By Sana Altaf Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) From countries as far away as the Philippines, Ethiopia, Nepal and many more, these women in Dubai work tirelessly to ensure that their families back home -- their children or siblings or aging parents -- can lead a life of dignity.
When we talk about women empowerment, we often picture educated and learned independent women. But here in Dubai, women from across the world are creating examples of women empowerment, despite all odds.
They may not hold any college or university degree. They may not have been to elite schools. Some of them may not have even completed their high school. Yet, they single-handedly support their families -- fighting life alone each day.
Thousands of miles away from their homes, from countries as far away as the Philippines, Ethiopia, Nepal and many more, these women work tirelessly to ensure that their families back home -- their children or siblings or old parents -- can lead a life of dignity.
Meet R.H. from the Philippines. She loved her school and wanted to be a teacher. But the death of her mother forced her to marry at a young age. However, the couple could not move ahead with their marriage and broke up.
"I have had to leave my children and father to support them. I want my children to be well-educated," the mother of two teenaged boys told Khaleej Times.
She has been in Dubai for eight years and has been working as a cashier at different supermarkets of Dubai. She lives in a shared accommodation with three other women. During all these years, she has been able to go home only four times.
"I miss my children a lot and I know they need me. But I do not have an option. I have to be strong and fight," R.H. says smiling.
M.Y. was in school when she lost her parents. Being the eldest of the two siblings, she was left with the responsibility of supporting her younger brother.
"I have studied till class 10. I could not carry on with my education because there was no one to earn."
M.Y. had to leave her home country of Ethiopia. With the help of her friends, she came to Dubai.
"I had seen my friends living happily and safely in Dubai. That encouraged me to come here."
While she tries to limit her expenses, she ensures that her brother gets to complete his schooling.
"I do not know how much I can support further. But I am trying my best to at least help him complete his schooling."
With her three teenage children back home in Nepal, K.A. works as a cleaner to help her husband build a house and educate her children. K.A. has studied till 8th standard. Although uneducated, she is proud of being able to give her children education.
"My son is joining college. My two daughters are in school. I want to ensure a safe future for them."
Having been working in Dubai for five years, she says she wanted to support her husband to better their lives.
Her friend A.S. has also left her son and husband in Nepal to earn a living. After her husband met an accident disabling his legs, he has hardly been able to make a living.
She took a job as a cleaner.
"I have not been to school. But at least I can help my family with some money. I will support them as long as I can," says A.S., adding that she misses being with her son.