Mizy and I met upon my return to Australia from Ghana in 2010. After getting to know her I was in awe of her strength as a person, but more importantly to me at that time, as a woman. I needed to be around strong African women to help me transition back into Australian life and Mizy was there for me. I respect her and value her forthright nature because it comes from the most caring, compassionate place that can only come from someone who’s seen so much and has so much to give.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am from Somalia, East Africa. I am 48 years old and a mother of 6 and a grandmother of 8. (Number 9 is soon to come). I come from a big family with a lot of women. As an African woman, being a woman is a privilege and even though I come from a society where women are the second citizens, the way I was raised and the love I received from my mum, sisters and aunts has given me a self-respect and self-worth. I grew up to respect other women, protect them, defend them and mostly being the voice of those who don’t have voices.
What are your feelings about being female?
At some point in my life there was a time when I felt not worthy as a woman because of the societal perception towards women. I used to think that I was married to be a servant to a male but that changed after I started to travel and I saw how wonderful it is to be an African woman. I started to feel that I am a woman who deserves everything and that I have everything I need in life which is being loved, cherished for who I am. This is being a mum, daughter, aunt and so on.
What does Sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood means all women are the same. We are all sisters and related to each other in one way or another. Our goals are to be the mums of this world and above everything, whether you come from the city or the jungle. For me it doesn’t matter what other people think we are as women. Without women there will be nothing. Without that Sisterhood there would be nothing to look forward to because women are the managers of the household, the organisers, the everything. There’d be no happy life without a woman in it.
Do you feel you connect well with other women?
Yes, absolutely. I can most certainly say that I am very well-connected to women. Most of the time I find myself surrounded by all kinds of women and I am proud of that.
Please tell us about an experience you’ve had with another woman, family, friend or stranger, which demonstrates connectedness and Sisterhood.
I have many experiences with other women but the most recent one was when I saw one of my friends had a child and is a sole parent. The child is now 7. The father is in the picture but doesn’t do anything or contribute. No playground, no finances. She’s been supporting her child 100%. Suddenly the man, ex-husband, found out she was beginning to date. The father said he’d take the child for the holidays. This was a surprise. At the end of the holidays he refused to bring back the child. He is an ex-criminal and drug-abuser, jobless. She gets government help and works part-time and just lost her child like that. She was so scared of him she called me and asked what she was supposed to do. I told her to act, get her son. I told her where to go. She said Legal Aid told her to wait two weeks. Yet he had to go the school the next day. I supported her and pushed her to do something to get her son back. She did and she talked to people and somebody finally said they’d help her. Without me I don’t think she’d have got her child back. This occurred on Wednesday and by Sunday it was resolved.
Please tell us about an experience you’ve had with another woman, family, friend or stranger, which demonstrates (dis)connectedness and Sisterhood.
A few years back I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. I was almost dying and in that experience I did some soul-searching. At some point I started to blame a lot of things for my situation. I was cursed. I was an unloved child because I was different. I blamed my religion. I wanted to have support so badly from family and friends but also I was angry as it took me so many years to discover I was sick. I had suspected back home but had been dismissed. This time I had to deal with it. One female member of my family, very close to me, instead of being supportive told me that I am no longer a member of the family. All I wanted and needed was my family support but I didn’t get it. They didn’t give me a chance to heal my wounds and see where I was coming from. I felt like it was a double punishment. That is an example (dis)connectedness.
Thanks so much for your time and for sharing your experiences.