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Showing posts with label globalfeminism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label globalfeminism. Show all posts

10 December 2014

Happy Nobel Peace Prize Day!

Women testifying

Today is the day the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. While recent awards have been controversial, today Malala Yousafzai receives the award for her work advocating for the education of girls, along with Kailash Satyarthi an advocate for children's rights. I'm the type of person who believes all our issues are connected, interconnected and intersectional. 

In that spirit I share with you a three-part series based on the Nobel Women's Initiative delegation to Mesoamerica I traveled with in 2012. These films are an excellent representation of the whole delegation. In these films you will meet women who are feminists fighting for their homes and families. Far too often the media in the USA depicts Mexico and Central America as lost lands. The framing of Central American children fleeing from their homes is sometimes seen as fleeing from countries that cannot be saved. Yet these women are fighting to reclaim or retain what has been their land for longer than one can imagine. Take a moment to watch at least one film today. Save the others for later.

08 July 2014

Hermione heads to the UN

Really, J.K. Rowling couldn't have picked a better actor to play Hermione than Emma Watson. Not only did Emma bring to life the plucky and wise hero of the Harry Potter series, but it seems that Emma and Hermione share a passion for justice.

Emma has just been appointed as a UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador:
"Being asked to serve as UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador is truly humbling. The chance to make a real difference is not an opportunity that everyone is given and is one I have no intention of taking lightly. Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting. I still have so much to learn, but as I progress I hope to bring more of my individual knowledge, experience and awareness to this role,” said Ms. Watson.
Emma will serve as an advocate for UN Women’s HeForShe campaign in promoting gender equality. This campaign is urging men to take a vocal role in advocating for gender equality.

I have some issues with international organizations to make true impacts on local issues, especially something as delicate as gender roles. At the same time, I truly believe that we won't make the progress that is needed without men getting involved. Will HeforShe solve patriarchy? No. Will it get some men talking and perhaps involved in not only working for change, but examining their own role in male privilege? I hope so. We do have magic on our side.

02 July 2013

Book Review: New Girl Law by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Have you ever read a book that when you finish you can still feel it swishing around in your brain? Yeah, New Girl Law: Drafting a Future for Cambodia by Anne Elizabeth Moore is that type of book. 

In the annals of Western feminists traveling to developing countries in an effort to empower, few tales are as truly feminist as Moore’s work in Cambodia. And while I say that as a friend of hers, I would say otherwise if I thought she was being imperialistic, as she is just as quick to critique friends’ work as a complete stranger. She would expect the same in return. This time, it is not the case.

In New Girl Law, the follow-up to Cambodian Grrrl, Moore is working with her Cambodian roommates to rewrite, Chbap Srei, a book that has set up expectations for girls for generations. Considering that Moore was living with some of the first Cambodian young women to live in a college dormitory there were traditional expectations  constantly being broken.

“Empowering non-Western women” is an easy trap for Western feminists to fall into. Most of us have probably fallen into it at least once. Pre-2001 terrorist attacks, I sold 1-inch squares of burqua material for the Feminist Majority to bring awareness to what was happening to the women of Afghanistan. It gave me the ability to say, “I told you!” when the rest of the world discovered the Taliban. But it gave me little knowledge of how “we” could “save” the women repressed under their regime.

So it would had been easy for Moore to land in Cambodia, whip out a copy of any pop culture feminist book and start teaching the young women she was living with about how feminism would save them. Rather, armed with feminist theory in her heart, Moore takes the time to investigate what it means to the women to be a woman in Cambodia. From hearing their complaints and where their draw their lines (Family approval is still an important factor in any marriage), Moore is far more a moderator than an empowering force.

The young women and Moore debate not just modern day women’s roles, but also the exact words on how to state it. This is not an easy task as Cambodians as a whole, not just women, have not been raised to question society, much less gender roles. So much of their lives are unspoken.

This is exhibited in two moving parts of the book where Moore gets the women to talk first about menstruation and then the genocide under Pol Pot. The first topic is one that is simply unacknowledged. Moore notes that despite living in a women's dormitory, one would never see a sanitary napkin or tampon anywhere. The latter is one that has been willfully untaught to young generations. For some of the women, Moore is the one to tell them that genocide happened in Cambodia.

Yet there are parts of their lives where the Cambodian women are vocal in supporting. While they see the “progress” that comes from globalization, they see the downside to importing Western culture. At the same time, Moore struggles with the women’s acceptance of Nicholas Kristof-like solutions such as more garment factories.

Moore’s irreverent writing style allows for you to be crying and laughing at the same time. And not that “I’m laughing so hard that I’m crying” either. So yes, have tissues at hand. It is a deceptively short book, but there will be times when you will want to put it down and walk away. You may even need a bit of chocolate before picking it back up.

If you have ever thought, "How can I, as a privileged woman/man/feminist/person from the United States/Western world, help the women of [choose a developing country] achieve freedom and be empowered?" you need to read this book. Because the answer to that question may be to first sit back and listen to them.

Please enjoy an excerpt from the book, chapter 3!

Support Viva la Feminista by getting your copy through Powells or Indiebooks.

Disclaimer:  I received this book via a publicist.

* Book links are affiliate links. If you buy your book here I could make a very small amount of money that goes towards this blog by helping me purchase books for school. Thanks!  

08 March 2013

Feminist Foreign Service

During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, I was offered an interview with Carla Koppell, USAID Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. As a student of feminism within the federal government, I jumped at the chance. As an activist who has seen first-hand what US policy can do to individual women, I jumped at the chance. Due to technical failures on my part, I won’t be posting this as an interview, but rather as a blog post about what I learned from Koppell about USAID and their role in advancing women’s empowerment around the world. And due to my unbelievably hectic life, this post took all this time to write up!

According to its website, USAID is the USA's humanitarian arm by working to protect human rights, strengthen democracy and assist in recovering from conflict, just to name a few of their goals. The Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment area is, well, focused on women's well-being.

Koppell told me that over the last year, USAID has completely revitalized the architecture around issues related to women's priorities and needs. There is a complete set of new policies and strategies on counter-trafficking (pdf), women peace and security (pdf), and combating and preventing child marriage (pdf).USAID was taking the opportunity during 16 Days to raise awareness, not just of the issues they work on, but to have more people realize what USAID is working on.

One of the issues I came out of my trip with the Nobel Women's Initiative was the lack of communication between the various governments and the people in the community. In Honduras I attended some meetings with government officials, both Honduran and from the USA. When the issues the women of Honduras were communicating to us, the government officials would dismiss them. Once someone claimed to have never heard any complaints! This is why I wanted to know if the USAID worked in the community at all. Koppell says they do work with the women themselves. And then addressed my second concern, that of imperialism. She responded by saying that gander-based violence is seen as human rights violations, which are codified in international conventions and treaties. Thus they are shared values in the international community and not just US values being imposed onto other societies.
“This isn’t about our values, but this is about making the voices of Afghan women, women within their societies heard. So they can define the appropriate space and the rights they want to assert in their society.” - Koppell 
Koppell added that in many of these countries around the world, the polling shows that men and women believe women should have public roles and access to public education. The other voices, the more conservative voices are just the louder voices in the public discourse.

As someone who is often asked to mentor young women in terms of their feminist career paths, I asked her why a women's studies major should look to the federal government and specifically USAID. Koppell responded by underscoring, what she believes, is the great work that USAID does on behalf of girls and women around the world.

Putting my feminist activist hat on, what I saw in Mexico and Central America (and I was only there for 11 days!) did not convince me that an agency like USAID can really impact women's lives. And putting on my feminist scholar hat, I want to investigate this further. Is USAID too small to do any real good? Is it too hampered by US politics to do what it should/want to do? There are clearly flaws in the design, but where are they coming from? Where are their victories and how did they accomplish them?

I went into this interview with a lot of questions, came out with some left unanswered and some new ones to ask. I know there is a role for US-based feminists to play in empowering women around the world, what the role looks like is one that I am still trying to sketch out. 

18 July 2012

EVENT: Half the Sky Twitter Chat July 18th

Remember that book everyone was reading a few years ago about the plight of women and girls around the world? Well it's still being read (although it still sits dusty on my book shelf taunting me) by thousands and has grown into a movement.

Not only is there a fab looking website and a PBS special October 1st and 2nd, but today there is a twitter chat!

Wednesday, July 18
Join Half the Sky and Somaly Mam at 5:30 pm Eastern
Use the hashtags #endslavery and #halfthesky

 This is happening during summer camp pick up, so I can't join in the discussion, but I hope you can make it!

Disclaimer: , which supports me in writing about the causes I care about. All opinions are my own.

08 March 2012

International Women's Day: Raising Empowered Daughters

This year’s theme is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures” and one of the prompts is:

How can we, as a culture and as members of the global community, involve, educate, and inspire girls in a positive way?

This is easy. Listen to girls. Make space for their voices. Educate them.

Of course in reality, it's not that easy. Too often we witness the powers that be conspire to silence girls. It is this silence that Rachel Simmons outlines in her must-read book, Odd Girl Out. When we tell or show girls that their voices are not valued, they silence their feelings, thoughts and yes, actual voices. They turn inward and all the fury they should be screaming about is pushed deep into their soul. And it hurts them.

While a part of the Nobel Women's Initiative's delegation, I lost count of how many women, young and old, happened to mention in their testimonies that at some point in their lives a parent told them that women weren't worth much. That it was no use for them to continue with their education. Some listened to that silencing and dropped out of school. A few raged on with their education. Both groups of women talked about suffering for their choice.  

The women who listened felt inadequate to fight for their own rights when police or military forces assulted and/or raped them. They felt duped when multinational companies came into their communities and misrepresented their intentions when pressuring families to sell their ancestral land. Of course they overcame those feelings of inadequacy to find their inner courage to fight like hell.

The women who forged ahead with their education felt the sting of backlash. Their families turned against them. One woman talked about working up the ranks into the police force. Then being raped by her boss. Of course it was her fault for wanting a job in the first place...at least that's what the voices in her head tell her.

In Guatemala, we witnessed grandmothers admit to having been raped when their villages were attacked in the 1980s. We could see that they were courageous, but also unnerved by their own bravery. The women knew they were speaking of things they "shouldn't" be speaking about. But they were linking their decades old rapes with the violence they are witnessing today. And they do not want to see their granddaughters have to live through the same violations.

Often we hear about men "finding" feminism when they become fathers, but we mustn't minimize that some women find their voices when they are now charged with raising a girl.

Instead of waiting for women to find their voice, let's raise girls to use their voices. The hardest part is not only educating girls and telling them that they have a voice, but LISTENING to their voices.

This is what we need. We need to bring our girls to rallies, demonstrations, meetings and everywhere else we are fighting for women's human rights. They need to know that we're out fighting for them, for ourselves. They need to know they are worth fighting for and not in that "Prince Charming saves the princess way" either. Their minds, their bodies, their lives are worth it. Because they are worth it.

29 February 2012

EVENT: Blog for International Women's Day

Get ready feministas! 

The online event will run on March 8, 2012.
This year, Gender Across Borders and CARE will host the Third Annual Blog for International Women’s Day, a day where bloggers, writers, and humanitarian organizations are asked to write about the International Women’s Day theme on March 8. This year’s theme is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures” and they are asking bloggers to address one or both of the following points:
  • How can we, as a culture and as members of the global community, involve, educate, and inspire girls in a positive way?
  • Describe a particular organization, person, group or moment in history that helped to inspire a positive future and impact the minds and aspirations for girls.
Throughout the day of March 8, they will have an ongoing live blog of what you have to say about “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures” at GenderAcrossBorders.com. They will also feature articles from staff writers about issues that girls around the world face today. Click over to add your blog to the long & growing list of bloggers taking part!

02 February 2012

I'm back!

Well you'd know that if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, but hey, I'm back here!

I'm still digesting what I heard on the trip. There's a lifetime to digest. A big chunky soup of feminism, violence against women, poverty, foreign policy, privilege, language, love, pain, bravery, history, bureaucracy and tears.

Photo by Judy Rand
I did want to quickly post to say hi to everyone. And to post this fab pic of the delegation on our way to Guerrero to hear from the women of Guerrero. We started out super early, thus me wearing my glasses. A classmate asked me if I went on my trip by myself. I said, "Yes, but soon gained a bunch of sisters." After what we experienced, we are certainly bonded to each other forever.

Here are the posts that I wrote while on the delegation:

22 January 2012

2012 Blog for Choice Day

I know I'm supposed to be talking about 2012 elections today, but today I am in Mexico on the first full day of the Nobel Women's Initiative's delegation. And yes, I wrote this before I left...But I must reflect on my thoughts about being in Mexico on Roe v. Wade Day.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of unsafe abortions around the world are on the rise. Abortions are unsafe when performed by unskilled people and/or under unsanitary conditions. Here in the USA, I am sure we still have back alley abortions. But I think we consider them last resort or hope they are mostly a relic of the past, stories we hear about during abortion speak-outs. A few years ago, I was the emcee at a speak-out and heard Dr. Quentin Young talk about the days before Roe at Cook County Hospital. I'll never forget the look on his face as he described how many women came in bleeding, desperate for assistance.

But as you read this, I'm in a city, Mexico City, where abortion is legal. Just outside the city limits, "thirteen* of Mexico’s 31 states have ...amended their constitutions to protect the fetus from the moment of conception, which may set the stage for greater restrictions in these states’ abortion laws." "According to one analysis, the factors that made this reform possible were the presence of a liberal political party governing at the state level, favorable public opinion and pressure from nongovernmental women’s organizations that promote reproductive rights"[PDF citation] OK, so many I will touch on voting in pro-choice people.

Soon I'll be in Guatemala. There we find, as of 2003, 49% of unsafe abortions are performed by traditional providers. "In Guatemala, poor rural women are three times as likely as nonpoor urban women to have an abortion induced by a traditional birth attendant (60% vs. 18%), and they are far less likely than nonpoor urban women to obtain the services of a doctor (4% vs. 55%). " [PDF citation]

And in Honduras, abortion is prohibited altogether or has no explicit legal exception to save the life of a woman.

Don't fret, I'm not trying to make those of us in the USA feel bad for fighting for our lives. I'm just trying to bring an international perceptive to today's conversation. I will wrap this up by reminding us that the USA does impact women around the world. Our freedom is linked with theirs, theirs with ours. We can't truly celebrate victory in this country until our sisters around the world are also celebrating.

So get out there and register as many pro-choice folks as you can! And get them to the polls in November. 

And to see what we're up to in Mexico, head over to the Nobel Women's Initiative's delegation blog. See you back here in February!

20 January 2012

Andele Feministas!

I'm off to Mexico tomorrow!

I'll return home on January 31st. Until then, you can find me at the Nobel Women's Initiative's delegation blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page and perhaps even their Flickr site.

I am a torn feminista. I am so excited that I'm sick to my stomach about meeting the wonderful women I'll be traveling with, the courageous women we will meet and seeing the beautiful countries we will visit. I am weighed down with the burden that I know this trip will leave me with. This is a fact-finding mission. Meaning we will be doing a lot of listening to women who have lived through some very violent things. It is our job to listen to them, carry their stories and help amplify them for the world to hear. I am packing extra tissues, not for my every-runny-allergy-nose, but for the tears I know I will cry.

But I am equally sad to be leaving my family for 10 days, or as I keep trying to rationalize, 8, since Day 1 I wake up at home and Day 10 I fall asleep at home. The kid is heartbroken. My husband is too, but also worried as hell. I know some of you are as well. Thanks for your concern, but I plan to be home before you even have time to miss me. The sickness I feel when I think of the kid & my husband is seriously going to make me puke. Hopefully that's the only thing that makes me want to puke during the next ten days.

Check back in February when I hope to post reflections about the trip.

Until then,

Peace, Love & Feminism!

29 November 2011

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence: Nobel Women's Initiative

Another amazing group working on women's rights around the world.

The Nobel Women’s Initiative uses the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize and courageous women peace laureates to magnify the power and visibility of women working in countries around the world for peace, justice and equality.

They have a lovely blog for the 16 Days project too! 

Not only that, but I will soon have the honor of joining NWI on a delegation to Mexico and Central America. More details when I can post them! Until then, my passport is tapping its foot in anticipation.

27 November 2011

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence: The Global Fund for Women

It's the end of the semester and I sadly do not have time to devote to properly participating in "16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence." Instead I am pointing you to the Global Fund for Women's blog where they are doing an excellent job at showing you not just the work they do, but what these 16 days are all about such as:
  • Founded by the United Youth of Philippines – Women, Inc (UnYPhil-Women), this crisis center represents a “safe haven, an empowering place for women and girls” impacted daily by a conflict that has killed more than 150,000 people and displaced two million more.[link]
  • For the past 20 years, amidst wars in the former Yugoslavia, Women in Black remains a beacon of nonviolent resistance to militarism, war, sexism and nationalism. Whether standing still and silent on the streets of Belgrade or organizing theatrical performances, advocacy campaigns or street actions, Women in Black is a powerful voice in demanding gender justice.[link]
  • Kashindi, a widow and mother of six, has something to celebrate. After her husband’s death, her in-laws pressured her to marry her brother-in-law. When she refused, they responded by selling her house and land. However, with the assistance of Solidarité des Femmes Activistes pour la Défense des Droits Humains [Women Activists in Solidarity for the Defense of Human Rights (SOFAD)], Kashindi got her home back.[link]
I urge you to follow along as they continue their work of sharing stories of women around the world.


This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.
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