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Hopefully …

Women around the world are struggling.

Today I was reminded how lucky and privileged I am being a woman living in Sweden. Don’t take me wrong, women in Sweden still have a lot of issues to fight against.   Sweden is in no way perfect but we have come far. It still is important not to get to comfy and think it’s good enough.

At breakfast one of the female receptionists sat down next to me. Eager to practice her English she starts with the usual questions like country, about my traveling, how I can do this, children and marital status. Divorced. She gives me a big sad sigh. No, I tell her, it was a good thing. So she tells med that couples who get a divorce here in Vietnam, always the woman is blamed, it is her fault, she must be the cause.

So we get from this casual chat to a very serious conversation. She opens her heart and tells me her story and the story of many young women in Vietnam. A story I believe she shares with many women around the world.

A story of being controlled, family making decisions on her life, being 23 and not aloud to go out after 9 pm, friends of her parents watching her every move and reporting to her parents, her parents constantly making her feel bad, telling her she is making them sad and and looking bad in other peoples eyes, not being good enough. She has dreams. I ask and she tells me but ends every sentence with … but I can not do that because my parents wouldn’t approve. On the question wether she think she would be given more freedom if she was a boy, she laughed out loud and said loud and clear Yes.

This has become a big problem for young women in China. Young unmarried women of the age of 25 -30+ are referred to as Leftover Women.  Being well educated with prosperous careers their families expects them to leave all this for marriage and family life. They struggle with the mental abuse from their parents, being seen as outcasts.

Education is good. That will always be the foundation on which societies will become better societies. Inspired and led by Malala’s example, the Malala Fund works to secure girls’ right to a minimum 12 years of quality education. This is one of many examples.

I remember when working as a volunteer in Kenya where I met at least 100 women from the Project Nikumbuke and we talked about how women and girls are treated. We talked about family planning and they told me that  this was a topic they talked to their girls about just before getting married. When do you talk with your sons about it I asked and they were all in chock. This was not a thing to talk with the sons about.

We will never get this right if, like in US, only men are present around the table deciding on women’s health, when Saudi Arabia is elected in to UN Women’s Rights Commission (since the rest of the world are so dependent on their oil), when Russia just recently legalised domestic abuse.

We will neither get it right if we don’t have male role models. And the best role models are still yet to come if we raise our sons teaching them good values. Furthermore we can not expect a change unless we elect people with good values into our governments. Values that poeople from  any gender would benefit from.

I have met so many young women struggling, trying to find their own path in a modern world with old values. A path that is never questioned when men goes there. There are no ads telling men which cream to use to get rid of those wrinkles, no spandex ads telling them to hide their love handles, and no one questions a man when he wants to do something challenging. What if women were to have the same freedom. What if.

Read what Corentin is writing in one of his posts on Instagram about life in remote villages in northern Vietnam  

So there we sit and talk. I see sadness in her face. I wish I could wipe that away and replace it with the face of hope. I planted a seed in her mind. Hopefully she will water it and let it grow. Hopefully one day …

2 thoughts on “Hopefully …

  1. Impressive blog! Yes, In our own way we, solo women travelers, can do our part in this. By talking and planting seeds . We have to take the time to stand listen, as you so beautifull show us in every blog. I love those talks and always feel grateful for their trust to share their Dreams. There are always Dreams. So there is always hope. ❤

  2. Oh, Simone! You move me with your words. And Yes, we female travelers can make a difference. We have a bigger responsibility than we think. I agree with you totally, listening to other people’s stories are the icing on the cake of traveling. And as His Holiness Dalai Lama says, if you listen you will learn something. Lots of love to you

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