It’s Mothering Sunday this weekend but today is another benchmark in the female calendar. Today is International Women’s Day, all day, with no breaks, much like our Mums are for us.
We decided to take some time to make a celebrated tribute to women. Many of our projects run in West Africa target women as they are the primary carriers of water. For whatever status women hold in these societies be it subservient completely to men or otherwise they hold influence over the family unit as they are the ones who raise the children. We teach sanitation and hygiene awareness to women so that they will teach it to their children, hopefully influencing a younger generation. The location of wells and latrines is chosen specifically to assist women to help maintain their dignity and privacy.
Women don’t just make up 50% of the worlds population they hold great influence in ways that are often invisible. Christopher Hitchens once described the empowerment of women in humanitarian work in Guatemala as a ‘Silver Bullet’. It raises levels of education, health and even prosperity. It seems that having a 50% larger workforce through allowing or even encouraging women into employment can help society financially. Imagine that.
In a world that is still largely paternalistic some women are simply trail blazers who make us sit up and take notice. Col. Latifa Nabizada is one such woman as Afghanistan’s first female pilot. In her class of 72 she graduated first and in addition to having served 300 missions against Taliban in one of the most dangerous parts of the world she does it all with her five year old daughter Malalai next to her. It seems that the Afghan National Army has no room as yet for a daycare system and with no father to look after her and too young for school Malalai has to be the youngest military copilot in history.
There is also the story of Japanese footballer Homare Sawa, the ‘female Wayne Rooney’, who earns in a year about a tenth of what the actual Wayne Rooney does in a week. Most British professional female footballers have a second job to make ends meet while they play and in Japan it is no different. On their way to the World Cup the Japanese female team was put in economy class while the male team was put in first class. This is a telling statement about the inequality between female and male football players collective status. Fortunately due to some complaints of inequality the female team got the first class seats on the way home. Possibly due to the fact that the girls where carrying the giant trophy they had just won and needed an extra large seat for it.
So this Sunday remember to buy a card for your mother because you love her and for raising you and (though you should every day) remember to respect the women around you. Do this even if for no other reason they will probably be in charge soon.