Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Girl Effect

Any chance to write about work....especially a good uplifting story and I am on it!

Check out this org: Girl Effect.

Great video posted on there about the girl effect (ie: if you can get a girl in poverty (age 12) out of a vicious cycle you can build a more positive self generating effect.

Here is the video and my post below:

Today, it's about blogging it. Tara of wiseliving came up with the idea for bloggers to blog about it today to raise awareness. Do go check out the website so that you can read the other blogs that have posted about this. Last I checked (20 minutes ago, about 32 blogs were up...)

The girl effect.

I've seen it.

I just saw it in Pakistan...it was pretty amazing especially since I was despairing about life as a rural woman in Pakistan. In a totally flooded village, in Sindh, near Mohen Jo Daro. The only village I managed to visit where two of the women were educated. They were the only 'educated' people in the village. Village of about 1o0 households or so. They spoke Urdu, while most of the other women spoke Sindhi or Siraiki. They were two sisters who married into this village. The village, pre floods, had a school, where they taught (and yes, both girls and boys). The village also had healthy people since the two women had made sure that everyone was aware of simple hygiene practices. Deaths from pregnancy were not that common since the two women refused to have home births. Others followed that practice. Girls were not married off at 14...the practice of watta satta (literally, an exchange...read about it at the link...it's a terrible concept but I can understand part of it given the cultural norms...but I do not endorse it...however, just saying STOP IT is not the solution. Need to be a bit more creative around it) was rife in the neighbouring villages but not so much in this village.

Talking to the two women was amazing. Even more amazing, they made sure everyone else was heard. I didn't have to ask, they just did it. I can speak Urdu but not really Sindhi, so they were doing simultaneous translation so that I could be understood by everyone AND were making sure other voices were heard. They also illustrated a point I make anytime anyone works in a village: those who have more education are the ones that get their voices heard. In this case, exceptionally, it was two women...it doesn't tend to be where I have worked (except in Tamil villages in Sri Lanka...you do NOT want to mess with those women...they will show whose boss..and yes, they tend to be educated). Access to information is a whole other post and how we, as aid workers, think we are looking at social practices and structures but in reality, we listen most to those who know how to talk to us (and those we want to talk to in orer to meet donor demands). That changes the social dynamic...are we aware enough about our own role as an active stakeholder in the community participation we talk about?

When leaving and talking with the head of the village as I was leaving, he was like, it has been SUCH a blessing for us to have these two sisters in our village. Things have been better since they arrived.

Is that a girl effect story or WHAT?

1 comment:

akhila said...

How inspiring that you've been able to work directly with these women and hear their stories. I hope to have the same experiences some day. I've traveled a lot through India but I haven't worked abroad in "aid" projects actually.

That sounds incredible that these two sisters are such a force for change in their communities. That's where the change really lies, ultimately, no?