By Heidi Trautmann
When I opened my mailbox on 8 March I read a very sweet message sent by a friend and I know that these words come from his heart…
I express my most sincere gratitude, love and respects
to our grandmothers, mothers, wives, sisters, friends and sweethearts,
to all the women of the world.
I never have celebrated women’s day before in my life, mother’s day, yes, when you were supposed to stay in bed to get mom’s special breakfast, but the wave of congratulations going around on this day of March is my first experience. Is it perhaps that women’s initiative, wisdom, power is needed more in these times of trouble, that the men in power need some more shoulders to carry the load of responsibilities, a cry for help?
Whatever, I think it is a very sensible decision to turn to the support of Cypriot women as our First Lady Meral Eroğlu made clear when she addressed the crowd of some hundred women invited to her personal reception for the occasion at the Merrit Hotel in Nicosia, also including a message from her husband:
‘….the main condition to be a modern country is to increase the activities of women in each field; it should never be forgotten that women have a big contribution for the prosperity of our state, for the struggle of existence and freedom which has been continuing for about a century. According to me, the expression ‘there is a woman behind each successful man’ is true, and women have a big effect on the success of our state. Women have undertaken very active missions during the establishment of our state and I do not doubt that they will do their duties during the next national and communal processes with their knowledge, culture and education’….
…and his wife Meral added that women should come forward with plans to change things and she would have an open ear for everyone. I met with many well known faces of active women: the first female police officer in a high position, I met Perihan, a centre point in the media, now retired, many artist friends, poets and actresses. I had come with Neriman Cahit who is most occupied with her new book. There was Dr. Sibel Siber quite successful with her first book and another doctor, retired, Dr. Ayten Berkalp whose life story I would love to hear.
International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women's Day is a national holiday.. The first International Women's Day event was run in 1911. So that makes 101 years.
In the afternoon I had visited two exhibitions organized by two Lion Clubs, in the Ismet Güney Art Centre and in the Atatürk Cultural Centre in Nicosia. I was surprised to find so many women, altogether about 50, active in the arts, with about 160 works in both venues. Many landscapes describing the beauty of their country, traditional scenes like women baking bread, still lives and you could feel the passion they have put into it. Many talents among them, some professional, in general a lovely heart touching exhibition. There were some water colours which were absolutely perfect.
I talked to the president of the Girne Özgürada Lions Club, Mrs Şerife Çelikli, who had also participated in the exhibition; and I talked to the ladies of the Girne Akdeniz Lions Club committee, Mrs Göksel Özdil and Mrs Gülbür Gazioglu, all very active in charity work that is the basic philosophy of the organization. I learnt that there are nine clubs, two of them are youth clubs whose members have - after some charity work done by themselves - realized how superficial their lives have been so far. The aim is to help the needy, like old or disabled people; they would regularly do mani- and pedicure for the old and helpless, run errands for them; they have organized eye checks in schools, blood donations for hospitals; they deliver food parcels to poor people; support financially urgent operations for people who cannot afford it. It makes these women happy to help, I can see that.
There were many other events around the island, poetry readings for example, and on two weekends festivals in the Girne Peace Park which I have already attended last year. Stalls with local handicraft, national food and preserves offered; charity stalls explaining their programmes; and over the day entertainment for young and old, dances and music, ranging from traditional to tango, even poetry was read by Neşe Yaşin, the president of the Writers Association. All for women, to help them earn money, said organizer Dr. Özay Kalyoncu, to make them aware of their rights, and to celebrate the day together.
Every man and woman needs recognition and respect for the work they do. The best results could be obtained when these two energies would work together on the same level in all fields concerning our world.
PS: Please find the photos concerning the exhibition under 324 a!