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International Women's Day 2021


A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.

So let's all choose to challenge.

#ChooseToChallenge  #IWD2021

International Women’s Day 2021 falls on March 8th of this year. It takes place during Women’s Month, a yearly celebration of the many contributions that women have made to our society and our world. Lisa Borello, Director of UD’s Women’s Center, says, “This International Women’s Day, it’s important to recognize the role women have played in advancing gender equity and human rights in their home countries and across the globe.” With this in mind, the Center for International Programs asked international students from across the UD community to nominate an inspiring woman from their home country. We collected stories of challenge, triumph, and adversity that reflected our diverse student body. Here are a few of their nominations. 

Fahad Ameen, a graduate student in TESOL, was one of the first students to nominate Anisa Mohammed Jaafar, widely known as Mama Anisa, a Kuwaiti TV icon and inspiration to millions of Kuwaiti children. Fahad says, “Kuwaitis all remember the voice of ‘Mama Anisa’. She was the first teacher in Kuwait. She helped many orphans to study and graduate.” Born in 1935, Mama Anisa was trained in journalism in Egypt and England.  Over her lifetime, she worked as a teacher and activity director in schools, as well as several roles in the Ministry of Education. She was one of the first announcers for Kuwait television programs in the State of Kuwait in the early sixties and was the third presenter in television specializing in children's programs. She has had many programs throughout the years, including “Children’s Paradise” and “Boys and Girls Club”. Her kind spirit and teacher’s heart have impacted many children growing up in Kuwait. 

Sungmin Jung, a second year student in the UD School of Law from South Korea, nominated Gwan-soon Yoo, the independence activist and heroine born there in 1919. Under the rule of Japanese imperialism and colonization, she marched with a large crowd calling for Korean independence. This was called the March First Movement, which was carried out in a non-violent manner. Gwan-soon Yoo was detained at the age of 17, but held to her convictions and advocated for the independence of the Republic of Korea to the end, eventually dying in prison. Sungmin says, “although her death did not bring immediate independence of the Republic of Korea, her cries caused numerous citizens to participate in and to have concerns in the independence of the country, which later influenced many independence movements.”

Several of our Indian students, including Divya Shetty, Sankarshan Dasgupta, and Kumar Nikhitha Kokila, nominated Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, otherwise known as Mother Teresa, as an inspiring woman from their country. Many of us know the story of Mother Teresa’s inspiring and devoted work amongst the poor in India, and her advocacy as a nun and missionary. Kumar notes that Mother Teresa, recognized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in the Catholic tradition, “brought great impact to our country. She served diseased people and the destitutes.” Divya, a second-year graduate student studying computer science, agrees, saying that Mother Teresa “was very active in serving the community through charity and serving the poor.” Sankarshan notes her impact on India beyond her Catholic faith: “She cured, helped and supported many needy people, when India needed it the most. She was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the work. She is worshipped as a deity by some Hindus, such was her impact on the society.” 

Why celebrate International Women’s Day? Sungmin says that women like Gwan-soon Yoo can be an inspiration for our own lives. “Her [Yoo’s] effort inspired me with a benevolent sense of altruism. I have thought about my family, my neighbor, further, my country and our world. I have tried to understand the others without biases.” Learning the stories of these international champions can help us to embrace difference through community, a pillar of our Marianist charism at UD. Sankarshan says of Mother Teresa: “The sacrifices and efforts she made are beyond human capabilities, and can only be admired and worshipped. If we could engage ourselves little-bit of what she has done and preached, I think the world will be a much better place to live in.” Lisa Borello agrees: “It’s incredible to see the ways women throughout the world are leading grassroots and broad scale efforts to fight for justice, equal access to education and economic opportunities, and to eradicate all forms of gender-based violence. We have much to learn from their efforts.”

Happy International Women's Day! 

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