International Women's Day 2018 - Hajar Akl
It's International Women's Day - join us as we celebrate some incredible women from a migrant background who are making a real improvement to Irish society.
Hajar Akl is a final year journalism student at DIT and part of the team behind Under One Tent, a student-led initiative to share iftar (the meal which breaks the Ramadan fast) with the community by putting up a marquee in St Patrick’s Park, arranging inspiring speakers and of course providing lots of food. She is an occasional contributor to the Irish Times.
"International Women’s Day is a day to highlight things that different women around the world do. They might be things women weren’t able to do in the past, or things they became so much better at, but either way it’s a reminder of the important role women play in society. When I think about International Women’s Day, I think of all the women that work behind the scenes, that might not get recognition or ever be known, but without the work they do, everything would collapse. I think of my mother and all the women who’ve done the best they could with all they had and as a result made a world of a difference. I think of the women escaping war-torn countries, or women living with those conditions, and the strength they have just can’t be put into words.
"I think if people were to take one thing away from International Women’s Day, it would be that the appreciation of the work women do should not be confined to one day. We all have women in our lives that we would be completely lost without. Make sure you take the time to appreciate the work women in your life do every day no matter what it may be. Be supportive and always be kind.
"Overall, I haven’t faced any major issues because of my gender. I’m lucky that my parents raised me to think I can do anything I set my mind do, and gender was never a limitation. In my college and work life, I’ve never been restricted because I’m a woman, and never felt that I couldn’t work on something because of my gender. However despite all of that, in day-to-day life, we can’t always control what other people think. Although a very, very small minority, there are people who haven’t reacted too kindly to me being a Muslim woman. Although I’m not sure if that had more to do with me being a Muslim than a woman!
"At the end of the day, my parents raised me and my siblings with the belief we could do anything we wanted. That belief was instilled in me, so I didn’t let any obstacles hinder me, and knew that even during the difficult times, I always had my family’s support. My mum and dad have always been really supportive and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
"I meet so many women who inspire me every day. There are women that inspire me career wise, there are women who inspire me by their kindness, and women whose attitudes in life I absolutely love. Obviously my mother would be one, but also my mother’s friends. I’m always in awe of the things they do on a daily basis. I’ve met women through work who have been beacons of light to me, who have given me the perfect advice at the perfect time, and I’m so grateful for them being in my life. It would be hard to pick one women to shed the spotlight on, but I’m incredibly grateful to be surrounded by amazing, inspiring women who I learn from every single day."