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International Women’s Day

March 8, 2019

    International Women’s Day 2019

According to the United Nations Women, the theme for IWD 2019 is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.” At Good Shepherd Centre (GSC), we were brainstorming how we can translate this theme to our women and children. Before we can even speak about equality, innovation and change, do our women, who had suffered prolonged abuse, even value and honour their self-worth and womanhood? Can they see themselves as contributors and actors for change, rather than passive recipients of policies and services? How can we include our children by breaking down these big words so that it becomes relevant for them? At what age do we believe that they can “Think Equal, Build Smart and Innovate for Change?

With these questions in mind, GSC structured our IWD celebration according to these themes. The women attended a programme which allowed them to affirm themselves, their womanhood, as well as those of other women. They were then invited to dig deep into the wisdom of their life experiences and reflect on the changes that they were prepared to make in order to enrich their lives, their families’ life and that of the world. Concurrently, the children aged 4 to 9 had a separate programme to learn about equality, respect, gratitude, children’s rights, and change through fun and games. The programme concluded with the children choreographing a meaningful dance to perform in front of their mothers, entitled “The Greatest Love of All”.

All 14 women present in the shelter participated in the programme. They were given a flower to symbolize of the beauty of their womanhood. Then, they had to boast why they were proud to be a woman. Some spoke with gusto and enthusiasm, while others were shy and uncomfortable to say anything nice about themselves. The women were supportive and cheered for the shy ones. Subsequently, they had to present a flower to their friend to show their appreciation while sharing with the group what they noticed and admired about that friend. A resident cried when another affirmed her for being a good mother who worked tirelessly for her child.

After they had warmed up to one another, they were invited to write on paper their life experiences, in particular about the inequality they had received in their lives, and how they would like to change for the better. By then, all were enthusiastic and open to share with one another. The common themes were being afraid, sad and dependent in the past and now being determined to be stronger and more independent, including gaining employment, for the sake of their children. They wanted to be role models for their children to show them that no hardship can stand in the way of their dreams. Some also shared that they did not have a good relationship with their own parents and have been actively working on better communication and respect for their children. It was heart-warming to see how the programme really united the ladies. Even those who were not married felt that they gained a lot from listening to the wisdom of the mothers. The session ended with the ladies holding hands to pray for other women, especially those who continue to suffer in silence. They proceeded to hug one another and did a cheer together. At the end of the programme one of the residents shared that she learned the power of respectful listening to another person’s life experiences. She felt that everyone at GSC is a survivor. Another resident shared that she felt good pouring out all that she had kept inside only to realise that she is not the only one who had gone through so much. Cheekily, she asked, “when is the next time we will have such programmes? I hope it will be soon.”


The 7 children present in the shelter played games where they had to answer questions, role play and give examples from their own lives. For instance, regarding respect, they role played a disrespectful act to a friend and were able to enact a more respectful and appropriate response. They were also taught that boys and girls were different but equal, differentiating good touch and bad touch between the sexes. On the topic of gratitude and change, all were able to give specific incidents of gratitude towards their mother as well as what more they can do or change to express that gratitude. They were also taught the rights of the children. One of the children learned from this session that if he can change his attitude, he can have more positive experiences. Another expressed that she felt more gratitude for her mother through this programme. Finally, the children agreed that they would like carry out the theme of “change” by performing for their mothers to show their gratitude and love. One child led in the choreograph while the others learned the dance from her. Their mothers were so touched and proud of their children that they joked that they would perform for the children the next time round.

The programme ended not only with a greater appreciation and respect for womanhood but also fostered stronger bonds among the residents while strengthening relationships between the mothers and children.

Report by Sr Fiona Yeo






March 8, 2019
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