Since 1933, the IRC has provided hope and humanitarian aid to refugees and other victims of oppression and violent conflict around the world.
The IRC on Twitter
@LCO_orchestra @RiyadNicolas @cadoganhall Hope it's an amazing night! Thanks for your support.
May 17, 2013
RT @DCComics: Amazing. 2.6k of you gave $150K+ to #WeCanBeHeroes. Big thanks from DCComics @SavetheChildren @mercycorps @theIRC t.co…
May 17, 2013
Cyclone Mahasan update: It spared Myanmar almost entirely, and the storm’s impact in Rakhine State was minimal.
May 17, 2013
Cyclone Mahasan update: Storm weakened & then dissipated Thurs, causing far less damage than had been feared as it passed over Bangladesh.
May 17, 2013
Call Senate Judiciary Cttee & urge them to pass #CIR that includes protections for asylees & #refugees: t.co/4OQrSoAGVt #CIRmarkup
May 16, 2013
VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Frisky Women - Ann Jones in Liberia
February 4, 2008
By The IRC
|Husbands say to "frisky" women who point out work that needs to be done, "You’re equal. You do it." These no-nonsense women are cleaning up their neighborhood in Topoe Village in Montserrado County. Photo: Rebecca Freeman|
|The International Rescue Committee is working with women's advocate Ann Jones to help women in war zones — survivors of conflict, displacement and sexual and domestic violence — use photography to make their voices heard. Ann is blogging the year-long project from West Africa.
If you're just joining us, you can read her earlier posts, starting in Cote d'Ivoire, here. The story continues in Liberia, where Ann is posting updates and photos on Mondays and Thursdays.
Voinjama, Liberia The most powerful radio station in Liberia belongs to UNMIL, the United Nations Mission in Liberia. Everybody listens to UNMIL, even though UNMIL pipes some fairly heavy-handed propaganda into the air. Every morning you can catch reggae legend Joseph Hill singing, “Stand up and do something for yourself.” Half the unemployed men in Liberia must be rousted from bed by Joe Hill nagging:
“Can’t you be a mechanic?
Can’t you teach yourself to paint a house?
. . .Can’t you make a pair of shoes?
Can’t you do something with the tailor?
Get up and do something for yourselves
Rise up and work!”
For women, UNMIL radio has other ideas. “You’re a woman,” the syrupy male announcer says. “You can be anything you want to be. Be proud of yourself. You’re beautiful.” Then comes John Lennon singing his Yoko anthem: “I love you, now and forever.” Men may need a Rasta push to get to work, but women don’t need another love song.
Love is what gets too many in trouble. Women talking about violence against women, always name—near the top of the list—“denial.” That’s the violence done to a girl or woman by a man who seduces her with promises of love “now and forever,” impregnates her, and then denies paternity. That’s what women in Dougoumai say the local magistrate recently did to another young woman. The Women’s Action Group tried to help her during her pregnancy, but they say she often went without food for days on end. I meet her when she comes to a women’s meeting without her new baby. She’s taken it to the magistrate’s office and left it on his desk.As the husband of Oritha, a photographer from Kolahun, remarked: “IRC is making the women frisky.”
Oritha responded, “IRC just told me my rights. I can figure out the rest myself.”
Maybe women have been listening to the wrong song on UNMIL radio. All at once there seem to be a lot of them rising up to do something for themselves.
Next up on the morning radio roster is “Everyday Talk” with cohosts Sharon and Fauzia. Their show is nothing like the ponderous night time talk shows aimed at men
who call in to voice their opinions about whether Samuel Doe or Charles Taylor was the better president. Sharon and Fauzia ask real questions like, “Is there any future in loving a married man or woman?” And when all the callers say they’d never do it, Sharon and Fauzia say, “Hey, it’s goin’ on out there right now, people! Get real!”
It’s nearing graduation time, and Fauzia sends out congratulations to her “little sister” about to “come out” from the University of Liberia: “Be all that you can be,” she says. “Don’t get married now. Go for the Master’s first.” Sharon and Fauzia are smart and funny. They give good advice, and they don’t take any crap. A male caller addresses Sharon as “dear.” She says, “ My name is Sharon. You got that?”
Never underestimate the revolutionary potential of a woman president. Suddenly women show up in jobs held only by men before, and in Liberia men cannot object. Even die hard male chauvinists admit that men destroyed the country. In Lofa County everyone lives in the midst of ruins. Men go to the bush to cut poles from which they construct a simple house frame. They fill the frame with mud and grass and roof it with thatch or, if they can afford it, corrugated zinc. All around stand the ruins of substantial and attractive concrete houses that few can afford to build anymore. Domestic architecture has reverted to an earlier century, thanks to the misrule of men.
Photographer Hajah Kamara and her proud husband, snapped by Hajah’s camera partner. Photo: Komassa MalayIt’s the hour of women in Liberia. Frisky women. I’m walking though Voinjama with the photographers when we meet a security guard who happens to be married to one of them. He poses with his arm around his wife while her partner takes their picture. Beaming, he says, “I never knew girls could snap.” His wife Hajah says, “Girls can do anything.” It’s a new feeling for the photographers, but it’s growing on them. In the next street we come upon an incredible sight. A woman on a motorcycle. A big one. Wearing boots and jeans, she’s straddling the machine, preparing to ride. She looks like one tough cookie. The photographers encircle her, snapping as fast as they can. She eases back on her bike and gives the women a big smile. The shot they want. Then she dons her helmet, revs her bike, and peels off. The photographers burst into cheers, waving goodbye. They tell me excitedly who she is. As the superintendant of roads, she rides her motorcycle all over the county, supervising repairs.
A classy role model for frisky women: The Lofa County Superintendant of Roads. Photo: Annie KoiwuThere aren’t a lot of role models yet in Liberia for these new frisky women. But the few that exist are fine. Many NGOs, including IRC, still offer women training in tie dye and soap making; and women gratefully learn these modest skills. But what they really want to be is Sharon or Fauzia. Or President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. What they really want to be is County Superintendant of Roads.