Mar 06, 2018
This year, International Women’s Day brings a call for us to #PressforProgress in joining together to help advance gender parity across society. We are invited to ‘Choose our Action,’ an area to specifically concentrate on in our sphere of influence.
At Beyond the Streets we could pick many of the suggestions to describe us. What jumped out for me was the call to ‘Celebrate Women’s Achievements’. We are privileged to have regular contact with women whose achievements, against many odds, are well worth celebrating.
How about ‘Heather’ who was first sexually exploited as a teenager. She was beaten up and had no family or trustworthy friends to turn to. She has gone on to gain a university degree and has overcome her fears to trust those she lives with in safe accommodation.
We could mention ‘Anna’ whom we speak to on the phone. She felt stuck selling sex and not knowing what else to do instead. She now tells us each week what steps she has taken to train as an exercise instructor, what contacts she has made to find employment and how she is learning to look for life beyond what others tell her is impossible.
These women and many like them whom we get to know help us to ‘challenge statements that limit women.’ There is nothing like the label ‘prostitute’ to limit women whose ‘choices’ were very limited when they first found themselves coerced into selling sex; or whose financial need of feeding their children or not didn’t seem much like a ‘choice;’ or whose addictions needed funding after the effects of childhood trauma needed numbing somehow.
It’s not rocket science, it just involves being around to listen and encourage women as they work out their real options and dare to see that they are more than a label. ‘Joanne’ tells it best:
‘Thank you for everything. You have been amazing being able to help me draw upon my strengths of sorts that they are. If it wasn’t for your support I know I would be in a dreadful place still but I’m not. The reality is I can make my own choices/decisions and you’ve been instrumental in making me able to realise my own potential. It’s that that is wondrous.’- Beyond Support Client