International Women’s Day, March 8 2011

Each year around the world, International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. This day is a celebration of women and womanhood. 2011 marks the centenary of the international observance of Women’s Day. 

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IWD actually started as a political socialist event in Eastern Europe, Russia and the former Soviet bloc. Women’s oppression and inequality was spurring and women became more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Against this backdrop the establishment of an annual international women’s day was proposed at an international women’s conference in Copenhagen in 1910.

Gradually the day lost its political flavor. However, the original political and human rights basis is still being upheld by the United Nations. Each year they designate a theme to further the quest for equality for women the world over. The theme chosen by the U.N. for this year is "equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women".

Sint Maarten has known equal access to education for decades. "Leerplichtlandsverordening" (P.B. 1991, no 85) in accordance with the UNICEF "Rights of a Child Act" which states that every child has the right to an education; guaranteeing participation of girls on all educational levels. Education is the key for an individual, a community, a society and a nation to prosper; in fact it is essential in achieving growth, development, and sustainability and as such it is a way for children to reach their full potential.

Underscoring this, twelve female (former) administrators and politicians of the Dutch Kingdom pledged to apply themselves to strengthen the position of women and thereby that of the entire society under the motto "Strong women, a strong generation".

Not every child has (enough) role models or supportive backing; A mentor could provide this. Following the Strong Women, a Strong Generation initiative in 2009 on Sint Maarten, the Department of Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs/ Women’s Desk has chosen "Strong Women, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" as the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. For this centenary the achievements of Sint Maarten women, of all times will be celebrated through a mentoring program entitled "Strong Women’s Connection", linking today and tomorrow.

In the "Strong Women’s Connection" program, ten girls between the ages of 8 and 16 will be coupled to ten strong women who excel in their career fields and/or social life. The term "strong" refers to having career achievements as well as moral and intellectual power. Life experience of these strong women can encourage young girls to become strong women themselves. The bond forged between mentor and mentee will give positive self-esteem as well as skills for life-long success.

Starting March 8th mentor couples will meet regularly for the period of one year.

The Department of Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs invite you to come and support this initiative and get inspired. The official launch of the Strong Women’s Connection program will be Tuesday March 8, 2011 at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library starting at 7 pm.