#ChooseToChallenge is the theme for International Women's Day 2021.

The message organizers the world over want to put out is "a challenged world is an alert world," the International Women's Day (IWD) website says.

Whilst the celebration of IWD around the world takes place once a year, Ileen Dickenson says her challenge every day is to put food on the table each day.

Ileen Dickson is 44 years old, a mother of three children she continues to provide for her family by various types of shell money necklaces and bracelets at the Auki market.

Ileen is from Langa Langa lagoon, an area known for its shell money making skills – a skill that is passed down from past generations.

Ileen started her business four years ago and says it has not been an easy journey.

"Losing your partner in life means you have to do extra to make sure everything is good for your children.

"And today I celebrate my own struggle and challenges as I remember other women around the world who face the same situation," she said.

Ileen says she works seven days a week just to provide for her small family.

"Everyday I think about how we will survival as a family, so I started this small business and it helps me a lot, especially meeting my children’s needs.

"I love being a mother and I know my support for my three children will give them a better life.”

Asked about her thoughts on the 2021 International Women’s Day theme #ChooseToChallenge Ileen says to her it is about challenging yourself as a woman.

"I always share my experience with other women who seek advice and mostly I tell them that women are the backbone of the house who can change society.

"Mothers are always fighting for a better life for their family, so it is important that mothers support each other.

"I want them to see what life is to be a woman, and how you can do things for yourself, and be able to support yourself and other women,” she added.

She says that as an example her small business helps other women in her community, some supply the shells while others help her produce the bracelets and neck laces.

Ileen says that while things are tough with the current pandemic she will continue to work hard and grow her business. She also has other plans, one of which is in tourism.

“We are building three small bungalows, and my aim is people can come and experience our lifestyle, and maybe participate in making these shell money products,” a determined Ileen says.

Ileen says that she now realizes that her journey really started when there was hopelessness after her partner died, and it was through that experience that she found strength, strength she never knew she had.

“Struggles and challenges is always going to happen, but it is how you face it, I try to stay positive and believe that through prayers I can do it.”