I blog for Change…

As I attempt to orient the windy and often treacherous roads that encapsulate life, here are some of my thoughts on the successes, failures and ultimately the hope and positivity in which I strive for a better world. I also hope that I can use this blog as a platform to elevate the social justice issues that are somewhat forgotten in the modern discourse of staying silent on issues that challenge.


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An Ode to My Artistry.

I’ve done some reflecting lately on fear and how that relates to my life on a daily basis. As you get older you tend to worry more often about whether your life journey is on the right track. In an existence where we never receive a sign as to whether or not we have made the right choice towards any decision, how do we know if we’ve made a wrong turn, veered off path or missed an opportunity? This line of thinking for many of us then sends us on the ‘what am I doing with my life’ spiral.

I had one of these at the start of this year in which I would better liken to an actual existential crisis. I found myself questioning if I was squandering my talents and my gifts by focusing on the wrong elements of a specific career path and therefore unexpectedly boxing myself in. I began to wonder if I was stifling my creativity and therefore turning a blind eye to the pursuits that make me happy and joyous and ultimately free. I couldn’t help but look around and take notice of all the badasses that were killing it with their artistry, their voice and their originality. I kept evaluating myself against their freedom within this and thus paling in meagre comparison to this carefree and pure existence.

What I didn’t see then was that I am in fact living my own dream and practising my very own unique form of artistry. I remembered all of the reasons why I got involved in the international development industry. I recalled feeling that passion each and every day of my existence which pushed me to advocate for social change. I reminded myself of how I contribute to that change through my writing, through my agency and through my voice when I speak up against the endemic discrimination that faces too many in this world.

So here I am, in all my freedom, creativity, wildness and flair presenting myself as me: a development worker, humanitarian, writer, blogger, feminist and activist. My artistry matters because it contributes to social change and building a society in which we are equal and free from discrimination & oppression. Free to express ourselves and love how and who we want and free to contribute to the development of our own journeys however they are formed and wherever they may lead to.

Sx


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Life of a Development Worker – Matrilineal Societies of Meghalaya.

The end of February heralds the time for my next monitoring visit to India. This upcoming trip will take me to 2 of the North Eastern states known as the Seven Sisters. The area itself is wedged between Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar and is only linked to the Indian mainland by a small 14 mile strip of West Bengali territory. For this reason, the demographics of this region differ vastly than that of the rest of India and are home to a large tribal population.

In Meghalaya, one of the states I am due to visit I was surprised to learn that the Khasi population who are indigenous to this region are one of only a few dwindling matrilineal societies still in existence around the world. Matriliny is the practice of descent through the female line whereby property and inheritance are passed from mother to daughter. Within the Khasi tradition wealth and surnames are passed down from mothers, and husbands are bound to live with their wives family after marriage. At first glance it’s easy to testify to some sort of feminist utopian existence in which women control household finances and have decision making capacity of what this is expended upon. However, the more detailed the analysis, the more cracks begin to appear.

A slow onset of patriarchy has been observed and is reported by women as experienced through exclusion within the political decision-making process of their communities. Khasi women in recent times have continued to express a frustration over being crowded out of the process whereby decisions are come to at the society level. This is exacerbated by exclusion from participation of local grassroots governing bodies who determine the future of the communities they preside over. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that is seen the world over and it seems not even traditional systems of matriliny are enough to mitigate this entrenched discrimination based on gender lines.

At the household level in which women seem to be the most empowered, there are nuances which challenge this idea entirely. Many families in Meghalaya have confirmed that even though women are the custodians of family wealth and inheritance, they are very rarely able to influence control over these resources. The presence of latter day colonialism, Christianity and modern day globalisation has heightened the practice of latent patriarchy in which male members of the family assume supreme decision making capacity.

So as I prepare to embark on this trip I am wary not to romanticise the practice of matrilineal societies within the state. I will constantly need to remind myself that the inherent, systematic challenges that face women in communities worldwide is still in existence even in places where matriliny is embedded. Ironically here, as the world over, women have to continually strive to prove themselves as capable beings who are able to contribute to the mechanisms which determine their lives. And so the fight for equality, freedom and justice continues.

Sx


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To beautiful imperfections.

It’s no secret that I have used this platform to discuss some pretty personal and confronting issues. I’ve never been one to shy away from frankness or candour so it seems all but natural to be open about the struggles that I confront within myself daily. As time has gone on and this blog has seen more traffic, people have often asked me about my motivation behind disclosing things which are ‘that’ personal. On some occasions I’ve been met with that of utter bewilderment as it’s attempted to comprehend the incentive behind posting such deep emotional turmoil so publicly. Others have applauded my bravery and proclaimed that I must possess a certain amount of strength to be able to publish all that I do with such a doubtless ease. The truth behind my reasoning doesn’t actually encompass any of these elements; instead it lies to reason an unyielding desire for honesty in the never ending pursuit for answers within this life.

If I were to break this down most simply I would say that the reason why I share my heartbreak, my loss and my battles within myself and my own mind are to promote the idea that these elements are all a part of the human condition. They strike towards our utter and innate humanness and therefore should not be something that we hide away. The idea of striving towards a misguided form of perfection is as dangerous as it is flawed. Although it may be projected to us through a tiny glimpse of someone’s life through social media, it’s just that, a miniscule element of that person’s existence. It’s the part they put forward in order to meet society’s erroneous standards of what one’s life ought to look like. However, no one sees the battles that are had behind closed doors.

I suppose this blog, during its most personal, gut wrenching, soul shattering posts aims at correcting that standard. Instead it presents an alternative in which I invite everyone to value those things about oneself that you are most uncomfortable with. Embrace yourself and all of your beautiful imperfections; or at least try to, as I attempt to each and every day. I keep this space going in order to nurture the idea that we shouldn’t have to tuck away the things that we struggle with. That far from being deemed as shameful, we should instead be striving for a society in which openness and honesty are promoted. Whereby we value each other’s frailties, challenges and imperfections as the things that provide us with the strength to keep going and unite us in our joint humanity.

To our beautiful, fragile and diverse imperfections which are to be valued in their rawness.

Sx