Working as an intern at MEDA was an exciting opportunity; I eagerly anticipated applying the theory I had learned in class to a professional organization that provides business solutions to poverty as Gender Programming Coordinator.
At the University of Waterloo, I learned the theory behind social development through courses in psychology, sociology and social work. These are relevant to MEDA’s work in gender development and equality because they teach students how to empower and advocate for the rights of those who cannot advocate for themselves. I learned to analyze and reflect on various social issues that people are currently experiencing around the world from an interdisciplinary and innovative perspective, just as MEDA does.
MEDA is solution-focused, working to provide business solutions to poverty through training, entrepreneurship and investment. MEDA provides agency by partnering with people as they seek to change their circumstances through entrepreneurship. As an intern, I had a front-row seat to the effective work of MEDA. I watched as MEDA staff prioritized individuals and communities. I watched as they implemented projects that benefited everyone – including women and youth.
Promoting gender equality through economic development is an important factor when helping individuals and families escape from poverty as it benefits everyone. When women are treated as equals, our world changes. That’s why it is important to include gender equality in all aspects – political, economical and social.
A common misconception about gender equality is that it solely benefits women, exclusive of men. But this is not the case! Men are integral actors in the fight for gender inclusivity! International movements like UN Women’s He for She are great examples of how men and people from all gender identities are included in the conversation.
Being an intern at MEDA was a great hands-on experience. During my time with MEDA I was able to apply the theory and knowledge that I had learned in the classroom. Practice and hands-on experience are all part of the learning process and MEDA provided a great environment to ask questions, learn and reflect.