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Hometown: Brooks, Alberta
Lives In: Calgary, Alberta
SPECT, FullSoul Uganda, CAWST*, Canadian Foodgrains Bank
What influenced you to become a changemaker?
I am a 22-year-old Ethiopian-Canadian civil engineering student, born and raised in the little prairie town of Brooks, Alberta. Growing up in Brooks, where over 100 different languages are spoken, I was always surrounded by a multitude of different cultures and traditions and was constantly learning about new countries from friends and strangers. My perspective has consequently been global since elementary school, so I have chosen to study civil engineering with the intention of being a changemaker in the field of water resource management. I would like to see a world where communities worldwide are not scared of their hospitals or drinking water. That is why I am working to improve technology and infrastructure for low- and middle-income countries.
How does your work promote gender equality in Canada and around the world?
Early last year, I became involved with the Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust (SPECT), which trains health care workers in low- and middle-income countries to properly sterilize surgical equipment. I am currently leading a team of engineering students in the redesign of SPECT’s surgical instrument support basket, used by SPECT to promote proper sterilization in low-resource health care environments. An estimated 99% of maternal deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and 11.6% of those deaths are due to sepsis, an infection of the blood that can be caused by improperly sterilized instruments. By reducing rates of post-surgical site infection in maternal health clinics supported by SPECT’s partner FullSoul Uganda, we are actively promoting gender equality in health care. Women should not be scared to access health care services in Uganda or anywhere else worldwide.
How does the work you do addressing gender inequality connect to progress on the other Sustainable Development Goals?
Having spent time in rural Ethiopia, I have seen how limited access to clean water disproportionately affects women and girls. In 2016, I spent the summer studying development in Ethiopia, and met many young girls who didn’t attend school consistently because they would spend upwards of four hours a day fetching water. This intersection of injustices reignited my passion for Global Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, and inspired me to begin volunteering with CAWST, where I was recognized as one of their star volunteers.
Gideon and the Hon. Marie Claude-Bibeau,
Minister of International Development, on Parliament Hill.