As the world commemorated International Women’s Day last Thursday, March 8, D2D celebrated with our sponsored female youth. The campus pavilion was filled with young women aspiring toward different dreams. It was empowering to recognize other females around the globe who have made their mark and successfully achieved their goals in life. Many of the women acknowledged come from societies that pose massive barriers which limit their ability, sending our girls a powerful message that no mountain is too steep to climb when belief and persistence are present regardless of one’s gender.
Female staff members spoke about the purpose and history of International Women’s Day, noting how meaningful advocacy efforts which propel women forward and call for equality are to the larger world and to their own journeys. Later, Colleen, a woman from the United States visiting Maji Zuwa, shared her personal experience with the group. She explained that she was unsure the type of work she wanted to pursue in her career, but how different opportunities and doors were opened to help pave her way simply by staying on track, being focused, and finishing her schooling.
Highlighting the 2018 theme of #PressforProgress, staff members adapted the hashtag to paper form, using #PledgeforProgress instead. Each person created multiple signs featuring different categories which the girls could pledge to, and signed the one they wanted to commit themselves to on a regular basis in order to play a part in cultivating a more equal universe. The categories included: maintaining a gender parity mindset, challenging stereotypes and bias, forging positive visibility of women, influencing others’ beliefs/actions, and celebrating women’s achievements. Together, all the categories were discussed by the group and each person placed their signature on one of six signs, formalizing their commitment to the cause.
In the final activity, several of the girls presented different poems and songs they had prepared for the occasion. Some of the poems recited were, “The Empowered Woman,” “Rainbow,” “Still I Rise,” “Equality, He for She,” and “Education is the Key.” Speaking to the notion of overcoming societal barriers, another poem shared was “I’ll Marry When I Want,” embracing the idea that all women and girls are in control of their own life and destiny, and cannot be forced to marry by a family member before they’re ready to do so. Closing the program, staff member Melness gave an encouraging speech on how the challenges the young women may face are never insurmountable and they too, have the ability to succeed and fulfill their dreams in life.