Aspiring, young global leader and talented woman, Meridian Intern, Kara Koeneke, shares her unique insights on Women’s History Month 2014 in this captivating blog:
For thirty-one days every year, March is acknowledged as Women’s History month. The United States has celebrated the contributions of women in this way since 1980 when President Jimmy Carter issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8th, 1982 as Women’s History Week. Congress later expanded the week to include the entire month in honor of the contributions of American women in history. President Carter spoke these words: “From the settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”
Here in the United States, when I think about Women’s History Month, names such as Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman and Amelia Earhart come to mind as American women who worked tirelessly to advance the rights of women. Often times, it is easy to forget that there are brave women all around the world who are advocating for not only the advancement of women’s equality, but for the protection of human rights and social development for all. While Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are observed annually, it is important to recognize that women everywhere, everyday put theirs lives at risk and take the lead to enact change.
Many courageous women go unrecognized for their efforts, but last Wednesday, I was able to hear the stories from a handful of women from all walks of life who are committed to advocating for gender equality, peace, justice, and human rights globally. These phenomenal women are the 2014 International Women of Courage Awardees, an annual program with which Meridian has been honored to be involved. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Institute of Peace co-hosted a panel featuring the 2014 Awardees where they shared their personal life stories with those in attendance. These women are doctors, lawyers and judges who find common ground in their convictions to make a difference. Many of these women discussed their belief that justice and change for women is attainable in their home countries.
The exceptional awardees undoubtedly exemplify this year’s Women’s History Month theme, “celebrating women of character, courage, and commitment.” Through the words of those like award recipient Roshika Deo from Fiji, who affirms that women “will not make ourselves invisible…we are leaders of today,” I hope that her story and the stories of women near and far will inspire you as much as they have all of us here at Meridian. We are proud of their accomplishments and look forward to doing our part in continuing to celebrate women’s achievements everywhere.