Photo Credit: Everymothercounts.org
Happy International Women's Day! While the month of March is Women's History Month, March 8 has long been set aside to reflect on the fact that much still needs to be done to advance the social and economic progress of women around the world.
Women are often told that we've come a long way, but there's still plenty to do before women come anywhere close to achieving economic and leadership parity with men, and that's especially true for women in war-torn and developing countries. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted last year, on the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day:
"Women and girls drive our economies. They build peace and prosperity. Investing in them means investing in global economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for everyone—the world over."
To bring attention to the hard work that global women are doing this year, First Lady Michelle Obama will be attending the International Women of Courage Awards ceremony sponsored by the State Department. An amazing group from around the world, including women like Maryam Durani, a member of the Kandahar Provincial Council in Afghanistan, and Hana Elhebshi, who was involved in the Libyan revolution, will be honored for their brave achievements.
You don't have to challenge a regime, however, to make a difference for women around the globe. Of course there are many, many worthy organizations who are doing work around the world to advance the cause of women and girls. But on this International Women's Day, here are a handful of organizations doing amazing work, that provide a variety of ways we can take part in advancing women's causes around the world, and here at home:
Every Mother Counts -- This organization was founded by former supermodel Christy Turlington after she experienced complications from the birth of her first child. She realized that many women around world who had similar birth experiences died because they didn't have access to the kind of health care and facilities she did as an American woman. Every Mother Counts works toward reducing the number of maternal deaths, directing donations toward building clinics, providing medical supplies and sponsoring midwife training in regions like the Sudan. Turlington documented her experiences and those of mothers around the world in the award winning film, No Woman, No Cry. Twitter handle: @cturlington
Women for Women International-- The primary mission of Women for Women International is to assist female war survivors through educational opportunities, job skills training and micro-loans to start businesses to support struggling families. This group also is dedicated to educating women, especially those in war-torn countries like Iraq and Pakistan, to understand what their legal rights are when it comes to issues of domestic violence and voting. Twitter handle: @womenforwomen
Global Fund for Women -- This nonprofit, grant-making foundation has programs that help promote women's economic, social and leadership potential globally. Its focus is investing in women-led organizations that range the gamut from teaching women how to start small businesses, to educating girls about health issues, to helping women and girls with disabilities. Twitter handle: @GlobalFundWomen
CARE -- CARE is a global humanitarian organization that funds a wide range of programs aimed at fight poverty and its underlying causes, including initiatives for clean water, ending HIV/AIDS and improving maternal nutrition. For International Women's Day, CARE is featuring an online screening of the movie Pray the Devil Back to Hell, by Abigail Disney, which tells the story of a group of Liberian women who helped end civil war in their country. Twitter handle: @CARE
Vittana -- This year's theme for International Women's Day is "Connecting Girls, Inspiring Future." Vittana is a not-for-profit organization that promotes global education efforts by connecting girls with micro-lenders. The money raised by this group is loaned to girls around the world to pay for their college education and is then repaid, as with any other micro-loan. Ciaran Blumenfeld, who is co-hosting an International Women's Day Twitter chat for Vittana, says, "For most Vittana students, the education they receive means that they are able to triple their income and support their families. It means the opportunity for their children to have health care and pursue educati,on as well." Twitter handle: @Vittana
If you decide to support any of these or other organizations, but also want a visible way to show your support, take a look at the Rock the Lips Facebook page, calling for women to wear red lipstick on March 8 as a show of solidarity with other women around the globe.
WATCH: International Women’s Day: Are Politicians Supporting Women’s Rights?
You can read more from iVillage iVote Editor and Correspondent Joanne Bamberger at her blog, PunditMom. Joanne is also the author of the Amazon bestseller Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America.