I am also excited to watch, even from afar, as International Women's Day is celebrated by the Emmanuel Center for Women and Children. When we started three years ago the dream of changing how a village viewed and treated the women and children that make up such a large part of the population and did not make up a proportionate amount of the leaders and decisions makers on a family or community level seemed so far fetched. We started small by building relationships, starting small income generating projects, and proving ourselves trustworthy in the eyes of the village. Now, almost three years on, the Emmanuel Center took the opportunity afforded by International Women's Day to start the community wide education that we have wanted to do for so long. The discussion and education on women's rights, female circumcision, gender based violence, marriage rape, child marriage, and many other issues that affect women all around Gamasara that was long awaited started today.
|T-shirt says, "Women, stand up for your rights"|
And the best part is that I wasn't even there. I wish I was. I wish that I could have seen it, this small, yet incomparably important step. I wish I could share with you the taste, smell, and feeling of such an important day, to stir you up through my writing to the same level of excitement that I myself feel, yet I can't. I am not there. And yet one of the most exciting parts of the day is that I am not there. This event, planned, organized, hosted, and run by the Emmanuel Center was planned, organized, hosted, and run by local leaders in Gamasara, women standing up in their own community and saying that we have an important voice that needs to be heard. I am personally not a fan of the concept of being a 'voice for the voiceless.' I much prefer to work to give the voiceless their own voice and move them past feeling like they have no voice worth listening to. That has happened today. Women planning and creating their own platform in order to talk about their own issues, and over 80 people showed up. Not bad in a village that doesn't exceed 2000 people.
Now, if I had to guess I would say the day was probably not flawless. Simply the fact that the request for approval for funds to be withdrawn in order to purchase t-shirts for the event came less than 12 hours before the start of the event itself gives a small pictures of how the overall day went. However, it still happened. The community still showed up. And women who were once considered to hold unimportant opinions where today able to speak on their own issues in a public forum. It may be a small forum and I am sure there are some things to work out before we do it again next year. Yet any progress we see in the future would have built on this first day and I could not be prouder of the women involved in the Emmanuel Center than I am today.
Many blessings to them and all women celebrating their worth and importance today.