Showing posts from November, 2016

When Are You Getting Married?

By Wisam Gangari via UN Online Volunteers

“Congratulations on your (insert significant milestone)! Here’s to your wedding!” This (or some variation of it) has become a standard salutation, which I, and many other young Arab women have heard upon the accomplishment of a significant milestone in our lives. It is the 21st century, yet social norms in the Arab world still hold tight to the notion that a woman’s goal, nay, destiny must be to get married. Any other ambition or desire must be secondary, and is therefore, less important.
            Growing up in a predominantly Arabized culture, dating at a young age was never socially accepted, that is, by families. Couples that were brazen enough to publicize their relationship were often expats, or individuals who came from “liberal” families.  Parents instead emphasized the importance of education above all else and instilled within their children the notion that good grades led to a successful future. In turn, this mentality, more often …

Don't Let Stereotype Impede Your Success

By Mitchelle Khadenje via UN Online Volunteers

BE YOUR OWN AMBASSADOR My very first lesson that a girl had no place to prosper was in high school. Despite the normal public system where majority of the schools were ‘single gender’, I found myself in a mixed school. At first, I took no notice of any differences-we were all brothers and sisters, just like in primary school. But with time, things got clearer. The boys population was near three times the girls population, so the boys almost had their way unanimously. As a teenager experiencing changes and not being sure of how people would perceive your utterances or actions, it can be difficult to stand up for yourself. Most of the girls would end up consoling each other in the dormitory; crying themselves to sleep because ‘the guys said something about them’. I have always been a calm, almost reserved kind of child- passing my tests, assisting others. I however, was not in the habit of lying to myself and others, so I was always in trouble…

Banda - Bound to Home

By Mehvish Ally via UN Online Volunteers

Life tests our vim and vigor at the best of times and seems an insurmountable challenge at the worst of times.  But in our world of low, middle, and high-income nations, some lives are inherently more privileged and systemically valued than others.   This neither means that wealthy people lead easy or care-free lives nor that the poor are relegated to the depths of irreversible misery: it is an illustration, albeit merely one, that the world is a place where complex dualities abound.  Masculine, feminine, rich, poor, these are all roles assigned to society by its own machinations and until we question their presence, meaning, and necessity, humanity’s eyes will be collectively shut to a deeper understanding of what it means to be alive.  Our anatomies and our economic stature are nothing to be ashamed of.  Though they may shape who we are, such identities should not be considered shackles but weights that increase our muscle and mettle.   Like ot…