This year we threw a celebration for International Women’s Day, on March 8th. Around 25 women joined us at different stages in the evening, representing eight different nationalities – Japanese, American, Venezuelan, Turkish, Spanish, Brazilian, Italian and Irish. The format was relaxed and language barriers and shyness were overcome over crackers, cheese and chocolate.
We had some discussion questions such as “who is the strongest woman you know?”, “what are the characteristics of a strong woman?”, “what have you done recently that you’re proud of?” and “what are you doing to empower women around you who might not be feeling so strong?” These were in no way easy questions to answer. It was special to hear people open up, particularly when talking about the strongest women they know. Mothers, perhaps unsurprisingly, featured strongly. There were a few tears in the room during this time, particularly as people recounted journeys of strength that they had undertaken in coming to Ireland to study and the people they had left behind.
The night ended with half of us sitting on the floor, playing with play dough someone had discovered in the room. You never can plan for these kinds of things, but it was an expression of natural creativity and a welcome break for some of the women present who had come straight from stressful jobs - from accounting to nursing and medicine.
The YWCA truly is an international organisation and it is one that celebrates strong women. It was special to be part of a evening that celebrated those things too.