International Women's Day

Today marks the 100th plus anniversary of International Women's Day. The "theme" for this year is women and men united to end violence against women and girls. International Women's Day has been and continues to be a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

For me, and many others, today is another opportunity to focus on the inequities that continue to persist against women and girls. It is also a time to join forces and do your part to help end violence against us.

Statistically, girls aged 15 to 19 years old account for 50% of victims of sexual abuse worldwide. FBI daily reports indicate an alarming increase in women and children used for sexual exploitation and the sex trades, and that's here in the good ole USA.

If you've been victimized, abused, attacked or violated, the unfortunate truth is that you may live with those scars forever and it can be difficult to recover a sense of peace, security, personal empowerment and self-worth after such an experience. We at Women's Self-Defense Institute are passionate about doing what we can to elevate women and girls to the status and respect level they deserve.

Violence against women can and must be prevented. We can start by speaking up and sharing information. Not a single one of us is alone in this. As women, we need to put the shame and fear we feel on the side and reach out to help each other become stronger and safer.

Teach your children to respect each other. Take a self-defense class. Find someone you trust that you can talk to.

For all of us, today, more than any other day, serves as a reminder of the field in which women must still battle for fundamental rights, and where they remain victims of violence and enduring inequalities.

As Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for the office of the United States President, stated in 1872, "If women would today rise en masse and demand their emancipation, the men would be compelled to grant it." Those words are as true today as they were 135 years ago.

Be an activist - Speak Out!