March 8, International Women’s Day, is a very significant day of the year for women around the world. It is an occasion women use to celebrate their successes in their struggle for women’s rights and women’s empowerment.
March 8 has a very important meaning for Eritrean women who became triumphant by fighting against both natural and social barriers that prevented them from participating in the decision-making process that affect the society and the country. They have overthrown the enigma imposed by old cultural beliefs that are characteristic of patriarchal societies like ours. They fought for their rights and echoed their voices showing their strength to chauvinists who believe that the safest place for women is the kitchen.
When the Eritrean liberation struggle was transformed from political to armed struggle, women flocked to join their brothers-in-arms in the liberation fronts. They had great love for their nation and gave everything for their country. Their flesh and bones are beneath every step of the country. Their right becomes their nation’s right and this has direct relation with their dignity. They developed t h e consciousness that their own right and dignity is connected with the right to an independent and liberated state. Through their struggle, they were able to declare their emancipation and equal participation in all aspects of life.
Whenever we celebrate March 8, we pay tribute to those who gave their precious lives for Eritrea’s independence and those who fought to transform their society to a better life. The day is used as an occasion to reflect on the success achieved so far in political, social and economic aspects of Eritrean women. Active participation of women should be considered a measure of success in the concerted efforts for women’s empowerment.
For 20 years, we successfully engaged in a series of struggles against the Ethiopian war of aggression, economic sanctions and false allegations aimed at denigrating Eritrea. In the Ethiopian war of aggression, young Eritrean women struggled to defend their land and preserve our independence. When Eritrea was under sanctions, Eritrean women in diaspora played a vital role by working on diplomatic matters and public relations. Despite all the hard times we have been able to preserve our hard-earned right to be masters of our destiny. The role of Eritrean women in all this has been extraordinary.
The National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW) works to empower women, in general, and the young generation, in particular, to play a leading role in the development of the nation. It perseveres to protect women’s rights and ensure their equal participation in all walks of life.
We celebrate March 8 with great pride and dignity by organizing colourful programs in all regions. We do it with a lot of festivities and cultural activities. This celebration has become possible because of the dedication and sacrifice of our Eritrean female fighters.
We are celebrating March 8 in a very good atmosphere looking at a promising future where all the challenges are dealt with. Let us use the occasion, March 8, to renew our pledge as women and as members of the general public to contribute towards efforts to strengthen the National Union of Eritrean Women and to develop our nation.