Wednesday, March 9, 2011

IWD: giving & doing

Warning: this post has serious content!

I was fortunate enough to celebrate International Women's Day yesterday, and be involved in the HERstories exhibition to mark the 100th Anniversary of IWD. 

I use the word fortunate as I am conscious that there are many, many, many women in the world that don't have the luxury of celebrating this global event, who are living in countries where women are still oppressed and denied the same rights that we take for granted here in Australia.

Do you know that International Women's Day is a public holiday in 27 countries?  I'm just putting that out there to the powers that be!!

Following the official exhibition opening talk and morning tea with inspirational Walpeup educator and Women's Rights activist Jean Cooke, I attended the International Women's Day Lunch where I was lucky enough to meet and hear Sister Patricia Pak Poy (  Sister Pat, as she is known, a pocket dynamo of a woman, and a nun from the order of The Sisters of Mercy. She is a truly remarkable woman and social justice activist who has been working on the issues of HIV Aids in some parts of Asia, and was the founding National Coordinator of the Australian Network of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a network comprising most of the humanitarian, development and aid organisations in Australia, and includes professional groups, unions, religious and community groups. The Network supports a global ban on antipersonnel mines, the clearance of land of mines, and the rehabilitation of survivors and of mine-affected communities. 

I attended Ash Wednesday mass with my son's school today.  In the Catholic calendar, Ash Wednesday  marks the first day of Lent, where for the next 40 days, practising Catholics "give up" or "go without" something for that period of time.  During the mass, a video was shown depicting a Nepalese and how their lives had been improved through the donations and work of the Caritas organisation.  The aim of the video was to show the children how different their lives in Australia are, compared to the family depicted, the children all gasped when they saw the "new" toilet the family had just built!

So what is the point of this post?  
We so often take for granted what we have, there are so many people in the world (including Australia) without what we call basic necessities, such as clean running water, a comfortable place to live, fresh food and access to professional health care (to name but a few).

Sister Pat's presentation has really stayed with me and her attitude that 'somebody ought to do something about it'!  We have all complained at some time or another about something we believe isn't right, but she actually did do something about it.  Maybe we can too in some small way, perhaps by donating money or writing a letter (find out more here).

All of the children from my son's school have all been given a money box to take home and donate their pocket money to Project Compassion, which aims to help fight global poverty and injustice to build better lives for the poorest of the poor around the world.  It will be interesting to see if this raises awareness amongst the children.

So maybe we can all give up something for Lent and donate the money we save from our "vice" to a project, either local or global that will make a difference to someone else's life.  Or take action in some other way and stop talking about doing something and actually do it!

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