For Hamda Sulaiman, education has been the most powerful tool in unlocking a full life with open doors to her potential. In Somaliland, where more than half of the female population is illiterate, Hamda’s story is not a unique one, but it does show the change that can occur in a person’s life when a local organisation is supported to bring justice. In the lead up to International Women's Day, we wanted to give Hamda the opportunity to share her story.

"Thanks to the support I received, I had an opportunity to study and gain an education.” Hamda said, “This was important to me because, when I was young, I did not have opportunities to acquire a formal education. This was a chance to recover my personal loss."

Hamda felt the effects of an unfair society in a strong way. In Somaliland, just one in every five children at school is a girl and opportunities are incredibly restricted. But the Women Rehabilitation Development Association (WORDA), Progressio’s local partner organisation, supported Hamda to break out of the traditional system and receive a fantastic education.

"Through WORDA," Hamda said. "I was also trained in tailoring skills, which increased my income as I became self-employed. I studied office management skills and have now completed an office management internship in a local organization.

"My most significant change during my interaction with WORDA is the valuable knowledge and skills I have gained. I am able to manage my personal life. For example, I have been able to continue with my education."

Thanks to her work with WORDA, Hamda’s life has changed forever. She is now able to educate other girls that opportunities to learn and thrive are available. And Hamda recognises she can still go further herself.

"Before knowing WORDA, I was not able to read and write." Hamda added. "My education developed from non-formal to the university level, when I studied Business Administration at University of Adams. I would like to continue to a higher level."

Progressio supports WORDA through Phillemon Landy Tubei, a Progressio development worker who trains WORDA staff and ensures funding and resources are available to stand alongside women like Hamda. Your support for Progressio and our development workers means that there will be more stories like Hamda’s. and more women living full lives in Somaliland.

To stand alongside women like Hamda this International Women's Day, paint something purple and post it online with #PaintItPurple.