Gorgeous sunrise this morning when I was hitting the gym.

Why I’m doing Walk in Her Shoes this week

This week, I’m walking 50km for the Walk in Her Shoes challenge, to raise funds for the work of CARE Australia to help women and girls living in poverty in developing countries. You can sponsor my walk here. Every little bit helps.

There’s a few reasons why I am doing it.

1. Some of my lovely colleagues decided to do it together in a team, and it’s fun to be cheeky and hassle each other about how many steps we have done, as well as to walk together.

2. When I was living in Timor-Leste and Indonesia, I saw how poverty disproportionately affects women and girls. Things such as having nearby water supply or sanitation facilities can make a huge difference by reducing the amount of time women and girls have to spend carrying water, by reducing the risk of them being attacked, etc. This isn’t just fundraising rhetoric, I have seen how important this is first hand, particularly when visiting remote villages in Timor-Leste. Getting water from far away sources eats up time. More free time means girls get to go to school, or women can grow vegetables or do other work to earn livelihoods. And when women have an income, they are more likely to pull their family out of poverty by spending on the important things, like health or education. Girls with education raise healthier children and have fewer children. It’s all connected, so I’m enthusiastic to raise money to support projects working on these issues.

(On a somewhat related note, imagine having your period and not having access to water, sanitary products or toilet facilities? What a nightmare. I wrote about this issue last year.)

There’s another reason. And it’s certainly not the main reason, but it is a reason none the less. At the risk of sounding irritatingly Gen Y, self-absorbed, first world problems and everything else…

3. Most people think I am lazy and it isn’t true!!!!

It’s so irritating, being a fat person, that people just make the assumption that I come home from work and flop on the sofa (yes, some days I do that, but not most). That I do my groceries at McDonald’s rather than at the farmer’s market.

Even if it doesn’t look like I do, I go to the gym at least three times a week. In summer, I was swimming multiple times a week. I regularly go for walks. I buzz around doing errands and cleaning and whatnot. I was doing Zumba and now I’m looking at doing floor barre. Even if I do come home and flop, it’s usually because I’m trying to write something or finish things off. I’m no angel, I’m not some crazy Paleo crossfit machine, but I do try. There have been times when I’ve been trying more (like when I used to run, yes, run, across the harbour bridge and back five times a week) and times when I’ve been trying less (being stuck in Jakarta traffic jams didn’t help the cause). But I’m not lazy. Yet I have basically been the same size I am now for well over a decade, so go figure (except for losing from dehydration when I caught giardia and paratyphoid when working overseas — yet another good reason to have improved access to clean water in developing countries!)

People are too quick to judge a book by its cover. For girls in many parts of the world, they are told they can’t do things simply because they are a girl and that judgement, compounded with other expectations based on gender, is actually the thing that holds them back. If I only did the things that people expected of me because of stereotypes about the shape of my body, I would have missed out on a whole lot of fun and many opportunities (i.e. did I mention that some people think fat people are stupid? Yet I work at a think tank.).

So this is an exercise in dispelling stereotypes, while supporting something that will empower women and girls in developing countries to smash the damaging stereotypes that persist in their communities.

I actually haven’t found it hard to hit the 10,000 steps a day target and I’m ahead of schedule on my KMs for the challenge. As long as I go for at least one walk a day or go to the gym, and then just do normal life stuff, I’ve hit 10,000 steps or more every day.  But it’s good to have a conscious reminder of it and to have an added motivation to drag myself out of bed at sunrise to go for walks (the picture above is a gorgeous sunrise I spotted on Tuesday). That being said, it’s also kinda inconvenient when you are busy, which is the whole point of the exercise I suppose. And I’m also very glad I don’t have to carry 20 litres of water with me while I do it.

It’s good to be able to prove a point while also raising funds to support women and girls who have to deal with far bigger challenges and problems than I do. So get on board and support the cause if you can.