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International Women’s Day: Why It Should Matter

(Photo: Voices of Women)

March 8th is a day for reflection and awareness. It is a day for hope, pride and passion.

March 8th is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to recognize women around the world and all they’ve endured, conquered and fought for. It’s a day to commemorate everything that women around the world have overcome.

I never really gave much thought to this day or the real message behind it. I never really thought about the things that it represents and honors.

As a college student, I see injustice for women every single day when I read about sexual assault on campus or hear the national discussion about equal pay for men and women. I take Women’s Studies classes, I proudly identify as a feminist. Still, the importance of today never really resonated with me.

International Women’s Day is not just a day for women. It sends a message that speaks much louder and extends much farther than the corners of Penn State’s campus.

All across the world, women are facing injustice that most of us can’t even begin to comprehend.

The U.S. Department of State estimates that every year approximately 700,000 women are trafficked across national borders. They are kidnapped and forced into sex trafficking. In some circumstances, their own family members sell them as a sex slave as a much-needed source of income.

(Photo: Kick of Joy)

In the Global South and third-world countries, 1 in 7 women will face a life-threatening complication while giving birth. Complications can come from hemorrhaging, sepsis, unsafe abortions and more. They don’t have access to healthcare or a clean living space; many women face childbirth completely alone.

Every year, approximately 1 million female babies are victims of infanticide. They are victims of sex-selective abortions in countries where male babies are preferred, or even required.

In the United States, 1 out of every 6 women has been a victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. 44% of these victims were under the age of 18.

These are not scenarios that feminists make up for pity. These are facts—and there are women everywhere that endure these situations every single day.

I am so privileged to live in a place where I don’t have to see this firsthand; but that doesn’t mean that it’s not there, and it doesn’t mean that it’s irrelevant.

The first step to understanding is awareness, and the first step to change is understanding.

As a woman, I feel a sense of responsibility to women everywhere. As a feminist, I believe that the fight for gender equality is just as important for men as it is for women. The theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is “Make It Happen”, and that’s exactly what we need to do.

(Photo: Liberty Voice)

Take this day as a time to educate yourself about the horrific situations women in the world deal with on a daily basis, and use your blessings to lend a helping hand. We are all women, and we’re all fighting for the same exact things. From Uganda to the Philippines to Croatia to State College, Pennsylvania. We all have dreams, aspirations, and goals. We all have obstacles, fears, and burdens. As women, we should be here to build each other up—not tear each other down.

Today should matter to every single woman, whether they’ve ever faced inequality or not. International Women’s Day represents a chance to celebrate how far we’ve come, but to be aware of how much farther we have to go. I encourage every woman to make it happen—make the power of womanhood that much stronger. 

(Photo: Belly Itch Blog)

Adrea is a senior at Penn State and serves as the Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Penn State. She is majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Business, Women's Studies, and International Studies. She also served as a Chapter Advisor for 8 international chapters during her time studying abroad in Florence, Italy. In addition to Her Campus, Adrea is a senior reporter for Penn State's student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, and a contributing writer for Thought Catalog. She is the social media intern for Penn State's Office of Strategic Communications. In the rare time that she's doing something other than writing, she's probably Googling pictures of pugs or consuming an excessive amount of caffeine. Follow her on Twitter: @adreacope
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