Posted by Susana Segat on Mar 31, 2011.

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In Honor of Women's History Month

We've reached the end of this year's Women's History Month.

On the personal level, if you haven't yet thanked a woman who has made your life just a little bit better, don't worry that the month is over, go ahead and thank her anyway.

On the global level, the United Nations highlighted and appreciated one particular day, March 9th: the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. "Why dedicate a day exclusively to the celebration of the world's women? In adopting its resolution on the observance of Women's Day, the General Assembly cited two reasons: to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security. For the women of the world, the Day's symbolism has a wider meaning: It is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilize for meaningful change."

This year, Women's History Month, embodied in International Women's Day, was particularly striking to me.

Not because it was the 100th anniversary.

And certainly not because we finally ratified the International bill of rights for women (because we haven't yet. As per Wikipedia, "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, enshrines "the equal rights of men and women", and addressed both the equality and equity issues. In 1979 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Described as an international bill of rights for women, it came into force on 3 September 1981. The seven UN member states that have not signed the convention are Iran, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, Tonga, and the United States. Niue and the Vatican City have also not ratified it. The United States has signed, but not yet ratified.")

This year, International Women's Day was striking because of Twitter. Because of this new social link, this day became a spectacle. As soon as the sun touched the International Date Line, the global conversation started. The celebration followed the sun around the world and it was joyful and vibrant with women's voices. All in at most 140 letters, in all languages, in real time.

When the sun reached the United States, things sort of quieted down. Traditionally, this holiday doesn't catch on here and this year it was obvious.

It's hard to figure out why.

Do we just not care? Have we reached equality? Have our efforts stopped?

So I met with Kimberly Sansoucy, the Executive Director of the Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women. And I taped our short interview and please click on the embedded tape and listen to it.

It is so gratifying to see that the work continues, that there are people who get up every day to make the world a better, more just place. We might not be throwing loud parties, but we still care.

To quote an old bumper sticker, "all politics is local." Yes, there is great strife all over the world, and we are so fortunate to be where we are. Yet, it's still good to see that at the local level, we continue to strive for fundamental freedoms and basic nurturing and caring.

So Happy Women's Month. And if men want to advocate for a Men's Month, I have no problem with that. That's the whole point of equality - everyone deserves their fundamental freedoms.

(photo by S Segat)