Posted by Zia H. Shah MD - Twitter: @ZiahShah1
By Melinda Gates, Special to CNN
CNN Editor’s note: Melinda Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This piece was published in collaboration with the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, a platform for accelerating entrepreneurial approaches and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social issues.
(CNN) – The calendar is overflowing with occasions to mark. It seems like there’s a special day for almost everything.
For example, September 19 is celebrated by some as International Talk Like a Pirate Day. But the surplus of observances shouldn’t detract from the really important ones, like Friday, March 8, International Women’s Day.
The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911, but it was international only in the technical sense that women in four European nations marched. These activists were ahead of their time in thinking about women’s economic and political equality; they may not have been so far ahead of their time that they envisioned what it has come to mean for many of us today.
Her courage has inspired women across the world. Some of the bravest, most revolutionary voices about empowerment are coming from women and girls like Malala who are calling the world’s attention to social norms that prevent women from realizing their full potential.
I just spent some time visiting the poorest parts of Northern India, where I met a courageous woman named Sharmila Devi. Because the government has invested in its basic health system, she received a visit from a trained health worker who told her that spacing her pregnancies was safer for herself and her children.