International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. But this year, we are all preoccupied with so many national and global events and crisis, that the day impends to appear unimportant in the consciousness of the population. Around 30 million women worldwide are fleeing poverty, war and discrimination. Many of these women have had terrible experiences in their homeland and are threatened with further traumatization during their escape. Behind almost every male refugee there is a woman in his homeland, corroded by worries: a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister?

For centuries, women have been suffering from crises often caused by men. Particularly in dictatorships and developing countries threatened by poverty and hunger, women are largely excluded from socio-political and economic processes. Countless girls are still starting their lives with social denigration. In many Oriental countries, women only mention the number of their male children when asked how many children they have. Girls are often not even worth mentioning, since they are more of a social denigration for their mother. Consequently, they need to help early on in the household, supervise their siblings, go long and dangerous routes and carry heavy loads. Often, they are disadvantaged when eating and are denied access to education. Again and again, girls become victims of physical and sexual assaults. They are being infected by their partners with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, forced into prostitution, coerced as minors into forced marriage or slave labor.

Violence against girls is implicitly tolerated. Hence, many boys tend to adopt the roles of their parents: if the mother is subjected to oppression and physical violence, his future wife is often threatened with the same bitter life. Surprisingly, this contempt for girls – or, from the girls’ perspective, their submissiveness – is often characterized by maternal education. The mothers have experienced and internalized it the same way and these humiliations, even the denigration, are passed on to their own children. With the result, that boys have a disturbed image of women. This attitude is persistent. Even long after external living conditions have improved, these people remain in their misogynistic attitude.

To what extent do these backgrounds have a significance for us as active helpers and employees of Cap Anamur?

They are an important approach to plan, develop and support projects so that what so many politicians like to talk about can be implemented: reducing the causes of flight in the country of origin. In order to achieve this, we must improve the living conditions for women, i.e.: sufficient nutritious food, clean drinking water, health care (including vaccinations, family planning, prenatal care, etc.), access to education (schools in safe proximity, appropriately paid teachers, free school supplies, school uniforms, compulsory school attendance) and financial independence for women via work and career opportunities.

The development in the right direction is a protracted process and what we seed today may only bear fruit after one or two generations, yet, without this visionary view of the future Cap Anamur would not exist at all!

A good example is our training program in Afghanistan: here, young women from rural, medically underserved villages are trained as midwives and nurses in a two-year state-approved training program. After graduating, they return to their home villages with their expert knowledge and make a valuable contribution to medical care.

>> Support our work in Afghanistan. Every donation counts.

>> Between 2002 and 2008, Döne Akdas worked for about three and a half years as a nurse for Cap Anamur in Afghanistan.