During the month of May 2020 when we were still experiencing the harsh impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, I began a quarantine project. People were doing a variety of things, from being bored at home and doing nothing to being bored at home and starting their businesses, freelancing, and learning how to make money through the Internet. Some people may have even found the time while employed or unemployed to finally do things around the house that they had always wanted to do or take up hobbies that they never had time for before.
Since I could not take a physical vacation somewhere in the world, I would take a mental vacation around the world for this new quarantine project on the Internet. This project started out as a fun project simply to know what was going on in certain countries with the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly in China. However, I quickly realized the access I had to women around the world, who were mostly home under government restrictions of ensuring that everyone was quarantined in their homes. During this time, many people turned to the Internet for work and I had plenty of work to give after realizing that I could get more than just a COVID-19 story. My efforts for obtaining COVID-19 stories was switched to obtaining a story from a woman in at least 30 countries.
The first woman I reached out to about this project was a woman I had only hired once before, a year earlier, for some short article writing, so I was familiar with her work. I had no idea where this project would go, or even if she would understand it. She had the hardest job of all the women because I did not have any guidelines at all for her. I only asked her to tell me something about her life as a woman, not even knowing what she would return to me. Once she returned her story to me, I knew exactly where this project was going. That woman was Valerie from Nigeria, giving significance to this project because while I initiated it in New Mexico, USA, the very first story came from a woman in Africa.
I am Sehar from Afghanistan. I grew up in a small family in the Kunduz province of Afghanistan. My family is an open-minded family. In the very first years of my life, my family didn’t allow me to study because it is a tradition in my country. When I graduated from school, I wanted to study abroad, but it didn’t happen. However, I have always been very patient with my achievements.
I was upset that I could not study, but my patience paid off. My aunt was a very kind and very independent-minded woman, so she asked my dad if he would allow me to study and he agreed. I studied law at one of the best universities in Afghanistan. I was very interested in writing articles and so I started my own blog when I was 20 years old.
Our culture and traditions are very rich and old, but it doesn’t give equal rights for women as it gives for men. One of the things that I don’t like about our culture is that it doesn’t allow women to work outside. One of the things that I like about my culture is that women are somewhat respected. because men are very sensitive about the fame and respect of their women.
As an Afghan woman, I have always struggled to do the things that I want. For example, I wanted to have my own business when I graduated from school, but it was not possible when I was younger. Today, I now work in an online store. There is always something that the people of my country struggle with. I can say that I am a successful woman. As a woman, working outside is not a very easy thing. But I made it happen and I say that it is a success. Being successful is not very easy. However, I think that if someone wants to do something, s/he should work hard to get it done.
There are lots of successful women in Afghanistan. You can call them, ‘Heroes of cold war’. They have always been my inspiration, especially women who are members of parliament. They teach us that being a woman is a very good thing, but being a close-minded woman is a bad thing. I remember that once a woman said, ‘Wait for sometimes, your dreams will come true one day if you want’.
Afghanistan and Afghan women have always been in news’ headlines. Being a woman in Afghanistan is very hard. Yesterday, the Taliban attacked a hospital and killed 14 pregnant women. This is very frustrating for me. In our country, hearing sad news like this is a very ordinary thing, but I should say that living in Afghanistan has something more to it.
My message to all women right across the world is, ‘Be strong and don’t lose your temper. You will succeed in your life one day. I know that women are strong but allow men to help you as they need your help also. Don’t allow others to make you weak. Instead, become stronger and stronger every day.
I am a woman who was born in Albania. Born at a time when communism was on the verge of collapse and the struggle for freedom had begun. I grew up in a time of transit, kidnapping, hunger, and corruption. I grew up feeling prejudiced because I was am a woman. I grew up feeling the weight of being a woman since I was a child.
I grew up fearing that I would never succeed because I was a woman and being a woman in my country is not easy. Over the years, I was able to see the position of the female gender in my life, in my social circle, at school or work, and I knew it would not be easy and I had to fight hard for it and keep in a world where masculinity had taken root for centuries.
I didn’t realize that just being proud of being born a woman or supporting the female gender would often lead to a problem or a closed path in my life. I grew up in the capital city of Albania with a big dream; to help others by always focusing on the female gender. I have always wanted to be the voice of the obedient, violated, disrespected women, or even those who have not had the opportunity to be educated or to read more or what not, and for those who haven’t discovered their feminine world.
My wish has always been that every woman, not only in Albania, but everywhere in the world, would be able to understand her values. Understand that she was born a woman before she became a friend, a sister, a girlfriend, a wife, or even a mother. A woman needs to know how much she is worth, how much she weighs, or what she deserves before being something else.
We, the women of Albania, understand that no matter how violated or disrespected we may be, we can make it if we have the support of another woman. And this is something I had to understand after many years of my life. I realized that a woman in Albania survives by the strength of her ancestors.
Today’s women in Albania are the ashes of their ancestors. Their strength has helped us till today to seek the best in ourselves and to share it wherever we can or wherever it’s needed. And this is something that here in Albania is very little understood or sometimes not at all.
We, the women of Albania, perhaps even unconsciously, choose to support every woman who is or feels like that. Women in Albania choose to inherit to their future generations the best they have, the most beautiful part of themselves that they have discovered through their lives which has not always been easy. Even my grandmother, just like every woman who is a friend, a sister, a wife, and a mother, she chose to inherit the essence of her fighting spirit.
Often in our conversations, her eyes were filled with memories which she uttered in such a melodious calm voice that in the most silent way the mantle of memories covered us. She spoke for herself, for women, for being a woman in times when everything was black and white, for those times when if you had a little, you had everything. For those times when you were somebody’s woman before being a newborn female child.
She always used to say; being a woman in Albania means growing up in the dark but knowing how to give light. To grow in the middle of a war and to give peace. Growing up among illiteracy and writing as a romantic poet. To be broken through battles thousands of times and to fight without giving up. We, Albanian women, are like that thin line that separates joy from anger, love from hatred, or strength from weakness. We are the balance and we must never give up for ourselves, nor for the older generations, and above all, not for the generations to come.
Among everything else, this was my favorite, because this time-traveling with my grandmother, for me, was the thread that separated the surrender from the desire to move on. Every time I heard the painful stories of the female world during her lifetime in Albania, it hurt me, but the strength inherited from among generations didn’t let me lose hope.
Thanks to her stories, I am here at this moment today, writing not only about the story of an Albanian woman but about every woman who believes the truth, her dreams, her voice, the unique essence of her soul. Being grateful and admiring my heritage culture, I choose to say that today I have gone through every challenge, every struggle of being a woman in a world with male dominance. From the grace of ancient women, I am today a fulfilled, listened, and respected woman. I am a confident woman who is not afraid to express or seek what she feels.
Today, as any woman here in Albania, I rely on the strength of my female friends, sisters, colleagues, and every woman around me. Among them, I have come to realize that every woman in the world can succeed if she fights for her voice, if she believes in her soul, as long as she believes in her path, if she does not give up even the most bitter trials. Today, my grandmother would be very content to see and hear that even the male gender is now fighting together with us, giving us everything that has been missing for generations.
This is how our ancestors have inherited their powerful soul not only to us, the females but also, to the males. We are the women born in Albania; a new powerful generation inspired from the past always wanting to fight for the future.
Through the years, the unequal status of Albanian women has been a constant presence. International Women’s Day may be the only day the society and families honor women. The other three-hundred and sixty-four days, many Albanian women must live by an oppressive, devaluing, and antiquated code in a very male-dominated culture.
This is particularly evident in rustic territories, for example, Maliq where I was born and grew up. Maliq is a small town located near Korça in south east of Albania. Women there need to live by an abusive, degrading and obsolete code in a patriarchal society. Ladies are limited by their husband or fathers’ authority and denied choosing themselves what to do and where to go.
I remember when I was 18 and wanted to move to the Capital for studies and my father was mad about it. He could not bear the fact of me living on my own, apart from our family in complete freedom. He, as well as other males, strongly disbelieved that young ladies could handle life alone.
My family still shared a home with my grandfathers at that time. Therefore, this was something they would never consider. Nobody understood that I was in need for a better life and I really tried hard to change that traditional attitude.
So, I decided to apply to the University of Tirana without anybody knowing. I waited for two months until I got a positive answer and then decided to give the big news. What I expected from my parents was completely beyond my belief. I was banned to proceed with the studies since it was far from home. They refused to do the financing and so on. I had nothing but my dreams, but this did not stop me following what I had started.
I borrowed some money from my cousins and left the town. The capital was indeed very different from what I had expected but I got used to things soon. I started a job, and, in a few months, I was able to pay my own bills. This was the first time I presented myself and showed everybody who did not believe I would make it. I realized how wonderful I felt by surprising my father.
Yet in 2020, after continuous awareness activities, women still struggle and mostly emphasize the importance of having a closer relationship with their family members. “This is much more important than our daily basic needs,” the women repeated together in one voice on their Women’s Day movement.
Quotes from Albanian women:
“Now I have a different life, I get out of my house in the morning and I have objectives for the day”.
“I am learning new skills which are opening new opportunities for my life”.
“I have a better time thanks to my friends with whom I work with”.
Being a woman means being a warrior for change because she is the source of changing everything, her life, thinking, shape, home, and her children. Whether she is a mother, daughter, or wife. Being a woman means you are half of society, while you have a special day to celebrate every year when everyone glorifies your value in society. but let’s focus on one woman’s life.
In a region in this whole world, I was born in Algeria, my country. I grew up in a very conservative family with my father, mother, and brothers. My father was an engineer working hard to provide us with food and clothes and maybe going out for a walk to the sea every summer, and my mom stayed at home taking care of us. My childhood was good because of our house that made me very happy. It was small and had a garden full of plants.
Suddenly my father decided to move to another big house and there I lived until now. It was the first time that I knew the meaning of sadness because it was not easy for me to leave that house. At the same time, that moment was the beginning of a new life, new friends, a new school and a new world, so I spent half of my childhood in our new house and while I was growing up, I realized that my childhood was influenced by one hugely powerful woman who is my MOM! She was the source of inspiration and always keen to educate me and take care of me.
My mother is a strong woman in the full sense of the word, despite her stay at home without any ambition, but her children were the project she worked on every day to achieve her desire to succeed and she did. I grew up and became an ambitious social girl, who loves life, and I set many goals when I was in high school. Until I went to university, I dreamt of becoming a teacher of the French language, so I chose this file from my deep heart, but here my struggles began, because I suffered from panic attacks that made everything hard. Just waking up every day and going to university was hard. My psychological suffering shattered my dreams and my aspirations. So, I became just a person seeking to finish his studies as soon as possible. Then I graduated from college and didn’t give in to my fears, so I started looking for my passion, Asking myself: do I really want to be a teacher? Before that let me tell you a little bit about my community around me.
I grew up in a society that has a fossilized mindset against women, wherein their eyes, a woman is just a pleasant being who stays at home, cares for children, cooks, and cares for men. That’s why my dreams as a woman were not that much so I looked for a job that would please me and my conservative community. In this way, I decided to become a recipe writer because I love everything about food, and I’m still working on it until I achieve success.
I want to tell every woman to remember that your emotion is the strength, your mood and your precarious thoughts are the power of change and know that your dreams will come true if you decide, neither society nor anyone else will prevent you and remember without you, society would not be complete.
My name is Patricia. I am from Andorra. I grew up in La Vieja, the capital of Andorra. I work as a nurse in a hospital in Escaldes. I always wanted to be a nurse. I searched for job stability, which is not impacted by a recession. Working in a hospital is incredible. No day is the same. I like nursing because it’s a profession that never stops giving. You learn new things every day, and the opportunity for growth is almost unlimited. I feel so good inside when I see improvement in my patients and when giving emotional support by holding hands of family members who have just experienced tragedy. My sister left Andorra to study in Spain and used to come back home every weekend. Andorra connects to both Spain and France by highways.
My mother always inspired me as a woman. She followed her dreams. She was always there for me whenever I asked her to do it. My father was a Hotel director. The country is primarily sustained by the tourism industry (more than 9 million people visit Andorra each year). I studied a Nursing degree which allowed me to work wherever I wanted. I worked in Spain for a while but then I realized I missed my country, the mountains, the people and my family. I decided to go back 7 years ago, and I am pleased I did it. Andorra’s healthcare system has 3.6 physicians for every 1,000 residents. Many world-class medical services are offered locally but are also integrated into the neighboring healthcare systems in France and Spain.
Andorra is a beautiful and safe place to live. The safety of the streets in Andorra is yet another advantage of the welfare in this privileged state. With a virtually non-existent crime rate, Andorra is one of the safest countries in the world. The cost of living in Andorra is affordable compared to Spanish cities like Barcelona and Madrid. Especially for things like accommodation, transportation, food and utilities, Andorra’s cost of living tends to be 30% below what you’d expect in major world cities.
The public health system is exceptional and enables via international agreements, benefitting from healthcare abroad. Abortion is illegal for women under all circumstances, forcing women to travel to Catalonia and France for the procedure. If you are offered employment in Andorra, your employer should sponsor you for a work permit.
You will ideally need to speak Catalan, Spanish or French, or all three languages: the first two are more critical and the official language is Catalan (bureaucracy will need to be conducted in that language). Catalan is the official language of Andorra. It is the first language of only about 10 million people worldwide, so it’s likely that most newcomers to Andorra won’t speak it already. However, being English-speaking is also an advantage, given the number of English-speaking visitors to Andorra. Once you get past the language barrier, Andorra is a particularly friendly and welcoming place. Most Andorrans speak French or Spanish as a second language. English is on the rise, but it’s still most common in tourist areas. It is also started playing a more prominent role in Andorra’s school system at international schools in Andorra.
Andorra has a well-established business network. With business schedules adapted to the needs of the tourism sector, Andorra is known for its highly competitive pricing strategy and its wide-ranging supply of products and services. Andorra is in the process of improving and redesigning its routes of communication to make it much more accessible by land and air. For Andorrans, the closest major airports are in Barcelona (2.5 hours away by car) and Toulouse (3 hours).
The Andorran Tax System is probably the most significant benefit of living in Andorra – you’ll have to pay a maximum rate of 10% taxes of your income. Andorra is one of the smallest states in Europe, bordering Spain and France in the region of the Pyrenees. With a population of 80,000 people, my country is more often known as a ski and shopping destination.