BlogHers, Join Her on the Bridge!
It’s been 100 years since March 8th was designated International Women’s Day, and women worldwide have yet to achieve the equality they envisioned so long ago. In times of war, they are still the primary targets of systematic rape, torture, displacement and pillaging.
Most of the world remembers the 1994 Rwandan genocide that took 800,000 lives and witnessed up to 500,000 rapes in only 100 days. Few are aware that the roots of that conflict never died. Instead, they continue to foster a war more deadly than any since World War II in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Even as the staggering death toll now surpasses 5 million and rape is used as a weapon of war, the Congolese women dare to imagine peace. They say peace means being able to live and work freely. They see peace as walking to the fields without fear of sexual violence. They envision a more prosperous future, harvesting from the fields the fruits of their own labor.
On March 8, the anniversary of International Women’s Day, hundreds of Congolese and Rwandan women will unite and demand an end to the violence that has gripped the Congo for over a decade. They will tie together pieces of fabric on which they’ve painted their visions of a peaceful future.
In honor of their voices and the voices of every woman who has faced injustice and decided to break her silence, we at Women for Women International are echoing this call for peace in cities across the world in a show of global solidarity.
Because the women of Rwanda and Congo are not alone.
In the 21st century, you would think the data about women's circumstances worldwide have improved. And yet, women are still 70 percent of the world's poor, they are still 75 percent of the civilians killed in war (along with their children), and still perform 66% of the world’s work for only 10 percent of the world’s income.
So join us. Join Honorata, who survived a year and a half as a sexual slave in Congo and now dedicates her life to promoting women's independence in her home country. Join Violette, a Rwandese woman who lost everything in the genocide and was only able to keep her children alive by smearing blood on their faces and asking them to pretend they were dead. 16 years later, Violette owns her land, sends her kids to school and runs her business out of the home she was able to rebuild. Join Senada, who spoke up in Bosnia about the rape she endured. Join Mersada in Kosovo, who spoke up about the domestic violence she faced. Join Abby, and Liz, and Beatrice, and Suada and so many courageous women, as we all dare to imagine lasting equality and peace in our lives and the lives of our children.
We can demand attention to this issue; we can demand governments no longer ignore the suffering of women nor their crucial role in repairing their countries after war. We can unite to help other wives, mothers and sisters all over the globe whose daily existence is a challenge.
Ours is an unprecedented call to action: Join Us on the Bridge. All around the U.S. and all around the world women are organizing events to honor and echo the voices of women survivors of war on International Women's Day. You can attend a bridge event, organize one, or sign the pledge affirming that you believe women are the key to global peace and development.
For more information on Women for Women International's Bridge Campaign, please visit the campaign website at www.womenforwomen.org/bridge .