Authors for Peace, founded by the British author Priya Basil and the German journalist Matthias Fredrich-Auf der Horst, and Women for Women International have created a "Literary Bridge", where women can connect and share through the power of words and stories.
We invited authors to contribute a short, filmed message reflecting on the question "100 years of women's rights - what does this mean to you?"
"On March 8th when we all across time, across geography, across bridges, all over the world, when we hold hands on March 8th, we will be celebrating 100 years of women's rights and I want to wish all my friends, my women, the sisterhood all over the world - I want to wish everyone a very happy women's day 2011."
Donna Thomson began her career as an actor, director and teacher. When her son Nicholas was born with severe disabilities, Donna embarked on her second career as a disability activist. In her book, "The Four Walls of My Freedom", Donna Thomson helps us to imagine a different way of seeing the good in caring for each other. Donna is married to James Wright, the High Commissioner for Canada in the UK. Jim and Donna have two children and currently live in London, UK.
"We should be proud of what we have accomplished in these past 100 years but we must continue to make out case; not murmuring quietly but insisting on having our voices heard."
Rebecca Asher has worked in television news and current affairs and as the Deputy Editor of Woman's Hour and an Executive Producer at BBC Radio 4. She lives in London with her husband and son. "Shattered - Modern Motherhood and the Illusion of Equality" is her first book. www.rebeccaasher.com
Fatima Bhutto was born in Kabul in 1982. Her father Murtaza Bhutto, son of Pakistan's former President and Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and an elected member of parliament, was killed by the police in 1996 in Karachi during the premiership of his sister, Benazir Bhutto. Fatima is the author of two books: "Whispers of the Desert", a volume of poetry, which was published in 1997 when Fatima was 15 years old. "8.50 a.m. 8 October 2005", a collection of first-hand accounts from survivors of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, was published in 2006. Her third book, "Songs of Blood and Sword", was published in 2010. Fatima lives and writes in Karachi, Pakistan. www.fatimabhutto.com.pk
"We have come a long way, from a legal, social, economic and political perspective and we have a long way to go. There is a lot to celebrate and a lot more work to do."
Zainab Salbi is Founder of Women for Women International. Zainab is the author of two books; a national bestseller "Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam" (with Laurie Becklund) that documents her life under Saddam Hussein's rule and "The Other Side of War: Women's Stories of Survival and Hope."
"Now women in Afghanistan, women in Congo, women in Iran, women on the streets of Egypt are taking huge risks in standing up for their rights and say what they believe in."
Kate Nustedt has been the Executive Director of Women for Women International in the UK since 2009. She is an experienced global campaigner and has run high-profile campaigns on social justice, women's rights, anti-poverty and environmental issues.
"I write about the women in the country that we operate... women that I meet whose stories move me to tears. I feel an obligation to share the stories with you - I want to say on IWD- the 100th Anniversary: Let women's voices be heard! We can all play a part in that and tell their stories, we can support them."
Brita Schmidt is the Director of Policy and Development at Women for Women International in the UK. She is a Commissioner for International Affairs to the Women's National Commission in the UK appointed by the Minister for Women and also advises GAPS - Gender Advocacy for Peace and Security, a UK network, as Management Committee member. She has overseen and carried out research projects on a number of different subjects such as gender equality and the new international aid architecture, networking for women's organisations, UN reform, CEDAW and women's human rights, violence against women and women's civil and political participation.
Priya was born in London. Her parents moved to Kenya when she was a year old. Nairobi remained her home until she was twenty, when her family moved back to the UK. Priya is the author of two books, "Ishq & Mushq", which was also short-listed for a Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and long-listed for the Dylan Thomas Award and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and "The Obscure Logic of the Heart". In July 2010, Priya founded Authors for Peace (link to: www.authorsforpeace.com) and initiated the Literary Bridge in support of Women for Women International's Join me on the Bridge campaign. www.authorsforpeace.com
Born and raised in South Africa and living now in Cambridge, Isobel Dixon works in London as a literary agent. She has published several anthologies. In 2000 she won the South African SANLAM Award for Poetry. In 2004 she won the Olive Schreiner Prize and the Oxfam Poems for a Better Future competition. She was commissioned to write poems by the British Film Institute in 2007. www.isobeldixon.com
"I hope that one day every day of the year will be International Women's Day in the sense of complete gender equality, [...] when violence against women and discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, class, or sexual orientation will be a thing of the past."
Domnica Radulescu was born in Romania and came to the United States in 1983. She holds a Ph.D in French and Italian Literature from the University of Chicago, and is currently a Professor of Romance Languages and Chair of the Women's Studies program at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. She has written and edited books and scholarly articles on European and Eastern European literature, and has also worked in theater for two decades, directing plays by Eugene Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Fernando Arrabal, and Jean Tardieu. She is a recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities and Fulbright grants. Train to Trieste is her first novel.
Kate Howarth was born in Sydney in 1950. Abandoned by her mother as an infant, Kate was raised by her grandmother. When she fell pregnant at the age of 15, she was sent to the St Margaret's Home for Unwed Mothers in Sydney. She resisted the pressure to give her son up for adoption and became one of few women to leave the institution with her child. The story of the first 17 years of her life is recounted in her memoir, "Ten Hail Marys".