Archive | December, 2012

Girls’ Toys and Boys’ Toys

22 Dec

The holidays are upon us, and I admit I have spent tons of time on Pinterest looking at recipes, decorations and gift ideas. Then I came across a pin with stocking stuffer ideas – a list for boys and a list for girls. I followed the link and it had a list for 4 different age groups, and each list depicted what were ideal gifts for boys and ideal gifts for girls. Here are the lists, and I have added arrows to show the differences between boys’ toys and girls’ toys.

Society, as shown by these lists, tells us that children as young as two years old should play with specific toys based on their gender.

Read the rest of this post on the International Women’s Initiative Survivors’ Blog

Being Lekoa in Botswana

14 Dec

I am Irish-Canadian, very pale and have light brown hair that’s highlighted blonde by the sun. I am very obviously “lekoa” (white) and stick out a lot here in Botswana. I spent a summer in Guatemala where I also obviously stood out, but I wasn’t there long enough to truly appreciate what it’s like to be a minority, and specifically what it’s like to be white in a predominantly non-white developing country.

First and foremost, being white attracts far more attention than I’m used to, particularly from men. I have never walked into bar here and not been hit on, I am constantly whistled at when I’m walking, and I have even had men pet me.

To read the rest of this post, please go here

“I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality of unwilling participants”

13 Dec

Anne Hathaway is classy as always when questioned about her wardrobe malfunction.  This shows how our culture is still more fascinated with a woman’s sexuality than her work, but Anne Hathaway quickly steers the interview back to her work.

It was obviously an unfortunate incident. It kind of made me sad on two accounts. One was that I was very sad that we live in an age when someone takes a picture of another person in a vulnerable moment and rather than delete it, and do the decent thing, sells it. And I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality of unwilling participants, which takes us back to ‘Les Mis,’ because that’s what my character is. — Anne Hathaway, on the Today Show.” 

Please help Finca la Florida

4 Dec

Hey all,

As many of you know, I spent a summer in Guatemala in 2009. I stayed on an organic coffee plantation, Finca la Florida. I fell in love with the finca, the people, the country and the field of development. Below is a picture I took of Lorenzo, a little boy who would be 6 years old and much bigger now!


On November 8, 2012, a magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit less than 100 km from la Florida. Ten families’ homes were ruined, a wall of La Casa Grande (the community center and building for the ecotourism project) fell, a water pipe that is necessary for processing the coffee beans is broken, many coffee plants are hurt and there has been damage to the bee housing. All of these need to be repaired to ensure the livelihoods of the people of la Florida.

A crowdsourcing campaign has been set up to help la Florida raise the funds needed to make the repairs. This holiday season, I am asking my friends, family, and readers to consider donating towards this campaign (you can donate as little as $1!) I am not going to be with my family for Christmas this year, so instead of sending a gift all the way to Botswana for me, please send your gift to Guatemala. Thank you all so much for supporting this community that is near and dear to my heart!

3 Dec

Words of wisdom from my friend and classmate.

Venturing Vietnam

I remember this time last year, although its events came a little earlier for our group. Scrolling through fourth year blogs, looking at their pictures, reading about their travel experiences, and trying to piece together an understanding of how they had lived their lives for a month and a half in a foreign country. I would compare photos, attitudes, countries, and mandates in an attempt to whittle down almost a hundred organizations and seven countries, an attempt to decide what eight month life plan was best for me. I would see pictures of Ha Long Bay, Victoria Falls, and bungee jumping, and hear stories of strange canned foods and undersized clothing. While I found beautiful photographs, well-written travel accounts, satirical comments, and witty pieces of insight from around the world, no matter where I looked information about placement work seemed to be relatively scarce. Now I understand why.

Your job…

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Gender and Health Workshop

3 Dec

This week Gantsi Craft hosted a gender and health workshop in collaboration with Letloa Health (another branch in the Kuru Family of Organizations). The aims of the workshop were to raise awareness and encourage open discussion on health and gender issues. What made this workshop unique compared to workshops in the past, was that it was held with both men and women.

The first day we had officers from the Ghanzi Clinic to come facilitate a session on family planning. The participants seemed really engaged and asked questions about different forms of contraception. It was particularly encouraging to see men be curious and ask questions about contraceptives that are used by women (the IUD had the most interest and questions).

The Ghanzi Clinic officer then demonstrated how to properly use a female condom, which got a ton of giggles and awkward faces from our participants – it reminded me of a grade six health class! But that was nothing compared to when she demonstrated how to properly use a male condom – by using a huge dildo.

As funny as it was to see all of the awkward reactions from participants, it highlighted how important workshops such as these are. Since sex and gender are not openly talked about, it is so important to have workshops where people can gain information, and most importantly, ask questions and generate discussions.

The most useful dialogue came on the second day. We did an exercise where the facilitator would read a statement, then participants would stand by one of the following signs: Strong Agree, Agree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree. There was often a very clear gender divide on some of the statements, such as “It is harder to be a woman in this world.” We discussed every statement, and it was really valuable to have both men and women explain what they feel.

Overall, I was really happy with the workshop – it felt like I had finally done something that was actually in my mandate! Now I have my fingers crossed that we will get funding to do these workshops in all of the settlements we work with.