Saturday, June 12, 2010

Manning up

Development is a slow process. If my recently completed university degree has taught me anything it's that lifting the "bottom billion" toa quality of life that meets even basic standards will be a slow and painful progression.

If three summers in KwaZulu Natal has taught me anything it's that everything here takes forever - Africa time runs painstakingly slow, if at all.

I joke that nothing has changed since my first visit. I've eaten basically the same menu, bought bananas from the same ladies and drank at the same hole-in-the-wall bar each year.

However, there has been a glimmer of hope this trip. Slowly but surely I have seen small changes i the way gender is acted. Zulu culture is highly patriarchal, ut there have been many instances this year where I have seen empowered and entrepreneurial women, and even men taking on domestic roles.

I will vehemently argue that the gender gap in many periphery countries is a reason for stunted development. Gender inequality has a strong effect on economies, social life, industry and infrastructure. I won't bore you with technical development study jargon, but if you empower half a nation and that has to be good for something.

Even our Zulu worker, Mpho, says that over the last few years the gender gap has been closing. Thye HIV education class I taught last week had three very intent men, all of whom took packages of condoms with them at the conclusion of the workshop. I watched a twenty year-old brother bathing is baby sister, and past quite a few men carrying babies.

It seems like the men of Khula and Ezwenelisha have finally decided that the dire straights of social life in the villages finally warranted their attention.

It was refreshing.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way
that respects and enhances the freedom of others. - Nelson Mandela

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry, you lost me at "20 year old" and "bathing his sister".....;)

    Lucy x