Our esteemed blogmistress, the being known as tigtog, asked me to tell you about this fundraising venture on which I have embarked. Firstly I’ll tell you all about why the hospital is so important, and then I’ll tell you what I’m doing to earn the sponsorship money.
I’m raising funds (here’s my sponsorship page) for the Hamlin Fistula® Relief and Aid Fund, which is the Australian representative of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. Some of you may have encountered the person who runs it, Australian Dr Catherine Hamlin, in the past; I started following and helping out with the hospital’s work when I saw her speak a few years back. On one level, I feel slightly weird about supporting this because it reminds me quite strongly of the narrative of the white woman coming to save the Africans. But on another, this is the only dedicated fistula hospital there is in the country, and the hospital is now working on training Ethiopian midwives to go be present in villages so that hopefully less people will have to come to the hospital in the first place.
This next paragraph is about the medical side, so consider yourself warned. Fistulas are holes that develop internally as the result of obstructed labour, which result in stillbirths for the most part. They disproportionately affect young girls whose bodies are too young to handle pregnancy safely, rape survivors who are often subject to rape as a tool of war, and rural women without access to medical care or sufficient nutrition. It’s therefore a condition that is almost non-existent in the West, but tens of thousands of new cases develop each year, mostly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Those who develop the condition often cannot hold their waste or give birth again, and may be shunned by their communities. The hospital cures 93% of fistulas, and gives those who can’t be cured somewhere to live and employment. I wrote quite extensively on the topic in 2009 at Feministe if you want to learn more.
Okay, so what am I doing to raise funds? I am participating in Dressember, which is essentially where one wears a dress a day through the month of December to support women’s charities. A bunch of Aussies are doing it for the White Ribbon Foundation, for instance. I’ve been thinking, lately and always, on getting dressed and the place femininity has in feminism. I think dismissing femininity, something that has traditionally been associated with women, as frivolous is deeply misogynistic, and I’m working on pursuing equality by expanding the kinds of gender expression that are available to people of any gender rather than limiting legitimacy to the masculine. Now I’m putting your money where my mouth is, and using femininity to do some practical good for women, and perhaps some people who identify otherwise, too. I’m posting the pictures of me wearing my (and readers’!) dresses every few days at my home blog, Zero at the Bone.
I’m hoping to raise $500, and we’re just below the $300 mark right now. There’s been such an amazing response that I’ve upped the target to $750! Please donate, if you’re inclined and able, at my donation page at Everyday Hero, which will be open until 1 January. I’d appreciate you spreading the word in any case.
I deeply care about the work this hospital does and hope that some of you will help support my efforts to raise funds for them. And, on a lesser note, to turn around the idea that femininity (and women) are trivial by performing it for a cause that is definitely not trivial.