March is International Women's History Month. As we celebrate what we've accomplished, many struggles still exist. As vice president of Impressions Printing in Oklahoma City, I tell this story for perspective. Last year, the international Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW), an Impressions client based here, suggested that I mentor Freshta Hazeq. Soon I realized what enormous opposition she faces in her quest to be the only woman-owned printer in Afghanistan. Someone bribed Freshta's male employees to be insubordinate, enlisting the Taliban to burn the company down. She fled the country but then defiantly returned to rebuild her business. Her perseverance to succeed despite entrenched attitudes against women is truly inspiring.
I encourage you to look outside of yourself to learn from others' struggles and fortitude in fighting their battles. Consider how you can contribute to their efforts. The experience will make you better appreciate our freedoms. I learned this as I helped Freshta strengthen her unwavering will to succeed as a businesswoman and human being. Right here, we can spread democracy and improve the future of women worldwide. It's a huge but achievable goal worthy of our support.
Let's strive to treat women equally everywhere. This is the best way to celebrate this month, by men and women.
Jason McWilliams, Oklahoma City