The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, a holiday now more than a century old, is “Be Bold For Change.” It’s a message intended to push people toward concrete action on gender equality. Here are the stories of five women from around the world who are doing just that in their communities.
England: ‘You either just give up, or you think, ‘one life at a time’
Sarah Fane is an optimist, a smile never far from her lips. Ask her about educating girls in Afghanistan, a nation where the literacy rate for women is among the worst in the world, and she beams…
India: ‘Why am I tolerating it?’
Vimla lost her father when she was 14. A year later, she was married to a man 16 years older than her. He began beating her on the first night of their marriage… After years of abuse, Vimla, 64, who goes by just her first name, asked herself, “Why am I tolerating it?”
She started attending a workshop held for women and eventually began working in the slums… She started the Women Progress Council to educate women across 12 slum colonies in Delhi about domestic violence, health and their rights. “Once they get support, it gives them confidence,” Vimla said. “They understand the unfairness and then they stand up for themselves.”…
Russia: ‘Everyone has a story’
Women facing the threat of domestic abuse or sexual assault often don’t have free use of their hands, are under immense strain, and may not be able to access their telephone to call for help. Kathy Romanovskaya, 42, a co-founder at the Russian startup Nimb, says her company’s product has those women in mind. It’s fashionable ring that doubles as a panic button, allowing the wearer to discreetly send a distress signal to a support circle, including friends, parents or the police…
China: ‘Women around the whole world should unite’
It was March 2015, two days before International Womens Day, and Wei Tingting was preparing to mark the occasion. She and a small group of friends wanted to raise awareness about sexual harassment on public transportation. They planned to hand out stickers on the bus but they never got the chance.
Instead, Wei and four other women were taken to a detention center on the outskirts of Beijing and held for 37 days. They were interrogated again and again about their plans to organize for LGBT and womens rights.
The Chinese governments campaign of intimidation did not work. Word of their arrest spread quickly and spurred global campaigns to #freethefive, turning them into feminist heroes. Two years later, Wei is still working for gender equality as the founder of the nonprofit Guangzhou Gender Education Center. She is also preparing a report on sexual harassment….
Egypt: ‘Now, it’s a critical time for Muslim artists’
Deena Mohamed is not your typical 22-year-old, and neither is her creation: Qahera, a Muslim web-comic superheroine who wears a hijab, or headscarf, wields a sword and can fly. Her mission, in part, is to help women who face sexual harassment…