Today is International Women’s Day, and it provides an opportunity for the world to focus on women’s rights, and society’s attitudes towards women. International Women’s Day has been celebrated since the early 1900’s and has been a key milestone through many key events that have affected women’s rights and is now recognized as a national holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

When I first heard of International Women’s Day, I was unsure of how I can contribute to celebrating the day and raising awareness of women’s rights. On the website one approach it advises is:

The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

I think this is wonderful opportunity inside our global communities to do exactly this: to not only celebrate the contributions of women in our projects, campaigns and passions, but to also talk about ways in which we can break down the barriers and attitudinal prejudices that some women still face, particularly in largely male dominated software communities. Today is a great day for equality: let’s all make the most of it. 🙂

As part of International Women’s Day, the Ubuntu Women team have been running a competition to gather a collection of stories that share how women discovered Ubuntu and their experiences of joining our community. I thought this was a wonderful initiative: it really speaks to strong experiences of how Ubuntu can enable women to join a collaborative community, and how technology can be a true enabler.

Of the many stories submitted, there were to be two winners: one picked by the community, and I was given the honor of picking the second. Thankyou to the Ubuntu Women team for involving me in the unveiling of the winners, and this morning I announced both winners, read out their stories, and also read out a third that I thought was excellent too. Congratulations to Elvira Martinez and Karen Y. Perez for winning, and to Jen Phillips for getting read out too.

The video from this morning is below:

Can’t see it? Click here!

With today being International Women’s Day, I just want to share a few quick words on the women in my life. I have the privilege of having some incredible women as part of my life. In my family there is my wife, my mum, auntie’s, cousins and other relatives, the many wonderful female friends both online and offline, and every day I have the pleasure of working with some truly remarkable women in the Open Source world, throughout the various communities I am part of. There has been much discussion, particularly in the Open Source community, about how we can encourage more women into our communities, and there has been some friction between different approaches. I don’t see today as a day in which those debates should flourish, but as a day in which we should celebrate the women in our lives who help us flourish. Everyone single one of us has women who contribute so much to our lives and empower us every day, and I am thankful for all the women who bring color to my life, and give me the strength and energy to be who I am. 🙂

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