2011 marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. It was first commemorated on March 19, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. March 8 was chosen by the United Nations as the day they celebrated International Women’s Day, during International Women’s Year in 1975.

It is a day when women are recognized for their achievement without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. (for more on the background, click here). It is a day to “reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate the acts of courage and determination of ordinary women who have played extra ordinary role in the history of women’s rights” (Patsy George, click here for her full speech).

This year the UN theme is Equal Access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women. Education is a basic human right. It is a key driver of economic growth and social change. It is the basis of women’s empowerment. Investing in women and girls has positive effects on the wellbeing of their families, their communities and nations (click here for more information on the importance of the theme).

I want to thank every woman in my life for the impact you have in your families, your faith communities, your communities and the world. I thank my Mom for encouraging me to to find my way in life. She encouraged me to read, even before I went to school. She encouraged me to go to Bible College, even though that meant I was lived in a different province, and different country too. She has encouraged me by reentering the workforce while I was a teenager.

I thank my younger sister for getting her degree. I thank her for not letting life get the better of her. I thank her for being a mom and loving her daughter. I thank my youngest sister for staying home and working despite the encouragement to go to university. I thank her for deciding to go back to school and learn a second language.

Happy 100th International Women’s Day!