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Celebrating our Differences - Gender Equality in South Africa

Lacey from the USA joined us on our Zululand community project in 2015. If you want to find out more, click HERE

lacey and nok

Gender neutrality in any country is not where it should or could be. Even the most progressive of nations suffer with wage gaps, patriarchal job customs, or expected domesticity. So often in the modern, western world a rigid wall is used to defend against sexism by alleviating differences and promoting ideals of "the same". "Were all the same on the inside", or "we're all human beings" will be used in casual debate without recognition of the negatives of "all being the same". I beg the question however: Why can't our differences be celebrated to help encourage equality. It seems this step is already being taken in the rural, eastern villages of South Africa.

I chose to volunteer in a small city on the eastern side of South Africa, given the name St. Lucia. It seems fitting that the small town filled with bizarre places and the friendliest of people would be named after the patron saint of the blind and a female martyr. African Impact was one of the first organizations I looked into that had a significant interest in support groups, specifically mother's support groups. The St. Lucia projects all deal, in some way, with the severe HIV epidemic. The support groups were designed to allow ladies to explore any topic HIV-involved or not to combat the extreme lack of knowledge of important issues, diseases, and subjects for women within Kwazulu-Natal, the province which unfortunately holds the highest concentration of HIV/AIDS in the world. I'm a firm believer in sex education, and a fervent advocate for all things women, so I knew the community project in St. Lucia was well suited for my passions. After 24 hours of travel through air, over sea, and on land I arrived at a volunteer house filled with larger than life individuals and a passionate staff. 

After scheduling I lkhula mothers support gardenearned I would be attending DukuDuku Mother's Support Group in my first week on project. I was excited, nervous, and completely unaware of what to expect. We prepared and waited as the ladies of DukuDuku strolled in one by one. Their natural grace and rough beauty carried in behind them like an ornate train on a wedding gown. Each lady had stories embedded in the wrinkles on her face, and the hardy laughs filled the room with pure, raw joy. I knew I made a good decision when one of the ladies began to laugh as a fellow volunteer tried to teach me to knit and saw the progress was less than pleasant.

The ladies of this support group play extreme roles within their communities. They are gogo's, mothers, wives, daughters, and most importantly a support network for the best and worst of times. Many of these women have seen their daughters move from HIV to AIDS, they've had to take in orphaned children of no relation, and some have even seen their own support group members fall victim to old age. The ladies in support groups do not need to be told that they can be strong, they must be informed on how their strength empowers them. This is where I, as a volunteer, see myself and other volunteers creating a difference. Lessons in support group range from ectopic pregnancies to happiness and self confidence; these "lessons" inevitably turn into a rapid fire questionnaire between the ladies and topic leaders. The discussion is the most significant key to empowering the women. The ladies come from a patriarchal society. Zulu men are allowed to wear what they please, marry however many women they please, and most take advantage of the cultures unequal dispersion of power.

Allowing the women to vent in support group about the stress of money, kids, and life all the while providing knowledge creates more of a balance in the culture. If the women find out that eating more vegetables reduces the risk of certain health issues they are susceptible to-- they attempt to change their diet. In turn, when these mothers cook healthier food for themselves, they are providing a healthier lifestyle for the next generation, and the other members of their household. The lack of medical knowledge in the villages falls to the responsibility of volunteers to find information for these women. By teaching women how things work, it allows them to explore what they can actually do.

At 17, I've discovered a new theory for gender equality: Instead of denouncing differences, celebrate them. There is power in a mothers touch, a sisterly bond, and the long flowing hair of womanhood.

support group

 

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AIDS education thanda private game reserve HIV volunteering holiday volunteer trip horses how can i volunteer in africa how to be a volunteer in africa how to become a volunteer how to go to africa how to volunteer how to volunteer abroad How to Volunteer Abroad how to volunteer in Africa how to work and travel how to work in africa Humming bird impact imvelo awards imvelo awards 2012 imvelo awards finalists imvelo awards winners imvelo finalists 2011 Innovative Awards Intern Abroad intern in Africa intern with a charity international earth day international volunteer International Women's Day internship internship african impact internship cape town internships internships abroad internships in africa jambiani job opportunity jobs in africa Jobs in Cape Town Jobs in South Africa Jobs with Lions jungle expedition kenya volunteering kwazulu-natal kzn wildlife large predator last minute lion lion conservation Lion Encounter lion prides lion projects lion rehabilitation lion rehabilitation project lion rehabilitation volunteering lion volunteer africa lion volunteer south africa lion volunteering lion volunteering in Africa Lions lions in africa Live and work in Africa make an impact makeyourimpact making a difference in Africa malawi volunteering marketing Masai Mara masai mara volunteering masai mara warriors Mature Volunteer mature volunteering medical outreach project medical projects in zambia medical support medical volunteer medical volunteer projects Medical volunteer projects in Africa medical volunteering medical volunteering africa medical volunteering in africa medical volunteering zambia Naboisho Conservancy national geographic new projects ngamo pride ngo NGO Internship NGO Jobs non-profit organisations nursing Older volunteering orphan care orphan care africa orphan volunteer projects Orphan Volunteer Projects in Africa over 30's over 30's volunteering packing for the bush packing for travel to Africa Paid volunteering paid volunteering in africa photography africa photography south africa photography volunteer photography volunteering plant trees pre-school volunteering preparing to volunteer programs in Africa project rhino kzn projects africa projects for africa reasons to travel Red Hill reforestation reforestation in africa responsible tourism Responsible travel retirement volunteering rhino rhino poachers rhinos killed in south africa rural school Safari safari africa Save the African Lion save the trees saving rhinos saving the lion saving the lions saving the planet school uniforms africa seychelles Smba Giya social involvement social media Something different for retirement south afric south africa south africa internships south africa rhinos south africa volunteering special offer sponsor a child programme sports volunteer st lucia st lucia south africa St Lucia, South Africa stand out cv stand out resume steve jobs student volunteering sustainability sustainable development sustainable volunteering sustaining trees table mountain teach abroad teach English abroad teach in africa teach in tanzania teach in zanzibar teaching Teaching Africa teaching in africa teaching in zambia teaching projects in africa Teaching Volunteer Projects in Africa team house tentation THAF Thanda thanda in africa thanda private game reserve the happy africa foundation tips on what to pack tourism tourism cape town tourism south africa tourism zanzibar tourism zimbabwe travel travel africa travel and work overseas travel in Africa travel opportunities travel overseas travel to africa at christmas trees for zambia Trip Advisor trvelling Tuli Game Reserve tweeting UCAS points UCAS points volunteering UK. Established in 2004 UNESCO up close with lions Victoria Falls victoria falls lion victoria falls lions victoria falls volunteer visit africa visit zimbabwe voluntary work africa Voluntary Work in Africa Volunteer volunteer abroad Volunteer Abroad volunteer abroad mozambique volunteer africa volunteer africa children volunteer africa opportunity volunteer africa program volunteer antelope park volunteer at Christmas Volunteer at Christmas volunteer chimfunshi volunteer coordinator volunteer forever volunteer game reserve Volunteer in Africa Volunteer in Africa volunteer in africa with children volunteer in African clinic volunteer in Cape Town Volunteer in Cape Town volunteer in Kenya volunteer in kwazulu natal volunteer in Livingstone volunteer in South Africa Volunteer in South Africa volunteer in Tanzania volunteer in the Masai Mara volunteer in township volunteer in west africa volunteer in Zambia volunteer in Zanzibar volunteer in Zimbabwe volunteer in Zimbabwe volunteer lions volunteer mozambique volunteer national park volunteer on conservation projects in Africa volunteer on game reserve volunteer on holiday volunteer on vacation volunteer opportunities volunteer opportunities africa volunteer opportunity abroad Volunteer opprotunities Africa volunteer overseas volunteer overseas work Volunteer programs in Africa volunteer project volunteer projects volunteer projects africa volunteer projects in africa volunteer south africa volunteer St Lucia volunteer stories Volunteer Travel volunteer travel conference volunteer wildlife volunteer with african children volunteer with animals volunteer with animals africa volunteer with animals in africa volunteer with charities in africa volunteer with children volunteer with children africa volunteer with children in kenya volunteer with chimpanzees volunteer with chimps volunteer with elephants volunteer with lions Volunteer with Lions volunteer with monkeys volunteer with orphans volunteer with rhinos volunteer with wildlife volunteer with wildlife in africa volunteer work africa volunteer work health benefits volunteer zambia volunteer zanzibar volunteer zimbabwe Volunteering volunteering abroad volunteering africa volunteering ethics volunteering in africa volunteering in cape town volunteering in Mozambique volunteering in South Africa volunteering in zambia volunteering opportunities volunteering programmes volunteering with animals volunteering with lions volunteering zambia Volunteerism volunteerng volunteers making an impact Voluntourism voluntourism voluntourism ethics voluteer in africa walk with lions walking with lions walking with lions africa What is it like to volunteer in Africa what to do at christmas what to do in Africa what to pack what to pack africa what to wear volunteering where can i volunteer Why pay for volunteering why volunteer Wildlife conservation wildlife conservation volunteering wildlife orphan care wildlife orphanage wildlife photography wildlife photography africa wildlife photography opportunity wildlife photography program wildlife photography project wildlife project africa wildlife rehabilitation wildlife research wildlife research project wildlife research volunteer wildlife volunteer africa Wildlife Volunteer in Africa wildlife volunteer in south africa wildlife volunteer project wildlife volunteer projects wildlife volunteer zimbabwe wildlife volunteering wildlife volunteering africa wildlife volunteering in africa wildlife volunteering in south africa Womens empowerment work abroad work abroad volunteer work and travel abroad work and travel overseas work experience abroad work for charities in africa work gap year work in Africa work in south africa work volunteers Work with animals work with children Work with Children in Africa work with children in south africa Work with Chimpanzees work with elephants Work with Lions work with lions in africa Worki in Africa working abroad working in Africa Working in Zambia Working with Chimps working with lions world aids day Worlds best holiday destination youth travel Zambia zambia africa zanzibar Zimbabwe zimbabwe volunteer projects zulu communities zulu culture zulu dambwa pride
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