03/08/2013 08:03 EST | Updated 05/08/2013 05:12 EDT

Why You Should Care About International Women's Day


I've been searching for inspiration to write this post for the past few weeks. I might've written the first paragraph about 10 - 15 times, and then erased it slowly by pressing backspace. So I decided to start at the beginning...well, my beginning.

womens day


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Growing up I was daddy's little girl. I played games with my brothers and was very very mischievous...but to my dad I could do no wrong. What I loved the most about my dad was how he treated the women in his life. He treated his mother with love and respect, his sisters like princesses and my mother like a queen. He always showed my mother love and affection privately and publicly. Growing up I believed and thought all men were as good as my father. Why would I think otherwise?

Due to medical requirements at the young age of seven I was sent to live with my grandparents in Canada and thus began my life in the west. I missed my family so much -- especially my father. My father's love was replaced by four uncles and grandparents. Again I experienced love, kindness and respect at the hands of the men that continued to raise me.

The most amazing thing I found about living in Canada or the west was how readily available news and information was. I learned so much about the world, politics and history. I blame my grandfather for turning me into a news junkie.

In all my research and news obsession, I began to notice a discrepancy in how women were treated versus men. I remember seeing in the news reports about men getting higher salaries than women. Watching "Our History" TV commercials about when women were allowed to vote. I began to question "why was the state of women always secondary?" Granted things are much better today than they were in the early 19th and 20th century but to quote Jack Nicholson "Is this as good as it gets?"

I took advantage of my freedom of speech at the age of 13 and began to write about bullying, women issues and about injustices around the world. Sometimes it would be in the form of poetry, classroom essays and a few times I actually made it in to the Montreal Gazette.

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What I noticed growing up was that unless women issues made it onto the news, every day struggles of women went unnoticed.

With so many international atrocities committed against women on a daily basis, I as a woman in the west sometimes feel that there is very little that we can do. But living in the lap of luxury doesn't remove the sadness one feels when they see the news reports. I feel overwhelmed by the state of women and believe we should act more.

Atrocities are not just limited to developing societies; we must never forget what happened in Europe at the end of the last century. Bosnia Herzegovina experienced an ethnic cleansing...but worse of all was the torture, rape and overall treatment of women. Currently sexual crimes against women in the Congo are a part of the war tactics to destroy entire villages and their society at large.

Like the Holocaust, we must never forget this and prevent it from happening again. But it hasn't ended -- the recent rape crisis in India that had always been there finally got some public attention. This is a tell tale sign about the state of women in the world today. If there isn't a huge outcry it will fall through the cracks.

Domestic violence and rape is a regular occurrence in our society even in the west.

Are we so far removed from the struggles faced by women? We can take a stand right here at home. We can we end the deadly silence on domestic abuse and the stigma attached to discussing rape.

Here are a few things you can do right now:

  • Social media -- use the power of the Internet to make your voice heard. Example: tweet about the need to end rape and use hashtag #endrape2013
  • Find a global organization you can support like -- global campaign to help educate girls around the world
  • Find a local organization -- we are supporting the Amal Canter for Women (a Montreal women's shelter) and their Purple Bow tie campaign
  • Hope is something that education celebrates. This International Women's Day let us educate ourselves and the society at large...especially the men around us about the importance of celebrating their other half.

    "Educate a man and you educate one person; educate a woman and you educate a whole nation." -African proverb

    Originally posted on and written by Amber Rehman and Shadi Sakr

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