During my placement at SALVE International, I was running a social media campaign “Inequality Question”, aiming to raise awareness about all kinds of inequalities. As part of that our team at SALVE International took The Challenge Week, a week when we all acted a little bit unusual. And what was it all about?
I and my colleagues took different activities to help people see some of the world’s inequalities from a different perspective and inspire them to fund raise for SALVE in the future. The challenges varied across the team. One of us lost her identity and pretended to be somebody else, my other colleague had only one pound per day to eat, and one of us had to walk several miles any time she wanted water. My week aimed to highlight gender inequalities as for five days I handed over the power and control over my decisions and life to my five male friends. Each of them was making every single decision for me during one day. I have to say it was not always easy. Cold morning showers, intensive work-out class, high-heels in a down pour, or a vegan lunch were only a few highlights of the week. One of my tasks was also to sit in a café, watch people around and think about their life trajectories and pathways. It was an interesting moment as I have never done anything similar. People do not do it. And I think it reflects a lot about our society. Maybe we should learn to be more open minded and interested in lives of others, regardless if these are our neighbours, children on the streets in Uganda or refugees. The task helped me to realize that our ignorance, lack of interest and knowledge about different challenges of people´s lives are crucial factors generating inequalities on both local and global level.
All these activities made me also think about freedom, dependence and disempowerment that many women experience in this world. What I missed the most during the week was my freedom – freedom to rely on myself and be independent. I realized that having to ask about every single step you take makes you question your own capabilities after some time. In the long term it can result in the loss of your confidence, which seems to generate a vicious cycle: when a woman lives in an unequal society where the culture or social norms dictate her to be dependent on her male partner, it leads to her doubting herself and losing her confidence. In the long run this generates even more dependency on others, thus enforcing these norms creating gender inequality. Therefore, I believe that if we aim to limit gender inequalities in the world we need to indicate and challenge those existing social norms which dictate women to be dependent.