My name is Professor Shirley Randell, and I am 71 today on International Women’s Day. I hold a PhD in Education Policy Implementation and I am an International Technical Advisor in Public Policy Reform, Education and Gender Equality.
My dreams for Rwandan women are for them to have the same opportunities that I and my daughters have had and my granddaughters and great granddaughters will have in Australia: warm and loving family relationships, loyal and caring male and female friends, deep spirituality, good health and physical fitness, opportunities to develop their full potential through continuous learning, and capacity to make a difference to the world by contributing to equality and empowerment for all people they come in contact with.
My earliest strongest girlhood dream for many years was to be a medical missionary doctor in Africa and to help to change the world for underprivileged people. An early marriage when I was 18 years old prevented me from achieving my ambition to study medicine.
However, with support from my husband and children I was able to continue my education at the age of 30, complete a PhD at the age of 47, and here I am in Africa in my 70s, but a doctor of philosophy, not a doctor of medicine!
And while I cannot pretend to have changed the world, I believe I have been able to contribute to inspiring many women and men in Asia, the Pacific and Africa to set clearer goals and envisage wider horizons for themselves, their families and friends towards changing their own world.
And today I want to cheer for the huge gains the women’s movement has made since the first International Women’s Day was declared 100 years ago. I look forward to continued achievements toward gender equality and women’s empowerment over the next decade in Rwanda, Africa, Australia and the world.