Inequalities exposed, achievements recognized on International Women’s Day

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In the mostly respectful Provo community it can be difficult to recognize the abuse and inequality many women internationally face. In the Ukraine, for example, two of every three women suffer domestic abuse.

International Women’s Day is a day of awareness and celebration for women’s advocates in Provo.

“International Women’s Day means celebrating womanhood and how unique we are as females,” said Lauren Adams, Amnesty International representative and international relations student. “In addition to celebrating, we need to be aware of circumstances of women around the world.”

Women of all faiths, careers and ages have made an impact upon the world.

“I think that International Women’s Day is a good opportunity to recognize women,” said Coby Vail, Amnesty International representative, majoring in Middle Eastern studies and Arabic. “It’s significant to note the contributions of women in all different fields. And on a more personal level, to recognize the women in my life.”

Many women don’t recognize their true worth, said Lanae Valentine, director of BYU’s Women’s  Services and Resources.

To promote women’s safety, the center for Women’s Services and Resources is promoting a campaign for domestic abuse prevention.

“I think the men are pretty good here,” Valentine said. “We really want to engage men with women as allies in preventing sexual assault. Traditionally, we have put victims at fault for abuse. But this hasn’t helped. We want good men who aren’t abusive to intervene by doing something when they see something that isn’t appropriate.  Sometimes a woman needs someone to say, ‘you deserve better.’ Even if it’s language that is disrespectful, if left unchecked, a person could become more hurtful. A rapist doesn’t become a rapist overnight. In the past, we just blamed the victim, but that’s really not fair. It’s the perpetrators fault.”

From Provo to China, women’s rights vary. Students working with Amnesty International are aware of the many inequalities still present.

“Being a woman, I sympathize with women all over the world,” Adams said. “It’s hard to think that women in other countries don’t enjoy the rights we have in the United States.”

Vail said women’s rights are still an issue in many areas of the world.

“In the western world, it’s easy to think the fight for women’s rights has already been won,” Vail said. “There are large areas of the world where women’s rights are not yet a reality.”

Equality involves equal rights to manage and receive pay.

“Even in the U.S. women do not have equal pay,” Adams said. “In Saudi Arabia, women have equal pay but they have to pay for chauffeurs. In Bangladesh, people are trying to allow women rights to manage micro-loans because they are likely to use the profits on their families. In the world, one third of women suffer domestic abuse.”

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