I didn't know until recently that there even was an International Women's Day. Without getting into the history of it which you can read here, I do want to briefly state that I am totally in favor of bringing equality to women around the world but I also believe that there are God-given differences in men and women that are worth celebrating.
So, in honor of women around the world I would like to share a few facts that I am learning. According to the International Rescue Committee:
"Violence against women is one of the most widespread of human rights abuses. One out of every three women worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused during her lifetime. During times of war and conflict, sexual violence is used to terrorize and humiliate women and girls. Survivors often suffer further victimization by family and society. The International Rescue Committee works to break this cycle of violence by helping survivors to heal, delivering care to victims of sexual assault, and by bringing women together for mutual support. Through innovative skills programs, we help women gain economic independence. In all of our programs, the IRC is committed to the full empowerment and participation of women and girls."
Shared Hope International is a Christian organization that works to end sex trafficking. They focus on educating activists to prevent trafficking in the first place, restoring women who have been victims of sex slavery, as well as working through public policy to end trafficking. In 2012 this organization trained 1100 people to intervene on behalf of vulnerable children. They posted 21 billboards to make people aware that this is happening. They worked to give 171 women the job skills they need to live independently, and gave 147 women and children safe shelter. (Information taken from here.) And one more staggering fact from this website: "100,000 American children are exploited through the commercial sex industry each year. The average age a child is first exploited is 13 years old."
I could go on and on listing organizations that are working to help women. Here are just a few more that would be worth your time to check out: A21 Campaign, International Justice Mission, and Opportunity International. Facebook has also been a great way for me to follow some of these sites and keep up with what is going on.
I want to point out one more fact regarding women around the world. After reading Half the Sky last year, I was blown away with the sheer amount of suffering women face simply because they do not have adequate health care. You can visit Half the Sky and read for yourself more about what they are doing for the cause of women but I would highly recommend the book. In fact, I think I'm going to read it again and maybe do another post on it. I have never been able to forget the story of a woman who had terrible health consequences simply because she did not have the pre/post natal care that she needed. Maternal care is such a great need in poverty stricken areas. It's so sad that for many, what should be joyous time of bringing new life into the world often becomes a life threatening situation.
There are so many great organizations out there it is difficult for me to pick the one I want to be involved in. I struggle with figuring out how to take what I read and put hands and feet on it. I often feel sad and frustrated after reading about the plight of the suffering but I don't always know how to handle that burden. Often I just push it away and try to forget the sadness by focusing more on my life. I want to know what I am supposed to do as a result of what I learn. Hopefully I will figure that out on this journey. One thing I do know for sure is that God has a heart for the oppressed. He talks over and over in the Old Testament about defending the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed. "The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed." ~Psalm 103:6