Ukraine. Primary school: walking to a small market to buy flowers for my teachers, absolutely mandatory! University: getting flowers from students, having celebration drinks with my women friends, men always congratulating women, trying to do something special on that day.
Was there one particular day that stood out? Not until this year.
2014 International Women’s day was nothing like I have ever experienced or expected. It was a Saturday at the end of my first week teaching business as a volunteer at Give a Heart to Africa in Moshi, Tanzania. There are two of us on site at the moment. Eva is a psychology student from Germany working here for a month before returning back to school. We have come here to work with Tanzanian women who are learning how to start a business, and working on their English to get a better opportunity in life through education. The center is free for all of the students and volunteer work and donations are critical. This year, a group of truly international women, inspired and organized by WHOA Travel, were climbing Kilimanjaro to summit on the 8th of March. What a way to spend the International Women’s day! They have made it their goal to support Give a Heart to Africa women’s school and efforts by raising money as part of their adventure. Two of our current students, Christina and Magdalena were invited and successfully climbed with WHOA travelers.
Eva and I spent the week teaching at the foothills of Kilimanjaro and talking about the brave WHOA Women and how we could make this year’s IWD memorable for all the students. It’s never too late to celebrate women so the following Monday, we got to meet at school and deliver a presentation about women’s rights, equality, the history of this holiday, its modern meaning, and where in the world it is observed as a holiday.
It was amazing to have all WHOA Women on site with us. We finished the morning splitting into small discussion groups to talk about women’s rights in Tanzanian society, what our students would do differently when they raise their children and ideas that they have to help women make progress. This was such a unique opportunity to learn more about women’s rights in Tanzania and compare with many countries around the world.
2014 is added to my bank of International Women’s day memories as something that is hard to live out better. It could have only been improved by joining the climbers at the summit on that day.
By Yelena Mackay
Serial expat. Founder of Moving Without Shaking Ltd
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