Monday, 11 March 2019

International Women's Day

International Women's Day is celebrated globally each year on March 8th. Women are recognized for their achievements and contributions to societal development on this day all around the world. There is also a great push and many protests that occur on this days as an effort to advocate for the greater advancement in women's rights and bring awareness to different women's issues, as well as to promote equality for women around the world.

This week I've been so impressed observing and hearing of the preparations and attention that was being brought to International Women's Day in Uganda. Many organizations and business are closed for celebration of women in local communities. Many of the villages are having rallies in which they are holding education sessions and raising support for Ugandan women doing incredible work on the ground to advocate for those in their communities facing gender injustices. Being inspired by the incredible rallying this week for woman across the country, I reflected on many of the strong and hard-working women that I've encountered and been taught by.

My supervisor at my senior social work practicum placement taught me so much about the hard work and resiliency of women in this context. I learned so much from her about the many positive impacts that women are having in building up their community. She works as a Child Survival Program Coordinator for a Compassion International Child Development Center. Affectionately referred to as Auntie Liz, she works hard each day to empower some of the most vulnerable women in her community. She advocates on their behalf and for their rights and well-being. She leads sensitization lessons weekly by educating young mothers on the best practices of caring for children. She also teaches women valuable skills that equip them to support themselves and their children. Auntie Liz's client base is primarily made of young single mother's that do not have support of their families and have had little access to money for education. Auntie Liz taught me the value in empowering women around me at all times in order to build a stronger and better community.

Auntie Liz (3rd from the right) at St. Peter's Child Development Center
and other staff from St. Peters with me and another USP student, Staff,
and the former Vice President of the CCCU.

I also learned so much about hard work and resiliency from my host momma on rural home stays. Momma Susan has six children that she has raised and supported through money she earns on her coffee farm. Each morning she goes out to her many coffee trees and picks, dries, and sells beans that then get imported to other countries. She spends long hours in her kitchen over her fire stove preparing meals for her family. When Momma Susan was young she hoped to become an ordained minister, but couldn't accomplish this because of a lack of money and education. She supported her parents from a young age and set some of her own hopes aside in order to sacrifice for her family. She encouraged me to become a pastor and to use my voice and passions to speak the gospel and show how powerful women in ministry can be! Uganda is paving the way for the global church in many ways by empowering women. Though her work is very different from my internship supervisors, I find it incredibly humbling the depth of heart she has for empowering women. She is working to educate her 4 daughters, and pushed me (her 5th daughter) to overcome challenges that I have observed in church, in education, and in life. I learned so much about what a strong woman is from her.

Momma Susan and me after being dropped off
for my week of Rural Homestay's in Kapchowra, Uganda

I've continuously been inspired by women in Africa that are striving to fight for the rights and equalities of women all over the world. I will never forget stories I've heard of African feminist educators overcoming challenges to empower their communities; ordinary women who single-handedly ended war in Liberia through peace movements, leading to the first female president on the continent; African women who have built hospitals to end fatality in child birth by equipping midwives in rural villages; and the stories of the women in my own life that may never be recognized greatly for the work they do every single day. I've been wished a Happy International Women's Day by about 25 women and men on this largely celebrated holiday, which has reminded me, yet again, all that I have to learn from Ugandans. Lift women up. Support women. Fight for them. Celebrate them.

So here's to strong, passionate, resilient, brilliant women in this country. And to strong, passionate, resilient, brilliant women all over the world. May we know them, may we raise them, and may we be them.

Happy International Women's Day.

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