Earlier this week, Cambodia celebrated International Women’s Day. The schools were closed and everything. It is a national holiday here (which just confirms to me the inkling that this country has a keen sense of irony). But programs on Gender Equality education are beginning to happen here, and I am thrilled to have been asked by the truly terrific NGO, Caring for Cambodia, to be a part of their program. A few days ago, I ran the second in the group of Writing Through ‘taster’ workshops, where we use a theme and introduce new concepts via the writing of a group poem.
This workshop was held the day before the holiday, and so I asked if we could dedicate our work to International Women’s Day. It led to an excellent, though difficult conversation, mainly because these students’ thoughts were far more complex than their English allowed. But I was able to finally convince them that they could think and speak in Khmer, and that we would give them the needed vocabulary. What they were then able to write is pretty wonderful, if I do say so myself:
To Value Women is to Encourage Women
by the Gender Equity Program Group, Aranh High School
8th March – Women’s Rights Day
Everyone must know.
We go to a farm
We stay at home
We help our moms
We go to the Cultural Village
to see traditional games.
It is a special day
when we remember our rights
to stop violence
to go to school to study
to make a dream
to have a good job.
We can do many new things on Women’s Rights Day for women:
make a party
raise up women’s salaries
But no place is as safe as home.
We have to raise awareness of women’s rights
and give them a value.
Real men value women’s rights!
As we used to say in the day, Right On!
Thank you, Caring for Cambodia, for doing such an amazing job with these students, and for allowing me to play a small part in their education.