Today we are celebrating International Women’s Day with the pre-launch of Rosa of the Wild Grass: The story of a Nicaraguan family. It is the incredible real life story of Rosa, a seemingly normal, everyday peasant woman from La Concha, and her fight not only for survival, but for freedom from oppression, poverty, and injustice through decades of political turbulence in Nicaragua.
Rosa is remarkable for her resilience, her compassion, energy, and sheer willpower to do better for herself, but even more so, for her family, friends, and community as a whole. But she is also remarkable in that she is just one of so many women that have taken a leading role in making real change and improving lives through socialist revolution against oppressive dictatorships in Latin America. Fiona Macintosh retells, from Rosa’s own words, what life was like for Nicaraguans under the Somoza dictatorship; her work for the Sandinista Revolution; and beyond it, how she found the courage to keep fighting even when the hopes of Nicaraguans for a better future were dashed by the Contra War and the regression of social advances that followed.
Waving and dancing with hundreds of others ©Fiona Macintosh
Beyond the political turmoil, Rosa overcame many hurdles that are all too common around the world for impoverished women. Rosa was yet another young girl who was denied the right to finish her education because her family couldn’t afford to school daughters as well as sons. But she worked for years to fund her education herself; even when the reward of improved employment opportunities was seemingly not forthcoming. She is yet another woman who became a mother very young because there was no sex or reproductive education given to young girls and boys where she grew up; but she fought to provide for her children and give them the best opportunities she could. She’s another woman who had to deal with a male partner with a drinking problem that put the health and wellbeing of her family at risk; but she was strong and independent enough to decide she could do a better job by herself. Through her whole life she has worked relentlessly; for her living, for social justice, for the malnourished mothers and children that she kept alive and healthy through her community soya kitchen initiative; and ultimately for a better, more dignified, and fairer future for the people of Nicaragua.
Her inspiring story is a reminder to us all that every woman matters. It is a reminder that the real, sustained movement of the world’s poor out of poverty will only be achieved through the active and meaningful participation of ordinary women; women whose roles in making change for the better have historically been marginalised and overlooked.
Now is the time: women like Rosa are already willing, capable, and brave enough to step up. As a global community invested in development and equality, we must simply do all we can to facilitate them in taking this power – and demanding the right to a dignified life – for themselves. Because as Rosa and so many others have shown, when women are empowered to take a leading role for positive change in their communities, everything else follows.
So here’s to you Rosa- and Happy International Women’s Day!
Rosa of the Wild Grass will be published in April, and is now available for pre-order here: http://developmentbookshop.com/rosa-of-the-wild-grass
Editorial and Production Executive, Practical Action Publishing