Sunday, 8 March 2015
On this International Women’s Day I reflect on my life and travels around the world and the women I have been humbled by and worked and shared with along my personal journey. My journey has been challenging but there have been many awesome women who have never left my side and many awesome women that have travelled this road with me, one way or another.
I have travelled across four continents and I have been privileged to meet some amazing women in very challenging personal and professional circumstances. My life has taken me to the United States of America, Africa, United Arab Emirates and Europe, all vastly different cultures, and I have gained friendships for life in all four continents.
Born in the United Kingdom I celebrate my great grandmothers, grandmothers and mother today for the part they have played in my genetics and upbringing. Although I was never able to meet my great grandmothers, I have been privileged to get to know them through my grandmothers and mother stories and memories. I was lucky enough to know both my grandmothers well in to my twenties and they had a great influence on me and my life and I have beautiful memories of time spent with them. My mother is 85 years old and a strong intelligent woman who I am proud to have and who has taught me so much. Through challenging times she has shared her wisdom and common sense and been an amazing role model and friend. I am privileged to have a sister who cares and gives me sound advice. My daughter is a strong, awesome, intelligent woman, friend and confidante. My niece is beautiful and good friend, as are my three favourite cousins. I am honoured and proud to have these amazing women in my life.
In all corners of the United Kingdom and Europe are women that have at some time had an important part to play in my evolvement as a woman on a physical, emotional and mental level. Some came for a reason, others a season and others a lifetime but all have been important and have left their mark on my heart.
There are also several very important women that have taught me in a professional capacity throughout my career and it is because of them I have grown into the professional I am today.
My female family, cousins, aunts and good friends in Australia, I honour you today.
In the United States of America I am honoured to have four of the very bestest of friends who I have known for over 25 years and who have been at my side through thick and thin, are still there today and would gather me up and support me at any time from across the Atlantic with words of love, thoughts and prayers. These women will always have a special place in my heart. One woman in particular (you know who you are) is special, can never be replaced and is my soul mate. There are many others in this amazing country that have guided and supported me and given me the wisdom to move on to complete other important tasks in my life path. From Phoenix to Washington DC there are awesome women that have impacted my life.
In Africa I have been humbled by the gifted female children, young people and women I have met and worked with. The amazing young women at the schools I have taught in and the family I inherited when I married for the second time. My African mother in law is one of the most amazing larger than life women I have ever met and I am honoured and humbled to have been part of her life. She is wise and beautiful inside and out and taught me so much about what is important in life. My beautiful and intelligent African sister in laws who put their arms around me and supported me in a strange and dangerous land and who open their hearts to me. My young African nieces who are beautiful and always have a smile on their faces and make me laugh that allowed me to help them with reading and writing. The street children that I tried to assist, I will never forget your faces pressed against the window of my car.
In the United Arab Emirates I was privileged to get to know and have an intimate relationship with some amazing Arabic women who shared their culture, way of life and challenges with me. These women took a risk in welcoming me, a white blonde western female, into their homes, lives, festivals and weddings and remain friends with me today. Because of their courage I learned so much more than I could ever have envisaged about the Middle Eastern culture and I am honoured, humbled and thankful to this day. I went behind closed doors and witnessed Arabian life first hand in homes and palaces and places most would never be invited.
The young girls I taught in kindergarten in the international school I worked in were phenomenal and I learned so much from them. I hope I gave as much to those girls for their futures as they gave to me. I remain friends with some of the families I worked with and see those young girls growing into awesome young women that have an education and careers all over the world.
The three or four women staff tat the Arabian international school hat became good friends and my lifeline in a country that was so alien to me (again you know who you are), I thank you for helping through and I honour you and your strength today.
The female survivors I have met and worked with all over the world experiencing all types of abuse are awesome and humbling. The stories and memoirs they have allowed me to publish have been harrowing but an important part of my work. The privilege of working with young women who have been sexually exploited and seeing them break free and thrive has been exhilarating. The privilege of being part of this process is invaluable and no words can express the honour. The honour of helping victims of domestic violence and abuse flee, survive and thrive and then share their journey to help others is incalculable. The privilege of safeguarding young children and seeing them flourish is huge.
The children, young people and women I have encountered, worked with and helped has been immense and I thank every single one of you for playing a part in my life journey; it has been awesome. I am a survivor of abuse myself and I know how hard and traumatic the journey can be. You are all my heroines. The girls and women that throughout my journey have become life long friends, thank you.
I write this to honour all women in my life now, past and in the future and all the amazing strong awesome women in the world on this #InernationalWomensDay.
Young girls and women are awesome.