We chatted with Saundra Pelletier, member of the Clinton Global Initiative, speaker at 2014's World Economic Forum, and CEO of WomanCare Global—a dynamic international nonprofit organization dedicated to improve access, use, distribution, and procurement of contraceptives and other reproductive health commodities to women around the globe—about why International Women's day is so important.
Marie Claire: Why is International Women's Day important to an 18-25 year old woman?
Sandra Pelletier: The biggest thing is that it's an opportunity. Instead of looking at what divides us, we should use this day to see the things that bridge us together. It's about gender equality… so that we may be poised to be bolder, candid, and brave moving forward.
MC: What is the Clinton Global Initiative and why is it important?
SP: They are all about turning ideas into action. Their initiative is based on empowering women and girls, about replacing motion with action. The Clinton Global Initiative has every organization make a concrete pledge, something that is measurable and actionable. That's what makes them different.
MC: How can young women get involved?
SP: It's so much easier now because of the web. You can get tons and tons of information online. There are forums where you can get an education, information, and participate in your own personal cause. I would suggest that young women look at their own communities and social groups to understand the way our voices are being heard, and capitalize on that. There are networking organizations everywhere! If young women could use their social groups to fix things they're dissatisfied with, it is so powerful. My advice? Seek out groups that are like-minded and be really vocal about things you want to change.
MC: What do you think is the future for abortion laws?
SP: It enrages me to such an epic level. I think we're going in the wrong direction—we have to be so vigilant to keep the rights we have. So many women stop and say, 'we've come so far,' but it's vital to recognize that our rights are in jeopardy. Rape is a weapon of war. Women are actually dying because they're risking their lives having unsafe abortions. At this point, it's not if [women are having unsafe abortions], it's how many. We need to wake up and spring into fearless protective mode to keep control over our own bodies.
MC: What do you think is the most important issue to promote on International Women's Day?
SP: The number one thing is that sisterhood needs to be global. We need to stand a united front for every woman of the world—no matter who she is and where she is—to have access to choice.
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