Toronto, ON, December 5th, 2018 – Women’s rights organization Crossroads International is marking International Volunteer Day by celebrating those who are volunteering overseas and by calling on all Canadians to embrace their global citizenship and become voices for change on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable.
“Canadians uniquely understand the concept of global citizenship,” said Christine Campbell, National Director of External Relations for Crossroads International. “Citizenship comes with responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is to stand with the most vulnerable and where we can amplify their voices. In many places in the global South, this is women and girls.”
Young people in particular are likely to view the world as one community. A 2017 Research Now survey of individuals in their 20s and 30s across 15 countries, including Canada, revealed nearly 60% see themselves as global citizens.
In many countries, societal attitudes towards women and an absence of legal protections threaten the safety and well-being of women and girls. Consider, Burkina Faso has a 52% child marriage rate; one in three women experience sexual abuse in Ghana; and in Tanzania, its President recently declared women who use birth control “lazy” and threated to ban girls who become pregnant from attending school.
Celebrating its 60th year of global cooperation Crossroads connects Canadians with local partners to build the capacity of those organizations in support of women’s rights, security, and empowerment. Among some of the Canadian overseas volunteers working to build a better world include::
- Asia Clarke is a jewelry artist and a graduate student who served two volunteer mandates in 2018, in Ghana and eSwatini (Swaziland) respectively. Ms. Clarke worked with local organizations supporting women entrepreneurs – those escaping sex work and abuse or as the head of families seeking to emerge from extreme poverty – to share her experience and ideas on aesthetic design and branding to help them further their own jewelry businesses. Ms. Clarke’s academic studies focus on the sustainability of women’s economic empowerment programs as part of international aid policy. She will be returning to Ghana in the summer 2019 on another volunteer assignment while supporting her research.
- Fatou Seck, of Winnipeg, is committed to advancing women’s rights by reducing poverty and empowering women through entrepreneurship. Ms. Feck is leveraging her extensive financial and project management background, including a stint at the World Bank, to support an entrepreneurial initiative that is empowering women in Senegal and generating food security for their communities. Ms. Seck is leading a restructuring of one of its Senegalese partners to help it become more efficient it its support of women-led entrepreneurs. Seck is currently on her second assignment in Senegal this year.
- Sierra Nallo is a 27 year-old photographer from Toronto. Ms. Nallo is presently volunteering with Crossroads in a girls’ empowerment program in Ghana. The program helps young women in Ghana tell their own stories through photography as a community educational tool. These are stories that must be told. Her next volunteer assignment is already mapped out; back to Ghana to work with women on building their capacity to participate in decision-making on all levels, including climate change legislation.
- Robert Trudel, a lawyer from Victoriaville, Quebec, is a longtime international volunteer. His most recent assignment was earlier this year in Ghana, as part of Crossroads’ Access to Justice Program. Mr. Trudel worked with local partners to oversee the monitoring of the application of domestic violence prevention laws by judges, lawyers, and the police. Observations and recommendations from this initiative inform community-based programming and ongoing training with judicial actors. Mr. Trudel recently departed for his next assignment, evaluating progress achieved through Crossroads’ partner projects in Tanzania.
The efforts of these volunteers have tangible results. For example, through the work of volunteers like Ms. Seck and on-the-ground partners like UNFCS, 1,300 female entrepreneurs have diversified their products and developed their skills in sustainable soap production and 65 rural women learned new skills in organic farming and solar energy, ensuring food security for 1,500 people in their communities. An additional innovative corporate partnership with Canadian companies Green Beaver and Papillon MDC helped the network of soap producers increase their sales by 80% and develop young women’s engagement and leadership.
“Canadian volunteers are working with our partners in some of the poorest countries in the world to advance rights, reduce poverty, and increase access to justice for thousands of girls and women,” said Campbell. “We should all celebrate these Canadians.”
About Crossroads International
Crossroads International is a leader in international cooperation and has been fighting inequality for 60 years. Crossroads works in some of the world’s poorest nations in Southern Africa, West Africa, and South America, with local partner organizations to create decent jobs and to empower women to become leaders and live free from violence. Every year, we engage experienced volunteers and staff North and South who apply their expertise locally to address global issues. Together we are leveraging knowledge, expertise, and dollars to create a more just and equitable world.
To arrange interviews with Ms. Campbell or any of the volunteers please contact:
Crossroads International gratefully acknowledges the support of: