Today marks the 354 days of my 365 day commitment to walk or run a minimum of 6km per day for one full year.
“Walk in Her Shoes” to celebrate international women’s day – an opportunity to support the worlds women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by poverty and are often responsible for collecting water, firewood and other basic necessities for their families and communities.
Earlier this year I realized that not only is it important for us to acknowledge how far women have come in our fight for equality, respect and honor; but also to acknowledge how far we still have to go. This is why I have extended my “walk in her shoes” 365 day campaign – to 439 days. This year my sole purpose is to not only embrace International Women’s Day, but to extend this celebration and run my 101km commitment for the world’s women on May 20th; which marks 101years of cultivating equality and nurturing the very essence that women represent in society.
Over the course of these 354 days I have come up against many obstacles, many days of contemplating why I dedicated myself to this cause, why I covet the phrase “never back down, defy your limitations” and continue to run marathons with dislocated ribs, compressed joints and physical breakdowns. The answer is quite simple – “I have the choice.” “I have the power to choose.”
For us; living here, in the beautiful city ofVancouver, or any city where basic life necessities are taken care of – we have the choice. Many women and girls, globally around the world – do not.
The last 11 months; have offered me great insight into 3 main focal points that I beleive build my foundation of action, that drive me to continue to run the 6km, even on hellish days of awesome Vancouver weather (torrential down pour), snow or exhaustion. They are these 3 pillars:
- Truth: “we must always strive to uncover our own truth. We must always strive in the pursuit of social justice and social truth.”
- Leadership: “leading by example, upholding your personal integrity, means upholding your commitments when no one else is watching. When we lead by our own truth – others will follow.”
- Compassion: “as humans, we strive for happiness. My happiness is in the service of others. InAfrica, there is the word Ubuntu. It means “I am only a person, through another person. I see you in me, and me in you.” It mean community and humanity. We are irrevocable intertwined.
The statement below; was written in 1995, for the Fourth World Conference on Women (BeijingChina). I was still in high school when this report was released. Now, 17 years later we are still reciting the same statistics. Yes, we have made progress, but it is slow and steady.
“More than 1 billion people in the world today, the great majority of whom are women, live in unacceptable conditions of poverty, mostly in the developing countries. Poverty has various causes, including structural ones. Poverty is a complex, multidimensional problem, with origins in both the national and international domains. The eradication of poverty cannot be accomplished through anti-poverty programmes alone but will require democratic participation and changes in economic structures in order to ensure access for all women to resources, opportunities and public services.
The feminization of poverty has also recently become a significant problem in the countries with economies in transition as a short-term consequence of the process of political, economic and social transformation. In addition to economic factors, the rigidity of socially ascribed gender roles and women’s limited access to power, education, training and productive resources as well as other emerging factors that may lead to insecurity for families are also responsible. The failure to adequately mainstream a gender perspective in all economic analysis and planning and to address the structural causes of poverty is also a contributing factor.
Women’s poverty is directly related to the absence of economic opportunities and autonomy, lack of access to economic resources, including credit, land ownership and inheritance, lack of access to education and support services and their minimal participation in the decision-making process. Poverty can also force women into situations in which they are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.”
The FREEDOM of Choice…
It has always been my belief that we each have a moral obligation to invest in our local and global communities. It is not ‘just enough’ to empower women and girls, but to empower the ‘disempowered’ men as well. In any community, there are generational disempowerment models, where generations of people grow up to see the world through a specific lens, this occurs, not only in developing countries where resources are scarce, but in our own back yards.
This cycle can be prevented when each of us take ownership to invest in something larger than ourselves and to reach out towards a cause, an action that will leave this world in a better state from which we arrived. That choice is up to you.
In less than 2 weeks time, I will reach that 365 day mark and on this day – on March 8th 2012 which marks 101yrs of International Women’s Day, my call for action will be for you to join with me and celebrate! Save the date – MAY 20th and from March 8th – May 20th follow along with me and “walk in her shoes” and learn what WE can do to impact our global world, to empower our girls to live and lead a life THEY choose.
Register and Join us on May 20th: “PB” & JAMS: RUN4ACAUSE Team
FACT: A $10 donation, can buy a school uniform for a girl, in many countries the law stipulates mandatory uniforms, and because of lack of funds, many young girls cannot go to school because they cannot afford a uniform. You can help.
No matter what it is YOU choose to do, just do it – and do it well. Day 355….coming right up.