Friday, March 15, 2013

Snippets of Service—Recapping Two Years of Blogging: Women’s/Girl’s Empowerment and Gender Equality

One thing I have really focused my service on is Women’s/Girl’s Empowerment.  Working at an all girls’ school greatly lends to working in this area.  So I guess you could say that anything I do with my primary project is categorized as girls’ empowerment.  Even my computer lab project is considered girls’ empowerment, because these computers are being used to encourage these girls to advance their computer education and break gender stereotypes by going to University and having a career.  In addition to working with my school, I’ve also worked as a co-director of West GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), which is a girls’ empowerment camp that has been replicated by many Peace Corps volunteers throughout the world.  I’ve also nominated 20 girls to go to camps like these.  I even had one exceptional girl go to two camps.

I’ve also worked, in the more general sense, on gender equality projects.  This past December I got the chance to work with National Camp BUILD (Boys of Uganda in Leadership and Development).  These camps were developed only a couple years ago, because volunteers noticed that empowering the girls alone was not enough.  You can’t just empower girls and hope for the best, because they will still be suppressed by the men around them.  So Camp Build was developed to help sensitize boys to gender equality issues as well as give them some basic education on malaria, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, water and sanitation, and many other topics.

So I guess you could say for me Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality has been a large part, if not all, of my service.  And I’m really happy to see that gender equality and gender stereotypes are changing slowly in Uganda.  I am also pleased to see that these camps, such as Build and Glow, are not only continuing but they are expanding.  There are already plans for 7 of these types of camps, both national and regional, throughout the course of this year.  Beyond this I also see my students being very motivated and more confident than before, especially that one girl that I sent to two camps, Evas.  She is in Senior 3 now and I can tell she has so much more confidence than when I started with her in Senior 1.  She is also very smart, so even though she is only in Senior 3, I have no doubt that she will eventually make it to Unversity.  It’s successes like this that many volunteers never get to see because they happen so far down the line, but nonetheless, we still work to be the catalyst in these situations.

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