By Isabelle R. ’16
According to UN Women and the Local Media Monitoring Project, “1 in 4 people heard or read about in the news are women.”
Last week our class joined an online conference, through TakingITGlobal, with other schools from Canada for a discussion in light of International Women’s Day on March 8th. We spoke with Lindsay DuPre from Toronto, who is an advocate for indigenous women in Canada. She explained some of the unequal treatment toward indigenous women both socially and politically. According to Lindsay, in Canada’s indigenous cultures women were viewed as powerful leaders in their families and communities. When European colonists arrived on Canadian soil, they weakened the indigenous groups by taking power away from their women. Eventually, the colonists overthrew the indigenous people and their culture, which held women in high regard. According to Lindsay, today less than 1% of Canada’s land belongs to indigenous peoples. When Lindsay told us this story, I felt as though it was unjust for the colonists to intrude on the indigenous people and alter their culture. However, it made me wonder if we are viewed in that same way in our efforts to help developing countries advance. It’s easy to develop a bias and believe that the American culture is the “right” culture, but maybe we are being more invasive rather than helpful.
We also spoke with a young woman named Aameena from Egypt. She believes in Islamic feminism and is working to gain equal rights for women in the Middle East. Aameena shared some examples of women activists in Egypt who were empowered to speak up but were arrested and jailed for demonstrating without permission. She also shared some of her personal views as an activist through her poetry, highlighting the fact that she believes “a woman’s voice is a revolution.” When we asked her how we could best support movements in equality for women, she urged us to use social media for something we believe in. She went on to explain that one of the best ways to advocate for women’s rights is to utilize social media to share the stories of activists to help spread awareness. As a class, we were inspired by Aameena and so we are now using Moses Brown’s media platforms to continue to spread awareness and knowledge in our own community. By sharing stories and information through social media, we hope we can educate a larger audience.