International Women’s Day: Light a Fire

Students in class. Many students had gone to their home province for the Khmer New Year. This primary school was established through donations from the John Septimus Roe school in Perth, Western Australia.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

William Butler Yeats

Even though women have made great progress over the last century, and we celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements throughout history, women around the world are still vulnerable. That’s why International Women’s Day is a significant day on our calendars.

Women around the world often lack basic necessities like clean water, safe shelter, education, and healthcare. Women are often subjugated and forced into marriages or sexual slavery.

Opportunity and choice are not enjoyed by all women.

We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.

Malala Yousafzai

So, on International Women’s Day and even at the Academy Awards, women are using their voices, breaking the silence on issues of sexual harassment and abuse. No matter how much we say we are in a post-feminist age, women are still fighting for their voice to be heard.

When a person is educated, when a person has the opportunity, when a person has a choice, they are empowered. When a person is empowered, they can change the world.

Kinwoman, Kelley Chisholm works with women around the world and wrote about a development revolution in her recent book, Twenty Reasons to Believe.

Self Help Groups in Rwanda enable people to meet their own needs. Women set up businesses with small loans, earn their own income, train each other, and improve the lives of their families. They commit to each other for life. They are self-supporting and independent.

Women have great capacity and don’t want to be dependent. Women are good at doing a lot with a little. Given a small loan, working together in small groups, and ensuring that their futures are secure, the women in Rwanda, and others around the world, don’t need anything except an opportunity. They have the strength, ability, motivation, and intelligence to build businesses, educate their children, build homes, and share their knowledge with others.

I support children in Cambodia, Africa and the Philippines–boys and girls. I know that education changes people. Whether it’s in a self-help group in Rwanda or in a school in Cambodia, education allows people to change the direction of their lives.

For several years, I worked in Cambodia, training teachers who work in the slums of Phnom Penh. Years later, I see the fruit of education in the children they teach.

Educated girls who were born in a slum now have a better standard of living, their families are better off, they are able to enjoy further study, they gain employment, they begin businesses. The girls enjoy opportunity and choice. They are able to lead others who follow them.

 In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders. Sheryl Sandberg

International Women’s Day gives us the opportunity to highlight the need for the collective good, of all women, all people.

Find a way to sow into a woman’s opportunity or choice today. Help light a fire in someone’s life. Support a self-help organisation, donate to a charity, invest in a woman’s future.

We are Kinwomen, you are our kin.

love, Elaine




About Elaine Fraser

Elaine realised she wanted to be a writer at ten years of age when the words flew off the page during a creative writing lesson. She studied English and Education at university and went on to spend many years as a high school English teacher teaching others how to write. In 2005, Elaine took the plunge and began writing full-time. Since then she has published five books and blogs at Elaine’s passion is to write about real issues with a spiritual edge. When she’s not travelling the world in search of quirky bookstores or attending writing retreats in exotic locations, she can be found in the Perth hills sitting in her library—writing, reading, mentoring writers and hugging her golden retriever.