March 8th is International Women’s Day and the entire month of March has been designated Women’s History Month. While women’s history and honoring women should occur 365 days a year, it is nice that there are days and months allotted specifically to women so that we can take a moment and reflect on our struggles, achievements, hopes and fears.
This year, March 8th meant something even more for Sakhi – it was Tiloma Jayasinghe’s one month anniversary as Executive Director of Sakhi. And what better way to spend it than to represent Sakhi at a White House reception hosted by President and First Lady Obama in honor of International Women’s Day. The Obamas highlighted the importance of cultivating multi-generational activists and advocates for women’s rights, and that the smallest contribution towards eliminating discrimination against women has a wide-rippling effect.
The President issued a Proclamation which called on us to
“carry forth the legacy of our mothers and grandmothers. As we honor the women who have shaped the Nation, we must remember that we are tasked with writing the next chapter of women’s history. Only if we teach our daughters that no obstacle is too great, that no ceiling can block their ascent, will we inspire them to reach for their highest aspirations and achieve true equality.”
Sakhi is doing its part to write the next chapter by working to achieve an end to violence against women. When we provide crisis intervention, when we advocate for change in our communities and in our government, and when we support and assist in the empowerment of a survivor of violence that walks through our door or calls our helpline we are helping them to change the story of their lives that they tell their children and that their children see. These girls and boys recognize that their mothers overcame adversity, discovered reserves of strength andcreated change in her life, change for the better. While Sakhi focuses on assisting women we cannot help but impact the lives of their children. Even as one woman finds support at Sakhi, she reclaims a a better life not just for herself, but for her children, her family, her society, and her world.
That is why it is so important to address the causes and consequences of violence, not just the immediate crisis at hand. And that is why Sakhi’s work is so important – our economic empowerment work helps women to achieve agency over their own lives and brings them forward from the margins of society. We provide training, scholarships and support for women who are struggling to get on their own two feet. By addressing the violence at hand, by reducing the vulnerability of women to oppression and violence and by then providing avenues of growth and rejuvenation, we provide a holistic approach to addressing violence against women, one woman at a time.
It is important for us to translate the direct work into larger systemic change. We must advocate and disseminate our expertise on multiple intersectional frameworks, such as economic justice, women’s rights, immigrant rights, and other social justice issues so that we also work to provide a holistic approach to eliminating all forms of human rights violations against women. By promoting and protecting the human rights of women we can achieve the kind of world – one of equality, opportunity and safety that we are proud to pass on to our daughters and sons.