I am getting used to being the only woman. It is strange being the only white European on the staff, and it feels even more starkly obvious as the only woman.
In a patriarchal culture this is hardly surprising, as women are expected to stay at home with the family and attend to domestic chores. The roles of men and women are very different here. I find myself in an ambiguous third category; I am not a man, neither am I someone treated like a woman in their own culture. I am a white woman, not fitting easily into either gender category.
But still, I am a woman. I was moved this week when at a community meeting in the refugee camp four women attended (along with 30 other men) and spoke up about their perspective on the projects we were discussing. At the end they turned to me and said ‘you understand us, you are a woman too, and you understand the problems we face’. My eyes welled with tears suddenly and I smiled warmly at them. Women after my own heart.
Life is a struggle for these women. Yet here were passionate and motivated individuals determined to do something to improve the lives of their families. There is something unique shared across cultures between women, an understanding I saw in their eyes in that moment. It touched my heart and encouraged me. I no longer felt like the only woman.