Girls? As we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, I think back on my Peace Corps service.
GLOW, “Girls leading our world,” is a Peace Corps program running across the world for more than 20 years, aimed at several different goals, but during my service in Thailand, it focused on gender empowerment and equality. The camp’s purpose was to teach gender, sexual health, and teamwork to all gendered students. I brought a group of students to two GLOW camps during my service.
The camp’s impact on my students was generally positive, giving them a space to learn in a different and non-binary way. However, there is a ton of irony in Americans attempting to teach gender and sexual equality.
As of March 2021, there are71 bills targeting trans people, and half ban trans girls from participating in sports aligning with their gender. State governments continue to attack reproductive health access for women, while U.S. White women still make $0.79 to the $1.00 that White men make; Hispanic or Latinx women make $0.54.
Given that, my suggestion is that before the U.S. preaches gender equality at Peace Corps camps, it takes some time to realize its gaps. In the meantime, Peace Corps should own up to the gaps and work with countries abroad to address problems together. We as Peace Corps Volunteers should be learning from the communities abroad before asserting solutions that are intricate, country-specific, culturally specific, and nonuniform.
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