It's no newsflash: women are daring to change the world. Nearly every day there are headlines, from Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan to Hillary Clinton in the US, detailing accomplishments from courageous women of all ages and backgrounds.
Yet there are thousands of unsung heroes who don't make headlines. Thousands of women who are daring to make a difference--from simply sharing an opinion in their own home to speaking out in their community. It's amazing how daring a single voice can be.
In my work, I am inspired by women daring to step outside their comfort zones every day and challenge cultural traditions, beliefs, practices--all with the goal of improving the lives of other women (and in turn improving the lives of men and families!). This International Women's Day, I'm proud to share the stories of several 'Women Who Dare.'
Pathfinder International is celebrating 'Women Who Dare' at all levels to improve women's lives--from world leaders to heroes with lesser known names--through a special web series. From the woman who musters the courage to ask her husband to wear a condom, counter to cultural pressures, to the woman in Parliament who demands access to affordable reproductive health services for women who need them most, daring knows no scale or status.
These are the stories that move and inspire, reminding us why we do the work that we all do to improve women's lives: Nafis Sadik, who dared to be a champion for choice in sexual and reproductive health; Jill Sheffield, who dared to raise awareness about maternal health; Melinda Gates, who dared to raise awareness about family planning and girls' education; Sharon Allison, who dared to advocate for women's health in Texas and abroad; Susan Oregede, who dares to challenge the status quo every day in her community in Uganda; and, Pinki Kumari, who dared to overcome an early marriage and personal challenges to work with adolescents and youth in India. And more will be rolled out over the next week.
Even though these stories focus on women who dare around the world, we benefit from those close to us who have dared to fight for our rights in our daily lives. And of course, that includes daring men as well!
I know that I, as a woman growing up in India, would never have been where I am today if I had not been fortunate enough to have men and women in my life who dared to take a chance on me. My mother and father, my Aunt Sarah and Uncle Srini, my grandmothers, my employers--they have all nurtured the same spirit of daring in me and encouraged me to pay it forward.
This International Women's Day, let us celebrate those who are daring publicly and privately alike.
On March 8th, if each of us dares to do something, or say something, or encourage someone else who says or does something, we will spur a movement for change. I hope you'll join me in sharing a story of a 'Woman Who Dares' or daring Congress to stand up for women's rights. However small or large an action you take, if it confronts the boundaries that restrict women and deny them their rights, it is important.
So as we approach International Women's Day, I'm eager to know...where will you dare next?