My friend’s sister and her adorable daughter in Banteay Meanchey province, Cambodia.
Ok I’m two days late for posting on Blog Action Day on the topic of inequality. When I read the announcement of the topic “inequality.” The very first thing that came into my head was, “women.”
I’ve been fortunate to grow up in Vancouver, Canada where, for the most part, I haven’t felt deprived of opportunities because I’m a woman. Yes of course there is still discrimination on Canada in terms of pay and I have been underestimated at times because I’m a girl.
I grew up mostly playing with boys because I enjoyed sports. When I was 10, almost all of the girls would chat during our school breaks while the boys played football or rugby. I always thought that was much more fun than just talking. Guys would often be embarrassed when I would kick their ass they their friends would tease them that they got beat by a “girl.” To which I would then reply, “Girls are good too.”
I always believed in women’s rights to choose any career they want, have the freedom to live a lifestyle they choose, study whatever they’d like and have the choice to not get married or have kids if they so please. And after living in Asia for a year and being in my home island-country Mauritius in Southeast Africa, I have never felt more passionately about empowering women and wanting every woman to have equal rights to men around the world.
After spending time in cities and remote villages in Laos and Cambodia, my blood boils when I see and hear so many stories of women who have no say when they get married, particularly when they are only 13 to 20 years old. In Laos, women often stop their schooling once they are married and have no say in their marriage or lives. They are slaves to the country’s customs.
In Cambodia, one of my friends works incredibly hard for her money and to support her family to the point where she has no savings for herself. But she really wanted to buy a sexy 125 cc motorcycle. But in Cambodia, “good Cambodian girls” don’t ride motorcycles because they look like a “gangster” or it’s not ladylike. She told me how so many people discouraged her from buying it and I told her, “That is even more reason for you to get it. Show them you can get it.” She said, “I work hard for me money and I want to buy it for myself.”
I’m very happy that she has been sporting her bike the past year. When people like her start to willingly dismiss old mentalities, this is where change happens.
Communities would absolutely crumble without all of the work women do for the house, children and their families. They give so selflessly, whether it’s voluntary or not, and expect very little in return. And what’s sad, however, is often women themselves pass on these old customs to their children and the cycle of inequality continues. The women demand so little of their husbands to help around the house instead of spending most of their time drinking, smoking and waiting to be served.
However, it’s interesting being in Siem Reap and seeing what’s happening in Cambodia with this next generation. Some of my female friends are incredibly driven and value education and they will pass that on to their own children. This is where change happens.
I’m not trying to sound like a man-hater because I’m not. I have been so grateful to meet the unique, unfortunately, a minority of men, who do domestic work, cook for their families and take good care of their kids. I’ve met many genuine and gentle men who have such great characters and are great models for how men should be and act around women.
So my wish for women and men around the world is that they are able to go to school, determine their own destiny, stand up freely against injustice and be able to choose the life they want to live.