International Women’s Day is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality.
It has been observed since the early 1900s and is now recognized each year on March 8. It is not affiliated with any one group, but brings together governments, women's organizations, corporations and charities.
The theme for International Women's Day 2017 is; "Be bold for Change" and calls on to help forge a better working world - a more gender inclusive world.
In many countries in the world, including Eritrea, the day is an official holiday.
In Israel there are 12,216 Eritrean women, many of them victims of severe trauma, including torture, rape and human trafficking.
In Israel they work multiple low-wage jobs and live below the poverty line. All face daily challenges, including lack of sufficient welfare and health services, language barriers and fear of expulsion, in a society that is hostile and excludes and isolates them.
The Eritrean women in Israel are in addition to all the above still victims of gender bias and discrimination within their own community.
And yet…….. the Eritrean women in Israel show an amazing amount of courage, and have managed to build a life, they are proud, strong and resilient, they take care of their families and each other and manage in spite of all the hardships to find moments of celebration and joy.
On Saturday March 11, I was privileged to join a group of Eritrean women at the Jerusalem African Community Center (JACC) in a celebration of International Women's Day.
The event organized by the women, for the women, was a celebration of color, taste, beauty and tradition. Each of the women contributed something to the event; food in enormous pots, Injera on a gigantic platter, a wonderful round Dabo (another kind of Eritrean bread), drinks and music. They even brought a small table and coal for performing the traditional coffee making ceremony, which is, I learnt, one of the most recognizable parts of Eritrean culture.
The women, some of them accompanied by small children were in a celebratory mood, and the atmosphere was electrifying, friends chatting, laughing, eating, relaxing and enjoying each other's company. Forgetting for a moment all the fears and hardships of their daily life.
I am sure it was much like parties for International Women's Day, taking place all over the world; with little sign of the uncertainty and challenges of their life in exile.
I am overwhelmed by the strength and courage of these women, by their ability under these dreadful conditions, to create moments like this, of their loyalty to each other and their culture and their determination to make a life for themselves and their families.
What an amazing group of women !!!!!!!