If we are going to empower young African women and build a stronger civil society we need to be first honest with ourselves as youth workers. We want to give girls the chance to create positive change so we have to understand the things inside of us that are resisting this. Many of us, deep inside, favour people from our own cultural, religious, ethnic or social background. Even if we don’t think we do, this is something we are raised with. We cannot perpetuate this in our youth clubs.Youth Worker, Kenya
All of us are the product of our environments, and one of the ways that humans simplify the world is by putting other people into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories, safe and unsafe. In one way this protects us, but in the long term, it harms us all. If we automatically dismiss someone because they are from a different background, we perpetuate division and cut off the opportunities that come from friendship and collaboration with those who may have opposing views.
These divisions affect our everyday lives in the African countries where we are leading youth clubs. Whether it is entering a room and finding people switching to a language they know you don’t speak, or negative stereotypes harming women socially or at work, we have a responsibility, again, to model, as youth workers, what we want to see.
We also see the social divide opening up in countries as some people have become very rich, and segregated themselves from others through their choices of exclusive neighbourhoods, schools and social activities.
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