Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Project Urduja

      As I mentioned in my last post, I plan to design a talk aimed at high school students here in the province of Pangasinan. This talk will be about women empowerment. And the unofficial name of this idea is Project Urduja. I'm still at a brainstorming phase, still struggling to find the flow and focus of things. But I do know why I want to develop this brainchild of mine.

   I was discussing this idea with one of my friends (hey there, Lorri-belles) who pointed out that our high school phase is when we generally start forming opinions and figuring out our identities. We also agreed that this kind of talk or conference would've made a world of a difference in our adolescent lives and relationships. I mean, do parents form any kind of dicussion about gender bias with their children? Not a lot of parents are aware of this, and how much it hurts their children. Most of the time, they're so busy projecting their expectations, ideals, and dreams on their children that they fail to see them for who they are.

And this talk is also a great opportunity to form a dialogue with the youth about gender equality, women's issues, and social justice. This talk will also be a good chance to educate teenagers about misconceptions of masculinity and femininity, and the importance of historical and cultural context.

Mind-mapping. /creys

  Basically, I want teenagers- regardless of sex/gender identity- to support, protect, and celebrate womanhood in all its forms, to honor and respect women of the past, present, and future, to form friendships out of love instead of fear, to educate them how patriarchy hurts women AND men, to break the double-standard macho-esque and chauvinist culture. I want to tell young men that it's ok to be emotional, it's ok to have a soft, nurturing side, it's ok to have a different definition of strength and bravery.

  At the moment, I am struggling with giving myself the permission to not be right all the time because as with all social issues, there will be conflicting paradigms and political correctness. I want to present facts but I also want to present people's stories and anecdotes. I want my audience to learn but I also want them to be curious and maybe take initiative to discover more how different social issues are linked with one another. Women's issues in the Philippine context may differ from the western perspective.

 I also hope this talk will help them understand their families, their identities, their spirituality, their relationships, and the way they approach life.

 As I compile facts, statistics, and stories, I have to deal with a lot of flashbacks in my childhood. I realized that children (mostly girls) have to deal with so much crap such as abuse, rape and rape culture, and discrimination at such a young age and then dealing with more of the same crap as they mature. I'm usually quite good at emotionally detaching others' problems from mine but when I began to piece my childhood memories together, it was emotionally draining to realize that children and teenagers didn't have any form of support or a platform where they can voice their experiences. How do I teach teenagers to engage with the past without falling into the victim mentality?

 God give me clarity of mind and the strength to carry this out.

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