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Women build bridges for peace in International Women’s Day campaign

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Helen Thompson
WVoN co-editor

March 8 is the 101st International Women’s Day, a day of recognizing the importance of women’s equality across the globe.

On this day women’s organisations from around the world will be meeting on bridges to publicly acknowledge the importance of peace as a necessity for the equality of women, especially those women living amidst conflict.

Since 2010, Women for Women International has promoted the Join Me on the Bridge Campaign where women meet “to build bridges of peace and hope for the future.”

The inaugural event supported women in the war-torn countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwandan and Congolese women rallied on a bridge connecting the two countries to promote peace and equality with the aim of ending violence against women.

Since then, the event has focused on women in the midst of war on the premise that women are peace builders and can be a powerful force for change.

Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International said in an article for the Huffington Post in 2010, “women worldwide have yet to reach full equality in all aspects of life.

“In times of war, they are still the targets of massive rape, torture, displacement and pillaging.

“The difference this time is that women are speaking out and stand united as they break their silence, demand an immediate end to war and the building of sustainable peace that can allow them to plant, harvest, go to work, send their children to schools, and dance, live and eat without any fear.”

This year Join Me on the Bridge events will take place globally from Hobart, Tasmania to Chididi Bridge in Malawi.

In Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, an event will take place at the Royal Papua Yacht Club to “empower women from all PNG cultural societies.”

Women will also be meeting at the Garrhi Pull (Red Bridge), in Khairpur, Pakistan.  Organisers have planned a meeting with white ribbons,balloons and clothing in a celebration of peace.

In London, the venue is the Millennium Bridge, with singing, chanting, face-painting and speakers at the Southbank Centre.

The London events have typically attracted a large following, including some high profile supporters.

In 2011, actor Cherie Lunghi said, “When one women finds her voice and gets together with other women and men and children all over the world we create a power and a strength, a people power, that can shift all the obstacles that lay along the path on the way to fulfilling our vision of a better world for women.”

In 2010, singer and activist Annie Lennox led the march over the Millenium Bridge and from this event formed the Equals Campaign, a coalition to encourage awareness and debate of global women’s issues.

Lennox has said, “we live in the Western World and there’s still so much to do.  And women in developing countries are not even near the bottom rung of the ladder.”

Women for Women International also challenges countries that are rebuilding in the aftermath of war to include equal numbers of men and women in the peace process and in national government.

As the organization says: “with no women there is no peace.”

To find a Join Me on the Bridge event, go to http://joinmeonthebridge.org/events.

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