The 25th of January is National Women’s Day in Honduras and celebrates the anniversary of women’s emancipation, thus gaining public and political power for the first time. That day came in 1955 and yet 58 years later in present day Honduras you could not say that gender equality is prevalent in many walks of life. However, there are a few strong women that continue to stand up and be counted for, and work tirelessly to make this day carry true significance rather than be a token gimmick. Our main focus this week has been to make this day as special as possible for all involved in Marcala, but also to exchange information and aid in the education of women on these topics.
On the day there was a series of lectures and presentations in the morning held in the ‘Casa de la Cultura’ (The Culture House) which we had spent preparing for the guests the previous afternoon. We first heard from a male and female lawyer who spoke about domestic violence, rape, social work and volunteering, and then there was a power point detailing the international plight of women’s rights throughout history and the low level of political participation of women in Honduras. Fedelina Avila who is the co-ordinator of the Municipal Women’s Office and Riogoberto Hernandez, Mayor of Marcala both spoke kindly in support of the function before it was time for the Progressio team to say a few words.
Katie, Lorena and Becky had all prepared short speeches to address the keen audience on who we were, what we are doing here and also vocalising our support for the cause. Katie mentioned how Progressio deals with sustainable development and human rights with a focus on women and gender, but also how the locals can count on us as much as we will learn from them. Lorena’s motivational words included how fighting for women’s rights is not easy and will be a long process as it was in Europe, but step-by-step we can achieve this working together. Becky’s approach was to show our support and solidarity with women due to the global nature of the struggle and explained how women can get the rights they deserve with partnership.
On top of this, Dave also addressed the audience on behalf of the male ‘voluntarios’ (see photo below), declaring our support and stating that this struggle was not just for women but for society in general. The event ended with the men from the group and some of the locals handing out mugs and hugs as a symbol of the male appreciation of the female. This provided much laughter and enjoyment for the 120 plus women in attendance as we presented the gifts and kissed each woman’s cheek as a gesture of gratitude.
A street party at ‘El Mirador’ (The Viewpoint) was the next part of the celebration as the community enjoyed the music, food and dancing. And the day concluded for the twelve of us with a meal that the COOMUPL co-operative prepared for a party of about twenty five, including several high ranking women who are integral to their organisation. Preceding the meal we were read a beautiful passage from Martha Castro who is the accounts manager from COOMUPL. This centred around how wonderful women are and how much potential they have, providing happiness and hope, compassion and values, with so much to give and say. I believe everything surrounding the Women’s Day events and the fight these women are struggling towards can be encompassed by one of the softly spoken lines simply stating,
“The heart of the woman is the one that makes the world go round.”
Progressio ICS volunteer James Martin blogs on Women's Day in Honduras