Monday, December 7, 2015

Leadership: Gender Equality (Part 3)

This is part 3 of a 4 part series (16 Days to end Gender Based Violence Against Women
Read Part 1Part 2, and Part 4

These two ladies continually surprise me.
Tupo and Kattie 

When I first met Tupokiwe (Toopokeeway) she was seemingly shy and had very conservative views of a woman's role in Malawi. She had a habit of rolling her eyes when I would say something like “if a girl wants, she should be allowed to wear trousers without being seen as a prostitute”. Now she's teaching girls the very same lesson! She is able to look at her traditions and customs with a critical lens and determine for herself what pieces she finds important to keep and what pieces should change.

On the other hand when I met Kattie she was outspoken and seemed hopeful that a world of equal rights for women was just around the corner. She's from a city and already knew that wearing trousers didn't make you a loose woman, it just meant you didn't want to wear skirts all the time. From the beginning I could look to her when I wanted a varied opinion from the girls. I would ask “Is it okay to hit a woman”. Most girls would answer “yes” and have very few exceptions. Kattie would say “Well, our culture says it's okay but I want that to change”. Like all the girls I've worked with she has also had a shift in perspective, hers was less drastic than others. At the end of the first girls group her take away was “I really can do what boys can do but more girls really need to know that as well. We're all told what we cannot do, not what we CAN DO.”

Both of these girls are intelligent, passionate leaders. They have different strengths and personalities and they have learned to work together even in the midst of their differences.

I started working with both of them about a year ago and after their interest and dedication to the program I asked them, and a few other graduates, to join me as mentors to co-facilitate lessons for future groups. They rose to the challenge and took their role so seriously. We had workshops for facilitation skills and leadership and during sessions with me they would practice these skills and help me with translations as difficult topics arose.

Based on their commitment I sent them to Camp GLOW to learn more about teaching topics of gender equality to their peers.

In the next post I'll fill you in on their progress and work.
Spoiler: They've rocked it!!  

Read Part 1Part 2, and Part 4

1 comment:

  1. You do have some amazing and very sweet young women there!