С женским днём! (Happy Women’s Day)

“Don’t forget to call Lidia Yakovlyevna tomorrow,” my émigré friend Inna reminded me yesterday at our weekly Russian lesson. “For the holiday.”

I searched my mind frantically. I always feel so proud when Inna and her husband Victor tell me I’m “practically Russian”–usually when I’m happily scarfing down a plate of smoked herring or beef tongue or some other Slavic-tinged delicacy. But what holiday was she talking about? I should know this, I thought. She gaped at me with hammed-up shock.

“Um, women’s holiday?” I stuttered, in Russian that suffered mightily that morning from a dearth of caffeine or stronger substances. “Da!” she said triumphantly, looking relieved that all her hard work molding me into a Russkaya Zhenschina hadn’t come to naught.

Why don’t we celebrate International Women’s Day in America? In other parts of the world, it’s a national holiday, but here it gets vaguely acknowledged in the Google design, and that’s pretty much it. I mean, what are we? Smoked herring?

No matter. I will celebrate the holiday, by sending a big shout out to some women–friends and strangers–whom I love, admire, and root for…and one man who has become our ardent champion.

Act Like a Grrrl – “Vali has a talent for attracting the most wonderful coincidences,” writes one of the teen “grrrls” of ALAG, a girls’ creativity camp founded by Vali Forrister. So true. And Vali’s latest wonderful coincidence has launched ALAG into the international arena.

This week the grrrls are in Costa Rica, meeting with other young girls, performing their amazing spoken-word and musical act, and having the adventure of their lives. You can read their ongoing blog about the experience here.

Egyptian women – Thousands of women joined the popular protests on Tahrir square earlier this year. But many women fear (translation: “know”) that the unfolding revolution is simply installing a new patriarchal power structure that will continue to marginalize women in politics and society. A thousand of so women gathered today to make their voices heard amidst the angry (translation: terrified) shouts of men who want things to stay just the way they are.

Read the full story here.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn– These NYTimes columnists and authors have not only dedicated thousands of column inches to issues like forced prostitution and violence against women; they’re leading the conversation about women’s rights in the third world.

“In much of the world, discrimination is lethal,” they write in Half the Sky, making the case that the abuse, murder, neglect, and forced trafficking of women and girls in the third world should become the human rights issues of this century. And they call for a “global movement to emancipate women and girls”:

“We hope to recruit you to join an incipient movement to emancipate women and fight global poverty by unlocking women’s power as economic catalysts. That is the process under way–not a drama of victimization but of empowerment, the kind that transforms bubbly teenage girls from brothel slaves into successful businesswomen.”

Find out how The Girl Effect works here.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn: for bringing the treatment of women and girls into the news cycle and for highlighting people who try to make their corner of the world a little safer for us females, I hereby present you with the International Women’s Day Improving the Planet Award. (I wish I could offer a cash prize.)

Click this link for a list of NGOs that support women in the developing world.

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