On January 21, 2017, women around the world are uniting and marching in solidarity for the protection of women’s rights, safety, health, and families. As the Founder and Executive Director of Willow Tree Roots, an organization that advocates for the rights of women around the world and strives to create social change for women through economic empowerment, I feel it my responsibility to participate and make my voice heard. Here’s why:
I march because my life is a little girl. Her name is Willow. I march because everything that I have done in my life and will continue to do as long as I live is to make life better for her and all women around the world. Because an injustice to any woman is an injustice to us all.
I march so that I, my daughter and all girls and women can be free in a world where we don’t have to worry about our genitals being mutilated because of the feminine power they represent. The World Health Organization reports that female genital mutilation (FGM) has been reported in 30 countries around the world and it is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, a majority of which occur before she is 15 years old. There are an estimated 3 million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year . I march so that we can be free from assaulted and mutilation.
I march because we women and girls should never have to worry about being raped or having our genitals grabbed without our consent. I march because no one should live in fear of being beaten and abused in the name of “love” or because society deems it as acceptable. UN Women reports that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime and that at some point in their lives more than 1 in 10 girls worldwide have experienced forced sexual acts, including forced intercourse, at some point in their lives . I march so that the day will come when we don’t have to live in fear of gender-based violence.
I march because all women should have the right to decide if and when to marry and have children. No child should be forced into marriage. There are over 700 million women alive today who were married as children  and childhood marriage of girls under the age of 15 is currently practiced and socially accepted (even if not legally permitted) in almost 100 countries ! The U.N. has explicitly described access to safe, voluntary family planning as a human right . And despite the fact that family planning is key factor in reducing poverty, women’s empowerment and gender equality, some 225 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are using family planning methods that are neither safe nor effective .
I march because I can. And because so many women around the world cannot. As a woman living in a country that constitutionally guarantees my right to speak and be heard, it is my responsibility to speak for those who cannot use their voice. It is all of our responsibly for we are our sister’s keeper. I encourage you … no I BEG you … to join me and use your voice to be heard and join one of the global marches for women’s rights happening around the world on January 21, 2017. Click here to find a march in your area.
*Special thanks to the women entrepreneurs at ZenThreads for creating the “Women’s Power” t-shirts and using their talent and position to advocate for the rights of women.