Amity Regional High School graduate Christine Popp, who is serving as a Community Health Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia, was selected to participate in the 3rd Annual Peace Corps Action for Gender Equality Summit from March 3-7, 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Popp joined 9 other Peace Corps Volunteers to host 40 select Ethiopian students for a five-day training on gender development in Ethiopia.
Each Volunteer brought two female students and two male students to the Summit. “The lack of gender equality in Ethiopia, and the rest of the world, cannot be ignored. Women must be given the opportunity to thrive and contribute their full potential to the global community. But gender equality is not just a female issue. It is everyone’s issue, so it needs to be addressed by bringing both sexes together to communicate and work together to bring about positive and meaningful change” says Popp, a George Washington University graduate who majored in Middle East Studies and International Development. The 2015 UN Human Development Report ranked Ethiopia in the lowest group for the Gender Development Index, and 129th out of 188 countries in the Gender Inequality Index. The Action for Gender Equality Summit was aimed to give youth the information, tools, and skills they need to be change makers for gender development in their local communities.
Popp, along with 9 other Volunteers, earned a spot to the Summit by completing gender-focused activities in her local town of Lissana, which is in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) of the country. Popp worked for twelve weeks with a group of female and male students from her local high school. One of her favorite activities was “The Wall Against Violence”. Popp explains, “We had a discussion with the girls about gender based violence and how we see it happening in Lissana. We talked about the detrimental effects of gender based violence to women and society, and came up with ideas of how to prevent and fight gender based violence in the community. The girls then traced an outline of their hands and wrote, in English, Amharic, or their mother tongue, Haddiyyisa, one reason they will no longer stand for violence against women in any of its forms, and we hung them all on the wall, to show how much impact we can have if we all stand together.”
The Action for Gender Equality Summit was hosted by Peace Corps Ethiopia’s Gender and Development (GAD) Committee, which was established in 2012 and aims to encourage and support grassroots efforts that promote sustainable gender equality in Ethiopia. Peace Corps Ethiopia works in three sectors – Education, Environment and Agriculture, and Health. The GAD Committee assists volunteers in implementing gender development practices into the work of each sector.
President John F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps in 1961. Ethiopia was one of the first countries in the world to invite Peace Corps Volunteers to work with them. More than fifty years later, there are over 250 PCVs currently serving in Ethiopia.