Today is International Women’s Day. I was privileged to attend a luncheon hosted by the Soroptimists’ Club of Central Alberta  at which three deserving women (including a very articulate teen!) were recognized for their extraordinary achievements and community contributions. It was a real treat. I’m so proud to be counted in the company of the great community of women in the Red Deer area.

But I could not get away from a sobering thought that was sent out this morning. One of my favourite central Alberta women, Joanne Ward  made a comment on Facebook this morning, reminding us to think about and remember today all the women around the world who are not free. Yes. That resonates. Let’s do that.

Let’s consider the women in 25 nations of the world who are subjected to genital mutilation. This often dangerous and always agonizingly painful practice, considered a “rite of passage”, leaves women unable to enjoy sexual relations, and frequently causes medical problems with urination and fertility/child-birth.

Let’s also consider the women and children sold into sexual slavery. This is a problem in every nation, and every community, including our own. You can learn more than you ever wanted to know about this subject on the Internet, but if you want to connect with some local, credible organizations, here are a few:

http://www.magdalenehouse.ca/index.html

http://www.actalberta.org/

http://scarletcord.ca/

Also, I believe the Soroptimists mentioned earlier in this post do work to combat human trafficking.

And, for all of the economic and social progress being widely acclaimed in China, there are still many reports of forced labour camps, where men, women and children are illegally detained and enslaved.

Let’s also pay close attention to the cause of our dearest central Alberta treasures, Amanda Lindhout. A freelance journalist, Amanda founded the Global Enrichment Foundation after being freed from fifteen months in captivity in Somalia. Her courage in what she personally faced and her commitment to help women in Somalia receive education and improve their lives is laudable.  Let’s remember those women today.

One of my co presenters at last fall’s TEDxREDDEER event was Eric Rajah of A Better World. He showed a video of young women with deformities, too old to have corrective surgery, crawling to school on their hands and knees. Those images come to me often, as a sharp reminder if I am ever lacking in gratitude for the opportunities I and my children and grandchildren have here in Canada.

Let’s remember the women being beaten by religious extremists for showing their faces or attending school. Let’s remember the women in forced marriages. And the women trapped in poverty, isolation and violence.

There’s much wrong with the world, and today I am thinking about injustice toward women. I remembering them. Because I don’t want to forget.

But it doesn’t help just to grieve their plight. I hope we’ll all be inspired to do something today to move these women closer to freedom. And so as not to end on a down note but to focus on hope and potential, I offer a video of celebration and encourage you, in your own life, celebrate women everywhere today.

 

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