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Wednesday 8th March 2017 marks the 106th officially recognised International Women’s Day (IWD). The original aim – to achieve full gender equality for women around the world – has still not been realised. World leaders have promised to achieve gender equality by 2030 – but at the current rate of progress, this will take more than 100 years.

In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap won’t close until 2186. As this striking animation from the Guardian and this infographic from UN Women make abundantly clear, the gender divide is very much a reality. The campaign theme for this year’s IWD is #BeBoldForChange.

Who is Hussain wholly endorses this positive, proactive and passionate call to forge a better world. As an organisation, Who is Hussain, naturally draws its inspiration from Hussain. It follows that to truly understand Hussain, we must look to those that inspired him and where better than his mother Fatima?

Fatima’s brief but momentous life on this Earth provided a masterclass in women’s rights. To honour Fatima’s birth anniversary which happens to very nearly coincide with International Women’s Day, we wish to shed some light on just one of our projects that tries to shape a better future for women in the world.

Helping the Women in Sri Lanka

An unfortunate situation in the heart of Colombo presides, where many of the elder womenfolk are left destitute and abandoned by their families as they are too old or sick to care for, whilst young girls are traumatised as a result of unsuitable home environments. The need to help those less fortunate was recognised by the representatives of Who Is Hussain – Sri Lanka who organised a food distribution initiative to cater to those affected.

On the evening of Monday 24th October 2016, Who is Hussain – Sri Lanka representatives and a small group of 10 volunteers, consisting of both Muslims and non-Muslims, visited the Sri Lankadhara Society, in the commercial capital of Colombo to distribute cooked meals and spend time with the 110 residents of the Lankadhara Society Home.

As part of our #ItStartsWithYou campaign, volunteers spent valuable time with the residents, predominantly elderly women who have come from disadvantaged homes, rejected by their families once widowed or too weak to look after themselves, and young girls between the ages of 5 and 18 years who are orphaned, abandoned or victimised. A total of 110 meals were distributed to these individuals.

Volunteers, through their actions and kind gestures lived the message of Hussain ibn Ali, showing that humanity far supersedes a person’s place in society, race, religion and creed. Meals were well received by the residents and staff of the home commented on the generous contributions of our volunteers. One representative stated, “Hussain inspired us to feed the elders and orphans”.

In this age of constant connectivity, the desire to digitally detox is a growing phenomenon. We must be careful however to refrain from cutting off from world events completely. As our case study from Sri Lanka portrays, the world faces very real issues and the women of the world are hard done by on most fronts. Now is not the time to disengage. As Ruth Whippman so clearly proposes: channel your anxiety into activism. Volunteer, protest, donate.

Find out more about our organisation here, or click here to find out more about the story of Hussain.

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