I felt very empowered when I was a teenager in the 1970’s. Gender equality was always part of my upbringing and I thought it was a time when women could do anything and be anything.
I now have three daughters of my own, and worry that women’s rights have gone backwards in the time that they are growing up. More and more it comes to the fore that there is still a lot of sexism and inequality, and as a teacher I see this sexism beginning at a very young age.
So when the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro came up on my news feed, I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and urged my daughter to enter. Once we found out she had won 6 days before the climb began, we put in a huge effort to get to there because we didn’t just want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, we wanted to do the trek in solidarity with the thirty women farmers from Africa and stand beside them as sisters.
The women were amazing. They were so beautiful, so strong, so sassy – there were no shrinking violets among them! It immediately felt like a family, as everyone was there in solidarity with the women and had a sense of purpose. It was a very difficult climb for the women but there was the sense that if they could make it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, they can overcome any hurdles on the ground.
I felt very privileged to hear their stories, but saddened that they put in so much work to provide for their families yet they cannot own land or pass it onto their daughters. There needs to be a cultural shift in the patriarchal society that exists in Africa so that laws can be changed and enforced. A lot of women who work the land in Africa don’t understand their rights, so we need to come together and send a loud message that everyone will hear.
Look at what 2016 has brought us –it’s frightening! It is a dark time for women’s equality, and it makes me want to do everything in my power to stand up for women. By signing up with ActionAid, we can put our voices forward in solidarity and become even louder together. I love that ActionAid Australia isn’t just about handouts. ActionAid Australia is about empowering strong women by supporting them to make changes and take charge in their own communities.
We can become stronger just by doing something small, such as signing up to campaign with ActionAid Australia. It’s like a patchwork - we all contribute a little piece of our own voice and when we sew it all together, it becomes something huge.
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