If only our internet connection supported the posting of audio. March 8 marks International Women’s Day, a holiday that has passed without great fanfare for both of us – until now. This afternoon Juma Masisi, the executive director of our partner organization WOMEDA, took us to an incredibly memorable event we’ll be thinking of for quite a while. If we could post the sounds, you’d hear a number of local women’s groups singing songs about development, education, work, and empowerment. A refrain that keeps replaying itself on our borrowed mini-disc recorder and in our heads is the title of this post: “Women, yes we can!”
Speeches from dignitaries and incredible dancing were also a part of the celebration, as was recognition of local girls’ exemplary academic achievement. After the festivities, we were able to interview two groups of ladies from partnerships that work collectively to advance the interests of women and children in their respective villages. These conversations left us impressed and invigorated. To continue our celebration of a holiday we’ve ignored for too long, we’ve collected some pictures of inspirational women we’ve met during our time here. Enjoy!
These two ladies are traditional healers. They spent an afternoon with us telling stories (through a translator) and showing us medicinal plants used to cure ailments ranging from sore throats to muscle problems.The woman on the left here (a widow raising four grandchildren) received an Amizade water tank last summer. At sixty, the enthusiasm she showed at being able to devote more time each day to farming (as opposed to gathering water) was a startling reminder of how much WORK women do here. The other ladies in the picture are also widows who live nearby. They are all fabulous singers.
These young tailors-in-training are participants in a WOMEDA vocational program that provides a one-year course of study to young women unable to attend secondary school. In talking with them we learned that they expect that their apprenticeships will position them to be independent, allowing them to help their communities, their families, and themselves.
This is a teacher at a different vocational training site who has a very powerful, feminine presence. Excited to teach disadvantaged youth a skill she herself developed only in the last two years, she created elaborate teaching materials including her own textbook.
This one is sort-of cheating... we haven’t met this baby-carrying girl, we just accidentally captured her while we were trying to photograph the door of a saloon in a nearby village. We’ve included this picture because it’s pretty, and because it demonstrates something we see every day: young girls, with heavy shoulders.