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Year of the Woman – in honor of International Women’s Day –

In honor of International Women’s Day, we will be highlighting some of our favorite stories that show what we feel it means to be a strong, Lovely girl!

Like this one…

“When women succeed, we all succeed.” Melanne S. Verveer, Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

Who could forget the infectious smile of gymnast Gabby Douglas during the London 2012 Olympics? The minute she finished a routine she would throw her hands in the air and flash that endearing smile. She made America proud and she knew it. There was something special about the 2012 Olympics, something electrifying. “116 years after the modern Olympic movement began, the London Games finally herald ‘The Year of the Woman.’ For the first time in Olympic history, every one of the 204 delegations participating in London included female athletes” (Time Magazine, 1).

Women made history this year. Even precious Gabby flipped and tumbled her way into history becoming the first African-American to win the all-around title and the first U.S. gymnast to win gold in both that event and the team competition (Time Magazine, 2).

Needless to say, I found the Olympics inspiring and it made me wonder, what other amazing feats have women accomplished in this year? It’s time that we stop giving publicity to those who behave badly and stop rewarding their insatiable need for attention (insert celebrity name here) but rather highlight women who are actually changing the world. This list could be a thousand names long but in the interest of time I have only highlighted a few:

 

Lisa Bevere is an international speaker, a renown author, activist, wife, mother and grandmother. Her passion is empowering women to live to their full potential. She travels all over the world, not to promote herself or her latest book, etc., but to connect with women on a personal level. She has the unique ability to be vulnerable and transparent with crowds of complete strangers for the purpose of helping them overcome their own struggles. Women leave her conference with assurance that they are not alone, and with a passion to change their world. She gives her time, money, talents, spends long hours traveling and many nights away from her own family, all so that the women of this world get a better understanding of their true worth. Lisa is changing the world, leading by example.

 

Jessica Buchanan is a 32 year old missionary to Africa. She sold everything she owned and left her life in America behind to go to Hargeisa, Somalia with her Swedish husband, Erik Landemalm, who she met in Africa. On Oct 25th of last year, Jessica and a co-worker were kidnapped by Somali bandits and held captive for 3 months. Early this year, both were rescued by “the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6, the same covert group that successfully carried out the mission to kill Osama bin Laden” (ABCNews, 3). Buchanan’s bravery, passion and her willingness to overcome challenges makes me proud to be a woman.

 

Sheryl WuDunn is a Pulitzer-Prize winner, business executive, lecturer, journalist and co- author of the award winning book “Half the Sky.” WuDunn first caught my eye early last year; she was the key-note speaker at a conference that I was attending. She spoke about her most recent book, “Half the Sky” which highlights the challenges facing women around the globe. What sort of challenges? Well, at the conference WuDunn spoke about one particular trip to China in which her husband bought a young girl (yes, purchased a girl) to show the world what was happening to women and young girls in many countries around the world but also to set her free from her slave owner. I was both mesmerized and horrified at WuDunn’s stories. Girls in Africa who are raped and as a result contract HIV from their attacker. Not to mention the extremely low conviction rate of rapists – of 10,000 investigated rape cases less than 1% have been prosecuted. And it gets worse; rape victims themselves are often punished for the crimes committed against against them. Fathers and brothers are often “shamed” due to the rape of their daughter or sister and many times the woman is thrown out of the home. The rejection from family is even more damaging than the rape itself. WuDunn says it best, “How is the worth of a woman viewed in a culture? Simply look at the state of that culture” (PBS Independent Lens, 4). In September of this year, a four-hour primetime international film was broadcast on PBS Independent Lens inspired by Half the Sky. Filmed in 10 countries, it follows WuDunn and her co-author husband, Nicholas D. Kristoff, along with several female celebrities on a journey to tell the stories of the amazing and courageous individuals (PBS Independent Lens, 4). I highly recommend the documentary film, it is truly life-altering.

 

Samira Ibrahim is featured in TIME Magazines 100 Most Influential People list for 2012. She is the 25 year old activist behind the recent ban on forced virginity testing. During the protests in Egypt’s Tahrir Square last year, Ibrahim and other female protesters were detained, beaten, given electric shocks, strip searched and subjected to forced virginity testing. “After initially denying that virginity tests had taken place, a senior general in the Egyptian military in May admitted that at least 17 women had been forced to undergo the tests” (The Washington Post, 5). Ibrahim felt humiliated and violated. She decided to fight back. She sued the government, and last December a civilian judge ruled the practice of virginity testing illegal. The ruling is a major victory for young women in Egypt. However, since the ruling Ibrahim has received death threats and other forms of public backlash, proof that even though the ruling is a step forward in justice for women, victims of sexual abuse are still culturally punished for the sexual violence committed against them. I admire Ibrahim for her immense bravery and courage under fire. She is truly on the battlefield of modern day equality and justice for women.

So here’s to you, women.

You who fight bravely for justice, who work long days and endure restless nights. You who give freely to the poor and hold the hand of the sick. You who comfort the dying and teach us all how to live life to its fullest. You who love unconditionally and refuse to give in to fear. Thank you and don’t give up. Cheers to 2013 and all of the incredible women it will produce.

 

 

 

 

References:

1. Time Magazine: “The Year of the Woman” http://olympics.time.com/2012/07/29/the-year-of-the-woman-the-london-olympics-strikes-early-for-gender-equality/#ixzz286ZNytse)

2. Time Magazine: “Wonder Women” http://olympics.time.com/2012/08/09/olympic-wonder-women/#ixzz286bGToOm

3. ABC News: “Buchanan Sold Her Belongings to Become a Missionary.” http://abcnews.go.com/International/jessica-buchanan-missionary-loves-africa/story?id=15439390#.ULbDwOTAeSo

4. PBS Independent Lens: “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/half-the-sky/

5. The Washington Post: Samira Ibrahim is the woman behind Egypt’s ban of virginity tests.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/samira-ibrahim-is-the-woman-behind-egypts-ban-of-virginity-tests/2011/12/27/gIQACKNgKP_blog.html