Strutting To Make A Statement

There is something powerful about being a part of something that is bigger than yourself. Being part of a moment in time where a group of strangers can come together for one unified cause. To be part of a social movement that is more than just a political protest but rather provide a hope that positive change is upon us.

Thanks to a couple of amazing women at the Women Center, the University of Waterloo held the first ever SlutWalk in the KW region just a few mere hours ago. I remember in the beginning of the winter term, one of my friends Erin (an executive of the Women Center) came into my room and told me all about her exciting new conquest at the Women Center to bring forth the SlutWalk to the University of Waterloo. I was amazed that it hadn’t had been brought forth sooner but I couldn’t have been prouder of the work that Erin among her fellow comrades did to accomplish this.

Up until a few hours ago,I had never participated in a SlutWalk let alone any rally or protest before. I remember hearing about the SlutWalk a few years back when I was in high school. I didn’t really know much about it other than it was a walk in protest to a comment made by some police officer where women could wear literally anything (or nothing) they wanted. As an ignorant teenager, I associated the Slutwalk as something that was very scandalous that only crazy people took part of. The whole concept of women walking around with literally nothing on didn’t make any sense to me, and I was just confused and baffled by the idea. However, fast forward to present day and through meeting some amazing people such as Erin and some of my fellow Indevours, I have learned the true meaning and now understand the main ideas behind the SlutWalk.

The SlutWalk is a monumental transnational movement of a march that is held to protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance and a call to end rape culture. The first ever SlutWalk was held on  April 3rd 2011 in Toronto, Ontario and since then these marches have symbolized a unified statement about sexual assault and victims’ rights and to demand respect for all. This all started after Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police Force officer, made a public statement on January 24th, 2011 reiterating the Force’s views on sexual assault as “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.Since the initial walk in Toronto, the SlutWalk has become more than a political protest but also about freedom of expression.

So without really knowing much about the SlutWalk, I did some research and then it dawned on me, what does one wear to a Slut-walk? One of my friends suggested that I wear a scandalous outfit that was sexy and revealed it all. Another agreed and suggested I go naked.  I knew that some participants were going to be shirtless or wearing tight short clothing. And I didn’t want to stand out like a sore thumb if I didn’t conform to that. But then it hit me, I was no different than many other ignorant men and women who believed that the true underlying reason behind many sexual assault cases was because of how promiscuous a woman dressed. What I wore to a simple march let alone what I wear every day or when I go out with friends should not define me or label me as a “Slut”.

 

Many can argue that the SlutWalk is just a march that lacks the substance and drive to be a monumental movement. But I see it differently. I see it as something that is about to achieve its tipping point effect to break stereotypes and change the way modern society views violence against women. I mean looking back to when the walk first took place in 2011 and seeing it grow into something bigger is powerful. To see the effects that it has by raising awareness and generating discussion on the issues surrounding rape culture, victim blaming and slut shaming. It shows the power that a group of individuals can have to create change.The walk breaks the norms and perceptions that society has on how a “Slut” should look, act and dress. Hearing and seeing stories of rape victims who participated in the walk wear the clothes that they were raped in shows that rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter what you wear, what your gender is or orientation. Rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone and perpetrators could be people close and dear to your heart. The SlutWalk brings light on the issue that how you dress and present yourself is not the cause for being assaulted it is just an excuse that the system and society think. Women are blamed and taught to apologize for provoking, taunting and teasing men. They are just asking for it by wearing seductive clothing and walking home alone at night. Victim blaming and slut shaming is a very real thing that is overlooked by society.

We focus on saving our world and protecting our planet but what about saving and protecting the lives of hundreds and thousands sexually assault victims. We need to start teaching men and women of all ages, race, and orientation that no one is ever asking to be raped or sexually assaulted. No means no. Everyone deserve to live a life without fear.

The man who claimed to save a city billions

As the Toronto Mayoral election comes up, it is important to understand the facts and claims that candidates have made during the 2014 election campaign.Rob Ford vehicle registration tax

Canada’s latest international celebrity and butt of all jokes, Rob Ford has launched his election campaign with the main argument for his re-election as:

 “I might be a mess in my private life, but look how much money I’ve shoveled into your pocket. I saved you a billion dollars, folks. That must make me the greatest mayor in the history of the city, if not the world. Guaranteed”.

However, a recent article published by Royson James for the Toronto Star stated that “Budget confusion lets Ford get away with ‘$1B savings’ claim” – a point lost on people who take the mayor’s oft-repeated untruth at face value.

I have gotten into a few arguments with peers regarding Mr. Ford and all of the super great things that he has done and contributed to the city, but I do agree that the one good thing that he has done was save the city millions of dollars. Upon election 4 years ago, Ford promised to cut $2 billion in spending without cutting a single service. It is true that Ford has eliminated the city’s dependence of $350 million in all kinds of surplus and reserve funds but that figure is no way near the billion dollar tax savings mark.

Toronto’s city manager, Joe Pennachetti,  stated that there is a difference between budget savings and tax savings. In response to Ford’s tax saving arugments, Pennachetti argued:

“You can’t say, ‘I saved taxpayers a billion dollars’… That’s not a correct statement. Council reduced expenditure levels with a combination of cuts and revenues increase to minimize the tax increases… every mayor has done that”.

As the election campaign continues to unfold, the city manager and city’s chief financial officer have been caught up with just how much money Ford has saved for taxpayers during his time in office. Josh and his colleague, Daniel Dale, broke down and deconstructed Ford’s tax saving claims and accomplishments as stated in the article:

  • Fuel prices ended up lower than projected, so Ford claims the $23 million saved as part of mopping up the gravy. Interest rates dropped, saving another $36 million, and Ford portrays this as a tax saving.
  • User fees jumped $30 million under Ford; the mayor claims this as a tax saving because if he didn’t increase the fees — like transit fares — then taxes would go up on everyone. At the same time he stopped another user fee, the vehicle registration tax, but claimed that as a tax saving — even though it meant all taxpayers had to fill the revenue gap created.
  • The provincial government exempted the TTC from $54 million in “fringe benefits liabilities.” Ford takes credit for saving taxpayers $54 million

Through understanding these claims, it is evident to see that Ford has seriously stretched his claims. Ford had no power over fuel prices and interest rates. There needs to be another reason why people should re-elect Ford back into office. Over the past 4 years, what else has he done other than made a joke of Toronto?

I urge GTA voters to do some research and look through news articles, and mayoral candidates’ platform. Support a candidate whom you believe will benefit the city and the future generations. Not someone who is funny and “bad ass”. Toronto is a highly internationally recognized city that deserves the opportunity to have a mayor to lead them to future success.

 

 

What is Development?

  • To my distant relatives: Development is saving Africa
  • To my mother: Development is soliciting without pay
  • To my friends: Development is travelling and saving the world

But to me, development is complicated. There isn’t a clear definition that explains what development is other than is the process of change. However,  that definition varies between individuals, groups, towns, and nations. Everyone has their own viewpoint of what is important to them and their regions.

So with that I ask you:

  How do you decide what is important in development? To invest your time, effort, money and resources? To advocate and fight for? What serves more attention over the other?

To be honest, if someone came up to me and asked me those questions I wouldn’t be able to give them a simple answer. My perspectives of the key to development has shifted far to many times to count. When I came into the International Development program, I thought restructuring political systems were key, yet by the end of first year I became passionate towards the importance of water security. By the end of my second year I believed that development must incorporate economic structures and urban planning. But now with the help of a few of my friends, I have become more engaged with issues among women and minority groups.

I find myself in a limbo of what issues stands to be more precedent. Development is complicated. Everything is connected but there are many faults that lie within the political, economic and social systems. Within political, economic and social system, I think that longevity would be key to development. Therefore, I believe that the direction of development lies within sustainability.

The concept of sustainable development entered the minds of global citizens in the early 1970s as a concept that looked achieving an equilibrium between the economy and environment.  However, sustainable development is more notably defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

sustainability_spheres

Sustainable development does not only apply to the environmental and economic issues but it looks at the social implications as well.  Worldly problems and issues are interconnected. For example,  water scarcity and inequalities  can impact community health with water contaminations, dehydration, access and further illnesses. As a result, this can impact the surrounding natural environment, habitats and animals and the local economy. Resources are becoming finite and populations are growing at a exponential rate. Problems link together and political regulatory bodies need to address these concerns through understanding the future implications.  Through achieving sustainable development we will be able to achieve a global society that will become more inclusive, environmental conscience and economically feasible.

What is development to you? Feel free to comment and add your opinion on what the key is development.

And in this craze world we live in there is hope

My fellow  indevour Erin  wrote an interesting post today about Lenses  (Please check it out and her blog). Essential Erin argued that we (human beings) view the world in different lens  (such as gender, culture, socio-economic level, sexuality, etc )  and these lenses affect the way we view certain issues and ideas.  However, it is important to understand and be aware of other lenses that may be different to you. The lack of understanding and awareness has caused many disputes and conflicts.

We are fortunate enough to be living in a society that allows people to fight back for their rights and freedoms. The global society is constantly being educated to use political correct terms, to be inclusive in their language and to respect others views and opinions. Yet, there are always a few ignorant folks who fail to do so.  The lack of responsibility for their actions has sparked many disputes and controversy. Just this past week, numerous headlines and events appeared on my social media from Coca- Cola’s American Beautiful Diversity Ad to Piers Morgan’s Misgendered Insults and to the highly debated Issues surrounding Sochi 2014 (All to be blogged and commented about in the later further).  But what they all have in common is the lack of understanding, lack of education and lack of awareness.

The craze of this world is surrounded by the lack of understanding, lack of education and lack of awareness. It is getting better but at what cost. The cost of humiliation, harassment, ridicule, and pain.  People are constantly fighting for their voice to be heard, to gain equal rights and privilege as the white elite men.  And slowly but surly they are winning their fights. Yet no matter where you go in the deepest darkest corners of the world you will find that one ignorant stubborn person that fails to listen to and understand the lenses of those around him or her.

But there is hope. Our generation is learning, becoming more educated and are making more informed decisions. While the spread of social media can be a threat to society it has proven to be blessed invention that has helped informed people, keep them connected with like minded souls, and helped create social change. Whether it be small or big, change occurs everyday.  It doesn’t matter where you are from or what you do or what you believe in. Just remember to stay informed, understand all points of view and lenses, and be aware that you opinion is not the only thing that matters. There are about 7.14 billion other beautiful souls out there that have a voice and that matter. Take the time and listen to their voice before you expect people to listen to yours. And that itself will give us hope.