International Women's Day
Happy International Women's Day!
The day is here, finally, to celebrate womanhood. With the nurses, anticipation for Women's Day had been high ever since we managed to get three of the old class; Swarna, Banita and Jyoti, to star in a little video for Project Trust. We don't have many videos of them just talking and smiling, and the one we made is just adorable. ( My favourite part is when asked where do you work? and Jyoti is like uhmmmm" Not like she spends 12 hours a day, 6 hours a week at LVPEI or anything!) They will leave this month, so it's nice to know I'll always have that video to remember these days with them, the kind of days I would like to press pause on and live forever. A video to mark a time when everything in front of us seems sure to be bright and filled with good.
Surrounded by my little class of five new ONAs (a fever has forced the others to stay at home today) I set out to mark the occasion as best I could. I had made up some sheets that said "happy women's day" and asked them to draw a picture of and write as much as they could about a woman who inspired them. Pen to paper, mind to page, they set to work and soon I was reading all about their sisters, mothers, aunties and why they were found inspiring.
We talked about what it meant to be "bold for change" and the qualities that make a strong woman - courageous, kind, loving, caring, understanding, brave, mighty, intelligent, hard working etc. We discussed statistics about men and women in the world today - the wage gap, the idea of it being a women's job to look after the home, the lack of women in politics in our world. We spoke briefly about feminism, which none of them had ever heard of. Then we watched some of the videos about Women's Day, and I watched their eyes glow. We crowded around my laptop and I've never seen inspiration enter people's minds quite like I did today. That suddenly glint in their eyes, the renewed determination to continue being bold, kind, loving and intelligent. The idea that they can do anything. They traced around their hands and filled the gap with all the words they thought of when they thought of women. To walk away from a classroom leaving a group of inspired students behind is one of the most amazing feelings.
In the afternoon, with a group of the older students, I split them into two teams, for and against, and put the topic "men and women in the world today have genuinely equal opportunities" on the board. After arming each of them with a set of statistics, we had an hour long debate. An extremely successful one at that. We'd never tried debating with them before, but they enjoyed it so much and all of them got really invested. Unlike other times, they were too busy debating to care if their English was 100% correct, but the lack of hesitation meant most of the time it was.
Since I came to India, the idea of celebrating women's day seems all the more important somehow. When many of my student's mother's main role is looking after the home, when this country's treatment and view of women is far from being a positive one, as I teach these young women who are going to be amazing nurses someday the importance of believing in themselves. Not just the nurses, we are so lucky to be teaching a range of inspiring, hard-working women with glowing careers and beautiful families in a part of the world where that is not the norm. Seeing how much the boys (who made up the disagree team) believed in equal rights for men and women and argued so passionately for it was AMAZING. I'm a very proud teacher and woman today!