What does International Women's Day mean to you?

We asked some of the incredible women who are part of our partner organisations what the day means to them.

Celebrated on 8 March every year, International Women's Day is a time to recognise the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year, come with us on a journey across our region to meet some of the incredible women who are creating change in their communities, and discover what this day means to them. 

‘International Women’s Day means a lot to me; it serves as a periodic evaluation to the status of women in various fields nationally and internationally, and allows us to celebrate successes,’ says Chanthol Oung, Executive Director of the Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia (WMC)a non-profit media organisation with a focus on the roles and rights of Cambodian women. 

‘The day reminds our audience about the milestones achieved, and the struggles we continue to face.’

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Chanthol Oung, Executive Director of the Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia. Supplied: WMC

‘International Women’s Day is a day when we can raise our voice against discrimination towards women and girls,’ says Melissa Steven – a WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) program coordinator with WaterAid in Papua New Guinea.

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Melissa Steven – a WASH program coordinator with WaterAid, Wewak, PNG. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

‘International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is a day to recognise and showcase achievements made by women. In Bhutan we are privileged, as women have always been treated equal to men – in fact our inheritance is matrilineal,’ says Chencho Dem, Senior Teacher and sign language interpreter at the Wangsel Institute for the Deaf 

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Chencho Dem, senior teacher and interpreter at the Wangsel Institute for the Deaf, Paro, Bhutan. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

'This International Women's Day, everyone should have time to listen to women, especially women with disabilities,’ says Boboro Tamiera, who is part of Te Toa Matoa (TTM), an association of people with disabilities in Kiribati.  

'Women's lives are very important in the community,’ says Boboro. 'I want the world to know how important women are and to provide any support possible to prevent violence against women. 

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Boboro Tamiera, a member of Te Toa Matoa (TTM), an association of people with disabilities in Kiribati. Photo: Darren James

‘International Women’s Day is a reminder of the impact women are making across the globe, locally and internationally,’ says Adliah Thauhuriah, Deputy Director at the Institution of Engineering and Management (LPTM) in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. 

‘The day should also inspire more women to be confident that their contribution is creating a more balanced, respectful world where women are accepted and valued by being themselves,’ she adds.

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Adliah Thauhuriah, Deputy Director at the Institution of Engineering and Management (LPTM) in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

‘International Women’s Day means celebrating my life as a woman,’ says Elenoa Kaisu, board member of the Society for Indigenous Women of the Cakaudrove Province, Fiji.  

Elenoa represents the voices of Indigenous women with disabilities from the 16 districts and 134 villages in Cakaudrove.

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Elenoa Kaisu, board member of the Society for the SVTC - the Indigenous Women of the Cakaudrove Province, Fiji. Photo: Darren James

‘International Women’s Day is a day when we women are recognized for our achievements, regardless of our culture, economic status, political affiliation or national origin,’ says Lucy Keya, a nurse with the Flying Medical Service’s dispensary in Arusha, Tanzania.

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Lucy Keya, a nurse with the Flying Medical Service’s dispensary in Arusha, Tanzania. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

‘International Women’s Day is a day I am proud to be someone who has helped others over the last 20 years,’ says Esther Silas, co-founder and Director of Touching the Untouchables (TTU), an NGO in Goroka, in Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands. 

‘I am proud to be an agent of change who serves the women in my village, my district and in my country,’ says Esther.

 

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Esther Silas, co-founder and Director of Touching the Untouchables (TTU), Goroka, PNG. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

‘To me, International Women’s Day is about recognising and applauding the impressive work that women do every day,’ says Ricar Pascoela, Coordinator at the Working Women’s Center Timor-Leste (WWCTL). She is also one of the incredible women in our partner organisations we are celebrating this week in recognition of International Women’s Day. 

‘When women and men have equal rights and opportunities, we have stronger economies and an improved quality of life for everyone,’ says Ricar. 

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Ricar Pascoela, Coordinator at the Working Women’s Center Timor-Leste. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

‘In Nepal, every year we celebrate International Women’s Day - it is a day to celebrate the achievements of women in all aspects,’ says Laxmi Maiya Prajapati, Associate Professor at the Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences and Nurse Manger of the Midwifery Department. 

‘I am passionate about women’s health,’ she says.

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Laxmi Maiya Prajapati, Associate Professor at the Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences and Nurse Manger of the Midwifery Department. Photo: Teagan Glenane

‘To me International Women’s Day means that it is a day that we celebrate and recognise the life and achievements of all women in all walks of life’, says Dr Leeanne Panisi, Head of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara.

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Dr Leeanne Panisi, Head of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

‘International Women’s Day is an important day to me and to our organisation,’ says Virith Khattignavong, Country Director of Sengsavang – a Laos-based NGO working to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children.  

It is a day for women to recognise their rights, and for the wider community to acknowledge the work that must be done to protect women from sexual harassment and all kinds of violence and abuses in society,’ she says. 

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Virith Khattignavong, Country Director of Sengsavang based in Savannakhet, Laos. Photo: Teagan Glenane

'To me International Women’s Day is about encouraging equal distribution of power amongst men and women,’ says Olivia Moli, a clerk with the Tonga Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC). 

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Olivia Moli, clerk with the Tonga Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications. Photo: Darren James

‘To me, International Women’s Day is about celebrating female leadership,’ says Urantsetseg Ulziikhuuproject manager at Transparency International Mongolia. 

It is a special day to me as I want to be a leader in my area of expertise in my home country, she says.

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Urantsetseg Ulziikhuu, project manager at Transparency International Mongolia. Photo: Teagan Glenane

‘International Women’s Day is a day to appreciate the achievements of the women who fought to get us where we are,’ says Yareisy Acosta Santana, co-founder of social enterprise FarmPro in Timor-Leste.

International Women’s Day is also a day to look at the road ahead and ensure we do everything we can to create a more equal society for the next generation,’ says Yareisy 

‘I want my daughter to grow-up in a society where women have the same opportunities as men.' 

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Yareisy Acosta Santana, co-founder of social enterprise FarmPro, Timor-Leste. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate being a woman, appreciating women for who they are and empowering them,’ says Dorji Zangamo, a former student turned teacher at Bhutan’s only school for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

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Dorji Zangmo, a former student and deaf instructor at the Wangsel Institute for the Deaf, Paro, Bhutan. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

International Women’s Day is about celebrating women and what we do. It's important because women are equal to men. It's important to celebrate this day,’ says Winne Sagiu, an environmental health officer with the Provincial Health Authority (PHA) in Wewak, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea.

With the communities we are working with, we are encouraging gender equalityWe are particularly working with women and girls to feel empowered to speak up, and know they are equal to the men in the communities,’ says Winnie.

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Winnie Sagiu, environmental health officer with the Provincial Health Authority in Wewak, PNG. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

‘International Women’s Day is a day when I remember I do not have to be defined by the expectations of others – that I am not weak, but strong,' says Yanna Queencer Telaumbanua, Chair of the English education study program at the Institut Keguruan Dan Ilmu Pendidikan (IKIP) in Nias, North Sumatra, Indonesia. 

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Yanna Queencer Telaumbanua, Chair of the English education study program at the Institut Keguruan Dan Ilmu Pendidikan (IKIP) in Nias, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono

Thank you to the wonderful women who shared their views and experiences as part of this project.