By Mia MacDonald
I learned that Mother’s Day is celebrated every year in Guatemala on May 10th. Apparently, it’s a popular holiday. That’s why, it was explained to me, the traffic was bumper-to-bumper leaving Guatemala City on a Sunday. And why so many firecrackers have been exploding nearby. I also learned this evening that many women, mothers and not, made epic journeys to get here. Two Burmese women had an 18-hour layover in the Los Angeles airport, spending most of it on two chairs (each). A Ghanaian parliamentarian spent three days travelling: just missing connecting flights in London and then Miami, and being forced to stay the night. While she finally arrived in Antigua, her luggage hasn’t.
A small group of women from southern Africa spent more than 20 hours on planes. Just about all the while they carried on a spirited dialogue about how women will, can and have redefined democracy and ways of replenishing their ranks with women “in the morning” of their lives. (Some of the voyagers, Hope Chigudu of Zimbabwe averred, were in “the afternoons of their lives.”) This afternoon, they recreated some of it in a multi-part presentation cum performance. They also interspersed the queries of a “bad-mannered” man who, mid-journey and after much listening in, joined the conversation. “If democracy was a woman or a feminist,” he asked, “what would she do?” As they shared with us today, the women travelers, younger and older, were more than ready with answers.