- ABOUT SAY NO
- AROUND THE WORLD
- THE ISSUE
- TAKE ACTION
by Claire Shaw
Born in Bournemouth but living in London, I am a postgraduate student studying Journalism at Goldsmiths, University of London, with an ambition to report on global issues - to tell people’s stories, raise awareness and evoke change.
I have a particular interest in education, and believe education is the key to success, and to understanding the world around you.
Being brought up in fairly well-off, white middle-class area, I feel I led a sheltered life as a teenager, and it wasn’t until I volunteered overseas on my gap year, that my beliefs, perceptions and ideologies of the world around me changed.
To be taken out of your comfort zone and stripped from everything that is familiar to you, is the single most scary and strangely satisfying experience. Traveling taught me a lot about myself, my strengths and weaknesses, but most importantly my passion to share stories, knowledge, and to make a difference in whatever way I can.
For me, journalism is not just about informing the public, but encouraging people to have an active interest in what is going on around them; to engage in freedom of speech, and use journalism in its multimedia forms as a springboard for discussion, debate, and spreading information.
'Women's Rights and Me'
I strongly believe we are molded by our experiences.
It was in 2006, in a rural village 20km outside Uganda’s capital Kampala, that my eyes were opened to the brutality of gender inequality. Speaking to girls as young as six years old, who had been made homeless, abused and often raped because of a physical or mental disability, was shocking and simply unjust. These children were not only denied the right to childhood, but were degraded, humiliated and dehumanized by members of society who behaved in a way that violated the human rights of women.
During my travels across East Africa and Indonesia, I was constantly reminded of the fact I was a woman, from derogatory comments made by strangers in the street, to the objectification of my female body as a perceived sex object. One memorable occasion in Bali was when a local man offered to ‘buy’ me for $50.
Across the world, women’s rights to bodily integrity, to vote, work, education, fair wages, religious rights, marriage etc, are supported by law in many countries, yet ignored and suppressed in others.
In Afghanistan, many women, particularly in rural areas, are restricted from participating in public, denied education, and forced into arranged marriages. Just recently (April 2012), a Moroccan teenager committed suicide after being forced by the courts to marry a man who had allegedly raped her. In Brazil, less than 15 per cent of all land in the country is registered to women. And in France, women are banned from wearing the burka, or covering their face in public.
But this is not just a problem abroad, but in Britain too. The Reclaim the Night march in London 2011, saw 2000 women take to the streets in a protest to end violence against women. Statistics revealed there were 40,000 rapes in Britain last year alone, yet conviction rates were lower than ever.
It has to be said, the enforcement of women’s rights in many countries has empowered women to succeed and thrive in education and the workplace. But there is still a long way to go and many challenges to be faced, with different cultural approaches to women’s rights being one of the greatest challenges of all.
Assignments by Claire
- Bringing Beauty Back to Rwanda: Empowering Women - Interview with Salha Kaitesi
- Interview with Teddy Curran:The woman who brought engineering to the desert in Northern Uganda
- Uganda: Women and Children Vulnerable to the Effects of Climate Change