I was privileged to celebrate International Women’s Day with a group of women from around the world. This was at the South Wigan Arrivals Project (SWAP) for asylum seekers and refugees. The women and children represented Sudan, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Iran, Nigeria, Congo, Albania and Eritrea among others. 
They started by greeting each other in their own language and then saying what they had said in English. When a child cried someone remarked that crying was an international language! A short explanation about women’s rights and how it is one hundred years since women in Britain were allowed to vote followed.  
Clips of the film about Emily Pankhurst and the suffragettes were shown. This highlighted the fact that women working together can bring about change.The table groups then discussed with volunteers their own countries and what women were allowed or were not allowed to do there. Stories of women who are imprisoned or have been killed around the world because of their stand for women’s rights were shared.  
After a short “tea” break one lady had brought spices and oils from Sudan. Her spoken English was good and she told us the uses of the various things which we smelt and rubbed on our hands. A volunteer near me said one of the oils smelt like Chanel number 5! 
The session finished with a rousing song, a dance and holding hands in a circle and ending with hugs and many smiles. It was a true celebration with a wonderful atmosphere, in spite of language difficulties. I appreciated sharing this special time with them. 
Sister Angela Black SND 
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