recognize them for their greatness.
I’ve been working at Pathfinder as an intern for about two months now and for two months I have witnessed Pathfinder treat every day like Women’s Day. I am fortunate enough to regularly encounter daring women who refuse to accept things for how they are and demand a change. Pathfinder recognizes women constantly for their triumphs and daring attitude to change the world—and that’s pretty inspiring.
However, it is discouraging in other realms—particularly media—to continue to see how many amazing women go unrecognized for their revolutionary work. In a society dominated heavily by the constant exchange of digital media, it is frustrated to see how little attention is paid to recognizing the women who are daring to make a difference.
But I hope we can change that this International Women’s Day. Will you join me in raising awareness about women who dare at all levels? Whether it’s something as simple as a woman negotiating with her husband to use a condom or as large as women collectively demanding their Parliament to support affordable access to reproductive health services, these women are daring to change and improve lives.
You can help make a difference this International Women’s Day by sharing a story from Pinki Kumari, who overcame her own early marriage and now advocates for adolescent sexual and reproductive health, or Nafis Sadik, former head of UNFPA who has been a lifelong champion of choice for women around the world. Their separate crusades for change are united in the impact they have made far beyond their own communities and themselves.
Every day, at every level, women are fighting back and demanding a change not only for themselves, but for women around the world. We applaud women who dare to tell the world that not enough is being done – that there needs to be a change. This International Women’s Day, will you dare to give women more than a flower?
For more on Pathfinder's "Women Who Dare," check it out here. Pathfinder Celebrates "Women Who Dare"
Take action! This post was submitted in response to International Women's Day 2013.