When I first began volunteering with Crossroads International in Togo in 2019, I knew I was part of something larger. Working on an issue of urgent human rights in another country truly makes you feel like a global citizen. When I returned to Canada eight months later, I was no longer an overseas volunteer, but my commitment to women’s equality did not end. Nor should it.
Where there is inequality, there is extreme untapped potential
The fight for equality belongs to everyone. Beyond the values of equality, equity, justice and respect, we are a global village that shares common needs. It is relentlessly obvious in this pandemic; the need for everyone to have the same access to resources and vaccination, in order to get out of this crisis together. The barriers women continue to encounter, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are considerable, impacting every aspect of a woman’s life – safety, health, dignity, education, democratic rights, and social and economic well-being. This is an urgent, global struggle for justice that Canadians cannot ignore. Not everyone will have the opportunity to volunteer overseas, but everyone can stand for justice.
THE WORLD NEEDS MORE CROSSROADERS
I consider myself a Crossroader not because I did a placement 18 months ago, but because I subscribe to the organization’s values and mission to end inequality. On International Women’s Day, I invite you to become a Crossroader too.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us all of the interconnectedness of our world, and of its inequities. Women – and again, especially women in Africa – are disproportionally affected. The work of freeing women and girls from violence, increasing access to justice, advancing educational opportunity, and releasing women and their families from poverty has never been more important.
JOIN ME AND TAKE ACTION
All of us need to be engaged in this effort, and Crossroads is inviting Canadians to take action and join us. Whether by volunteering overseas or at home, advocating for change at a policy level, educating family, friends, and community members, donating, or by expressing the values of justice in your daily life, we need you!
You can begin today by signing the pledge, the Crossroader commitment. It reads:
I STAND WITH SURVIVORS OF VIOLENCE
I STAND FOR WOMEN’S ECONOMIC POWER
I STAND FOR POSITIVE MASCULINITY
I STAND FOR MORE WOMEN AT THE TABLE
I AM A CROSSROADER
Now is the time to get involved and take action. In Togo, I saw the inspiring efforts of women working tirelessly to change cultures, shift the discourse on rights, and confront gender inequality. At home in Quebec, I worked with students to lay the groundwork for building a more just world. This is the work of citizens – global citizens – of Crossroaders. As Gender Equality Champions, it’s up to us to take action.
I invite you to join me.
Caroline Aubry-Abel – Volunteer, Togo 2019