From LIFESPAN Ambassador, Toni Huneycutt
Let me start by saying to the ladies, “You are awesome. And everyday you should be celebrated!”
March 8th is International Women’s Day. Additionally, the entire month of March is celebrated as Women’s Month.
Why do need an International Women’s Day and why do we need a Women’s Month?
It gives the world an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the achievements of women throughout history; it calls attention to the many obstacles women have overcome in their long struggle to be recognized and valued as fully human and independent; it also gives cause to celebrate the important roles women fill daily in culture and society.
Did you know that Kevlar ( a synthetic fiber used to make bullet-proof vests) was invented by a woman? Are you aware that it was a woman who invented electric hot water heaters, fire escapes, life rafts, medical syringes, dishwashers, windshield wipers and probably most importantly, chocolate chip cookies?
Even an organization like LIFESPAN owes a debt of gratitude to a woman. LIFESPAN might never have existed if it had not been for Dorothea Dix. Ms. Dix was one of the first people in the world to recognize the importance of care for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. She created the first facility in the nation specifically devoted to the care of those individuals. In an era when no one was talking about the needs of individuals with mental health and developmental disabilities, Dorothea Dix brought it to the forefront.
International Women’s Day was adopted by the United Nations in 1975; however, it has been celebrated ’round the world since 1911.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Balance for Better. (#balanceforbetter). This theme was chosen because we are now entering an exciting period in history when the world desperately needs and is searching for balance. We need balance. We notice its absence and we celebrate its presence.
How can we help create balance? All of us can work together to engage in conversations about women and women’s issues; we can bring attention to the women in our lives; we can celebrate their successes and notice the small and many ways the women in our lives strive to make the world a better place every single day.
Be willing to engage in tough conversations on subjects like gender inequality and the salary gap. Be ready and willing to listen to the stories of the women in your life; share your story and most importantly, mentor the young ladies in you life.
I challenge each of you to help build a much more gender-balanced world. Balance is not just a woman’s issue, it’s a human issue.
(Editor’s note: When Toni presented this to the team of ambassadors at LIFESPAN, she distributed purple pens and ask all the ladies in the group to “leave their mark.” Purple is significant because it represents justice and dignity for women throughout the world. As Toni said, “no women should every be discouraged to leave her mark!”)