Today was a good day. I spent all day writing applications and learning so much in the process. Interesting enough there were many that I applied for in relation to gender studies.
One of them required a 200 word motivation letter.I got carried away and soon was in 400 words. Now that would gurantee an almost complete rejection from the organization for not following instructions. I had to narrow down my points. In the letter I discussed North Africa, Central Africa, South and Eastern Africa. For North Africa, my focus was in Egypt. I discussed the massive involvement and courageous roles undertaken by women in the uprising that led to the fall of the oppressive Mubarak government. Women took to the streets with hope for better futures, rights and inclusion for themselves and their daughters. A year on, these hopes and dreams have not been met. Instead, reports on international media outlets such as Al Jazeera showcase women abuse, marginalization and suppression.
A very voiced case scenario of ill-treatment in central Africa comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Pains of women in the DRC still surface as they continue to suffer humiliation, stigma, psychological and physical consequences of the days of war and present conditions as well. Even at this time of relative peace, recurring rape continues to terrorize their well being. South Sudan as the newest country in Africa is not an exception either. I was overwhelmed to find out that the women I had met at Fugnido refugee camp in west Ethiopia were some of the first to board planes to return home. In interviews conducted back in 2009, the women were looking forward to go ‘home’ so much; they all had happy memories of past life and eager plans for the future. What has happened now? Women and children are forced to walk for miles in search of safer areas to live in and raise their children because conflict has erupted. The most fertile area in South Sudan, west Equatorial can feed the country and even generate income through surplus production. This has been literally impossible due to the activities of the remnant LRA rebels loosely roaming the jungles. Women travel to north Uganda to buy food, fruit, clothes and other commodities to supply the open-market in dusty streets of South Sudan towns, but this condition is also jeopardized by LRA rebels. These are but few of the ills that society imposes on women on the outside, without doubt, much can be said of the home starting with verbal abuse which is not often talked about.
I wrote this letter with passion, commitment and empathy.
A few hours later, I heard of a domestic dispute around the corner. Guess what advise was given to the woman by her own brother whom she had called to seek support? 'You are the woman aren't you?' This was a very debilitating comment. I had not expected such a comment from a learned and traveled man. This was basically advise that put the woman in a very vulnerable position, and an undermining one as well. It was a painful one as well considering the woman in this position is one of great strength. I thought of women who are not able to even talk back to their husbands, or male counterparts whatever the relation. I thought of the teenager who killed herself in Morocco after being forced to marry a man who raped her a few months ago. I also thought of the documentary that I had partially seen on television about earlier about women who escaped abusive and young age marriages in Afghanistan.
Today has been a good day because I stopped the world around me for a while to think about these and many other women and girls who suffer each second, minute and day. I thought about what I could do to help with the skills I have obtained. I was greatly encouraged by women in Rwanda for their leadership roles, greatly applauded Malawi for electing the first female president and was awed after hearing from a former professor that in his 9 years of teaching in South Africa, there were more female students in college who actually graduated in greater percentages.
And it has been a good day because I came across World Pulse, an outlet for sharing and learning as well. I should say that I take pride in being a woman, because this is what I know how best to be. And I am also honored to become part of World Pulse because here I know, a difference can be made.