Did you know March 8th is International Women's Day? I didn't either, until we moved to Bosnia. There International Women's Day is a HUGE deal and I rather liked the idea. It's a little bit like Christmas, with everyone wishing each other a 'Happy Women's Day' and the men wandering around with flowers to give to all the women in their lives - mothers, sisters, girlfriends, colleagues, grans, wives, daughters, you name it. I like it because it isn't a day where the women are defined by their role, no need to be a mother or a partner, just a moment to celebrate women.
There is a real need to stop every now and then and think about women's lives. I went to a Get Together on Tuesday night that encouraged me to. Oxfam are launching a campaign for this March 8th to highlight why women in developing countries are in particular need of additional assistance. Their campaign highlights how women need to overcome discrimination to secure their basic rights and they give examples of their work supporting girls education in Mali, supporting women in business in Vietnam and maternity care in Ghana.
Living in Bosnia has made me very aware of the particular challenges that women face, over and above those faced by men.
Think, for example, of all those women who lost husbands during the conflict and are left to bring up their children alone. Female headed households are particularly vulnerable. Jobs are hard to find in a post-conflict environment, jobs for women even harder and what about the childcare? I once wrote a post about the life of a friend of mine in Bosnia, we are about the same age but our lives could not have been more different. Paradise Lost in Translation used Women's Day to highlight the life of an Albanian friend of hers.
Women are discriminated against. They are more likely to miss out on education, less likely to find employment, less likely to be able to access adequate health care, which is of particular importance during pregnancy and child birth. They are vulnerable to abuse, sometimes cannot choose who they wish to marry and may not have a say in contraception or their own family planning.
Targeting development aid at women is beneficial to women and also has the potential to ensure the budget is effectively spent. If you want to ensure children are vaccinated then it is sensible to encourage the women (who after all are the ones who will be actually bringing the children to the clinic) to do so.
Oxfam's campaign is all about targeting women and they want us to think about what we can do to help raise money. This Women's Day they want us to Get Together, do something which will raise funds for other women. Maybe a tea party? Or organise a quiz? Or a mass chasing your children up a tree party? Doesn't really matter, just need to get together and raise some money to help other women around the world. You don't need to raise much to make a difference: £46 will train a midwife in Ghana. £135 will train 5 teachers in Mali.
So give it a go. Have a get together. Use this Women's Day to celebrate and support women around the world. You can register here.
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