Today is the international women´s day. How great is it that us women have a day to celebrate our achievements in women´s empowerment, gender equality and just kick ass girl power? At the same time we also have an opportunity to look to the many challenges we still face. While child marriages, unequal access to education, honour killings and mothers dying in childbirth are mostly faced by our sisters in developing countries, women across the world irrespective of age, skin colour, ethnicity and religion face violence and discrimination, sexism and sexual harassment and unequal treatment in the professional world. Therefore this day is for all women to continue to fight for the rights of women everywhere and celebrate our victories.It is a day for all girls and women. For the women who experienced groping on the subway, for the girl who witnessed her sister bleed to death as a result of the horrible practise of Female Genital Mutilation, the woman who received a lower salary than her male counterpart, for the woman who has been beaten up by her partner, for the teenage girl who was not been allowed to decide over her own body, for the girl who had to stay at home and work while her brother was sent off to school, for the young woman who walked home in fear of being raped and for the women who have experienced discrimination, violence or harassment on the basis of being a woman.
We have many women to thank for how far we have come. I come from one of the most gender equal countries in the world and I do appreciate all the women who paved the way for me to have the privileges I have today. Growing up in Scandinavia I had the same privileges as my brothers, and I enjoyed climbing trees and playing lego just as much as I enjoyed playing with barbie dolls. I would watch Star Wars and likewise adore the Olsen twin movies. I dreaded going to school every Monday just as much as my brothers and I would never be treated any different because of my gender unless I wanted to. Looking back I am so grateful for growing up in a country where I was allowed all of this. Sadly, this is not the case for every girl. Therefore I am so happy to see girls and women raising their voices again and again all around the world. Whether growing up in patriarchal societies or the gender balanced Nordic countries they will never be quiet. What bravery, courage and kick ass awesomeness!!! Maybe their battles will at one point be in vain for themselves but never in vain for others. These women inspire me so much. I picked a few women for this blog post who have been remarkable in their efforts for women´s rights.
Emma Watson Emma gained respect worldwide for her speech at the UN last year in relation to her becoming a UN ambassador for UNWOMEN and promoting the HeforSHE campaign.
She was already on my list of awesome women though long before this. Through her role as Hermine Granger in Harry Potter she showed girls that girls rock too, and “pushover” is not in our vocabulary. In the media spotlight and with the increased sexualised attention she was subjected to as she grew older she also showed that you don´t need to accept this and change for anybody.
She has also shown the world that not only is she a great actor but also an intelligent one, killing any perception of her as a dumb actress with a lot of luck.
Surfer girl Sabah Abu Ghanim: Sabah is a girl living on the Gaza strip in the Middle East. The mediterranean waves are, however, not her main battle. The fact that she, as a teenage girl in a conservative patriarchal society, take her surfboard to the beach and surf waves is not regarded as appropriate. How unfair. Surfing is awesome, and she is an awesome surfer. Still she does it as much as she can. And she can hopefully inspire other girls to do the same. Read her story here.
I have read about girls doing similar things in countries where girls are expected to take on a specific role, and not “waste their time”. Skatistan is an NGO with projects in Afghanistan, South Africa and Cambodia that uses skateboarding as a tool for empowering youth, to create new opportunities and the potential for change. 40% of the members are girls.
As I have grown up with sport and could choose which sport I wanted to play irrespective of how girly or boyish it was I love this initiative!!!! Read more here
Gro Harlem Brundtland Gro Harlem Bruntdland is a Norwegian woman known for her post as the first female prime minister of Norway, as the first female leader for one of the biggest political parties in Norway, the labour party, as the general secretary of World Health Organization (UN) and as a UN Special Envoy for Climate Change and much more. She currently serves as a Deputy Chair of The Elders, a group of global leaders working for human rights and peace.
As part of The Elders she is in good company with several world leaders such as Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and the late Nelson Mandela. Why this women is an inspiration is easy to see. But I wanted to highlight that this woman from Norway never gave in. She has shown the world again and again how far you can reach if you work hard and are committed. She is way tougher than most men and I simply LOVE that. GO GRO!!!
Malala became known to the world after she was shot in the head on her way to school in Pakistan by the Taliban. She was already a target before the shooting due to her and her family´s advocating for the right to education. The event caused outrage in the world, and she has since received several awards and titles for her remarkable advocacy work for children´s right to education, including the Nobel Peace Price and having a day, the “Malala Day” in her honour.
She is so young and yet so committed with such power and passion. These are the kind of women we need in this world, those who will not be silenced by threats or violence. A true inspiration.