Invaluable Experience and Awareness of Gender Issues
By Morgan Anderson, WOCAN Intern, Feb-March 2014
There were several things that I learned and heard during this internship experience that initially surprised me. To be quite honest, and I feel naïve admitting this, I did not even realize how huge of an issue gender inequality across the globe is. Yes, I knew about the really hot button issues like child marriage and domestic abuse, but I had never really thought about limitations like women not being able to own land or access credit . One statement that a panel speaker at the UN International Women’s Day said that really resonated with me was, that if women were a tribe or secular group, instead of half the population, that there is no way that the amount of discrimination and violence against them would be allowed to continue.
I find this statement especially rattling because of its truth, but also because of its irony. It’s ironic because such a huge proportion of the global population is being affected, yet if it were a smaller group than something might already have been done to alleviate the oppression. I also find it interesting because I feel like a lot of women do not even realize the extent of the inequality, especially on a global scale.
I think that one way of fixing awareness problem would be to target youth for education. When the young are given the facts, they can be an immense, powerful proponent of societal change. If we allow them to remain ignorant about gender issues, then we cannot expect them to push for huge social revolutions. I think gender equality topics need to be included in curriculums and campaigns focused on getting teenagers and young adults engaged, they will, after all inherit decision-making responsibilities and influence. I think that, at least in the United States of America, a lot of youth feel like men and women are equal, that we have achieved the goal. I know before this internship I would have said that in the USA men and women are essentially equal and have the same opportunities. Now I realize that is far from the truth, and that if what I thought is even close to the general sentiment we have a lot of people to show the truth of current gender circumstances.
My internship at WOCAN has been exciting because I am now more educated and well-rounded when it comes to addressing gender and sustainability issues. Where ever my future may take me, I will take the message of human equality with me. It is really inspiring to see the WOCAN team talk about how to overcome barriers, empower women, and how to get rural women to work together and form cooperatives. While, the month that I got to work with WOCAN was brief, the experience was invaluable and I hope to continue to participate in the member network as I progress professionally. As a woman, I feel like it is especially my responsibility to try and help other women and myself achieve a more equal world, while there is a long way to go, that were definitely heading in the right direction.