Standing & Stepping Out in Solidarity: International Women's Day

Even though we're barely three months in, there's major strides that have been made for women's rights this year- from Forbes Magazine predicting that 2014 is the year of the female entrepreneur to these 44 stock photos released by Getty Images that seek to change the way we look at girls, there's much to celebrate globally about gender equity. Women's Group

Within this excitement, though, we know that places like Palestine still have much progress to be made. The World Bank's release of Gender at Work: A Companion to the World Development Report on Jobs last week showcased the grim realities for women's economic empowerment globally, citing that women's labor force participation has stagnated, even decreasing from 57 percent in 1990 to 55 percent in 2012, and that women on average earn between 10 and 30 percent less than working men.

It's reasons like this that The Women's Group at TYO gathered together on Wednesday and Thursday of this week to mark International Women's Day- a global holiday commemorating both the successes and continued challenges of gender equality. To celebrate this occasion, The Women's Group combined the knowledge gained from recent seminars with their responsibility as females in their community to participate in several activities aimed at taking action against early marriage, and encouraging other females in their lives to be bold.

Participants gathered in the morning to create signs that called for the banishment of young or forced marriage, and spent time together discussing their need to rise up as decision-makers and change-makers in their neighborhoods and refugee camps. With energy high, women wrote letters to lawmakers and key leaders in Palestinian calling for them to take action against early marriage, and create better protective systems for young women faced with forced or young marriage. Further, women also created cards for their female friends and family members, expressing their appreciation for them and encouraging them to be active community members.

Women making cards

To conclude, women participated in an activity with TYO's Psychosocial Program Manager, rewriting words to traditional Palestinian songs to instead call for the end of early marriage through music. On Thursday, women were greeted by TYO Local Representative, Ms. Assmaa Masri, who applauded women's efforts to better their community, and share her thoughts on women's empowerment in Palestine.

So as females globally gathered this week to stand in solidarity with International Women's Day, TYO is proud that The Women's Group both stood- and stepped out- for gender equality. Despite progress, we're well aware that there is a long road ahead- but we are glad to be continuing our walk a bit further for women's rights.

-Cayce is the Women's Empowerment Coordinator at TYO.