by Lynda Laushway, Executive Director of SWOVA
It’s a sunny afternoon in a beautiful garden. People are milling about or sitting and chatting. There are lovely canapes and sweet treats along with fruit punch being served. Neighbours and more distant friends keep arriving. One woman plays a keyboard and a small group are singing beautifully. The setting is perfect for a relaxing afternoon. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and we all know that we are all here with an additional purpose.
Young women with a lovely ease stand up to speak to the gathered group about their experience in SWOVA’s Pass It On Program or in the Salish Seas Girl’s Leadership Program. They talk about the acceptance and support that they receive through their program meetings and how it has built their confidence to go out into the world and make a difference. We are touched by their honesty, their hope and feel inspired by their courage.
People not only hear or read about the programs offered by SWOVA, they experience the living results of investing in our youth. ‘The ask’ follows and people do get out their cheque books and give generously from their hearts. We also hear feedback from the group that they did not know about the scope of the work at SWOVA and they have been moved by it.
This is grassroots community building and support at its best- one party at a time. If you are interested in hosting a party at your house please let us know.
The days when etiquette encompassed topics such as who should open a door for who and how to set a table correctly, definitely predated the internet and social media. We live in a whole new world now where communication is instantaneous and anonymous. When we communicate we are easily disguised. Not that we didn’t have ‘poison pen letters’ and other ways to defame people back then- it just didn’t happen at the speed and intensity that the internet has provided. It also was generally less public, without thousands of viewers around the world ready to become voyeurs into public campaigns to humiliate and degrade someone and perhaps ‘jump on board’ while allowing the instigator to escape detection- and all of it with the click of a button.
It is the Wild West in cyberspace with no rules and no etiquette to guide us. In ‘the privacy of our own home’ the world of cyberspace can be one of disguise and deceit. Here at SWOVA we have been mulling over this issue and asking ourselves’ “What does respect look like on the internet?” Supported by the Salt Spring Island Foundation and potentially the Canadian women’s Foundation, we will be developing new curriculum that addresses respect on the internet and how to support youth to stay safe and remain respectful in their relationships through this technology.
Some of the internet etiquette and safety that we will explore is:
- Is it okay to end a relationship by e-mail or text?
- How does respect relate to internet pornography and how does it affect our personal relationships?
- How does the respect that we show each other in our day-to-day relationships translate into the online world?
- If miscommunication is happening online, when do we decide that we need to talk in person?
Youth have an important role to play in setting the guidelines that will help us all to know how to translate respectful behaviour into cyberspace. There are a myriad of questions that need to be asked and we are beginning this important dialogue.
by Lynda Laushway – Executive Director, SWOVA
With great sadness I write about the rape and murder of two girls in Northern India last week. Two cousins ages 14 and 15 went out to the fields in the night to relieve themselves because they have no toilet inside their house. They were brutally gang-raped by a group of men and their lifeless bodies hung from a mango tree.
The girls were from the Dalit caste, considered the lowest of the low in India and also known as ‘untouchables’. They were female, they were young women of colour, they were poor and they were from the lowest caste in their society. To say that they were extremely vulnerable would be a mild description. In their home of Uttar Pradesh State, they count as two of the average of ten rapes reported every day. As we know, many more rapes go unreported due to shame and societal pressures. In India sixty percent of the rapes happen when girls and women have to go into the fields because of a lack of a toilet in their homes.
Under scrutiny by journalists, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister said “You’re not in any danger are you? Then why are you worried? What is it to you?” I ask- What is it to all of us? If you believe that all things are connected on planet earth then it matters to all of us that girls and women live with such discrimination, de-humanization, and brutality. My heart aches for these girls and their families.
Closer to home, here in Canada we have over 1,000 missing and murdered Aboriginal girls and women. They were female, they were women of colour, they were poor and they were from a group that is discriminated against in our society. The term ‘squaw’ is meant to degrade and de-humanize Aboriginal females.
The circle of pain and heartache stretches from Northern India to Canada and around the globe. I ask again- “What is it to all of us? What are we going to do?”
Lynda Laushway – Executive Director, SWOVA