SOMALILAND: A Walk Through International Women's Day

HARGEISA, 9 March 2010 (Somalilandpress) – The news and events of the last two months have been harsh, with earthquakes ravaging whole cities, and families and children suffering. SOS Children’s Villages continues to respond to these situations in force, while also taking a moment too reflect on women, mothers and girls around the world. Please join SOS on a brief walk through International Women’s Day.

Our first stop is the history of this day. Each year, around the world, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. Hundreds of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900’s and began in the United States.

In 1908, Women’s oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. That year, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. In 1909, the first National Woman’s Day was observed across the United States on February 28. On the eve of World War I, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day. In 1913, International Women’s Day was transferred to March 8 and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since.

On March 8 every year, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements, ranging from political rallies, business conferences, and networking events to local women’s craft markets, theater performances, and fashion parades. it is also a day for discussing more somber topics, such as traditional practices that are harmful to women and girls, and how to move forward.

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Our next stop is Somaliland, where SOS Mothers, women and girls come together to celebrate. Last year, a rally themed, “Women and men united to end violence against women and girls,” was held at the Liberty Garden, popularly known as “Beerta Xurriada” in Hargeisa. Addressing the well-attended gathering, Fadumo Sudi, the Minister for Family Affairs and Social Development, thanked Somaliland women for their continued commitment, support and advocacy for peace and development in the country. In addition, she urged women to discard harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation (FGM), a common practice in Somaliland. The minister reiterated the government’s commitment to protecting women against gender violence.

“When you educate a boy, you educate an individual. But when you educate a girl you educate the whole community,” said Ahmed Hassan Ali, the Minister for Justice. SOS Children’s Villages ensures that boys and girls get the same opportunities to develop their talents inside the Villages, schools, education centers and family strengthening programs.

Our next stop is Sudan. Women often carry the main burden of bringing up their children, looking after their house and managing family life in Sudan. If they are single and have no financial stability, they are often consigned to poverty.

Consider Mariam in Sudan.

Mariam’s husband was killed and she was left to raise their seven children alone. For many women in her position, a day’s work could mean looking for firewood to sell outside the camp where women are easy prey for murderers, rapists and thieves. “I have to work. Life here is very harsh,” she says. But Mariam is lucky, as she does not have to leave the camp.

To create opportunities for women like Mariam, an SOS Family Center directed by SOS Children’s Villages in Abu Shouk now offers craft courses for single mothers. These women learn how to weave baskets and how to produce other commodities that they can sell in the camp. Some work as baby sitters at the SOS nursery, while others cook for the children. Mariam is in a safe place today.

And finally, our next stop is you. We want you to be with us on this special day. Whether you are a woman or a man, we can all recognize the achievements of women and mothers in our lives. SOS is uniquely positioned to draw from a large world Village Mothers, who are the real backbone of our work. Without these Mothers, who care for up to ten children at a time, SOS children would not grow up in a real family environment.

Source: SOS Children’s Villages


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