Nevertheless, she persisted

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Devan DumasA short tale of gender equality by a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in the highlands of Peru.

The contents of this blog are personal reflections and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Honestly, every day I wake up and turn on the internet (because as much as I hate it, that’s my instinct now) I continue to be flabbergasted by the ridiculousness of our country’s current ‘œleadership’ (the US I mean, Peru is doing pretty well in comparison). It’s just like WTF. The more I become accustomed to speaking in Spanish, the more curse words tend to just fall out of my mouth whenever I’m speaking English. Although I’m really trying to be conscious and minimize the swearing, it’s the only thing that comes to mind when I read all these articles and see these videos.

Sometimes it’s all so overwhelming that I’m happy I’m far enough away that I can ignore it if I let myself. But at other times, for example when I saw the pictures of various women’s marches blowing up social media, I wish I was there fighting the good fight. But, if anything it’s just made me more conscious of how these similar gender/race/etc., inequities present themselves in my daily life here in Peru.

It can be as subtle as the harmlessness of my male PCV friends feeling the need to (man)splain to me the logistics and probability of the Patriots winning the Superbowl in the last quarter (I love you guys dearly, but I can do simple math). Or it’s the not so subtle shift in dynamic as my supervisor and I walk into a mayor’s office and sit down surrounded by male community authorities to explain Peace Corps and talk about opportunities for collaboration.

I walk in obviously a gringa, and actually above average in size compared to the women from the sierra. And Nelly, although smaller in stature than I, has a presence that is anything but small, and sure knows how to command a room. Maybe it’s just me, but it often seems like they are caught a bit off guard or just don’t know exactly how to react to us.


(Photo: Devan Dumas)

This past week when we were doing some site identification meetings it hit me that in some small way, with just that interaction we are indeed fighting the good fight. Also pretty obvious was the difference in attitudes to this week’s activity in the health center for International Condom Day. A female obstetrician and I gave a quick little chat about the importance of using condoms and the correct way to use them. We then had a table set up where people waiting could come demonstrate the correct usage in exchange for a small prize.

Although there was a general unwillingness of patients to participate, the only ones we could convince, besides health providers, were male. (Yes I know this topic is way more complicated, but I’d rather not go into all the intricacies at the moment). But to all my perSISTERS, keep on keepin’ on.

To read the rest of the article, visit Devan’s blog here

Devan Dumas is a third year Peace Corps volunteer currently located in Huaraz. She previously served two years in the sierra community of Aquia, Ancash and now serves as volunteer leader for the region. Originally from Rhode Island, she uses her public health background from Boston University to contribute to the community health program, working in themes of malnutrition and anemia in children, and sexual and reproductive health in adolescents.

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