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International Women’s Day: What it is/why we celebrate…and more

By Ruth-Anne Renaud

Have you heard of International Women’s Day? Do you know much about the history or significance of this day?  Although the official date is Monday, March 8, we will be contributing posts this week on everything from the history of International Women’s Day to how it relates to the microfinance services that Opportunity International provides to clients worldwide (85% of whom are women). Let’s start with a brief history of International Women’s Day.

  • It  first emerged at the turn of the 20th century in North America and across Europe
  • People celebrate the day differently across the world. Many organizations choose to focus on a specific theme.
  • It’s an occasion to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development
  • Thousands of events are held throughout the world, giving people the opportunity to unite, learn, network and mobilize for meaningful change

Recently, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke about this year’s International Women’s Day and shared many thoughts that are also integral to Opportunity’s vision:

  • Gender equality and women’s empowerment are fundamental to the UN’s global mission to achieve equal rights and dignity for all
  •  Equality for women and girls is an economic and social imperative
  • Until women and girls are liberated from poverty and injustice, the goals of peace, security and sustainable development stand in jeopardy

(http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2010/sgsm12766.doc.htm)

Opportunity International is working daily to address the poverty and injustice that affects millions and millions of women, men and children in the developing world. We provide microfinance services to aspiring entrepreneurs so they can start businesses and transform their lives, their families and their communities. The Trust Group is often the first entry point for our loan clients.

A. Sheela Shantakumari is an inspirational and successful woman entrepreneur, who also serves as leader of the Baba Trust Group in Chennai, India. Sheela and 19 other women have joined together to guarantee each other’s loans. They meet weekly to repay their loans and receive training in business practices and personal development skills. In the process, they also form close alliances. Trust Groups have proven to be an effective grassroots approach to tackling poverty. While building up local economies, these groups also foster personal growth and create community leaders like Sheela. (To read more about Sheela, click here-http://www.opportunity.org/Page.aspx?pid=897)

We invite you to follow our blog postings in preparation for March 8, Women’s International Day. We hope you will share your comments on this day, or how you plan to celebrate it. One option is to make a statement or post a tribute on our Global Opportunity Quilt. Check it out athttp://www.optinnow.org/quilt.

 

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