Okay, so admittedly it’s been a rough few weeks for those of us that value equality, progress and the rights of other people. In the United States, hate won. As I am traveling around Europe I am learning that recently a lot of right wing anti-tolerant governments have recently been voted into power or are at risk of being voted into power. This is a real issue and it’s scary for those of us who have taken a history class and can connect the dots to what this type of hate can lead to. It’s also extremely disappointing as, naively I thought that maybe we had progressed a little further as a society. I mean, it’s 2016, surely we have made progress on some of the issues that effect women and minorities. Apparently not. I’m not even an American so why is this election effecting me so much? Good question and it’s one I’ve been asking myself since I found myself in tears waking up to the results that Donald won. I haven’t been able to fully articulate the feelings that I have surrounding this but I am going to try for your sake and mine to put it into words.
I’ve always known that sexism still exists. I feel it ever day of my life when I am made to feel uncomfortable walking down the street past cat calls. I felt it growing up when certain chores were boys chores and others girls chores. I am aware that we still live in a society of rape culture where rape is normalized and the victim is often treated like she asked for it. But, I woke up on November 9th (I was in Italy during the election so I did not get the results until I woke up on November 9th) I never felt as though my gender truly held me back from accomplishing any of the goals I wanted to accomplish in life. Sure, I am fully aware that there are not nearly enough women in positions of power. I am aware of the fact that when I go to a conference the leadership panel usually consists of men and maybe one women. But, I alway had the understanding that if I wanted something badly enough, that if I worked hard enough, I could achieve anything. On November 9th that viewpoint was shattered. Hilary Clinton was not only the most qualified candidate to run for president of the United States in History, she gave her life to public service. She spent her life fighting for what she believed in. If she had lost to an equally qualified man, this would be an easier defeat. It’s not that she lost to a man, it’s that she lost to someone who wasn’t even a politician. Someone who is not qualified to run one of the most powerful countries in the world, who has no idea what he is doing and even worse he is a misogynist that has a record of sexually assaulting women. Steve Bannon who has been charged with domestic abuse and who openly identifies himself as a white supremacist has been named his chief strategist and Mike Pence, the VP thinks that gay people can be cured. I mean, my mind is blow. Where are the rational people in this world and how did this happen? More importantly, how was this allowed to happen? Democracy has failed us.
Okay rant over, so what can we do about this now? Well, we can stand up when we see injustice, we can educate ourselves about racism, sexism and inequality, we can have a voice and make sure the voice of reason is louder than the voice of hate and we can support the causes that are making this world a better place. If you have time to volunteer, that’s amazing there is more than one way to support a cause and not everyone has the financial means to do so that’s okay. If you can give your time, that’s just as valuable. So what causes do you support? Where do you start? There are hundreds of causes out there that do amazing work and are truly making a difference in this world. Below I’ve listed just 10 that I have either had a personal experience with or have come highly recommended. These are not the only causes to support, by all means, do your research. But if you are looking to spread some good in the world this is a good place to start. This list has both Canadian and international charities/ organizations on it, some are both and you can choose a chapter to support. I tried to focus on organizations that I know are making a real difference and creating social change. They don’t necessarily follow a specific theme.
Is working hard to close the gender gap in Tech. Their mission is to be the leading resource for women and youth to become passionate builders – not just consumers – of technology by learning technical skills in a hands-on, social, and collaborative way. Best way to get involved; you can donate, take a class or mentor. Mentors do not necessarily need to know how to code, patience and being able to sit down and work through a problem with the person you are mentoring is a valuable skill that they are looking for.
Because reproductive rights and choice matter and right now this choice is being threatened for many. Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide. They deliver comprehensive sex education that empowers all people to make informed choices and lead healthy lives. Best way to get involved; you can contact your local branch for volunteer opportunities or donate.
The Kula Project invests in women coffee farmers in Rwanda, enabling them to earn an income and support their families. To find out more about Kula project read this. Best way to get involved; donate.
Ubushobozi Project is a non-profit, vocational skills training organization. But it’s more than that, Ubushobozi has become a job, a family and a second chance for many of the girls in Rwanda that are involved with the project. The project invests in these women and shows them that they are loved and they are worth it. They are a small but amazing project doing wonderful work in Ruhengeri. Best way to get involved; donate.
Is another organization investing in women and girls in Rwanda. Located in Gisenyi, No. 41 is a sewing cooperative that not only employs young women but also gives back to the community through a school feeding program. Best way to get involved; donate.
The main focus of this organization is to provide support to families with at risk infants emotionally, socially, medically, educationally, and nutritionally. They currently have 10 moms and 17 infants in their program (and lots of siblings and papa’s too!). They provide health insurance for the entire family for one year, bottles, and weekly formula (when applicable), powdered milk, porridge, sugar, infant cereal (when applicable), and fresh fruits. They also visit the moms bi-weekly in their homes, and monthly they have a cooperate time of worship, devotions, and encouragement along with lunch and dancing. They also have begun literacy classes once a week in their office, and in January will begin sending those who have been in the program over 6 months, that are literate to vocational school! Best way to get involved; donate.
I am so so proud of my friend and former classmate Gavin Armstrong who founded this organization. The Lucky Iron Fish is a carefully formulated health innovation that has been shown to substantially reduce instances of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia. One Lucky Iron Fish can provide an entire family with up to 90% of their daily iron intake for up to 5 years. All you have to do is cook with it. It’s a simple, affordable, and effective solution anyone can use. Best way to get involved; buy a lucky iron fish and they will donate one to a family in need.
Because unfortunately, yes, racism does still exist, and discrimination is still a thing. The mission of black lives matter is to forge critical connections and to work in solidarity with black communities, black-centric networks, solidarity movements, and allies in order to to dismantle all forms of state-sanctioned oppression, violence, and brutality committed against African, Caribbean, and Black cis, queer, trans, and disabled populations in Toronto. Best way to get involved; contact your local branch about volunteer opportunities, or donate.
The mission of Pride Toronto to bring people together to celebrate the history, courage and diversity of our community. Uniting and empowering people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions, the annual Pride Toronto festival has become a major Canadian arts and cultural event and the largest Pride celebration in North America. Pride showcases Toronto on the world stage with diversity, inclusion and vibrant creativity. Best way to get involved; contact this organization about volunteer opportunities or donate.
Because we are currently facing the biggest refugee crisis this world has ever seen. Lifeline Syria was launched in June of 2015 and incorporated as a not-for-profit in September of 2015 in response to the ongoing humanitarian refugee crisis, to assist sponsor groups to welcome and resettle Syrian refugees as permanent residents in the GTA. The organization is committed to helping Syrian refugees settle in Canada. Best way to get involved; contact this organization about volunteer opportunities or donate.