Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day 2012 - Part TWO

International Women's Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women the world over and acknowledge how far we have come. For Australia for UNHCR, however, it is also a day to recognise particular needs of displaced women and how they contribute to refugee communities. Australia for UNHCR supports International Women's Day and, as such, is working to highlight the difficulties faced by these women, along with their strength and resilience.

In countries all over the globe, in places such Afghanistan, Nepal and also Aminata’s home country of Sierre Leone (see part ONE), UNHCR has developed a series of special programs to ensure women have equal access to protection, basic goods and services as they attempt to rebuild their lives. Special attention is given to forcibly displaced women who may face risks because of their specific circumstances. This includes pregnant and lactating women, older women, women with disabilities and female heads of households.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

International Women's Day 2012 - Part ONE

A few weeks ago, I attended the wedding of my good friends Aminata and Antoine. Theirs was a very Sydney love story. Boy meets girl at Opera Bar. Boy goes home to France. Love blossoms. Emails and texts fly back and forth across. Boy returns to Australia et voila! There we were overlooking the sunset harbor, toasting the health and happiness of our two dear friends. What made this occasion even more special than most was the joy everyone felt knowing the long and dangerous journey Aminata had travelled to get there.

Aminata was only 19 years old when rebels attacked her village in Sierra Leone and took her hostage. As she recounted, "I can still see their faces as if it were yesterday. I was standing frozen with my family when one of the rebels took my hand and ordered me to follow.