Opinion: This International Women’s Day, I choose to celebrate one woman. Not because she’s my mother, not because of what she has done for me, but because of who she is as a woman. A whole woman. But because she is my mother, I know.
This week, she finally segued into retirement from public service, work that she has done all my life, started long before I was born. Work through which she has travelled to every corner of The Gambia to reach women and take them up, even as she pushed to go up herself. I’ve watched my mother build other women, meet them in their most remote communities and provide education, skills, trade opportunities. Through the Community Skills Improvement Project (CSIP) and the Community-Based Infrastructure and Livelihood Improvement Project (CILIP), she has changed lives, transformed communities, and shown women that there are no limits to what we can achieve. And these are just two. From moving around on her motorcycle, to trekking in communities, to riding in a car, she has done it all. For the Gambian woman. And for women in places beyond Gambia where she has been called to serve. And never once seeking credit or recognition for it. On a similar trajectory, I journey into these same communities and when there is knowledge of my connection with her, I see everything she has worked for. And I remember when she tells us “you will struggle, but you won’t suffer because that’s not what I worked for”.
This week, I wake up and see her seated on her bed, and I know she’s not in her element. She needs rest, deserves rest, deserves enjoyment. But this woman I know will probably not stay that way for long. Work is what she knows.
When people ask how I became the woman I am, I tell them to come meet my mother, and they will understand. My prayer is to be half the woman she is; her prayer is that I become more. I hope her prayer is answered, because it means women everywhere will benefit from that.
I celebrate one woman today, because in her I see every other woman I want to celebrate. In her, I see what true service and dedication to the cause of women is. I celebrate one woman today. Not because she’s my mother, not because of what she has done for me, but because of who she is as a woman. A whole woman. But because she is my mother, I know.
Thank you for your service Maria Dacosta. The Gambia is blessed to have you.
Feminist| Communications Professional| Blogger