Archive | June, 2013

The “F” Word

21 Jun

I have many friends, acquaintances and even family members (I’m looking at my brothers) that will say “I believe in equality for men and women… but I’m not a feminist!”

So why has the word feminist become dirty? Why are people scared to call themselves feminists?

The first reason could be that the root of the word applies to females, and so males have trouble identifying with it. When we look back in history, the feminist movement was primarily women – because it had to be. Men weren’t going to just give women equal pay or the vote, so women had to stand up. But now the feminist movement has shifted, and it’s important to have male allies as part of it. Indeed, most feminists I know also realize that gender stereotypes adversely affect boys and men (“Be a man,” “Grow some balls,” “Boys don’t cry,” etc.) – males need feminism and can be feminists too.

The second, and probably most common, reason is that we are often shown a negative portrayal or representation of feminist. Many still see “feminist” as synonymous with “man-hater, angry and radical” – because that’s what people who keep females down WANT you to think. I typed “feminism meme” into Google Images, and these are some of the wonderful things that popped up (for more, just try it yourself):

anti-feminist1 anti-feminist2 anti-feminist3 anti-feminist4 anti-feminist5 anti-feminist6 anti-feminist7

Believe it or not, I chose some of the least-offensive.


But in reality, feminism is simply the ideology that advocates for the social, economic and political equality of the genders.

So do you think that men and women deserve the same rights? Congratulations, you are a feminist. Standing up for women’s rights is standing up for human rights, so be proud to be a feminist! The more people that proudly claim to be feminist, the more we can rid the word of negative connotations and actually work towards equality.

And for all of you who tell me that there is no need for feminism in our society (and for everyone interested), please check out Who Needs Feminism?  It is a great blog that shows the everyday realities of being a girl or woman.


My First Football Match

18 Jun

Anyone who knows me knows that football (soccer) has never really been my thing. I was the kid in Timbits who never scored and only did it because my dad was the coach. But when you live in Africa, you start gain an appreciation for the popular sport, and because of the match I watched Sunday I can finally say that I actually like football. 

Sunday’s match was a World Cup qualifying match between Ethiopia and South Africa – a huge game because if Ethiopia won, then they would definitely move forward. So, a friend I had made at my guest house and I decided to go to the stadium to watch the game live. Let me tell you, even just getting tickets was an adventure all on its own! But we managed, and were ready to watch the game. 

It was a great match, with South Africa scoring first and Ethiopia scoring just before half. Then, a SA player headed the ball into his own net after an Ethiopian free kick, and Ethiopia won the game 2-1. The mood at the stadium was insane! Everyone was going crazy. We went outside and made our way to the VIP area to see the players coming out. Since I am so obviously foreign and I was wearing and Ethiopian jersey, I was getting a LOT of attention. So much attention that a reporter approached me for an interview for national TV! I have tried really hard to find it online, but no luck so far. 

Then, my friend (who is South African) had made friends with some other South African friends and got us invited to a reception at the South African Embassy. So, I replaced my Ethiopia t-shirt and we mingled and ate good food at the party – I did not realized how much I missed pap and chakalaka until I had it again! 

All in all – a very wonderful day. 


Unfortunately, Ethiopia used an ineligible player in a match against Botswana and so loses the 3 points they had against Bots. This means that they need to win their next match to move forward. 

My very own epiphany

14 Jun

An interesting quote explaining the rape culture we live in.


I came across this quote from feminist blogger Jessica Valenti and was blown away at my realization that I too do most of these things unconsciously and never once noticed or thought about how it reflected on how I feel about my own safety in our society.

Trigger Warning this post deals with issues of rape:

“When I was in college, a teacher once said that all women live by a ‘rape schedule.’ I was baffled by the term, but as she went on to explain, I got really freaked out. Because I realized that I knew exactly what she was talking about. And you do too. Because of their constant fear of rape (conscious or not), women do things throughout the day to protect themselves. Whether it’s carrying our keys in our hands as we walk home, locking our car doors as soon as we get in, or not…

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Arrival and First Field Visit

14 Jun

Hello all! I am safe and sound in Addis Ababa. Firstly, all the rumours you have heard about Ethiopia – the friendly and beautiful people, the good food, the amazing coffee – they are all completely true. I am settling in with the city, although work is starting out slowly.

However, I did get to visit one of World Vision’s ADPs (Area Development Program). Jeju is east of Addis Ababa and is one of the ADPs in Ethiopia sponsored by World Vision Canada. World Vision Ethiopia has 5 main projects in this area: livelihood development, water projects (such as irrigation), education (such as building schools), health (like building primary care clinics) and savings accounts for children.

Wisdom Microfinance is World Vision Ethiopia’s partner for livelihood development projects, and it is these projects that I am working on. In Jeju, Wisdom Microfinance has over 2,000 active borrowers, making it the organization’s largest branch. The loans given out are in 4 different categories: personal, family, agriculture and business. The borrowers are over 75% women and this area has less than 1% of borrowers default – an impressive number, even in microfinance! The average loan is approximately 3,700 Ethiopian birr (about $200) and are paid back in anywhere from 3 to 15 months. The impact of this project reaches approximately 10,000 children, and all of the borrowers I had the opportunity to meet were sending all school-aged children to school.


Three borrowers at the Wisdom office to receive their loan.


Some of the borrowers we visited and their families. One of the borrowers I met told me (but keep in mind that it was translated from Oromifa to Amharic to English): “This is a great project. Before this, we had no opportunity and no access to financial services. But now we have this opportunity and can farm and send our children to school.”

So, if you are a World Vision sponsor, this could be the type of project that your money is going to support!

All in all, it was a successful first visit, and I am very excited to dive into work and to visit the ADPs my project is focused on.