The Trump Card

The U.S. presidential race, still in its early stages, has grabbed people’s attention largely due to the fact that Donald John Trump is involved. And what initially seemed like a long shot has changed as polls show Donald Trump is currently the Republican front-runner to win the election in 2016. Would Donald Trump really make a good president?

He has become the focal point of the presidential campaign by saying outrageous and derogatory things about minorities, women and immigrants. He sometimes speaks without thinking and embarrasses himself on occasion. However there’s no denying Trump has done a good job of making himself rich and famous through his business (The Trump Organization) and his reality T.V show “The Apprentice,” – his net worth is about 4 billion USD. And with the U.S. Government currently trillions of dollars in debt, this is the sort of leader that might be able to fix the financial problems that the country faces. But is that it? What else does he have to offer as a potential president? He is a businessman. Is he a politician? Does he have what it takes to run a country?

It seems that he is trying to invoke the hidden racial / religious bias that might be rooted in the sub-conscious mind of America. Trump has now openly advocated banning Muslims from entering America. He controversially has said, “They’re not coming to this country.” He is blunt, and occasionally, his remarks can even be considered to be incredibly rude, racist, and brash.

Donald Trump is seen by many individuals of the international community as the type of leader who will deport every non-American back to “where they came from”. But is this view entirely correct? As Trump has stated, “we want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.” This statement goes to show that Donald Trump’s agenda is not to deport every non-American, but rather to remove all the illegal immigrants.

Some people also think Donald Trump will ruin the economy and destroy American-dependent countries. Tae Wuk Woo, a Korean student currently attending Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi says, “How can we not be afraid of the outcome of the US election when the United States, Wall Street in particular, has a grip on the world’s economy?” The US is a world power, and a major player in the global economy. Should the world be afraid of Trump?

The truth of the matter is that Trump does not hold such power and the world’s economy would not be held in the palm of his hands if he were to become president of the United States. Supporters of this particular candidate believe in his idea of making “America great again”, even though this is tied together with building a wall along the border between the US and Mexico. Is the building of this wall taking it a little too far?

Should internationals of non-American descent give any thought to the elections going on in the United States, knowing that Trump’s loyalty will only be to America and Americans. Making American great again will be good for American citizens, but what about countries that continue to be dependent on America and its foreign policy? Will there be any negative repercussions for the rest of the world? We can only hope that the future president – regardless of who is eventually sworn in – will not only concern himself (or herself) with American, but also will keep in mind America’s relationships with other countries too.

The Language of the World

“Music is the universal language of mankind”. These words penned many years ago by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – an American poet and educator – still ring true today. In our world, music is the perfect field for innovation and creativity. There is always new combinations of notes and words, each individually crafted in order to express thoughts and emotions.

Africa is full of countries that are full of music. Kenya is a good example of a country where musical artists are developing new ways of expression, combining both native and imported beats together with soaring melodies and complex harmonies. Different genres from all over the world are being mixed by artists: the carnival style rhythms of the zouk genre, the Jamaican breezes of reggae sound, the Congolese dance music called soukous, Western hip hop – the list of the combined elements seems endless!

Many of us tend to listen to generic music produced in the US or UK. Generally, the popular media only promotes musicians in, and from,  the Western world. With so many songs, so many artists, so many videos, it’s difficult to choose what to listen to. With more money spent on the music industry in the West, it is very logical that we have forgotten that other non-Western styles and artists exist. And yet, great musicians are live and express this living all around the world, and are rarely heard and appreciated. Rarely do we look at the Billboard Top 100 or other top music platforms and see the name of a credible non-Western artist.

In African countries, including Kenya, music is an art form that is easily accessible. In the matatus (minibuses for public transport) here in Nairobi, music is often played. While driving by a crowded street or market, beautiful rhythms and melodies can often be heard, pumped out by loud-speakers, car radios, and mobile phones. Music remains important for all people – rich and poor, old and young.

No one can be forced to appreciate a certain style of music, obviously, but sometimes we just haven’t been allowed to – or had the will to – discover new and different styles of music that are available. Maybe we’d like it, if only we could hear it! Even though Western media often only shows one side of the music industry, that doesn’t mean we can’t find the other side. Western music doesn’t need to be the predestined path we take. We as consumers have the power. We can – and should – encourage artists from all over the world to keep producing music. And, we need to listen!

Here’s a short list of some of African musicians that have recently been making waves in the African music industry (and Sauti Sol’s video for their song “Live and Die in Afrika”). In researching this article, we enjoyed learning about these artists, and listening to the latest up and coming expressions of life from this side of the world. Some suggestions:

Sauti Sol (Origin: Kenya)

Diamond Platnumz (Origin: Tanzania)

Tiwa Savage (Origin: Nigeria)

Sarkodie (Origin: Ghana)

Juliana Kanyomozi (Origin: Uganda)

Yvonne Chaka Chaka (Origin: South Africa)

Oumou Sangaré (Origin: Mali)

It’s a privilege to be able to hear how different music styles and genres can be mixed together in endless combinations for unique sounds that satisfy the ears. With all of the incredible music that is available – on the internet and all over the world, it’s definitely time to open up our ears. Now is the time to discover unrated and underrated musicians, and let them wow us with music we’ve never heard before. Longfellow was right – music is the universal language – regardless of where it comes from. 

Hidden in Plain Sight

In the majority of African countries, homosexuality and “non-natural sexual interactions” are looked down upon by the majority of people. Here, in Kenya, homosexuality is seen as taboo, and those who are known to live this lifestyle are often met with fierce and even deadly repercussions. If a person is even accused or “outted”, he or she is subject to societal shaming, or worse. Often, they are kicked out of their house by their family, but this can be only the first stage of what will become a terrifying nightmare.  

Homosexuality is looked down upon in many African countries (including Kenya), mainly because of Kenya’s core values of maintaining culture and tradition. “Most of us grow up in traditional and cultural households, so we never truly get the chance to think about other norms because they aren’t in always in our face” declares Kanjaa Dwayne, a Kenyan national studying at the University of Barcelona. Any changes in culture, if they happen at all, take a long time to occur.

Kenya is also facing serious Western pressure to become more liberal about its stance on homosexuality, and how it works with its own homosexual community. According to many, it should be more accepting of the homosexual community.  In response to this growing pressure, a small group of Kenyan youth have begun to accept homosexuality into the society as a norm. Saleh Aahil, a student attending the International School of Kenya in Nairobi stated that Personally, [I think] accepting homosexuality as part of society does raise awareness and educate people; however, the people need to be willing to accept diversity in a way that produces a conducive society for those even that do not feel [part of it]”.

In comparison to Western countries such as the United States of America, Kenya is a very anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) nation. Western nations are more accepting of the homosexual community, and are very supportive of choices the people make. As Kenya is becoming more of an industrialized nation and begins to be influenced more and more by the West, perhaps in the future, the homosexual community might one day be seen as being equal.

The United States government sees the acceptance of homosexuality as something that can be learned over time, as indicated by President Obama during his visit to Kenya in July 2015: “I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage. But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine”.

Compared to other African countries such as Uganda, Kenya is actually quite relaxed in its treatment of the LGBT community. During an interview with CNN in 2015, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, when asked about his view on the bill passed banning homosexuality in Uganda stated that “The West must respect African society and its values.”  This statement symbolizes the ways homosexuals are often viewed in some parts of Africa. They might exist, but will never be viewed as an equal and valuable part of society.

Will Kenya one day be able to accept the LGBT community as part of itself? Will homosexuals be able to live without fear of shaming, or more serious repercussions? It’s hard to say what the future of this evolving nation holds. As of now, it seems that the homosexual community must stay hidden in plain sight.

The Insufferable Pressure of Sports

Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, Rashid Ramzi, Kelli White, and Regina Jacobs. These are the names behind some of the most scandalous doping incidents in world sports. Now world famous tennis player Maria Sharapova, five time grand slam winner, and the richest female athlete in the world, has been suspended for doping – using performance enhancing drugs – after failing a drug test on January 26th.

Sharapova was charged with an anti-doping violation on March 2nd and will be banned from tennis conditionally from March 12th, as she awaits the determination of her violation. Sharapova claims that she has been taking the prohibited drug, mildronate, since 2006, as prescribed by her family doctor to treat heart issues. However, what she didn’t know was that the drug had recently been added to the list of prohibited drugs in 2016, as it increases the heart’s endurance.

Doping has long since been a problem in the world of sports. The pressure to do well is almost suffocating. For up and coming athletes who are young, doping is an easy way to rapidly improve performance. As aging athlete’s face challenges, doping is a way to keep up with the younger generation, especially since professional sports is mostly young person’s profession. Coupled with the easy accessibility of sport-enhancing drugs, doping seems to be a convenient way to improve one’s performance.

There are five doping classes of prohibited drugs. Stimulants mask fatigue and make the athletes more alert. Anabolic agent’s steroids help the athletes train harder, and gain more muscle. Diuretics, which hide other drugs, help remove fluids from the body. Narcotic analgesics mask the pain caused by injury or fatigue. Peptides and hormones, give the red blood cells more energy, and help build muscle.

There is also a practice called “blood doping”, which is the process of removing one’s blood and storing it, and then injecting it back into the system to improve oxygen flow to the lungs and muscles. Each of these doping methods comes with serious side effects, some of which include heart failure, kidney damage, and strokes. However, a number of athletes are willing to take their chances with the side effects in order to do well in their chosen profession. Why would they sacrifice their health, and resort to illegal practices?

In our world, sports play an instrumental role in the world of entertainment. They provide a way to release stress, and emotions in a healthy way. The benefits of playing a sport, not only on a professional level, but also for amateurs, are lifelong. Sports lower blood pressure, increase fitness, heart strength, and overall strength. Doctors often encourage people to play a sport.

However the professional world of sports is a different game altogether, and is very stressful. Most athletes go into professional sports knowing that at a certain age, usually before 40 their careers will be over. The competition is stiff, and the strain on the athlete’s body is more than exhausting. One injury could ruin a career. And with the Olympics looming, the pressure could be insufferable.

Will the tragedies of Sharpova, Armstrong and Jones finally change the behaviours and mindsets of professional athletes, and cause them to eschew performance-enhancing drugs for good? Likely not. It seems that the pressure of today’s media-driven society on athletes is just too strong – and they are too weak to fight anymore.

Modernizing Modesty

The hijab (حجاب) is a veil that covers the head and chest, worn by some Muslim women as a symbol of modesty and morality. The Western media often portrays Muslim women either as veiled victims with a lack of free choice, or a threat to the Western societies in which they reside.

However, the level of acceptance of the hijab is now evolving. As new generations of Muslim women come of age, they find ways for the hijab to complement their growing desire for self-expression. With this new confidence, a new breed of designers has developed, specializing in “hijab fashion”.

Hijab fashion companies currently have a great opportunity, in this untapped potential market, to showcase women of different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages. in making the most of this opportunity, these companies may help to counteract the negative messages and break the stereotype that mainstream advertising may be sending out about the hijab. “As a Western woman, I appreciate the Hijab; it is important for the West to realize that the wearing of the hijab is a choice. Western culture is trying to integrate it, and I think it is positive, but there is a fine line between romanticization and appreciation” says Meredith McKelvey, American student at International Christian school in Kenya.

The trend, like so many others in the fashion world, could be just another marketing gimmick, except that the hijab is not just an article of clothing. iIt is a politically charged symbol.

Muslim women who choose to wear headscarves sometimes face challenges, but Stephanie Kurlow, a 14-year-old Australian citizen, is not letting anything stop her from becoming the first professional hijabi ballerina. She has been taking ballet classes since she was 2 years old. She has faced many challenges with regards to her faith over the years; dancing, according to some Muslim traditionalists, can be considered forbidden. Add to this the self-consciousness that also feels when she tops her tutu with the modest hijab headscarf, and one can see that she has already overcome many difficulties.

But she keeps pushing forward with both her passion for ballet, and her faith. Kurlow wants to one day open a diverse performing arts academy. She says she wants to “inspire other young people who maybe don’t feel so confident to follow their dreams due to the outfits they wear, religious beliefs or lack of opportunities.”

Jhillah Chaaker, an Iranian student at Rosslyn Academy, has similar feelings about the hijab. She says, “We are normal people, we cover ourselves by choice. I wear it to embrace the beautiful religion I love. Hijabs do not restrict us or exclude us from society when it comes to partaking in daily activities or pursuing dreams. If everyone else can dress down with shorts, why cant we dress up and cover ourselves without being judged?”

In January 2016, after 71 years of a tall and skinny Barbie, Mattel introduced new physically diverse Barbies that are curvy and small. Now, Haneefah Adam, a 24-year-old who lives in Nigeria, is calling on the doll company to introduce “Hijarbie”- the new diverse body-type-friendly Barbies we know and love, dressed in up-to-date hijabi fashion. This Barbie would represent and inspire millions of Muslim girls around the world who play with the toy.

In our world, everything is changing. It’s time Mattel caught up with retail giants such as H&M, Dolce & Gabbana and Uniqlo, who have answered women’s calls for more diversity in their designs by stocking hijabs and featuring them in campaigns. The acceptance of the hijab in today’s world is truly inspiring and a positive move forward. As long as the true meaning of why Muslim women wear the hijab is not lost, the modernization of modesty is just around the corner.

 

Made in Kenya (by China?)

Mombasa has always been the center of Kenya’s export and import industry. Millions of tons of cargo flows in and out of the city. When goods are brought to Mombasa, the only possible infrastructure available for the transportation of these goods is Mombasa Road. This is true, but it won’t be this way for much longer.

The Mombasa-Nairobi Railway is the biggest infrastructure project that China has embarked upon (up to this time) with Kenya. The total proposed investment for the project is about 3.8 billion dollars (US), with 90% of this funding provided by China. Once this railway is completed, the total time required for goods to travel from Mombasa to Nairobi will only be 4 hours; presently, it can take approximately 36-48 hours for similar cargo to travel the same distance by lorry. Although this project is greatly supported by the  Kenyan government, not all Kenyans seem to be in favour of this large project, or the partnership that has been formed between Kenya and China.

Arthur, a Kenyan Student from Rosslyn Academy, states, “The advantage is being taken [by the Chinese], because the Chinese people are bringing everything from China. They bring workers from China, they bring materials from China, and they bring machines from China.” Many people think that China’s development of the railway is not currently helping the economy of Kenya. According to some statistics, Mr. Huang, a manager from the project’s front line, there are about 30,000 native Kenyans employed to help out with the construction. Though it may be true that Chinese workers are also employed by the project, it is also true that Kenyans are set to benefit from this partnership through job creation.

Another problem that has bothered some people of Kenya is how the money will be paid back to China. Njeri, another student, says that Kenya is too poor to pay back the money. After asking Mr. Haung about what arrangements have been made regarding repayment, he said that China is currently investing money in the construction of the railways, and once the railway is done, for the next 30 years, the ownership rights of the railway will belong to the Chinese. If this is the case, then the advantage obviously belongs to Kenya; after 30 years of service, the railway will belong exclusively to Kenya.

Another misunderstanding in this issue is that the Chinese will be able “steal” natural resources as part of their presence in Kenya . “Chinese are just digging up land, under the light they are building the road, but under the dark they are actually stealing gold from the land.” said Mwangi, an Uber driver in Nairobi. The sentiment behind this critical and cynical statement has recently become popular, especially since oil was found upcountry. Some Kenyans think Chinese are eyeing their oil.

In response to this allegation, the Manager of the Railways project, Mr. Haung, stated that many people think that China is stealing their natural resources because it is requesting land from the people. Building a railway requires land to set up headquarters, and other accompanying structures. Since the Mombasa-Nairobi railway is exceptionally long there will be a huge amount of land in use. After buying so much land from the people, the locals begin to think that the Chinese organizations are just digging up their natural resources; however, this is not the case.

Although the railways might not have a positive image in the hearts of some locals, it can’t be denied that the completed rail line will have a positive impact on Kenya. Once the railway is finished, Kenya’s economy will quickly develop. Perhaps then, people will be more thankful for the good working partnership of China and Kenya.

She Painted a Flower on My Hand

Recently, students from Rosslyn Academy (an International High School) traveled to different parts of the city of Nairobi. Days like this are called “Service Days,” and they happen annually, as they do in many other International schools located in developing regions of the world. The administration of Rosslyn has decided that interactions between poverty stricken or needy communities and privileged students are positive for the growth, and, probably, the reputation of the school as a whole.

There were eleven people in my group, and one teacher. In a bus, we plowed through the roads of Nairobi. We watched the trees and clay-tiled roofs of the residential expat side of Nairobi turn into a tangle of grey highways and finally become rudimentary towers of concrete buildings and angular seas of tin roofed shacks. Turning into a dusty, rocky street in the midst of a labyrinth of dense humanity, feeling the bus slowly lurch, then grind to a halt, we knew we had arrived at our destination.

Every “Service Day” typically consists of a presentation by the local children, several games (like football), face painting, cheap candy, and, in our case, a Bible story because our school is a Christian institution. In all honesty, to most students, the day is uncomfortable, but we’re used to it. Most of our parents volunteer or work in in some sort of career that consists of many occasions such as this, and, memories are often conjured up of long days in childhood spent in similar uncomfortable situations. The waves of feelings, like guilt for being privileged, ebb and flow again – I should care, I need to care. This is important.

As a teenager, it doesn’t really change much. Sure, I’ve lived in Kenya my whole life, I was even born here, but on “Service Day”, I realize just how foreign I am. I smile and face paint for hours, all the while clinging to the persona of a beautiful generous, angelic Western woman that I am not. It feels like identity theft, like the moral police of the world should hunt me down, turn out my pockets, find a forged passport that was handed to me by social happenstance, and take me into custody. I may not have created this shameful identity, but I am definitely involved in the crime.

As I paint the faces of hundreds of children wearing dingy school uniforms with stars and butterflies and spiders, I find myself wondering what they think. Do they just pretend to be grateful, due to cultural expectations, or does it change their lives at all that some white girl wearing a ponytail and jeans and carrying cheap paint came to their crowded school one day to scribble pink flowers on their foreheads? And if it does, what is this world we live in?

While I painted faces, a teacher of the poor slum-school helped me, translating a little, holding my paints. It was obvious that the children, specifically the girls, worshipped her. When I finished with one long line of children, they begged her to let me paint her face, and I did. Afterwards, they insisted that she paint a flower on my hand.

I think that, out of what little I did that day, the teacher painting my hand was important for the children to see. Maybe I’m overthinking this whole thing, searching for moral justice while I sit in my mansion-of-a-home, isolated in an island of lush gardens, while those children are overjoyed to get a little scrap of meat twice a week.

Empowerment is vital. Something that seems trivial, like the teacher painting my hand, may have felt infinitely more empowering for those children than the hundreds of hurried paint jobs I did. The Kenyan farmers who cultivate bamboo plants in the middle of dirt and plastic and sewage, the Kenyan social workers who struggle every day to get attention and recognition for the destitute cramped concrete schools strewn in the mountains of garbage and tin roofs – these are the heroes of the tragic story of poverty. I am not. At best, I am an anti-hero, and only then because I am privileged by birth. All I have to do is smile and play with children and give a little money, if I make the choice to be especially generous. These people actually do something, even if it’s just surviving the pressure of being a role model.

Ultimately, what I’ve really learnt from my service days is this: I have to support the communal leaders in Kenya trying to make a change, and never believe that slums exist because the people who live in them are ignorant or lazy. The rank toilet blocks and rivers of feces exist because no one in authority cared enough to invest in pipe systems. The people, if they can, live on maize meal, lentils, and spinach, not because they don’t have the ingenuity to find more variety, but because they don’t have the money, or the space, or the time.

Rich people can make a difference, it’s true. Most often, we give money, draw attention to the issues, or validate the efforts of the passionate communal leaders who dedicate their lives to inspiring their communities and getting us to help because they don’t have the means to help their communities themselves. They are the true service leaders; they actually serve, day to day, and then, when we sweep in every once in a while to feel like we’ve done something to end poverty, they feel like they have to give us the credit to make us come back.

It’s a messed up world. It’s messed up that true catalysts for change have to impress those privileged by birth. It’s messed up that we need to go on a “Service Day” in order for us to comprehend how privileged we really are.

The US Election: Why Should We Care?

Why should the rest of the world care about who wins the US election that will take place in November 2016? The voters of this campaign will pick a Democrat or Republican leader to run their country.  The outcome of this election will determine how a global superpower will carry on in the next four years. The candidate that the voters pick will be the next president to take power in the United States, and therefore will be the spokesperson and figurehead of one of the world’s largest economies until the year 2020. Due to the long reach of the USA, this event is a global one. Even people living in the most secluded places of the world will be affected by the choice of the American people this coming November.

Some believe that this country that was “a beacon of liberty and the West’s greatest protector” has slowly become the place where the future leaders of America bicker. The topics they squabble about include restricting access to their country because of differing ethnic backgrounds, and the complete obliteration of some Middle Eastern countries with large populations.

As of this day, the US is still one of the largest trading nations in the world, and the president of this nation, in turn, will also continue to  be the world’s most known political figure. Whether it may be Clinton, Trump or Sanders (or someone else?) the president will be the one responsible for negotiating trade agreements that will have a definite effect on billions of lives worldwide.  The next four years may bring yet another period in which the country will lack direction in its foreign policy. Or, perhaps, a new President will enact changes in this area. Only time (and the voters) will tell.

A CNN correspondent asked Jonathan Kay, a Canadian citizen, about his feelings regarding the U.S. campaign, and he responded saying that the upcoming election will affect Canada greatly seeing as most Canadians travel to America regularly for business or vacation time.  They are in constant relationship with the people that live inside the US. Often, they watch the same TV and same sports; they also connect with Americans daily through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Obviously, nations other than the US will be affected by this year’s events.

So far, the Republican side of this race has focused more on the issues of tax reformation, the foreign policy (including relations with the countries of Iran, Russia and the ever so dreaded ISIS). and also the immigration issue which has been contentious for years.  The Democratic candidates have been mostly involved in domestic social issues – for example, “Black Lives Matter”, and “the welfare system, and capitalism and democratic socialism.” Sanders has said that he doesn’t believe in the military intervening and increasing action in the American military actions against ISIS; rather, he would have the countries surrounding take care of the ISIS problem, making it an issue more decidedly Non-American in nature. America is reluctant to send its military forces to work in difficult regions because it believes that it will create big security problems. The future president of the USA will determine the fates of many Non-Americans in the years to come.

There is nothing that we, the rest of the world can do, because we don’t have the power to vote in November. And yet, for all of us, much is at stake. What should our role be in this process? Perhaps, all we can do is watch and ponder what the outcome will mean for us. Maybe we can let our views be known to those who can vote. How can we let our voices – though they be distant – be heard?

Global Warming and the Third World

Heavy rains that cause flooding can disrupt an entire community. That is what happened last week in Kisumu, a city in western Kenya. Around 1500 people were forced to evacuate their homes when water started rising. In an agricultural country like Kenya, floods and droughts can have an enormous effect on the production and each family’s economy.

More extreme weather conditions accompany global warming, as it increases. This means more floods, more droughts, higher sea levels and fiercer storms, leading to even greater poverty in third world countries. One doesn’t have to be a genius to see that these conditions will hit poorer countries the hardest. In Western parts of the world, people subconsciously know that they will be fine; even when there are floods and storms create vicious winds, those affected will get help and they eventually will be fine.

In the global warming debate, the blame-game is alive and well. People always want someone else to take the blame, so fingers are pointed in all directions. An article published at livescience.com written by Sara Goudarzi, “Global Warming or Just Hot Air? A Dozen Different Views”, gives us varying perspectives on the topic. Freeman Dyson, a professor emeritus, on the topic of global warming, states “It is far less important than other social problems such as poverty, infectious diseases, deforestation, extinction of species on land and in the sea, not to mention war, nuclear weapons and biological weapons”.

Kurt M.  Cuffey, professor of geography at the University of California in Berkeley has a different opinion; he says that global warming is a question that should be given priority. He claims “It is time for remaining skeptics to look at the tear-streaked faces of refugees from New Orleans, as well as the startling map of ice shrinkage around the North Pole, and begin to plan for the future”.

So what is supposed to be done about it all? Many feel powerless, and perhaps there just isn’t enough time and energy to try to reduce global warming, when people do not even believe that what they do will bring change.

The information pathways are full of advice about the ways people individually can reduce their impact on the environment: drive fewer hours with the car, eat less meat and more locally produced foods, plant a tree here and there…is this working? While individual efforts against climate change and for more sustainable living should be praised, people also must be realistic. There is a need for bigger, more extensive solutions, and this is something for our political leaders. The leaders have the tools to take initiatives, for laws protecting the seas and the forests and controlling dangerous emissions, for subsidization of research in green solutions, and more.

A flood like the one in Kisumu should not necessarily result in tragedy, but by doing little about the core of the problem, this natural phenomenon is given the power to wreck houses and families. Perhaps, the houses should be built sturdier; perhaps families could still have a place to call home after a flood. Is there more that can be done?

In developing countries, we have a chance. We have a chance to create sustainable solutions, to do things right from the beginning, both for the sake of the environment, and for the people.

A [Wo]Man’s World?

Some people in the world discuss the inequality in how female Hollywood actresses are only asked about what designer dress they´re wearing when the male actors are asked more intellectual questions concerning their roles and their opinions. Other people live in countries where female circumcision is still a problem and where women barely have any legal rights. There are sharp contrasts in the ways people live in different parts of the world, and therefore there are also vast differences of opinion also regarding feminist debate.

So why do we celebrate Women’s Day? Lillie Phillips, an American student at Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi, says that “I think that the day exists as a kind of cheap substitute for actually making a change in the world. Being aware of gender equality and recognizing women for their achievements is something that should be done all year round, so I guess I just don´t understand what the point of Women’s Day is”. Through her statement, Phillips raises the question – does the International Women´s Day actually help the fight for gender equality; does it help make a difference?

The first Women´s Day was held in New York on February 28, 1909 and was organized by the Socialist Party of America. It was held to commemorate the strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. Later on, in Communist countries such as China and Russia it was established as a national “Holiday”. The UN made the 8th of March the official Women´s Day in 1977.

The World Economic Forum made a prediction that gender equality won´t be achieved until 2133. Is the International Women´s Day a way to remind us that we have to fight for change? It certainly won´t come automatically. I spoke to Chiara Leopardi, an Italian student living in Rome, to get her perspective on gender equality. She says “So many women in the past had no rights, and we still have a long way to go. Violence against women is a clear example of how discrimination still is a fact”.  She continues “We are all equal, and should be treated equally”.

Perhaps one of the most important issues in the world today centers on how women are treated around the world today. Life is a lottery, and depending on where you are born as a woman, you may be lucky or unlucky. It is bizarre how many western men (and sometimes, women) claim that the world is already gender equal. Women have jobs, women are seen in the media. That´s equality, right? No need for feminism!

If you see this as true, you need to open your eyes to the real truth. We live in a world where girls are denied the right to education, just because they are girls. We live in a world where one third of all women have experienced some type of abuse from men; a world where millions of women feel unsafe every day.

Hopefully, one day, everyday will be Women´s Day, and people will be recognized for their  abilities and aspirations, regardless or gender.