For some countries, there was no reason for celebration on International Women's Day. Genital cutting and acid attacks continue to be a prevalent problem in Asia and Africa. Over 80 percent of the women in Jordon and Ethiopia believe that husbands are justified in hitting their wives. And more women are dying from gender-based violence than malaria, cancer and traffic accidents combined.
But for all the bad news on the plight of women, there are success stories that remind us of how far they've come. Karachi-born Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy took home Pakistan's first Academy Award for her documentary Saving Face. In doing so, she provided an international stage for female victims of acid attacks. Sandra Fluke gained iconic feminist status and national attention for her stance on birth control. All-girl Russian punk band Pussy Riot provided a musical voice (and a splash of color with their neon clothes) to Vladimir Putin's opposition.
Dr. Susan Blumenthal, former Assistant Surgeon General, put it best when she said "while on this International Women's Day we mark the progress that has been made with the establishment of many innovative initiatives to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide, we must continue to focus on the challenges that remain. Only by ensuring that women's rights and women's health are essential elements of development can there be a path forward toward global progress and a better future for all in the years ahead."