Do I have your attention?
I was greatly energized to see women's rights being championed on International Women's Day last month. But here's the thing: we need to be champions for women's rights every day. The awful truth is that women across the globe face arrest, persecution, and unspeakable violence for exercising their rights. These acts include leaving their house without permission, escaping a forced marriage, even reporting sexual assault. The statistics are staggering: 15 million girls are married as children each year. Nearly 40 per cent of women who are murdered worldwide are killed by their own partners. And if it takes dollars to get your attention: acts of violence against women and girls cost the global economy roughly $4 trillion annually.
It is grassroots women's rights organizations that are best situated to combat these statistics, preventing future violence against women and girls. A common barrier towards change? Resources, often in the form of dollars. These organizations are on the ground and fighting for women's rights every day -- and often operate on a minimal budget of $20,000 annually. This is distressing, because these organizations are of paramount importance when it comes to combating women's issues effectively.
From a program in Nairobi that empowers girls in the community through boxing to an app in Cairo that digitally tracks incidents of sexual harassment, who better to determine the right way to conquer the challenges women face around the world than the women experiencing them? We have found that those born and raised in these communities are best suited to map out the path to progress.
It's no secret that a vast amount of work needs to be done to elevate and support women everywhere. Not only do we need to shout these statistics from the rooftops but, together, we need to do what we can to support women who are on the ground and already driving change.
From running rape crisis centres in Cape Town to launching a documentary supporting the LGBT community in the country of Georgia, women are uniquely and bravely creating change in their communities. We are coming together across the globe to hold ground and break ground for women's rights. It is of paramount importance that we keep the conversation going every day. It is up to all of us.
The MATCH Fund, a Canadian not-for-profit that supports grassroots women's rights organizations around the world, recently launched the campaign #unlockchange to shed light on the many atrocities young girls and women experience. The participation and engagement has been truly inspiring.
International Women's Day is a great reminder of the importance to stand together for women all over the world, but one day isn't enough. Women are a beacon of hope and strength in their communities, no matter where they are, and it is vital to help hold ground and break new ground for women where it's needed.
To learn more about The MATCH International Women's Fund (or to help us support grassroots women's organizations year round,) please visit matchinternational.org.
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A woman holds a placard during a silent protest titled 'Women in Black for Peace' on the eve of International Women's Day in Bangalore on March 7, 2015. International Women's Day is marked on March 8 every year and is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.
Indian activists hold placards during a rally organised by 'The Red Brigade - Bring Bangalore Back' to protest against the recent incidents of sexual abuse, molestation and rapes against women in Bangalore on July 20, 2014. The protestors demanded police take action against sexual offenders, child sexual abuse and rapists after several cases of sexual violence against women were registered in Bangalore in the last few days.
Indian women hold placards as they shout slogans against Tarun Tejpal, editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine, in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013. The Delhi High Court Tuesday refused to grant interim protection against arrest to Tejpal, who has been accused of sexually assaulting his junior colleague on Nov. 7 and 8 at a hotel in Goa, according to a news agency. Placard in the center reads: "Stop injustice against women."
Members of All India women organisation protest against Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav about his rape statement in a rally at Jantar Mantar on April 12, 2014 in New Delhi, India. Mulayam Singh Yadav said rapists should not be sent to gallows as 'young boys make such mistakes, in an election rally in Moradabad two days back.
Indians shout slogans during a protest march against gender discrimination and sexual violence in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. The attack and brutal rape of a 23-year-old student in the heart of New Delhi last month has brought protesters into the streets demanding that the government protect women and ensure those attacked get justice.
An Indian woman participates in a protest against the government ordinance on criminal law amendments to prevent sexual violence against women, in New Delhi, India, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013. Scores of protesters have gathered near India's parliament house to protest a new law which they say is inadequate to deter all forms of sexual violence against women.
Indian demonstrators hold candles in honour of a physiotherapy student who was gang-raped and murdered at a protest to mark the one year anniversary of her death in New Delhi on December 29, 2013. India marked the first anniversary of the death of a student savagely gang-raped on a Delhi bus -- a tragedy that sparked nationwide protests. The 23-year-old physiotherapy student died on December 29 last year, nearly two weeks after being attacked by a gang of six men on a moving bus as she returned home from the cinema with a male companion.
University students shout slogans as they form a human chain advocating safety for women, in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. Five men accused of raping a university student for hours on a bus as it drove through India's capital were charged with murder, rape and other crimes that could bring them the death penalty. The attack on the 23-year-old woman, who died of severe internal injuries over the weekend, provoked a fierce debate across India about the routine mistreatment of females and triggered daily protests demanding action.
Students shout slogans during a protest against a leader of the ruling Congress party, who was arrested on accusations he raped a woman in a village in the early hours of the morning, in Gauhati, India, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. Footage on Indian television showed the extraordinary scene of local women surrounding Bikram Singh Brahma, ripping off his shirt and repeatedly slapping him across the face. A Dec. 16 gang rape on a woman, who later died of her injuries, has caused outrage across India, sparking protests and demands for tough new rape laws, better police protection for women and a sustained campaign to change society's views about women.
Indian women hold placards as they shout slogans from a flag post near the Presidential Palace during a protest in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. Police used tear gas and water cannons to push back thousands of people who tried to march to the presidential mansion to protest the recent gang rape and brutal beating of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus.
Follow Jess Tomlin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MATCHIntFund