By Ava A. Maina Ayiera
When I was younger I thought only polar bears and seals lived in Iceland, no human beings! Now, I know how to pronounce Mount Eyjafjallajokull and even spell it without Googling it first! I know that Iceland has a population of about 317,000 and its capital city is Reykjavik.
It is nothing short of amazing that a country which has no known diplomatic relations with Kenya, a country whose culture, people, language and way of life is perhaps as far removed from mine as the 5,300 miles that separates Mount Eyjafjallajokull and Nairobi, has profoundly affected my week, my plans and my life. By 15th April my bags were packed and I was ready to travel the following day to Puerto Vallarta for the Gender Justice Dialogue 2010, which for me promised a space that vibrant discussion where “feminism” is not a taboo word, intellectual reflection was possible and yet real discussions on real justice would happen.
And these events made me think, isn’t that the story of our lives as women. I do not know what journeys and stories of women’s rights, women’s empowerment emerge from Iceland, yet their stories, my stories will connect and mirror each other; stories of women determined to realize equality, to redress discrimination, to resist the degradation that comes with patriarchy and to seek justice. We are connected across the world as women, even if our experiences are not. We keenly feel the unfairness of discrimination meted out because we are women, the anger when conflict victimizes us as women even if we have never been through it. We are connected. The Gender Justice Dialogue is a place to realize, acknowledge, celebrate and learn from that connectedness. I wish I was there to share it.