International Women’s Day: Inspiring Inclusion

A graphic image of six women walking away, in front of a pink and purple background, filled with clouds and birds.

Happy International Women’s Day! 💜

Today is a day to celebrate the achievements and successes of women across the world. But it is also a day to reflect on the progress that is yet to be made, especially with regards to women and girls’ access to equal rights and education. This year’s theme is “Inspire Inclusion”.

Currently, only 7% of refugees worldwide have access to higher education [1]. Those seeking asylum in the UK do not have the right to access student finance and are charged international student fees, and there are very few grants or scholarships available to people of refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds.

We also find through our work that many refugees, asylum-seekers, and undocumented young people do not receive appropriate support or guidance to help them access further or higher education courses which are suited to their aspirations.

For women and girls seeking safety, it is especially difficult to access education, as they face additional barriers. These include gendered stereotypes, biases and cultural norms, such as expectations of early marriage and additional care responsibilities [2].

That is why at Hope for the Young, we work every day to ensure that young women and girls from refugee backgrounds can access the education and support they need to progress in their lives and reach their full potential.

To celebrate this International Women’s Day, we spoke with Fatu and Chelsea, two inspiring young woman on our Grants and Advocacy Programme. Read on to hear their thoughts:

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? Why is this day important?

Fatu: International Women’s Day holds significant importance to me, especially as a young girl who has endured female genital mutilation (FGM). This day reassures me that I am not alone in my journey. Even though not every woman has experienced FGM, the support I receive when I share my story is overwhelming and comforting.

International Women’s Day underscores the crucial role women play in society and reinforces our right to be celebrated and heard. It advocates for our deservedness of equal opportunities and platforms alongside men. This day is a powerful reminder of our collective strength, resilience, and the supportive community that stands with survivors like me. It’s a day that amplifies our voices, advocating for change and equality, and acknowledges the diverse experiences and contributions of women worldwide.

Chelsea: International Women’s Day signifies the diverse yet powerful experiences that have shaped women in our society today. It is important to me as a woman who has built strength from different women throughout my life to celebrate what women are to the world and to me.

What does ‘inspiring inclusion’ mean to you?

Fatu: To me, inspiring inclusion means creating a world where women and young girls have access to role models who have broken barriers and demonstrated that women are indispensable to society. It’s about challenging the notion that women should be relegated to the background and affirming their role as equal partners in shaping a better world.

A truly inclusive world is one where every girl can learn, lead, make decisions, and thrive in a safe environment. Inclusion and inspiration are intertwined; by incorporating women in decision-making processes, we not only empower them but also set the stage for future generations to become empowered women themselves.

Chelsea: Inspiring inclusion to me means highlighting the experiences and greatness of all women, to uplift and inspire every woman at whatever age or point in their life.

Why is it important to support women and girls’ access to education?

Fatu: Achieving inclusion in education will grant women and girls equal access to opportunities. By ensuring that women can learn, lead, and innovate, we move closer to a world where gender parity is a reality, and every woman can fully participate in shaping our global society.

Chelsea: Some parts of the world still to this day restrict education to females. It is important to continue pushing for female education and our access to it to ensure these instances are wiped out and all women are given a fair opportunity to learn and find out what they’re capable of through education.

Can you tell us about a woman who inspires you?

Fatu: My therapist, her name is Marion. Marion has been an amazing therapist, mentor, friend, and sister. I admire her so much because when I literally had no one to talk to, she’s always there to talk to […] I can talk to her at any time and she’s always letting me know that I’m not the problem and she’s been a great inspiration. I am inspired by the work she does so when I chose my university course, I always told myself that I want to be able to help others just the way she does.

Chelsea: My mother is forever my biggest inspiration and a clear example of what it means to be a woman. Everything she does, even the mistakes she’s made are part of what makes her a great woman. Her resilient nature and caring spirit come to mind, and how she keeps challenging herself, her children and everyone around her to become better versions of themselves. I am thankful to have such an amazing woman be my mother.

Thank you to Chelsea and Fatu for sharing such beautiful, thought-provoking reflections on International Women’s Day. 

If you’d like to make a difference this International Women’s Day, please consider donating to support more young women and girls seeking safety to access education.

Matt Blacker

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