I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
When I initially set out to create positive change, my intention was not to make news or be in the public eye. Somehow, fate had never bequeathed me the opportunity to be in the shadows. This however is not to say that I had always perceived myself as one who was capable of any leadership role or power. As these thoughts filtered through my mind and I finally settled down to writing out my vision, I recollected some of the powerful, inspiring and challenging stories that I have been privileged to read on PulseWire. I said to my self, of a truth, when others tell their stories and we listen, we hear our stories in theirs. One of such stories I recalled, brought to the very present some encounters I had always kept close to my chest. Between 2003 and early 2004, I had to quit three apparently lucrative jobs in sequence. Reasons, Unwelcome sexual advances that created an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment for me. Is that not how sexual harassment is defined? Why must I give up my self-worth to keep a job? I chose the path that seemed most honorable to me…..I quitted! The story was not much different as I stepped into a male dominated cycle of social change makers and professionals in my community. I was trying to accomplish a difficult feat which is generally considered a man’s activity and was not going to quit again. At this point, I had two driving resolves: to equip myself enough not to ever be cowed, and never to exchange my self-worth for illicit offers. Currently, without letting go or giving in, I have a master’s degree in my kitty, I am looking forward to a PhD and still pursuing a passionate cause. Permit me to say here, that I am on the path to fulfilling my dream of becoming a trailblazer in environmental stewardship. I would very much love to maximize my self and career development achievements and be best positioned to make tangible contributions to the drive for environmental sustainability in my community and beyond. Viewing my community through the lenses of the environment sustainability, I abhor the sight of unmanaged waste dumps and sites, blocked drainages and canals, people throwing wastes out of moving vehicles, polluted water ways, littered streets, as well as decomposing and smelly garbage. I worry about the stories of the realities of climate change and indigenous women’s vulnerability to its impacts (encroaching deserts, drought, and increasing water scarcity, lost livelihoods and heritages, erosion and floods amongst others), disappearing forests, natural resource conflicts and threatened food security. I also bear in mind, women and children (especially girls) trekking very long distances and spending valuable time each day in search of water (often from polluted sources) and or fuel-wood. Such excruciating burdens! With the same resolve I made for my self, I want to facilitate and see more women’s leadership being integrated into environmental work. I want women’s efforts to be recognized. Why? I have seen and heard stories of how women in my community crumble under the weight of heavy water filled containers and stacks of fuel-wood. They are exposed to increasing sexual assault and abduction in their effort to access natural resources and are lack basic sanitation and poor hygiene, experience high incidences of water and air related diseases, and are denied property and inheritance rights. Time and time again, they bear the consequences of natural resource conflicts. Such women account for a significant percentage of the world’s population. Can we make their lives better? Can policy makers ensure that these women are equally involved in consultation processes as well as in the management and implementation of environmental policies and programs? I envision a world where the approach to natural resource management will be women sensitive, rights based, and inclusive. By becoming a Voices of Our Future Correspondent, I would have the opportunity to be guarded by an expert; who will further help to translate my dreams into actions; in a manner that would honour my experiences and passions and also help me generate and disseminate information that will be beneficial to affected and interested parties all over the world.