G lo b a l I s s u e s T h roug h t h e E y e s o f Wom e n
“Women will be healed and turn their pain to power.” Eve Ensler
Winter | Spring 2011 $6.95 / $7.95 Canada
Edwidge Danticat on Haiti’s Recovery 7 Models Ending Violence Against Women The Triumph of Women and Sport Investigating Women-Only Spaces worldpulse.com
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© Andrea Leoncavallo
In the Zone
feel the most alive when I am on my bicycle. My legs are pumping, the wind is whipping my hair, and the blood is pounding in my ears. I’m “in the zone,” soaring fast. My mind and body are in sync, the endorphins rise, and my biggest breakthrough ideas and visions strike. I often think that one of the most radical societal shifts we could imagine would be a world where all women and girls feel free and powerful in their bodies, all the time. The truth is that the world is a war zone for women and girls—in their homes, their churches, the streets. Globally, acts of violence cause more death and disability for women of reproductive age than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined. Some days I feel immune—lucky, even. If I accidentally show a bare ankle, I don’t have to fear being stoned. I can go out dancing without being beaten by my father or brother, and there’s lighting on the sidewalk outside my home. If I go to the police, I am reasonably confident that I won’t be raped. But then, in a crowd or a classroom, I realize that I am unconsciously holding my arms to my side, talking softly, or crossing my legs tightly. I’m trying not to take up too much space or draw too much attention to myself. When I walk at night, I’m on constant guard. In my city, there’s been an average of four domestic violence-related murders a month this year. In my country, the greatest risk factor for a woman being murdered is being pregnant.
I often think that one of the most radical societal shifts we could imagine would be a world where all women and girls feel free and powerful in their bodies, all the time. How would life be different if all of our bodies were free from assault? What if we transformed our communities from war zones to safety zones? What if modern-day underground-railroad networks carried trafficked girls to freedom? What if, as playwright and activist Eve Ensler points out, we channeled the energy we waste on hating our own bodies and used it to change society and be more present with our families and our communities? All over the world, women instinctually know the answer. They are building safe houses; lobbying to change laws; running girls’ soccer clubs in places like Saudi Arabia; launching savvy PR campaigns to challenge traditions; and creating curriculums to teach children alternatives to violence. These vanguards believe, as I do, that if half the population were released from constant physical and emotional trauma, public health would improve dramatically; economies would soar; families would begin to heal; and more women would have the confidence and stamina to assume leadership positions and reach their highest potential. Every woman and girl would be “in her zone,” moving more freely through the world. She could be focused on what matters to her, no longer having to protect and hide parts of herself. Standing tall; laughing boisterously; free to love; to dance; to sweat; to run for office; to start a business; to travel; to climb mountains. Completely in sync with herself and on top of her game.
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Building a world where women and girls are free and powerful in their bodies
Every day, for an entire year, photographer Andrea Leoncavallo captured images of the many women in her life who awe and inspire her.
Women and girls are at ground zero in the battle for their right to play sports. But it’s a fight that can lead to immense gains. By ann killion
What’s working—and what needs work—in the quest to put an end to violence against women and girls. By ramya ramanathan
An in-depth look at Haiti’s rising women’s movement, after the quake. By anne-christine d’adesky
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News from around the world
14 Woman to Watch
5 Questions for a rising leader
16 Frontline Journal
Women on the frontlines of conflict
Caring for ourselves as we do the world
61 Global Gatherings
Top international events
Best in books, music, and film
Special Report: Haiti
56 Soak The End of Violence
7 Letters 8
Triumph of Women & Sport
From trains in Mumbai to gardens in Afghanistan and villages in Kenya, spaces reserved exclusively for women are popping up everywhere. By Taylor barnes
Products supporting women worldwide
80 Your World
Actions you can take for global change
18 © Andrea Leoncavallo 24 © Bill Denison 32 © Tatiana Cardeal 42 © Paul Jeffrey 50 © Lain Masterton Photography 10 © Rodney Dekker | indiegogo.com/TIDES 59 © Bryan Lowry | HawaiiPictures.com 60 © Evelyn Hockstein | Polaris
© Benjamin Lowy | VII Network
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, 167 women from 48 countries logged on to PulseWire to share their personal stories about Holding Hands.
Hawaii: My Islands of Enigma Author Kiana Davenport looks to ancestry to reclaim her homeland.
By Kiana Davenport
Why I Run With one step, Lisa Shannon ignited a global movement to end violence in the Congo.
Reem Al Numery was just 10 years old when she was married to a cousin who was three times her age.
By Lisa Shannon
By Tracey Samuelson
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inspiring new possibilities
World Pulse Magazine (ISSN# 15496678) is published by World Pulse Voices, a US-based nonprofit. While we look to include articles consistent with our mission, the opinions expressed in the articles published in World Pulse Magazine are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of World Pulse management and staff. World Pulse welcomes comments and suggestions as well as information about errors that call for correction. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or in part, is prohibited without permission. All rights reserved throughout the world. Send editorial comments and queries to: email@example.com or 909 NW 19th, Ste. C, Portland, Oregon 97209. Submission guidelines at WorldPulse.com. Find us on newsstands at Borders, Barnes and Noble, and independent bookstores across the US and Canada. To purchase additional copies of this issue, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit worldpulse.com/membership to learn how to get the magazine delivered to your doorstep. Find out how to advertise with us at worldpulse.com/about/advertise.
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of WorldPulse.com. New ideas, breaking news, and solutions rise from the ground up via Internet cafes and cell phones in rural villages. Our editors are always on the site looking for fresh stories to publish and highlight. When a story is featured in World Pulse Magazine, readers can often connect directly with the leaders and organizations on our site. The result has been waves of change. Connections made through World Pulse have led to the creation of mobile clinics, women’s cyber cafes, village solar lighting projects, and lasting friendships across borders. Where will the pulse take you?
World Pulse Magazine is published by World Pulse, a media enterprise uniting women’s voices to accelerate change. From Web to print, we’ve created a forum where women and their communities can connect across oceans, continents, and cultural barriers to create a new world. Visit our website at WorldPulse.com to download our vision book, read additional articles, and connect directly with many of the featured leaders in this edition through PulseWire. Cover Photo: © Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters | A 17-year-old Congolese woman displaced by war wears a newly done traditional hairstyle in Goma. Despite living amidst one of the deadliest wars in history, women in the region continue to show remarkable resilience. For more images in Finbarr O’Reilly’s series “Congo Hair,” visit finbarroreilly.com.
Voices from the Ground
The World Pulse Community Speaks! Here’s what you had to say about our last edition and our online community newswire, PulseWire. While sitting over my morning cup of coffee, I finally had a chance to read the last magazine cover to cover. I am overwhelmed with awe and respect for the women featured. I had no idea that women are so involved in the sustainable stewardship of our planet. Thank you for showing me the power we can have! Harla Norman | USA
Sustaining Self I loved the article “What’s the Point of the Revolution if We Can’t Dance.” Our culture is constantly telling us that a woman is not good enough if she is not running herself into the ground. Most of us are so out of touch with our bodies, minds, and spirits, and we don’t realize what we’re doing to ourselves until we collapse from exhaustion. Self-sustainability should be a priority for all women. Medina Glenn | USA
In “What’s the Point of the Revolution if We Can’t Dance,” Zawadi Nyong’o highlighted something crucial by suggesting that organizations should fundraise for staff well-being. Every organization should make staff well-being as high a priority as the work they are doing for the community. It’s only by it being the ethos of the whole organization that women will be able to take the leap to empower themselves and find sustainability. It isn’t a waste of valuable resources. When we start to know that we are enough as we are, balance is inevitable. We start to make choices because they feel right. Suddenly what seemed impossible feels easy and natural. Lynne Healy | UK
Thank you so much for a great article, “What’s the Point of the Revolution if You Can’t Dance.” I want to suggest that it become mandatory for women activists and all activists to take time out for self-care and silent moments. Go to the hiding place where you can replenish yourself. I’ve learned that retreat time gives me the chance to find myself anew. True leadership
and true activism have to take the road of self-sustaining, self-nurturing, and self-care. Evelyne Ello-hart | Cote d’Ivoire
Connecting Across Borders Your website, PulseWire, is a revelation. It has made me see how beauty can truly evolve from ugliness and how strength and freedom can be born from oppression. To be able to bring problems into the light and to be able to be heard; to be able to speak on behalf of others who don’t have a chance to speak out; to be able to create communities and solidarity groups for the sake of a cause…it is amazing! I join hands with World Pulse to participate in the fight for equal opportunities and the progress of our communities. Let us all be a part of the march towards a better tomorrow.
Finding Balance This is a welcome and muchneeded magazine, poised to really report on the new wave of global issues and their solutions involving women and girls! What a joy to see a magazine that is devoted to this! My request is that you keep the magazine focused on the important and relevant issues so many magazines overlook. There are many, many women’s magazines that cover such subjects as spas, bathing, and cosmetics. Please, please leave those subjects to them and keep your focus on the in-depth, wellresearched stories. Claire Marie Tustin | USA
Shiraz Abdelhai | Sudan
To be able to bring problems into the light and to be able to be heard; to be able to speak on behalf of others who don’t have a chance to speak out... it is amazing! Shiraz abdelhai | Sudan
Men in the Movement Jimmie Briggs, your article “The Uncomfortable Silence” made me feel I have a twin brother in the house! Some people will never understand the work we do for our sisters, but our passion drives us each and every day to spread the light. Well done! Together we will create a revolution.
Note from the Editor: At World Pulse, we know that self-care and activism are intricately connected. We believe that lifestyle content has a place in a magazine for the women’s movement, though our primary focus will always remain broadcasting the untold stories of women and girls around the world.
Isaac Aggrey | South Africa
Raise your voice!
Send feedback, thoughts, and suggestions to email@example.com. Throughout this edition, you’ll see this icon, which means you can connect directly with these leaders on PulseWire by visiting WorldPulse.com. worldpulse.com | 7
Taking the World’s Pulse for Women Updates from all corners of the globe
Europe: Veil Bans Sweep the Region © See Wah Cheng
In a triple blow to freedom of expression, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands have all instituted legislation against women who wear face veils. The laws specifically target the niqab, a full-face covering worn by some Muslim women. Other European countries are considering similar bans, signaling a worrying trend of intolerance toward Muslim and immigrant communities.
In 2007, Mexico City legalized abortion within the city limits. A recent backlash throughout the rest of the country—where abortion remains illegal—has led to harsher enforcement of anti-abortion laws. The crackdown has had health consequences for women too scared to seek medical attention after abortions or miscarriages.
What we’re watching
New and Noteworthy
A sampling of the latest initiatives that show us how far the women’s movement has come—and how far we have to go. 8 | worldpulse.com
© AP Photo | Sayyid Azim
Mexico: Abortion Crackdown Threatens Women’s Health
Kenya: A New Constitution Ushers Change A long fight for political change in Kenya has led to a historic new constitution. Voted into law by national referendum in August 2010, the new constitution is a milestone for democracy and the advancement of women’s rights—particularly property rights. The struggle to implement the sweeping new provisions begins now.
Maternal Death Clock
Every 90 seconds a woman dies giving birth. A new clock installation in New York’s Times Square counts down the sobering statistics and reminds us of the need for a renewed commitment to the Millennium Development Goal that promises to cut maternal mortality by 75% by 2015.
The latest weapon in Afghanistan’s uphill battle against the Taliban: 29 new female army recruits. The women, who will take non-combat roles in the Afghan military, are part of a government push to strengthen national forces. Banned from the military under Taliban rule, women are entering the army for the first time in over 20 years.
Pakistan: Flooding Continues to Put Women at Risk
Paths to Power
© UN Photo | Evan Schneider
© AP Photo Gemunu Amarasinghe
Afghanistan: Women Join Army Ranks
The many ups and downs of women’s ascent to leadership May 2010
Twenty million people were affected by July’s massive flooding in Pakistan. That number is threatening to grow as pools of standing water breed waterborne diseases and pose a secondary health threat to the population. Most at risk: the 400,000 flood-affected pregnant women. The UN has called for increased international commitment to relief and recovery efforts in Pakistan, particularly those that prioritize the needs of women.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar becomes the first female prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago In the UK, women’s representation in Parliament drops to only 22%
June 2010 Julia Gillard is voted Australia’s first female Prime Minister Photo © MystifyMe Concert Photography
© Davee Tan Kim Hock
Japan: Encouraging Fatherhood
Two female judges are appointed to Islamic Sharia courts in Malaysia
Japan took a big step toward gender equality when it revised its Child Care and Family Care Leave Law in June, making it easier for men to take paternity leave. In a country where only 1% of men take time off work for a new child, the new law indicates a challenge to traditional gender roles and a cultural shift toward men’s participation in family life.
Rosa Otunbayev is sworn in as first female president of Kyrgyzstan Photo © Iliasbeshimov
Cambodian rights leader Mu Sochua is charged with “defamation” of Prime Minister Hun Sen in a politically motivated case August 2010 Elena Kagan is sworn in to US Supreme Court, increasing female representation to 1/3 of the Court for the first time in history Photo © US Gov
New Zealand: The Most Peaceful Country in the World Peace on Earth has now been quantified through the Global Peace Index—a study by the Institute for Economics and Peace that ranks countries by their level of internal and external conflict. Peace loving New Zealand tops the list in 2010, trailed closely by Iceland, Japan, Austria, and Norway. Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan have the lowest scores, while the United States is in the middle of the pack, ranking 85th out of 149 countries.
New Girl Effect Video The makers of the acclaimed Girl Effect video are back, and this time they’re armed with new statistics and an urgent message about education and the 600 million girls who live in poverty. View it at girleffect.org.
September 2010 Only four decades after earning the right to vote, Switzerland’s women claim a majority of seats in the country’s Cabinet Michelle Bachelet signs on to head the new UN Women agency Photo © UN Photo | Marco Castro
UN Women This summer, the UN General Assembly voted to create a new entity to meet the needs of women and girls worldwide. Set to launch officially in January 2011, the initiative—and the proposed $500 million budget—is a huge leap forward for women and girls. worldpulse.com | 9
She just smiled through her tears, took my little hand, and kissed it.
© Rodney Dekker | indiegogo.com/TIDES
Anais Jane | Romania
This year, World Pulse kicked off My Story, an interactive department that highlights personal stories from women around the world. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, 167 women from 48 countries logged on to PulseWire to share their personal stories about holding hands. Here are a few of the highlights. 10 | worldpulse.com
© Mikkel Ostergaard
Papu’s Crooked Hand As soon as we arrived in the village, my papu would be there to greet us, crying with joy to see us again after two or three years apart. My mother always said that on the days that my papu knew we were arriving she would not go to the garden, collect firewood, or fetch water. She wanted to be there when we arrived.
because of the gloom that descended upon my country 20 years ago. The government suppressed women and denied their rights. They spoiled life, killed the oppositionists, raped Darfur’s women, and jailed every honorable person. I held my children’s small hands and fled my country. Now I need to keep hold of their hands to keep them safe and warm and to lead them to a better future, a future where things can change.
Papu’s embrace was a safe haven. I loved her attention and how she would scold my mother for being too harsh on me. As I sat in her lap, hugged in her embrace, I would poke around in her coconut frond-woven basket, looking for things to amuse myself. But it was her crooked hand that always caught my attention.
Amal Elsheikh | Sudan
Two Women. Two Rocks.
The wind answered angrily. ‘Shhh, don’t ask questions. You have your mother heart, and she will protect you, warm you, and keep you safe.’
When breast cancer struck again at 49, I was obsessed with an urge to connect with my past. So reconnecting with Lisa, who lived across the street where we grew up, was just what my battered soul needed. Five years my senior, she had been my babysitter. Our parents were, and are, dear and true friends. She had breast cancer too, diagnosed only 13 months earlier. But here the similarities ended. As everything had gone remarkably well for me the first time around, it had gone remarkably wrong for her. Lisa was dying. I received her email updates, and after just two, the tête-à-tête with mortality opened a cascade of emotions that both blindsided me and opened my heart. We connected in cyberspace, culminating in a video call to celebrate our dayapart birthdays—her 55th and my 50th. We were both scheduled to begin chemotherapy the following week. As we prepared to say goodbye, she asked me to take the smoothest rock I could find and hold it in my hand during chemotherapy—and imagine her hand in mine. I took one from my neighbor’s rock garden and put it in my “cancer bag.” Every time I reached in for something in my bag that day, and every day since, I hold that rock in my hand for a second. And have Lisa’s hand in mine. I sent a rock to Lisa from the rocky terrain of my home so that she could hold it and imagine my hand in hers, and so that she could know that I am thinking of her. She died a few short weeks later. Her son placed the rock I gave her in her grave. My rock from her is still in my bag and we remain holding hands: my hand holding hers from this life, and hers holding mine from what I hope is a world of peace and tranquility after so much suffering. Our hands, our rocks, transcend the heavens, the years, and continents that divided us and brought us together in life and in death.
Amal Elsheikh | Sudan
Agerber | Israel
“Papu, blong wanem na han blong yu I kurugut?” (Grandma, why is it that one of your hands is crooked?) I would ask her in Tok Pisin. “Em i olsem yet,” (That’s just how it is) would always be her reply. Even when I grew up, I would only take two weeks off every two to three years to go back to the village where my papu was, looking older and frailer with each visit, always waiting to embrace me with her hugs and her tears. I never asked about papu’s crooked hand again. “Papu’s hand was not always like that,” my mother said one day, out of the blue. My mother told me that when she was younger, my grandfather refused to pay for her school fees because the school was too far from the village and my mother was a girl. So my grandmother worked hard every day, collecting and cutting coconut in the coconut plantation to pay for my mother’s four years of high school education. One day as she was cutting firewood to burn the coconut shells, the knife slipped and cut her hand, damaging a nerve and leaving it crooked for the rest of her life. My papu’s crooked hand gave my mother a better education. It gave me a better life. Estella | Papua New Guinea
Four Small Hands and the Wind “Where are you taking us?” the four hands asked. “To unknown places, to the land of fear,” the wind answered back. The youngest hand said, “When we gonna come back?” “Take care, the journey is long and difficult,” the wind replied. “You have nothing but your mother heart now and the only way is to hold hands.” “It is cold, Mum,” said the middle hand. The wind answered angrily. “Shhh, don’t ask questions. You have your mother heart, and she will protect you, warm you, and keep you safe.” This is my story. One day I decided to leave my country, Sudan—the land of the Nile, the heart of Africa. I am a single mother of four and I left my home, my friends, my people. On a table near my bed there is still a book open to page 49; there is a tree in my garden, a cat, a neighbor, waiting for me. I came to England with my children and nothing but the heart of a mother. Everything here is different and cold. I miss the sun that gave my children and me safety and warmth. I miss the people, the streets. I have lost my safety and my security. And yet, I cannot return
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Hand in Hand My mind wanders back to that first tense meeting, some six years ago, when we took the first steps to create a Palestinian/Israeli women’s dialogue group. We were putting into practice everything that had been preached at a recent women’s leadership conference on the importance of women’s voices during conflict resolution. On that first day it was hard to overcome the mutual distrust. The Palestinians, in Israel for the first time, said that they saw the Israeli soldiers as devils incarnate. For me—with my two sons in uniform doing their national service—this came as a sharp shock that took intense soul-searching to overcome. I felt terribly hurt and angry. But three days after this first encounter, I realized that friendship between us is possible if we listen to one another. And so the understanding between us gradually built up, the bonds of trust tightened slowly but surely, and friendships flourished. And then, in the summer of 2006, the bomb, quite literally, dropped. War broke out and my city, Haifa, came under bombardment day after day for more than three weeks. We tried to go about our daily work, tightfaced and anxious, taking shelter as best we could from the sudden bombings. One morning, returning to my office from the bomb shelter, I answered the telephone. A Palestinian friend, tearfully extending the hand of friendship, speaking emotionally down a crackling phone line: “Mazal,” she implored, “we see Haifa being bombed on the TV news. We watch streets and shopping centers we have visited being destroyed. Please come to stay with us until this madness is over.” The power of women’s voices had sounded loud and clear. Choking back tears, I was awed by the depth of our friendship. Mazal | Israel
Twelve years later, my hands have still not forgotten the warmth of her hands in mine. Sowmya | India
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Over the years, I would hold hands with lovers many times: on a frozen bridge above the Chicago River; standing next to a ferry on the Pacific Ocean; back in the chaos of a veg-and-fruit market in Delhi; late at night in an auto, hands held tight to stop lips coming together, the auto driver staring at us in his rear-view mirror. question curl | India
A Woman’s Dream
My Sister’s Hands
My mum believed that by holding the hands of her four girls, we would have the fortitude to conquer our challenges. When we were young she would call us for meetings and while holding our hands as if she wanted to pour some hidden strength into us, she would tell us how the world viewed women. She would tell us that women were seen as tools for procreation and that we would have to work extra hard to be successful. “The world believes that the place of a woman is in the kitchen,” she would say. “You have to prove them wrong. None of you will shame me, you hear?” Through those meetings we learned of our duties to life and our duties to Mum. She and Dad gave up all luxuries so that we would have the best education. We knew that we had to be top of our class; that we couldn’t succumb to boys who wanted flings, a way of conquering a woman’s dignity. The thought of ending up as a man’s plaything or as a baby-making machine hung above our heads like a light bulb waiting to be turned on. Now, we spend our lives remembering our hands held in Mum’s firm grip and her stern voice ringing in our ears: “You have to show the world that being a woman is something to be proud of.” I would like to think that it is one of the reasons my sisters and I chose male-dominated career paths—in fine arts, in engineering. As we journey through life, we can never forget our promise to Mum. In our little way, we have to make the world see that being a woman is so much more than they think.
Growing up in New Delhi, my sister and I did everything together. We plaited each other’s hair, screamed and scratched each other’s faces, and held each other through cramps. I was older, so I had to take care of her: clean her up when she got hurt; gently re-pierce her ears every few months when they closed up; hold her hand while crossing the road. The first time we were apart for more than a few days was when I went to the US for college. When I met my sister again two years later, she’d come to the same tiny college. One day, we walked down the street together and my hand slipped into hers, unthinking. We passed a big man with groceries, a group of teenage boys roughhousing, the click-clack of a woman in high heels. My sister suddenly tugged her hand out of mine, uncomfortable, shamefaced, aware of the stares lingering on us, the carefully blank faces and judging eyes. “They think we’re together. They think we’re like that,” she said. A year later, I would walk down that street again, this time holding my lover’s hand, her long arms making me stoop and nestle into her. We would walk that way many times, laughing, tongue in cheek, foot in mouth, arm in arm, hand in hand. Over the years, I would hold hands with lovers many times: on a frozen bridge above the Chicago River; standing next to a ferry on the Pacific Ocean; back in the chaos of a veg-and-fruit market in Delhi; late at night in an auto, hands held tight to stop lips coming together, the auto driver staring at us in his rear-view mirror. I’d hold hands forming a circle with women singing protests against the “honor” killings of women who married outside their community; with queer friends
Ifesinachi | Nigeria
carrying a pride flag for the first time in Delhi; with a complete stranger, dressed in sequins and gold, who lit his candle from mine at a vigil for the thousands dying of HIV/AIDS. But I’d never hold my sister’s hand again. Question Curl | India
Altar Boys It was 1949 or 1950, and my sister and I were in fourth or fifth grade. We went to services at our church one Sunday morning and heard the priest ask for volunteer altar boys. We asked our mother if we could go to the orientation meeting, and she agreed. When we crossed the threshold holding hands and saw the all-male crowd, we were stunned. My mother pressed on and announced that we were interested in participating, much to the priest’s chagrin. We were told we couldn’t be altar boys and that was that. We left.
grandma was a countrywoman, and my parents were young workers in the brave socialist society. I remember when the revolution happened. It was winter; we were in the countryside with Grandma, and I was expecting Grandfather Frost. I was almost 4 years old, and I was playing with a rag doll that my grandma had made me. I did not understand the expression on my parents’ faces. And I did not understand why Ceauşescu, our leader, had to die. After the holidays, my parents took me with them. For the first time, Mom woke me up at 5am not to say goodbye, but to take me with her. It was so dark and cold outside; the snow was sparkling and screeching under my little boots. We walked fast without talking. Daddy was carrying the luggage and Mommy was holding my left arm. I remember it because her grip on my arm hurt badly. Still, I said nothing. My mom did not let go of my hand until we reached the city. Looking up at her on that cold
My mom asked me to remove my white skirt. That’s when I noticed it was stained red. Blood. Blood! But my mom and grand-mom were smiling. My grand-mom was overjoyed and yelled to my father, “Your daughter has attained her puberty!” I was 11 and could not decipher what this meant. I was taken to the bathroom, and they painted me with turmeric paste, as was the South Indian tradition. My elated relatives were preparing for the traditional grand celebration to announce the good news. The day ended and I lay next to my mom. Both of us were tired. My mother loved me, but was never the type to show it with sloppy kisses or obvious displays of affection. That night my mom did something very unusual. Assuming that I was asleep, she raised my hand and held it tightly. With the other hand, she patted my head. Twelve years later, my hands have still not forgotten the warmth of her hands in mine. Sowmya | India
© Charity Kennedy
Now, we spend our lives remembering our hands held in Mum’s firm grip and her stern voice ringing in our ears: ‘You have to show the world that being a woman is something to be proud of.’ Ifesinachi | Nigeria
We were humiliated and defeated, and we blamed our mother. But our mother taught us an important lesson that day. She explained that the Roman Catholic Church needed to change, but for that to happen, people needed to take a stand. Now, 50 years later, there isn’t a Sunday that I don’t smile and pause to look up as the altar girls execute their tasks during Mass. Linda Stomato | USA
How a Regime Stole My Childhood The Communist regime stole my childhood. From the age of 3 months, I had to live at my grandmother’s house in the countryside because my parents worked 12-hour days in the city. My
winter morning—silent except for our footsteps and a few barking dogs—made me realize how much I love my mother. I looked at her, and I said, “Mommy, I love you!” She just smiled through her tears, took my little hand, and kissed it. Anais Jane | Romania
A Promise I woke up late that day, as always. As a daily routine my mother rang the calling bell every five minutes to wake me up. At the usual tenth ring, I woke up and ran for a bath. The “automan” in the auto-rickshaw that took us to school every day was honking at our door. When I was dressed, I headed for the door, but my mom suddenly held me back and asked the autodriver to leave without me.
Miracles How to Submit: Visit worldpulse.com/mystory for a chance to have your personal story featured in World Pulse Magazine!
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Woman to Watch
At first everyone mocked the idea of Mideast Youth. “Are you serious? Kurds and Iranians on the same platform? Israelis and Arabs on the same platform—it’s never going to work!” they said. But I thought it would. And I was very, very right. After awhile, I began to realize that our potential was bigger than a group blog and we started experimenting with new technology and social media. The first campaign we did was to free a blogger, Kareem Amer, who was imprisoned for what he wrote on his website. Then we started doing campaigns for minority rights. We also
just launched a new project that’s getting a lot of attention called CrowdVoice. It’s a user-powered platform that tracks voices of protest online.
What have been the challenges of moderating websites that welcome controversial dialogue? When I first started the site, I thought everyone had to think like me. And we got nowhere. Now, we have a lot of conservative Muslims on our site with very radical views. We try to compromise and say, “listen, this is a dialogue.” You will sometimes read things that are racist or hateful. But if we remove the community member, we’re going to be talking amongst ourselves and that’s not what we want. We want to be changing people’s perceptions. We’ve seen people change their minds and become more tolerant after participating in dialogue on Mideast Youth; for example, people who were initially homophobic have been able to reconcile homosexual human rights with Islam.
What has been your family’s reaction to your work? My parents have concerns about my safety. I used to tell them that I was playing video games in my room on the computer instead of working on my websites. Minority rights is not something everyone can agree on, so there are many forces that are against the work that I do. I know my family would much rather I get married; but now they understand what I do and how important it is.
Mideast Youth delivers its message in a lot of different mediums. Can you tell us about your use of comics and video, specifically? Growing up my sources of information were television, school, and my family. The only things I still remember are the things that were funny or fun to look at. Young people want something they can send to their friends, post on Facebook, and talk about with their families. Our goal is to make you laugh for five minutes and then think for 30 minutes. We make it tongue in cheek to mark the absurdity of the kinds of crimes that people here face. People who read the comics tell us they had no idea it was this pathetic—that, for example, there are people who are actually
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Over the past four years, Mideast Youth has expanded. Can you tell us about your current projects?
n 2006, 19-year-old Esra’a Al Shafei was fed up. Every time she went online, she read blogs from men and women in Egypt, Iran, Palestine, Bahrain. And every time she was struck by the fact that the blogosphere was furthering the divide among youth in the Middle East instead of bridging it. “Kurds had one blog; Israelis had one blog,” she says. “People weren’t talking to each other; they were just echoing what was happening in real life. So I thought ‘Let’s start a fierce dialogue among ethnic and religious minorities and see what happens.’” Thus, Mideast Youth was born. What began as a simple group blog has evolved into an impressive online platform to foster equality and tolerance in a region fraught with ethnic and religious tensions.
As a university student in Bahrain, Esra’a Al Shafei masterminded a youth revolution to unite the Middle East.
5 Questions for Esra’a Al Shafei
From comics to blogs, esra’a al shafei uses creative media to inspire dialogue in the Middle East.
denied identification cards or health care or education because of their religion. Our comics and videos have been airing on TV, even state-owned TV. They’ve been reprinted in magazines. And that starts the conversation.
What is your advice for others who want to make a difference? I meet so many inspiring women who give up too soon. The first two years after I started Mideast Youth, I had no support. Bloggers in the region were mocking the site, calling me a Zionist or an agent for Iran. If I cared just one percent less, I couldn’t have done it. You face so many challenges; then one day something miraculous happens. One person believes in you, or you get a really wonderful opportunity. People start coming up to you to tell you “this campaign changed my life.” And that makes it worth it. ● Esra’a Al Shafei is the founder and
Executive Director of MideastYouth.com. She is based in Bahrain.
RESOURCECENTER See Esra’a Al Shafei’s groundbreaking work at mideastyouth.com. Connect with Esra’a Al Shafei on PulseWire at worldpulse.com/pulsewire!
Why I Run
With one step, Lisa Shannon ignited a global movement to end violence in the Congo.
© Sonya Melescu, 2010
n my first visit to the Congo, a woman named Generose, rounded and softspoken, told me, over cooking smoke in a village in Congo’s rolling hills, of how her body became a battlefield. It happened on a quiet evening. Generose was preparing a meal when militia charged into her home and demanded money. She and her husband handed over $130—everything they had hidden away. But the men still killed her husband and cut off Generose’s leg with machetes. They cooked her leg in the fire and commanded her six children to eat it. When Generose’s 9-year-old son refused, they shot him in the head. Generose, who had passed out from blood loss, woke up several days later in a hospital. Though she has no memory of it, she had injuries that suggest she was gang-raped.
Generose, a rape survivor, runs alongside Run for Congo founder Lisa Shannon to raise money for the women affected by Congo’s brutal conflict. The first time I heard a story as horrific as Generose’s, I was lounging on my couch watching an Oprah special about Congo’s war on women. I learned that on the other side of the globe, militias have staked their claim over Congo’s vast resources by terrorizing locals with soul-crushing violence. I learned that hundreds of thousands of women have been raped, most of them by gangs. I also learned that four million people had died in the conflict. If the International Rescue Committee mortality statistics hold, that number has swelled to more than seven million.
From my home in Portland, Oregon—a city Forbes Magazine recently ranked the third safest in the US—I scrambled to think of how I could help women in Congo, a place often deemed the worst place on Earth to be a woman. I discovered that I could use my own body to fight for women whose bodies have become emblems of war. I launched Run for Congo Women in 2005 when I did my first 30-mile trail run and asked my friends to pledge to sponsor a “sister” through Women for Women International’s Congo program. I didn’t know how to put an end to the conflict, but I could put one foot in front of the other and hope it mattered. Thirty miles was an effort that couldn’t be faked. And the money raised could help women across the world. That first year, my toenails fell off, I accidentally swallowed spiders, pounded miles of trail, and every week I went on the longest run of my life. Without a clue what the reverb might be, with every step, I was laying the foundation for a movement for Congo that would grow across the globe. Two years later, I traveled to meet my sisters who had lived through countless horrors, from mass slaughter to gang rape. In one women’s group, more than half of the women had been raped in the last six months. Toward the end of our long talk, one woman asked, “Do they also rape women in America?” “Women are raped all over the world,” I answered. “It is not as common as it is here, but a number of American women who have been raped have run to raise your sponsorship. They asked me to especially extend their love to you.” Another woman raised her hand. “What can we do to manage and improve so we can support other women?” Five years into my work, I am haunted by the fact that some of the solutions are actually straightforward: security sector reform, ending our reliance on conflict minerals that fund the war, and disarming the militias that drive the violence. And we must urge our own governments to pay attention. And by helping, we help ourselves. Through running, I discovered my own power. What if the same is true for female survivors of war? When we have control over little else, our refuge may be our physical person.
I discovered I could use my own body to fight for women whose bodies have become emblems of war. Early this year, on the shores of Lake Kivu, Congolese women survivors did just that. In the drizzle, wearing brightly patterned African wraps and plastic sandals, flanked by an all-female police force, local dignitaries, international press, and 44 solidarity runs around the world, 50 of my Congolese sisters ran one mile. They raised more than $50,000 for other Congolese women. Afterwards, the sisters were abuzz, singing, dancing, and talking about starting running clubs. Survivors I had only ever seen weep beamed with joy. Generose was there. Wearing a red suit and pink pearls, she ran on old, mismatched wooden crutches, barefoot, and only made it about a third of the way. She took it as far as she could and said, “If I can run on only one leg, everyone will know they can do something to help.” ● Lisa Shannon is the founder of
Run for Congo Women. Her recent memoir, A Thousand Sisters, follows her as she travels through eastern Congo to meet women survivors of the world’s deadliest war.
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As I Walk Toward Prison Th a il a n d
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The most amazing reward over the past 15 months has been embracing women in remote areas who come up to me in tears. It has been watching a movement of women from across generations and social classes mobilize behind me. Brave, committed young women leaders came together nationwide to collect contributions to
girls are ruined in brothels. In the past 10 years, more than 200,000 families have been brutally forced from their land, and 75% of our forests have been destroyed. As a human rights activist, I have listened to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women and children speak of the shame and violation they
I have felt the power of Cambodia’s women, and I know that access to justice for the crimes against us will encourage women to stop living in fear and shame.
have suffered when violence is afflicted on their bodies and on their minds. As a politician, I have walked to villages to talk with women whose lives have been deeply affected by Cambodian law that deprives them of equal rights. I have challenged the top leadership of the government to address women’s rights within both a national and international context. And, for 15 months, I was faced with the threat of jail because I dared lodge a lawsuit against Hun Sen, the prime minister of Cambodia who was a part of the Khmer Rouge and who has ruled Cambodia with a heavy hand for 30 years. I sued him for defamation when he compared me to a hustler or prostitute—blasting his words of shame through a media that is controlled by his own party and his family. In retaliation, he filed a lawsuit against me. I was charged with defamation. Within days my parliamentary immunity was lifted so the court could “investigate” my case. I was found guilty on all counts and forced to pay a heavy fine. I have refused the fine and put myself up to be taken to jail.
s a young adolescent, I left Cambodia. It was 1972, just three years before the Khmer Rouge killed over one million men, women, and children in my country—among them my parents. It was a brutal genocide that the global community watched but chose to ignore. I fled just as the Vietnam War encroached on Cambodia, and I did not return for 18 years. I still remember the shock when I arrived back at Pochentong airport after being away for so long. The entire place was dark—the power had been turned off to save fuel. My two daughters clung to my arms, frightened as their father looked frantically for our suitcases. My mother had brought me there 18 years ago, but she was not there to greet me on my return. Being back in Cambodia was a wish come true, but this scene is also one of my most painful memories. Today, almost 20 years since my return, Cambodia still struggles. Over 2,000 Cambodian women die every year in childbirth, and at least one million Cambodian children go to bed hungry every night, while thousands of Cambodian
As leaders of the Khmer Rouge stand trial, parliamentarian and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Mu Sochua talks about a different kind of justice for her people.
pay for my fines; but my conscience will not allow me to pay for a crime I did not commit. We have used the funds for Mrs. Lem Nath, a 43-year-old farmer who was arrested without warrant and charged with falsified documents. Her only crime is organizing others to stop the commune chief from selling community land. The deputy provincial police chief entered her home with 11 armed men and used excessive force to bring her to the police station, as her family and neighbors watched. She was charged the same day and detained in prison. Her lawyer’s request for bail was denied. With help from Cambodia’s women’s movement and Urgent Action Fund, we are pursuing a fair trial for Lem Nath. She is just one of many brave Cambodian women. Her release will be well publicized. Having myself battled 15 months of legal shenanigans with Cambodia’s corrupt and politically motivated Cambodian justice system, I am now more than ever determined to continue the fight for justice for women. I want to stay true to the commitment I made when I took office in 1998. I promised I would change the proverb “Men are gold, and women are just a piece of white cloth” to “Men are gold but women are precious gems.” Cambodian women are as precious as gems, and society as a whole must protect us from violence. As the first woman to lead the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, for the past 25 years I have been committed to my country’s women. I campaigned nationwide to put an end to human trafficking. I authored the first draft law on domestic violence, signed treaties with neighboring countries to protect our women and children from being prosecuted as illegal migrants, and lobbied for them to receive proper treatment as victims of sex slavery. We have to keep going so that Cambodians can see true justice. We must depoliticize the appointments of judges, enforce the principles of fair trial, and offer access to justice with free legal assistance. And the public must be encouraged to denounce all forms of corruption and to not take part in paying bribes to court officials.
© Justin Mott | Redux
Leading human rights advocate Mu Sochua has worked forcefully to prioritize women’s issues in Cambodia. Today, she faces a possible jail term if the Cambodian Supreme Court upholds her criminal defamation conviction for criticizing the Prime Minister.
I have walked the peace walk with other women in city streets and dirt roads to pray for non-violence, and I have felt the power of Cambodia’s women. I know that access
to justice for the crimes against us will break the silence of victims and encourage women to stop living in fear and shame. Let there be real justice. ●
RESOURCECENTER Watch Mu Sochua’s video message to World Pulse readers at worldpulse.com/magazine. Log on to PulseWire to connect directly with Mu Sochua and other Cambodian activists in the Cambodia Café at worldpulse.com/pulsewire. worldpulse.com | 17
365 DAYS Every day, for an entire year, Oregon-based photographer Andrea Leoncavallo captured images of the many women in her life who awe and inspire her.
Andrea Leoncavallo is a Portland-based
photographer and documentary filmmaker. See the full collection of She Inspires 365 at lionhorseproductions.com.
ast October, I set out on a mission to photograph one woman a day for 365 days. It wasn’t a random task. Just prior, I had been searching for my passion and coming up empty-handed. But then I found it while photographing a close friend. The experience showed me that I am passionate about the women in my life who inspire me each and every day. I wanted to share that sense of awe with the world. Now that I’ve snapped my 365th portrait, I look back and realize that what started as a very personal exercise has become a panorama representing the many strong women in America today—from aerial artists, to single mothers, to entrepreneurs, to ranchers. And I’ve come away with the knowledge that all of our lives are overflowing with strong and beautiful women who have wonderful and amazing experiences to share.
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Day 1 DAY 1 | When I first met Sandra three years ago, she was pregnant. Today, she is a single mom attending school full time. When many people would have put their own dreams aside, she reaches for them with everything she has, while still being an amazing mother to her son. When I’m with her I file away little lessons for when I have my own children.
Day 104 Day 104 | Lauren has a sense of mystery about her, and yet I see so much of myself in her. Her relationship recently ended, and I recognize a longing in her to figure out who she is and where she is going—I felt the same following the loss of an important relationship. It felt like a piece of me had vanished. There’s something in Lauren that has yet to be released, and her desire to find out what that is is familiar and enchanting to me. worldpulse.com | 19
Day 148 Day 148 | Often I feel that I am too young to take on certain responsibilities, but my friend Kate Ertmann reminds me that I don’t need to limit myself. Kate runs an animation company. And she loves math, which is a subject that terrifies me. The tattoo on her arm is a series of morphisms that represent movement, followed by her favorite word: “Go!”
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Day 61 Day 61 | On the shores of the Dead Sea, my best friend Lilach (left) and her sister Tom (right) and I soaked in a hot spring at sunset. We floated weightlessly in the hot and cool waters, drank tea, and spoke a medley of English and Hebrew. Lilach and her sister are Israeli, and they are beautiful, confident, and daring. I admire their sense of adventure.
DAY 109 | The Jumpin’ Jackie O’s get together on random street corners to practice their Double Dutch jump rope skills. They teach passersby to jump rope and are so excited to share their enthusiasm with others. I was excited to have a go at it, but it’s much harder than it looks!
Day 192 | Patti is a professor of Women’s Studies, and is also the co-director of Finding Face, a film about a woman who survived a brutal acid attack in Cambodia. A week after this photograph was taken, she gave birth to her son, Chance, following four months of bed rest. She spent those four months lying on this couch, completely horizontal. She was only allowed to get up every other day to take a three-minute shower. What amazing things mothers do for their children!
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Day 239 Day 239 | Jessica organizes the Ginger Ride, a group bike ride and celebration of redheads that takes place every year in Portland. Only 2% of people in the world have red hair, and many of us were teased or bullied as kids. Surrounded by so many other gingers, I felt as if I had found my clan. We rode around town on our bicycles playing music, waving to bystanders, laughing, and celebrating life and all its colors. Day 100 | Sonya is the owner of an Ethiopian restaurant, and she seems to be a mother to all of the Ethiopian children in Portland who have been adopted. Parents ask Sonya to share her culture with their babies, so Sonya started a group to bring them together so that they can learn from one another. Sonya is a mother spirit in the truest sense of the term.
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What started as a very personal exercise has become a panorama representing the many strong women in America today—from aerial artists, to single mothers, to entrepreneurs, to ranchers.
Day 145 | This photo captures Ruth, a talented new friend I feel I have known forever. She makes mosaic tiles for a living. This is a special moment because it’s the first time she designed a mosaic for herself. I love being in her space because her desk is always sprinkled with eclectic items.
RESOURCECENTER Log on to PulseWire at worldpulse.com/pulsewire to connect with Andrea! worldpulse.com | 23
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ÂŠ Mark Gamba
Tr i u
of Women and
Women and girls are at ground zero in the battle for their right to play sports. But itâ€™s a fight that can lead to immense gains for women and their communities. By Ann Killion
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here it is, the brightly colored photographic evidence of radical change. Girls in cleats and shin guards. Wearing the red and green uniform of Iraq. Playing soccer in Europe. “Most of the Iraqi people don’t believe girls are playing soccer,” Jamil Zina-Zizo says with a small smile. “They see the photos and they still don’t believe it.”
But this is not a photoshopped fabrication. A team of 17-year-old girls from Duhok in the Kurdish northern territory of Iraq traveled last summer to Gothenburg, Sweden, to play in the Gothia Cup, the largest youth tournament in the world. They marched in the opening ceremony. They danced in the stadium. They played soccer. And— perhaps—their lives were indelibly changed. Zina-Zizo, a thin, serious girl who served as the captain of her team, describes herself as astonished to be playing sports in Sweden. She thinks she will be changed from the experience. And possibly a part of her culture will be, too. “We could break the wall between girls’ football and what society thinks about it,” she says, through two translations—from Kurdish to Arabic to English. “We could influence social life, possibly.” “I feel for the first time that I am a woman, a girl, a team captain, representing my country,” she says. “I can’t put my feelings into words. It is unbelievable.”
From Iraq to Nicaragua, from Papua New Guinea to Nigeria, girls with balls and bats, on tracks and playing fields, are creating a sweaty revolution. 26 | worldpulse.com
From Iraq to Nicaragua, from Papua New Guinea to Nigeria, girls with balls and bats, on tracks and playing fields, are creating a sweaty revolution. They are challenging gender stereotypes, pushing boundaries, and taking on tradition. Increasingly, sport has become a tool for female empowerment around the globe. In Afghanistan, girls attend a skateboarding school. In Syria, young women play softball. In the slums of Nairobi, adolescent girls learn boxing and other self-defense skills. In Nicaragua, hundreds of girls gather nightly for soccer practice or educational events at a soccer facility called T.E.A.M. Granada. In Pakistan, Right to Play leaders organized a first-ever girls’ volleyball tournament. The hope is that by giving a girl athletic opportunities, in a safe and supportive environment, change will follow. The lessons that have held true for so many middle-class American girls over the past four decades could become the reality of girls anywhere. But these athletic revolutionaries must overcome tremendous cultural and traditional barriers before the playing field is even close to being level. “You can’t just give a girl a ball and lives change,” says Awista Ayub, an Afghani-born American who brought a group of girls from Afghanistan to the US to play soccer in 2004. “It’s not that simple.” Turning sports into a lasting tool of change requires community support, infrastructure, and commitment. “You can’t talk about this sports experience without talking about the Iraqi situation,” says Ali Alhasnawy, who helped facilitate the Iraqi girls’ trip to Gothenburg. A coach who fled Saddam Hussein’s regime, he now lives in Sweden.
“People will say, now something will happen. But it depends on the leaders of the country. Do they want to educate girls to be good leaders? Do they accept this? I don’t think so.” Around the world, there are pockets of outreach where girls are being introduced to sports and physical activity. Balls are being rolled out on dirt fields. Basketballs are being dribbled. Races are being run. Girls are moving, learning, laughing, sweating, and working together. The benefits are obvious to those working in the field. “Think of all the benefits young men derive from sports—young women get the same effect,” says Olympian basketball gold medalist Jennifer Azzi, who—through her connection to the NBA and WNBA—has run basketball clinics in South Africa, Tanzania, and Abu Dhabi. “The girls feel validated that they can play sports. They are so excited.” “You can see a personality shift,” says Ayub, who wrote a book about her experience with girls from Afghanistan called The Kabul Girls Soccer Club. “They became so much more outgoing. They really found their voice.” The organizers and volunteers who help run clinics, camps, and group activities are convinced of the power of sports to effect change. That belief stems from the lessons learned in the decades since 1972 when Title IX was adopted by the US federal government: that sport builds healthier, more confident girls. That sport teaches life lessons about cooperation and teamwork. That sport creates leaders. The Women’s Sports Foundation has a gymnasium full of statistics backing up those assumptions, ones that are now taken for granted in the US and many other developed countries. Studies show that female participation in sports
Belen Lopez leads to higher graduation rates and test scores; to a wealth of measurements of improved health; to higher self-esteem; to lower drug use; lower pregnancy rates; and fewer eating disorders. All those Western-molded lessons potentially hold true for girls and women anywhere. And all those newfound benefits can create strong women who will become involved leaders. “Sports gives women the confidence to use their power, to be in leadership positions,” says Tuti Scott, a former executive at the Women’s Sports Foundation who now runs Imagine Philanthropy, an international consulting firm that supports philanthropy. A young woman named Maihan Wali helped form a basketball league in Afghanistan. Despite discouragement and outright threats, she persevered and uses sports as a vehicle to teach other young women about their rights. Now the captain of her national team, Wali’s influence extends beyond sports. She spoke last summer at the Women Deliver conference in Washington DC and has been honored as a global changemaker. “What sports does—in a safe environment—is
give women their voice,” Scott says. “The woman who participates in sports might be more of a risk taker, might run for a council seat, might question how land ownership is decided, might make better decisions about how to tackle economic conditions. It all circles back.” Scott is on the board of Women Win, an organization founded in 2007 to empower women through sports. Founder Astrid Aafjes started her organization after participating in a women’s race in Casablanca where witnessing 20,000 women racing through the streets of a Muslim country became a powerful, life-changing experience. “Sports is positive, universal, and cuts across cultural differences,” Aafjes says. “A girl that feels confident about herself and understands her body will be more likely to say no to violence or unsafe sex.” Despite the known benefits of getting girls involved in sports, numerous hurdles exist— including lack of resources and stubborn cultural codes—that challenge communities’ abilities to create these opportunities. Much of the funding for sports programs is top down, funneled through
Belen Lopez grew up kicking a soccer
ball around in soccer-crazed Argentina. But it is only in recent years, playing with the program Goals for Girls, that boys have learned they need to share the field. “Before, it was tougher,” says Lopez, 18. “The boys would take over the field. It was not easy for the girls to ask. But now it’s better because this program has been here and they know that we also get to use the field every week.” Goals for Girls started in 2005 in Villa 31, the largest slum in Buenos Aires. The program has survived through donations and volunteers. Girls at risk now know they have a place to play. “I feel good when I play football,” Lopez says. “My head is not so busy. I have a lot more energy.” Lopez says playing soccer has given her confidence. “I feel more secure,” she says. “I know that I have the right to play.” Lopez says she views soccer as a fun outlet. But she hopes to become a recreational trainer and work with a program like Goals for Girls, providing opportunities for others.
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© Warrick Page
The woman who participates in sports might be more of a risk taker, might run for a council seat, might question how land ownership is decided, might make better decisions about how to tackle economic conditions. Tuti Scott | Board member, Women Win
or influenced by massive entities such as the International Olympic Committee or FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. “The problem with the Olympics and the World Cup is that those phases come and go,” says Scott. “It’s the sizzle, a moment in time.” Scott notes that with the recent adoption of rugby as an Olympic sport, some underdeveloped countries are scrambling to use limited resources to create women’s rugby teams, which may or may not have lasting impact. Even successful programs, such as the Brazilian women’s national soccer team that finished second in both the last Women’s World Cup and the 2008 Olympics, struggles to maintain funding and relevance outside of the quadrennial cycles. “To shift the culture in a positive way, you want sustainability,” Scott says. “That’s why the Olympic movement should put their money into schools and clubs.” The top-down approach to funding and program development can be challenging. “It can be philosophically problematic,” says Sarah Murray, communications director for
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Women Win. “Those in charge can be farthest removed from girls on the ground. Culturally, they’re out of sync.” A general consensus is that grassroots efforts that produce a groundswell of results and community awareness—a model more emblematic in developing nations—are the most effective path to long-term change. Such programs usually don’t exclusively focus on teaching sports-specific skills, but use sports as a catalyst for activity, health, and community building. Deport-es Para Compartir introduces elementary school children in Mexico to games and sports through mixed gender teams. Right to Play supports girls programs in 20 countries, including basketball in Mali, soccer in Liberia, and volleyball in Pakistan. Soccer Without Borders has created an institute in Granada, Nicaragua, to use soccer as a tool for positive influence. “As we develop our goals, we want to be culturally appropriate,” says Mary McVeigh, the executive director of Soccer Without Borders. “We don’t want to implant American values.” Like Women Win and other organizations,
Soccer Without Borders tries to influence both ends of the spectrum. “We want to be bottomup, top-down, and outside-in,” McVeigh says. “Local grassroots programs show the most efficiency. But once the bottom-up approach is shown to work, it’s important to get those at the top involved.” The challenge lies in sustaining these embers of change. Barriers must be broken. The first step is navigating a path where sports can be recognized as more than just a privilege, but part of the basic necessities of life. That recognition already exists for many girls in developed nations, where parents are more likely to not only support but encourage girls to participate in sports. But in developing nations, oftentimes girls must fight for their right to play. Sports are viewed as a luxury, particularly for females. They are shut out of the field by lack of resources, and are forced to defy social and cultural rules that tell them “No.” “I was a bit naïve,” says Ayub, who has— since her initial foray into the soccer world—seen
© Bill Denison
Mobolaji Akiode When Mobolaji Akiode landed in New
women’s soccer in Afghanistan grow substantially. “I grew up in the US watching women’s soccer and I saw it as a gender-neutral sport. But it turned out to be the most male-dominated sport. The girls were challenging barriers on and off the field. Certainly it took an emotional toll.” Girls in Muslim countries often can’t participate in sports in open areas, where men might see them. They are constricted by what they must wear. In many areas, finding a safe environment for play is a challenge. Around the world, families may feel threatened by seeing their daughters step out of traditional women’s roles. “They have duties in their households, or are working outside the household,” McVeigh says. “You can’t tell the parents that sports are more valuable than bringing home money. That’s why you have to involve local community members.” The barriers exist everywhere, including the US. Despite the great strides made in the world of women’s sports, the benefits are still often reserved for the children of privilege. Marlene Bjornsrud has spent her life in sports, as a collegiate athletic director and as a general
manager in the former WUSA, the women’s professional soccer league that disbanded in 2003. She, along with soccer stars Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy, founded BAWSI (the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative), which brings collegiate athletes into underprivileged schools to run afterschool programs focusing on health and fitness. Just a stone’s throw from elite Bay Area college campuses where women athletes are afforded the same opportunity as men, Bjornsrud faces enormous cultural barriers—poverty, gang families, domestic violence—to involving young girls in her programs. “I’m increasingly concerned about the huge number of girls who will never have the opportunity to play sports,” she says. “Some of it is pure economics. There’s a high price tag to playing sports even at an entry level. And the other piece is cultural. Some families don’t see the value of girls playing sports, or see it as a negative, a distraction that takes them away from helping with the children or the meals.” But six years into her program, she is gratified
Jersey at the age of eight, she was an outsider. A stranger from Nigeria who had a hard time assimilating. But when she picked up a basketball, things changed. “I thought, ‘Hey, I can fit in by playing sports,’” she says. She eventually played at Fordham University and on the Nigerian Olympic team. Now, the 28-year-old is taking the lessons she learned from sports back to her birth country. Hope4Girls, Akiode’s nonprofit organization, uses sports to empower disadvantaged young girls in Africa. She ran her first camp in the summer of 2009 and the response was gratifying. She has helped girls further their education while finding an outlet from their difficult lives. “It’s a harsh environment,” Akiode says. “There’s prostitution and pregnancy. Getting involved with sports gives girls a chance to be part of something bigger than themselves.” Akiode believes sports can help the young women she meets take control of their lives and stand up for themselves. That’s what sports did for her, teaching her leadership skills that emboldened her to start Hope4Girls. “Sports gave me the chutzpah to challenge the status quo,” Akiode says. “I attribute 70% of my success to what I’ve learned from basketball.”
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© David Nakamura | The Washington Post
“I am small, but I am a leader. I train young girls to be strong and confident…and also how to respect others in society.” Dina Buchbinder Auron, the director of Deport-es Para Compatir, is fueled by the sight of working women in Mexico City, who—after raising their children—began playing volleyball and found new meaning in life. And by an indigenous 10-year-old boy telling her, “I did not know women could play and even do it better than us.” In Nicaragua, 17-year-old Yelba Sirias has moved from T.E.A.M. Granada to the Nicaraguan under-20 national soccer team. She has traveled with her team to El Salvador and is now working as a coach with Soccer Without Borders. And in Sweden, serious young Jamil Zina-Zizo notes that when she left Iraq, “You cannot talk about girls’ football. It does not exist.” But when she returned home, she had started the conversation. ● Ann Killion is an award-winning sports journalist. She's covered nine Olympics, five World Cups, countless Super Bowls and World Series, and also works for Vivo Girls Sports, the social network for girls who like sports.
When Robina Jalali was a shy 19-year-
old she was thrust upon one of the world’s biggest stages: the Summer Olympics. Jalali loved to run as a child. But when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, she would have been beaten for such an act. After the Taliban fell, Jalali— who went by the last name Muqimyar at that time— began running again. She trained in Kabul Stadium, where the Taliban had once held executions, running behind locked gates so no men could see her. She made the Afghanistan Olympic team and ran the 100 meters in Athens in 2004, where she finished second-to-last. But it felt like first place to her. At the time she said, “I will never forget this moment in my life.” Now Jalali—who also competed in Beijing—has used that moment to help change her country. In September, she ran for a seat in the lower house of the Afghan Parliament. For her efforts, she received threats from the Taliban. “I don’t care about the Taliban because I am used to it,” she told The Washington Post. Her athletics career gave Jalali a resolve and a fire she hopes will help her country’s people. “Fear is something I lived with every day,” she told The Post. “If I caved in to fear and left the country, what would happen to all the Afghans who were left behind? What kind of role model would I be?” 30 | worldpulse.com
to see girls owning a piece of the playground, becoming more physically active, and being regularly exposed to strong, educated role models. BAWSI has a mothers program to encourage further family support. Bjornsrud has schools lining up to bring BAWSI to their campuses. “Our BAWSI girls feel connected, they feel special,” says Norma Rodriguez, the principal at Dorsa Elementary School in San Jose, California, which has had a BAWSI program since 2005. “We have fifth graders applying to be junior coaches for the younger girls because they want to be like their team leaders. They want to be role models.” There are pockets of change around the globe. But quantifying the success of programs is difficult. The tangible benefits—reduced domestic violence and early pregnancy rates, the development of young girls into community leaders—may be impossible to tabulate for years, if ever. But every organization is fueled by its own success stories. Women Win supports Boxgirls, which organizes boxing and self-defense classes for girls in Kenya’s Nairobi slums. Vinter, a 12-year-old captain, says:
RESOURCECENTER Women Win womenwin.org Soccer Without Borders soccerwithoutborders.org Right to Play righttoplay.com Deport-es Compartir deportesparacompartir.org.mx Hope4Girls hope4girlsafrica.org Women’s Sports Foundation womenssportsfoundation.com Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative bawsi.org Team Up For Youth teamupforyouth.org Log on to PulseWire at worldpulse.com/pulsewire to talk about this story with women around the world in the Sports Café!
Her vision is taking her company places. Calvert Investments congratulates the City of San Francisco on the launch of the Gender Equality Principles Initiative. We are proud to be partners with the City of San Francisco’s Department on the Status of Women and Verité in launching a comprehensive tool that allows companies to evaluate their workplaces and set concrete goals and objectives to strengthen gender-related policies, practices and organizational culture. Help your company get there. Take the free, online assessment today at www.GenderPrinciples.org. The Gender Equality Principles are based on the Calvert Women’s Principles,® the first global code of corporate conduct focused exclusively on empowering, advancing and investing in women worldwide. Learn more about all of the ways that Calvert is investing in women at www.Calvert.com/Women.
Calvert Asset Management Company, Inc., 4550 Montgomery Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814 AD10016-201009 worldpulse.com | 31
ÂŠ Tatiana Cardeal
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There are enormous challenges. But women are not cowed; they are innovative and courageous and refusing to be beaten down. Shalini Nataraj | the Global Fund for Women
The e nd of
What’s working—and what needs work—in the quest to put a stop to violence against women and girls. By Ramya ramanathan
There is a growing language for the brutal war waged daily on women and girls, as diverse as the landscape in which it occurs. Acid attacks. Sex trafficking. Female genital mutilation. Femicide. Girl infanticide. Breast ironing. Gang rape. Dowry burning. Honor crimes. Femicide. Conflict rape. Battery. Feoticide. Child brides. Domestic violence. But at least there are names now. It didn’t used to be that way.
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Just a few decades ago, the scourge of violence against women and girls was masked in a deadly silence. It was only 17 years ago that violence against women and girls was officially recognized, thanks to the unrelenting efforts of women activists at the World Human Rights Conference in Vienna in 1993. The problem is now understood to be universal; many call it a pandemic. The UN reports that there is no country or region in the world where women and girls can escape it. UNIFEM says that globally, up to six out of every ten women experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Among women of reproductive age, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined, according to the World Bank. With one out of every three women physically abused in her lifetime, gender-based violence is the most pervasive human rights violation on the planet. Despite the urgency, the global response to combat gender-based violence has been abysmal. In the current UN system, women’s agencies alone receive less than 1% of the funding—and that includes organizations that do not focus on violence against women. But the women at ground zero are not waiting for those who wield power to take action. At World Pulse, we hear daily from women on the ground on our interactive newswire, PulseWire. The most recurring cry we hear is that ending violence against women must be the world’s number one priority. And they are ready to lead the charge. They are organizing. But what is actually working? Where is the hope? World Pulse talked to key experts who have devoted their lives to ending the bloodshed. From policy analysts, to ambassadors, to women working in the field, to heads of organizations, their experiences were varied, but three key recommendations emerged. 34 | worldpulse.com
the way forward Enforce the Laws The good news is that over the last decade most countries in the world have adopted legislation to protect women from violence. Close to 115 countries have laws or policies addressing violence; but the experts we spoke to were all quick to point out that getting a law on paper is just the beginning. “One of the key challenges we are facing is getting these pieces of legislation implemented,” says Melanne Verveer, US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues. “The reasons range from lack of political will to the fact that many countries don’t see the issue as pressing compared to what they consider to be ‘bigger problems.’” “Formerly women could be legally raped by their husbands in most parts of the world,” says Mary Ellsberg, Vice President of Research and Programs for the International Center for Research on Women. “These things are changing, and we are seeing countries reforming their criminal code to make these punishable crimes at the national level. The problem is that you don’t necessarily see a lot of the changes for women on the ground. There is a huge implementation crisis, and we are still very far from being able to keep women safe.” In other words, a law may exist but a woman who has been attacked may not be able to take her abuser to jail or even file a police report. There may be no safe haven for her, and no legal, medical, or counseling services. For Melanne Verveer,“It comes down to the three P’s: prevention, protection, and prosecution.” It is critically important that laws not only get passed, but that communities have the resources and support to enforce them.
These are enormous challenges. But women are not cowed. They are innovative and courageous and refusing to be beat down. Shalini Nataraj | Global Fund for Women
Reframe the Conversation Advocates are learning that positioning violence against women as more than a women’s issue is one of the most effective ways to help communities understand the importance of keeping women safe. That means working with men and influential “gatekeepers” like faith-based leaders, police, and politicians to help them understand that reducing violence is in everyone’s best interest. It also means emphasizing the connections between violence against women and other issues like public health. Nowhere is this linkage more crucial than in what some call “the twin pandemics” of HIV/AIDS and gendered violence. This sinister cocktail is one of the greatest threats to the health and well-being of women worldwide. “We have known for many years that violence against women has fuelled the spread of HIV,” says Maria José Alcalá, who has been working on the ground on these issues across Asia, Africa, and the Dominican Republic. “And a lot more needs to be done in recognizing the intersection between HIV and violence,” she says. “Over the last 10 years, in India, violence against women has become recognized as impacting health and development as a whole,” says Ravi Verma, Regional Director for Asia for ICRW. “Even national surveys like the National Family Health Survey are gathering statistics. It makes the issue more than ‘just a women’s issue,’ and that is absolutely crucial.” ●
“Compared with when I started working in the field 20 years ago, violence against women is finally being universally acknowledged as human rights and public health issues. It is now seen as a problem for all society, not just a private problem at home, and as a problem of both men and women. And we have a lot more data. The problem is that we are still very far from being able to keep women safe on the ground.” Mary Ellsberg | Vice President, Research and Programs, ICRW
“To end violence the three P’s are critical. Prevention, protection, and prosecution. We need to prevent further occurrences. Women need an array of protective resources that enable them to move away from violence, whether it is shelters, to be able to heal, to recover from trauma, or to be reintegrated into normal life. Prosecution is essential because the violence will continue until the criminal justice system works to ensure that perpetrators are dealt with appropriately and that violence is treated as a crime.” © Eric Miller
“Despite encouraging trends, too many laws are passed without adequate budgets attached to them,” says Maria José Alcalá, advisor on Ending Violence Against Women at UNIFEM. “The problem is enormous. How do we reach millions of women and girls who are left out without adequate financial resources?” Coupling funding with a new law is part of the reason why large strides have been made against domestic violence in the US, according to Cindy Dyer, who was a former prosecutor of the US Violence Against Women Act. “When we passed the Act in 1994, we didn’t just pass it, we attached money to it. That is why it was implemented. We required that police and prosecutors partner with community-based organizations, and they had to receive training. It worked like a charm.” For Judith Bruce, policy analyst with the Population Council’s Poverty, Gender, and Youth program, the movement needs to take a hard look at where the majority of funding is going and make women and girls central to funding plans. “Our approach is on the wrong track,” she told World Pulse. “Though every activity people are investing in makes sense, the proportions are wrong. Money is going to secondary priorities, and there is too much faith in formal human rights approaches, which assume that if there are laws in place, there is follow through, and that somehow the job is done. “Recently I looked at a $9 million proposed program for a poor African country that was nominally addressed to ending violence against women and girls. The budget was overwhelmingly focused on media, police, sensitizing policymakers, and changing male attitudes. I calculated that less than 5% would actually reach the girls who are affected by violence, and there were no benchmarks for measuring success in a girl’s life.” Bruce believes that the way forward is clear. “We need to create female platforms and places of affiliation in communities where there are high levels of violence against women and girls and prioritize building the protective health, social, and economic assets of the youngest girls at the highest risk. Women and girls should have the majority of the money. We are on the cusp of change— which will require a major expansion and redirection of resources: direct investments in the girls for whom human rights and bodily integrity are at risk.”
Melanne Verveer | US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues
“Different things work in different countries. In one country, we worked with religious and faith-based leaders; in the other, we worked through the justice system. In the third, we worked with midwives. We adapt strategies based on country context. The underlying principle is using both the top-down and bottom-up approach.” Upala Devi | UN Task Force for Violence Against Women, UNFPA
“We need to create female platforms and places of affiliation in communities where there are high levels of violence against women and girls and prioritize building the protective health, social, and economic assets of the youngest girls at the highest risk. Women and girls should have the majority of the money. We are on the cusp of change—which will require a major expansion and redirection of resources: direct investments in the girls for whom human rights and bodily integrity are at risk.” © Nadia Todres
Amp up the Budgets
Judith Bruce | Policy Analyst, the Population Council’s Poverty, Gender, and Youth program
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A handful of the top methods that are having a real impact on the lives of women.
By Ramya Ramanathan and Kimberly Crane
1 Safe Spaces for Women Beyond shelter
Women’s shelters have always been places to keep women safe from abuse. It turns out the strength of a shelter is not just in the iron bars on the outside, but the connections being made on the inside. The next generation of shelters help women emerge into the world with the tools and resources to fight injustice. Increasingly, shelters are moving to a one-stop-shop model where women can access a variety of services to address their long-term physical, emotional, and economic needs—all under one roof. “The creation of coordinated community responses to violence against women is one of the most heartening developments we have been seeing for a few years now,“ reports Cindy Dyer of Vital Voices. “When a victim of violence goes into a building, she is able to get day care for a child, is able to talk to legal services, the police, all in one location.”
THE PRACTICE IN ACTION:
© UN China
Seven Breakthrough Models to End Violence Against Women
Xuzhou Women’s Shelter: In the Xuzhou province of China, a one-stop-shop model has been so successful it is now being replicated in 100 Chinese cities. The shelter leverages community resources— all the way down to the taxi drivers enlisted to shuttle women safely to the shelter—to protect and empower women. CITY OF JOY: Healing is the cornerstone of City of Joy, a rape survivor center in the middle of Congo’s war zone. Developed by women on the ground and sponsored by Eve Ensler’s V-DAY, the center will serve 180 survivors of trauma each year, offering group therapy, storytelling, dance, theater, self-defense, economic empowerment training, and sex education. drc.vday.org/city-of-joy
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San diego family justice center: Throughout the US, women escaping domestic violence must run all over town to receive services, retelling their painful stories over and over again along the way. The Family Justice Center is changing that. In 2002, they pioneered a new model where DV survivors can get all the services they need—counseling, court services, restraining orders, access to shelter—in one central location. Today, 55 family justice centers across the US offer similar integrative services, with 50 more currently in development. familyjusticecenter.com
2 Men Are Part of the Fight
Driving Home the Message
Violence against women is not “a women’s issue.” Most of the leaders we spoke with emphasized the growing consensus that men are key to ending violence. They touted the remarkable success of initiatives that bring men and boys into the conversation. “Women are not out there raping ourselves,” says Dyer. “We need to have men that other men can look up to, the cool guys. We need them to speak out against the violence to make this an uncool thing to do.” Organizations that target men to help put an end to the problem have had tremendous impact.
What would a society that refuses to accept violence against women look like? Our media could be showing us the answer. “We need a deep normative cultural change if we want to stop violence against women,” says human rights leader Mallika Dutt. That change has to take root in the places where culture is made. The most effective campaigns are taking anti-violence messages to the airwaves, the big screen, the small screen, and online communities—the places where people spend their time. They are tapping into public consciousness and creating a new role for mass media. They are proving that media can lead communities in imagining solutions.
Power in media
Power in prevention
THE PRACTICE IN ACTION:
© Jenny Matthews Panos Pictures
THE PRACTICE IN ACTION:
Can a video game change the world? Millions of boys around the world watch every move international soccer star Samuel Eto’o makes. His latest move is through an avatar in the soccerthemed video game Breakaway. Between goals, Eto’o will model respect for women and deliver anti-violence messages. Created by students at the Champlain College Emergent Media Center, the game uses an engaging platform, the world’s most popular sport, and the star power of respected celebrities to help young boys understand the problem of gender-based violence. “A video game is a really powerful medium for showing choices,” says Ann DeMarle, director of the Emergent Media Center. Breakaway, which follows a narrative format, has released 3 of its 13 episodes. Already 92% of players are making positive choices in the game— choices the game’s creators expect will carry over to the players’ lives.
Supporting the good guys: For a long time, the only images of men in antiviolence campaigns were the men committing acts of violence against women. Men who don’t identify with that image are beginning to fill the gap with images of a positive masculinity—a masculinity that includes caring fatherhood, respectful intimate relationships, and advocacy for women’s rights. Program H, an initiative of the Brazilian organization Promundo, has taken Brazil by storm, flooding the culture with their vision of anti-violence masculinity. The program has successfully lowered rates of violence and sexual harassment against women in Brazil and its education model has been replicated throughout the world.
Getting on the soap box: Created by a medical doctor to promote public health, prevent AIDS, and combat violence against women, the soap opera Soul City is one of the top three highest-rated shows in South Africa. Relatable story lines and engaging drama have garnered a wide audience, while the campaigns and resources that accompany each episode help viewers make changes in their everyday lives. On air since 1994, Soul City is now expanding its success internationally. onelovesouthernafrica.org
Ringing the bell for change: Bell Bajao, or Ring the Bell, is a wildly successful campaign in India that deploys videos of men making noise about a problem often shrouded in silence. “Simply pointing fingers is not enough,” says Dutt, whose organization Breakthrough launched the campaign to end violence against women. “You have to find a way to embrace people into a movement while holding them accountable.” The Bell Bajao movement has already reached 130 million people. This number continues to grow as video vans travel across the country spreading opportunities for men to create their own media and speak out in support of women. bellbajao.org
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5 Reframing Tradition Power in culture
4 New Tools for an Old Problem Power in technology
In the hands of survivors of violence, a cell phone and an Internet connection can be powerful tools to fight back. Women are quickly learning how to protect themselves in digital spaces and to use technology to their advantage—to connect across borders, share information, and mobilize for change.
© Warriors Against Violence
THE PRACTICE IN ACTION:
© Tostan International
THE PRACTICE IN ACTION:
A growing global chorus of traditional leaders is stepping forward to make a declaration: “Violence is not a part of my faith; brutalizing women is not a part of my culture.” We can’t ignore the power of religion and culture. Religious and traditional leaders have achieved notable successes where others have failed—in part because they can frame anti-violence messages in a way that resonates with a shared history and deeply held values. And religious leaders are often the first people to hear of violence when it happens. “Women can easily get guidance from religious leaders even if they cannot go to the police department or go out to shop alone,” explains Meltem Ağduk, Gender Programme Manager at the UNFPA Turkey office.
Hollaback! An exciting new campaign encourages women to “hollaback” at street harassers. Women are now picking up their cell phones, snapping photos of harassers, and posting them to the Hollaback blog. Co-founder Emily May refers to street harassment as a “gateway crime” that feeds into a culture that condones other types of violence against women. Addressing street harassment should help solve the larger pandemic of violence against women. May calls Hollaback an activist fairytale. “We’ve had over a thousand people hollabacking in New York City alone,” she said. Something must be working because Hollaback sites are popping up across the world— from Toronto to Mauritius. ihollaback.org
HandHeld Human rights: Handheld Human Rights, a Digital Democracy program first deployed in Burma to report on human rights abuses, has been deployed in Haiti’s camps to help women report instances of sexual assault and rape. Reporting violence is often the first step to putting an end to it. Now, with cell phone technology, survivors can submit reports anonymously and in the blink of an eye. handheldhumanrights.org
Ending Female Genital Mutilation: Female genital cutting—a painful practice with serious health consequences—is frequently couched by supporters in the hallowed language of tradition. It will likely endure until its cultural legitimacy is challenged. Tostan, a Senegal-based organization whose influence has spread throughout West Africa, has signed up religious leaders to lend force to this challenge. Tostan’s health education programs, which engage rather than blame the stewards of tradition, have led to sweeping popular rejection of the practice in Senegal and the surrounding region. Since Tostan began its programs in 1997, 4,385 communities throughout Senegal—85% of previously practicing communities— have publicly banned genital cutting. tostan.org
Warriors Against Violence: A warrior may be an unlikely mascot for an anti-violence movement, but it’s working for British Columbia-based Warriors Against Violence. With a mission to “restore the traditional Aboriginal values of honor, respect, and equality,” Warriors Against Violence engages community elders to deliver culturally specific programs. The “I am strong I am kind” men’s group reconnects first nation men to their culture and explores the roots of violence. “Many participants experienced abuse as a child, racism, being taken from parents, or being the victim of the history of this country,” explains Joyce Fosella, executive director of Warriors Against Violence. “By sharing stories, participants become aware that the anger they display comes from the pain they carry.” wavbc.com
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Joining Forces for Change
Power in numbers
Power in a new paradigm “Young women and men really hold the key to stopping violence against women and girls; they have huge untapped potential to be champions,” says UNIFEM’s Maria José Alcalá. The next generation may be our greatest hope for a better, more peaceful future—but they’re going to need some help. Parents, teachers, and peers can all give young people the tools to unlearn legacies of violence and forge positive new relationships.
THE PRACTICE IN ACTION:
© Mike Panic | iStock
© Thomas Lottermoser
THE PRACTICE IN ACTION:
Middle School activists: Relationship violence starts early. More than 1 out of 3 US teens will experience abuse in a dating relationship. Two-thirds of these teens never report it. Break the Cycle meets young people where they’re at—through the Internet, through television, and, most powerfully, through their friends—to stop the violence. Break the Cycle’s education, advocacy, and peer activism programs have reached a million youth across the US with resources to prevent dating violence before teens carry these patterns into their adult lives. breakthecycle.org
Violence against women is a problem that involves every sector of society. It will take that same level of participation to stop it. “Gender inequality is really at the root of violence against women and girls,” says Maria José Alcalá. Freeing women from the threat of violence will require a shift in the gender equality landscape—a major undertaking that requires a massive coordinated effort. Thriving regional networks to end violence against women have provided signs of hope and paved the way for bigger things to come.
From the cradle: The Caring & Connected parenting guide issued by the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV) targets parents of children ages 0 to 4. With neurosciencebased, age-appropriate advice, the guide helps parents establish positive patterns with children in their most impressionable stage of life. “For most of recorded history, parental violence against children and men’s violence against wives was explicitly or implicitly condoned,” says SAIV co-founder Riane Eisler. By educating parents of young children, particularly parents who have been abused themselves, SAIV is resetting attitudes and family dynamics one family at a time. saiv.net
UN Women: Before July 2010, global coordination around genderbased violence fell to a fractured and under-resourced UN system. Since July, when a new umbrella agency for women in the UN system was announced, hopes are high for UN Women. Will the new agency fulfill its promise to curb genderbased violence around the world? It will need to bring more than a new name to the table. And it will have to be backed by a serious financial commitment. “We know that if UN Women gets support, it promises to change the tide,” says José Alcalá. unwomen.org
International violence against women act: Imagine if every dollar of the US’s $26 billion foreign aid budget was tied to a commitment to end violence against women worldwide. If passed, the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), reintroduced in the US Congress in February 2010, will use foreign aid to promote women’s economic opportunity, address violence against girls in school, and change public attitudes. The VAW Act of 1994 changed the landscape for women in the US. IVAWA is now poised to do the same on a global scale. womenthrive.org
RESOURCECENTER World Pulse asked PulseWire members to share their personal experiences and ideas for solutions to violence against women. Join the PulseWire group Ending Gender-Based Violence to hear directly from grassroots women leaders at worldpulse.com/pulsewire. worldpulse.com | 39
© Sanjit Das | Panos Pictures
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The Pink Vigilantes INDIA, Eastern Ghats, Orissa
In the badlands of Bundelkhand, one of the poorest parts of Uttar Pradesh, a gang of female vigilantes fight against the oppression of a caste-ridden, feudalistic, and male-dominated society. In a part of India where dowry demands and domestic and sexual violence are common, the 10,000-strong Gulabi Gang, so-called for their uniform of shocking pink saris, are fighting, often literally, for equality. Their weapon of choice is the lathi, a traditional Indian fighting stick. The gang’s leader, 47-year-old Sampat Pal Devi (pictured), is a spirited woman, undeterred by the forces ranged against her and her army. A barely educated, impoverished mother of five, she has emerged as a messianic figure in her home region. “The word ‘gang’ doesn’t necessarily denote criminals,” she told photographer Sanjit Das. “It can also be used to describe a team, a crew. We are a gang for justice. In rallies and protests outside our villages, especially in crowded cities, our members used to get lost in the rush. We decided to dress in a single color, which would be easy to identify. We didn’t want to be associated with other colors as they had associations with political or religious groups. We settled on pink, the color of life. It’s good. It makes the administration wary of us.”
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© Benjamin Lowy | VII Network
© The United Nations Development Programme
early one year after Haiti’s massive earthquake killed 220,000 and left millions homeless, World Pulse has teamed up with journalist and long-time contributor Anne-christine d’Adesky to report on the country’s rising women’s movement.
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Honoring the Ancestors Haiti’s Women’s Movement Slowly Recovers By Anne-christine d’Adesky and Jacob Kushner
© Cameron Davidson
It’s September, nearly nine months after the massive January 12 earthquake that leveled the capital in a 30-second spasm, irrevocably altering Haiti’s present and future. It’s post-twilight, and still hours before the dawn breaks, but the end-of-summer heat is stifling. The ever-present threat of rain marks the midpoint of the annual rainy season, and the first hurricanes have already spawned in the ocean, only to blow away elsewhere.
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cross the darkened tent settlements that have turned Haiti’s biggest cities into giant homeless camps, underneath the open-air tarps that fail to ward off either mosquitoes or rain or rats, Haiti’s mothers remain awake but exhausted, ever vigilant for unwelcome noises. The nightly gang rapes they fear have become a daily headline and a pointed condemnation of the Haitian government’s failure to protect its quake-displaced female citizens from brutal sexual crimes. Despite increased policing and the presence of UN security, life for Haitian women remains dangerous, cramped, and fetid. And yet, some things are getting better. Back in the tent city, to the women’s relief, the movement they detect in the night comes not from attackers, but from a patrolling brigade ready to escort women and girls to the latrines and bathing areas, where rapes commonly take place. Some women have secured not only whistles and underwear, but hygiene “dignity kits”—with soap and feminine products— from donor groups. Others carry UNIFEM’s new GBV contact card under the straps of their brassieres, rubber-banded alongside new citizen identity cards to replace those lost under the rubble: the proof they’ll need to vote in the upcoming November elections. Counselors and nurses regularly stop by the camps to offer suggestions to help overcome the myriad hurdles to daily survival: access to clean water, food aid, or cooking fuel; prosthetics for the newly amputated; adequate shelter; job opportunities; education for the many displaced children. This is the slowly recovering, steadily emerging face of Haiti’s women’s movement—a still-fractured, still-overwhelmed, but strong and vocal force for the post-disaster nation. Like the rest of the country, Haiti’s women leaders have had to cope with major personal and organizational losses. They have been shocked, and they have acted, like everyone else, both quickly and with courage, and also too slowly, overwhelmed by the scale of what has been destroyed and must be rebuilt or simply can never be recovered. “We must move on,” said Carole Pierre-Paul, the new director of SOFA, or Solidarity with Haitian Women, in the days after the earthquake. “We do not have the luxury of taking the time to think too much.” Haiti’s women leaders agree that the situation is still too urgent to step away from providing the essentials—food, water, shelter, jobs—but the approach is shifting away from direct relief work, and more toward empowering women and the displaced to demand their rights. That includes the right to fully participate in the post-disaster nation building that is underway. “We had a dramatic situation last January,” says Danielle Magloire, a human rights advocate and director of the Haitian branch of Rights and Democracy, an NGO focusing on judicial reform and women’s rights. A tall, poised woman with graying dreadlocks, Magloire represents the modern face of Haiti’s steadily growing women’s movement and opposition political intelligentsia. “When the government built its plan, it did not include us,” adds Magloire. “We made many declarations concerning that. They never asked us what we want to do. So how can we say we participate in this? We cannot.”
That’s not to say the women haven’t been vocal. Feminist leaders have testified before the UN, European groups, and countless visiting foreign politicians to complain about both the Haitian government and the international aid community’s failure to, in Magloire’s words, “respect” Haitian women. Foreign aid groups, she says, “should [work] with organizations that already exist, not that were created just because Haiti had an earthquake. Somehow, they don’t really respect us in Haiti.” Instead, she feels, Haitian women are now competing with international NGOs to rent offices. “We have so many NGOs, so many agencies, so much money. They can rent houses for fortunes.” She’s barely joking when she jibes, “I don’t know why all the NGOs who came don’t live in tents, because they are not going to stay. They take up all the good houses in Port-au-Prince. Ordinary people can’t rent a house. For me, that’s really insulting for Haitian people. It’s not helping us.” Magloire is not alone among feminist leaders to mince no words about the failure by those in power, at home or abroad to actually help Haitians, particularly women. But like Pierre-Paul at SOFA, her group is less focused on what the big players will or won’t do, and more focused on how to begin improving things on the local level. “The earthquake showed us the real necessity, which is to work with the community, and to decentralize,” explains Magloire. She adds that women’s groups are turning their focus to rural areas because the situation for women is growing more difficult there—an aftershock of sorts. Rapid post-quake migration of tens of thousands of traumatized urban residents to the countryside has severely taxed already limited rural resources and land.
First Steps: Surveying the Damage, Mourning the Lost For weeks after the quake, Magloire’s office consisted of a folding chair set up in a courtyard of Rue Babiole, one of the arteries of the Babiole area of Port-au-Prince where her office building miraculously survived, but displayed some cracks. Here, like at SOFA, the group’s first steps post-quake were concentrated on helping injured or homeless staff. Then came the focus on helping displaced camp residents. Both steps took place as they personally grieved the loss of loved ones—and the loss of their own feminist leaders. The earthquake not only killed 220,000 Haitians and initially displaced an estimated 1.3 million; it also killed far more women than men, according to estimates made by UNIFEM, which recently stated that “several indicators allow the assumption that approximately two-thirds of those killed were women, due to their poor housing conditions.” Among them were women considered the “poto mitan”—or pillars of the Haitian women’s movement, including General Director of the Ministry of Women’s Condition and Women’s
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Rights Myrna Narcisse Theodore and the feminists Myriam Merlet, AnneMarie Coriolan, Magalie Marcelin, and Mireille Anglade. The list goes on. “It’s hard to express how much pain we carry because of how much we loved and respected these women. They were our leaders. It is not going to be possible to replace them, but we are going to try to follow in their footsteps,” said Pierre-Paul, who stepped in to fill the void left by Coriolan. The expectations and pressures new directors face are “simply enormous,” she says, and there’s been little time to absorb a steep learning curve. “Where do you even begin?” asked Pierre-Paul in January. But her answer is clear: “Wherever and however we can, as long as we begin somewhere. The point is to act and to follow our principles.”
Honoring the Ancestors SOFA suffered less damage to their offices, but still had to camp outdoors to receive visitors. The overnight parade of possible donors and well-wishers has slowed, but only a bit now. Some showed up on March 8th for an International Women’s Day celebration to “Honor the Ancestors” that allowed Haiti’s women’s groups to collectively celebrate their lost leaders and the thousands of unknown women who perished on January 12th with a public monument in their honor. For some, that day provided symbolic closure, an end to the ongoing wake, and an initial emphasis on relief work. They’re refocusing on their primary mission: gender advocacy and empowerment. Kay Fanm is one of several organizations working to help women in camps to respond to the issue of sexual violence. There, Yolette Gentil has stepped up to fill the big shoes left by Magalie Marcelin, Kay Fanm’s founder. Their office in the capital was badly damaged in the quake, and for weeks on end, Gentil sat near Magloire at the Rights and Democracy courtyard-cum-tent field office. But the crisis of rape forced her team back to their old office because many women were showing up there for emergency services. Having lost computers or cell phones, and with staff members in shock, they tried to cope.
Haitian women carry the burden of the country on their heads. They carry the future of the country in their stomach. We know that no valid reconstruction can happen without the implication of women. If they are not part of that process, it will fail. Michaelle Jean | General Governor of Canada
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“We were really scared to work in the building because it’s really cracked,” she admits, as she looks over at the damaged walls. “We installed everything in the conference room on the first floor. It’s temporary until we find another place.” Such logistical challenges underscore the difficulties women’s groups face in resuming their work. But many, like Kay Fanm, have succeeded. “Violence against women didn’t start with the earthquake, and it will not change until there is a profound change in the mentality of men about how to treat women,” states Gentil, laying out Kay Fanm’s post-quake plan of action to date. “With the help of the Canadian embassy and UNIFEM, we were able to give first aid kits and primary need kits,” Gentil says. They’ve also continued to offer legal, medical, and psychosocial help to sexual violence survivors, and to offer shelter for adults and young children. In a setback, one of their adult shelters was destroyed. But their shelter for young girls is open and, she reports, “We are receiving girls up to 15 years old. We try to empower them and to keep them in school, and we also teach them some manual professional skills.” She adds, “I think we’ve been successful in helping, but it’s always with limited means.” The little success, in this case, includes helping 40 young mothers under the age of 18 secure credits to start small businesses. With a half-million Haitians displaced, 40 barely registers. But to those girls and their children, it’s been a lifeline.
The Big Four Across the women’s movement, there’s consensus on what the biggest priorities are: security and shelter, health, women’s education, and work opportunities. Survival essentials like water and food are less urgent because of international relief efforts. Yet food packets aren’t enough to feed families, and their cooking and bathing areas aren’t secure from rapists.
© Paul Jeffrey
As a newly minted director, she is inspired by the courage she witnesses in the women she hopes to help. “I see a lot of women trying to be involved. We still have people saying that we have to stay in the back and let men do things, but we need women to be part of all the decisions that are made. As women, we know every part of the family. If you don’t have us at the table trying to think and to see what we can do to rebuild the country, to rebuild our family, they are going to pass out of the goal.” By that she means that the big plan will fail. As a newcomer to the field, Policar says it’s not always easy to get support from other women’s groups, especially established players. That’s true of large and foreign NGOs too: They compete for resources instead of collaborating. The result is that Haiti’s 100-year-old women’s movement remains fractured, a loose but powerful network of groups and individual leaders with a common focus on women’s rights but often very different, and even opposing agendas. That’s one reason why as a social change movement women lack a better seat at the table of power—as a voting member of the Haitian National Reconstruction Commission, for example. “We do need to have greater unity, while respecting our differences,” said SOFA’s Pierre-Paul in January, acknowledging the tensions that have long existed. “But the earthquake has also opened our eyes to the urgent need for better organizing. We know we have to do that.” One bright spot that has developed: new or renewed partnerships with Diaspora feminists and groups who are offering resources, training, and help.
Kay Fanm is a member of CONAP, one of the larger leftist coalitions that include SOFA, Rights and Democracy, and groups like Fanm Deside (Women Decide) in Jacmel. These groups have a sharp political analysis of why the reconstruction plan isn’t working and why foreign aid can’t substitute for jobs or education. As leaders, their work is to put pressure on larger parties, including the government, to deliver these priority services. But to create the pressure, they also need the voices of many women. And in the wake of the earthquake, there are a lot of women who are feeling acute pressure to speak out. The demand is there. What’s needed is organizing, grassroots style, at the very local level. That’s also what women’s groups working in the provinces like MUDHA in Leogane, or Fanm Deside in Jacmel, are successfully doing in camps where women have taken the reins. “I can’t say we have progress because we’re still in the same position,” states Soeurette Policar of the Lig Pouvwa Fanm, a relatively new women’s rights group. “We don’t have a building for our office and we can’t pay our staff.” Like her colleagues, Policar stepped up overnight to become interim director at her job to replace her boss, who died in the earthquake. A dynamic, youthful woman and strong feminist, Policar represents the new generation of Haitian women who are more than ready for more leadership, and who have big dreams, but haven’t yet accessed the resources to get started. For now, her group is camped out in borrowed offices. Shortly after the quake, her group of some 60 members began doing outreach to displaced families in camps. She feels that what’s needed most is confidence and skills-building “to help women develop the skills to speak up and to stand up and say, ‘We can do that, we can fix that, we can help.’”
What Lies Ahead Looking ahead, the upcoming elections on November 28 represent a moment when a number of Haitian women will vie for both the presidency and equally critical Parliamentary and local municipal seats. Few women leaders interviewed expressed much excitement or hope that the election will spell real change for women, however they are encouraged by new female faces in the political landscape—the next generation of Haiti’s women leaders. And they are encouraged by the support of women and women’s groups in the international community. These alliances have provided funding for schools, orphanages, women’s clinics, and trauma centers—here, the list is even longer. They include well-established NGOs like Dwa Fanm in Brooklyn, Fanm in Miami’s Little Haiti, and Canadian activists inspired by the outspoken leadership of their Governor-General, Michaelle Jean, a daughter of Haiti. In the US, a new Haiti donor’s network has formed to channel funds to grassroots Haiti women’s groups. “Little by little we advance,” said Carole Pierre-Paul in January, and then again in April—a refrain echoed today by others. “But we are advancing.” Or, as the women leaders chanted in March, honoring their dead: Fanm yo frape fo, N a sonje, N a Vanse! “Women, hit hard, we’re aware and we’re moving forward!” ● Anne-christine d’Adesky is a long-time journalist
and author with roots in Haiti. She is a regular contributor to World Pulse Magazine. Jacob Kushner works in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and previously reported for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and La Communidad News in Madison, Wisconsin.
Read additional coverage of Haiti’s rising women’s movement, including in-depth reporting on November’s presidential and municipal elections, at worldpulse.com/magazine. worldpulse.com | 47
Return to Haiti
Internationally acclaimed author and memoirist on her homeland, post-disaster.
Recovery efforts can learn a lot from the way women have been recovering for years—from droughts, from floods, from hurricanes. You lived in Port-au-Prince until you were 12. Can you describe the Haiti of your childhood? Everyone, including my parents, idealizes the Haiti of their childhood; and lately, we’ve all been idealizing the Haiti of before January’s earthquake. I’ll try not to do that here. I grew up in a very poor hillside neighborhood called Bel Air in Port-auPrince. We woke up to the sounds of street peddlers singing about their wares and to the radio blasting the news from the neighbor’s house. School was strict, and we were made to speak French there even though we spoke Creole at home. I saw my aunts and grandmothers as goddesses. One of my aunts sold notebooks, pencils, and books in downtown Port-au-Prince. She managed to put five kids through school and buy a house all on her own. My Aunt Denise helped raise me. If someone gave her $100, she would increase it five fold in a week, in a way that still seems magical to me. I’m realizing now that I haven’t given due credit to their stories—the stories these women lived; their ingenuity; their entrepreneurial skills; their intelligence despite a lack of book learning.
How has your image of Haiti shifted over the years, especially in the aftermath of the earthquake? There is a Haiti that lives in my imagination, the Haiti I write about. I think all writers, all artists have that. But Haiti is very complex. You can say that my image of Haiti is ever-changing, just as Haiti is ever-changing.
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Since the earthquake, there is a constant ache in my heart. When I visit family members and they’re in tents in front of their houses, in the countryside, or when you get dozens of calls a week from people saying they are hungry, or they fear rape, or need to go to school, it’s not about image or nostalgia anymore. I ask myself every day when things will change, and what I can do about it.
What was it like to watch the earthquake unfold from the US? The evening of the earthquake itself, when there was so little information, I had a sense that the whole country had been flattened, that everyone was lost. The weight of that possibility was overwhelming. My cousin and his 10-year-old son died that day. Many friends died. I have two small children, and I was offered opportunities to go back right away, but I couldn’t get there. My youngest was not eating, so I had to stay with her. I’ve never had such a pressing question of loyalty in my life. It’s the eternal female dilemma, I think. But then there was also this feeling of helplessness. Like what could I do? I’m not a doctor. I’m not a rescue worker. People were saying that going back meant eating food that survivors could otherwise eat. When I did go back 23 days later, you had the feeling that you just wanted to hug the ground, wrap your arms around everyone, every broken place. But in a situation like this, there is very little room for sentimentality. Everyone does what little he or she can. And looking at wounded people or the dead bodies that were still all coiled up and dried on the side of the road, you felt really helpless and guilty that you could leave. Soon after the quake, I went to church in Miami, and there was a man there who survived. He was talking about what he saw and how he survived. There was a woman who was inconsolable listening to him. She had lost 25 family members, and she could not go back to find and bury her parents. There are degrees of trauma, and sometimes, if people can hear you, or read you, your trauma seems more pressing. But there are people who suffered so much more; I render this space to them.
© Barbara P. Fernandez | Redux; left, © Kuni Takahashi
In terms of earthquake recovery efforts, what has been disappointing to you and what has given you hope? I’ve been encouraged by the smaller efforts that I see everywhere: People who have decided that they are not going to wait for the billions of dollars the international community has promised in aid. I have been very proud of the Haitian-American community: the doctors, nurses, teachers, young men, and young women who have returned to do what they can. Churches, hometown associations are working harder than ever. That’s the part we don’t hear a lot about. The saddest part is that even in the middle of hurricane season there seems to be no more urgency to it. The tent cities are looking more and more permanent. There is a new wave of trauma as Haitians begin to realize that nothing is going to change anytime soon. A lot has been said about Haitian resilience, but sometimes I think that is being used to let people continue to live in these deplorable conditions. So much rubble is still in the streets; so many people are still homeless. You see so many hungry people; so many hungry children; people with no job prospects. People feel abandoned. Those in power tell them to be patient, elections first. But will the elections change anything? Will they change the lives of the poorest? We’ve hit bottom, so we have to hope that it will get better. We have to make sure that Haitians are empowered to rebuild their country. They ultimately must be unified in building a more egalitarian Haiti with more opportunities for the poor, for women, for the disadvantaged, which now includes thousands and thousands of disabled people as well.
What is the situation for women like now? The last time I was in Haiti, I saw all these little girls with big bellies. I had never seen that before: little girls walking in the neighborhoods with big bellies. I was in Jalousie, one of those precarious neighborhoods perched on the hills, and I saw all these little girls in corridors and alleys with those bellies. I asked someone what was going on and she said, “phenomene de tente”—the tent phenomenon. Young girls have been raped and are now pregnant. A health worker I talked to said she had treated a pregnant 10-year-old. And there is gang rape, what people call “beton.” But we have some extraordinary women leaders rising out of these same camps. There are some you will never hear about. I know a woman who had 100 people in her yard after the earthquake, and she fed them and gave them water. She would have never considered herself a leader before but she organized everyone. Women want to take charge, but they need our support.
What is your vision for the future of Haiti? Ultimately, we should be asking the people in Haiti what they would like to see, what their vision is. But if I’m being Utopian, I’d like to see a society emerge out of this rubble where every child can go to school, where every person can eat every day, and have a roof over his head that won’t blow away or crumble at the slightest wind. What many don’t know is that the women of Haiti have been trying to build this for years; they try to work miracles. The people who are in charge of this “rebuilding” should study these efforts very well. I believe recovery efforts can learn a lot from the way women have been recovering for years—from droughts, from floods, from hurricanes. Let’s not leave those folks out of the conversation.
You had the feeling that you just wanted to hug the ground, wrap your arms around everyone, every broken place. As a mother, what do you tell your children about your country? My children—they are 5 and 1-year-old—have been to Haiti many times, and will always know the good and the bad because that is the way we have experienced it. I will continue to tell my daughters the stories of the great historical and everyday women (and men) of Haiti. I will probably drive them crazy, but they’ll know all about them. People often pity or idealize Haitians: They are seen as either “poor Haitians” or “super-resilient Haitians.” Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. It’s worth remembering that Haitians have a lot to teach the world. I will continue to teach my children that we are often in positions where we need a lot from others, but as Haitians, we also have a lot to give to each other and a lot to contribute to the world. ● Edwidge Danticat is an award-winning author and activist. Her books include Breath, Eyes, Memory; Brother, I’m Dying; and Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist. Her most recent book, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, was released this October.
Takeaction for Haiti’s Women Show your support and solidarity with Haitian women by donating to one of these World Pulse-recommended organizations. Global Fund for Women has established a Crisis Fund for Haiti to directly support women’s organizations, providing support to both emergency relief and long-term recovery work. globalfundforwomen.org MADRE is coordinating an emergency medical response, while also supporting women human rights defenders in Haiti and helping amplify the voices of women impacted by the earthquake. madre.org Circle of Health International is collecting donations and looking for skilled volunteers to support their women’s health work in Haiti. cohintl.org
RESOURCECENTER Log on to PulseWire to connect with Anne-christine d’Adesky and others in the Haitian women’s movement at worldpulse.com/pulsewire. worldpulse.com | 49
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ÂŠ Lain Masterton Photography
From trains in Mumbai to gardens in Afghanistan and villages in Kenya, spaces reserved for women are emerging everywhere. But whatâ€™s behind the phenomenon and is it working? By taylor barnes
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t’s 6:50 on a Monday evening and the Bombay commuter trains pull in and out of Churchgate station, the hub for the rush hour chug here in India’s financial capital of 20 million. The express trains pull in and shake as people surge onto them, filling the general compartment seats even before the train fully stops. But one train is still at the far end of the platform. The station manager repeats the announcement he now makes every day at this time: “Passengers, please pay attention. This is a women-only train. Men, please don’t enter.” These “Ladies Special” trains started running in 2009 in four Indian cities. Mamata Banerjee, the railways minister, expanded the program in her 2010-11 budget, saying, “Mothers nurture the future generations of the country and we take pride that they have now stepped out of their houses to make contributions as a workforce in the country.” She dubbed them “Matribhoomi” trains, Hindi for “motherland.” While Banerjee lauded the trains as an answer to the immediate needs of commuting Indian women newly in the workforce, she leaves two tougher questions unanswered: What are the benefits of these spaces, and why are so many countries adopting them now? Last year, Korea launched a campaign to create women-only parking lots, bus stops, subway cars, and taxis in an attempt to create safe transportation for women. In Brazil, special women-only police stations allow women to report domestic violence and sexual assault cases to female police officers. In Kenya, a group of women who had been victims of rape founded the village of Umoja as a safe place where women can live without men—and, in their eyes, without the fear of violence. In 2008, a developer in Dubai began work on “Eve’s Tower,” which was to be a 20-story tower where only women entrepreneurs could purchase office space, though the firm now says the plans are on hold as it reassesses the Dubai real estate market. For those advocating for women’s rights, there’s as many reasons to promote women-only public spaces as there are to be wary of them. On the one hand, these spaces are often safer than their co-ed counterparts, and allow women to enter public spaces to which they may otherwise be denied access. And, when women have dedicated places to meet, solidarity and community thrives. On the other hand, experts say these spaces can reinforce isolation, promote stigmatization of women and their image as victims, and sidestep the need to address deeper problems—such as sexual harassment, violence, and traditional practices that infringe on women’s rights. Sometimes, these spaces are used to do just that. In June, the Iranian state-owned bank Melli opened a women-only branch to “protect women’s virtue” while “facilitating banking and financial services to the economy’s influential women,” according to the state news agency.
The presence of women’s compartments on trains enshrines women’s rights to be in public spaces. Shilpa phadke | PUKAR
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But, when used for good, Dr. Ranjana Kumarid, director of the Centre for Social Research in New Delhi, believes these spaces have huge potential. “It’s important for women newly out of their homes to not be forced to share spaces with men until they feel protected and comfortable,” she says. “At the same time, women can gain confidence to negotiate more spaces. [These places] give women easier access to the workplaces.” But opening and maintaining a space just for women is not without challenges. “It’s hard to keep a women’s space open. Lack of funding. Always lack of funding,” says Anita Smith, co-director of the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective, which was home to North America’s first women-only pharmacy before it closed this year. It was launched in a low-income neighborhood where women are largely afraid to be out alone on the street. But the collective is still busy. As the only one on duty of the all-volunteer staff, Smith drops her phone call as a stream of visitors come in to see the nurse practitioner and use the space’s sofas and kitchens. “Make yourself cozy! There are some coconut macaroons on the table,” she yells to one. In this neighborhood, less than 5% of people standing in soup kitchen lines will be female, Smith says as an example of how insecure women feel on the streets. “It’s just not safe for them, so our space is absolutely necessary,” she adds. Increasing awareness of the prevalence of violence against women is one of the main reasons why women-only spaces are becoming so popular, says Dr. Anastasia Posadskaya-Vanderbeck, coordinator for the Safe Cities Free of Violence Against Women and Girls program with UNIFEM. But Posadskaya-Vanderbeck cautions that they can also perpetuate the idea that women are victims in need of protection. She calls for comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of these spaces for women. Region and culture makes a difference to the success of these spaces, Posadskaya-Vanderbeck adds. In some parts of the world where women are so “protected” by cultural norms that they can’t leave homes at all without sanctions or a male relative, women-only spaces can help them to step outside of the seclusion of their homes. And in other countries, being out in public can put women in real danger. According to UNIFEM, two women are murdered a day in Guatemala, for example. In this context, women-only spaces can provide immediate safety improvements, but they also must be complemented by laws, services, education opportunities, and the involvement of the whole community. But while women’s spaces can promote safety, some believe they can also backfire. Professor Jo Beall from the University of Cape Town describes seeing in her research an all-woman housing project for garment workers in Bangladesh that encountered heightened levels of harassment. “It’s like a big neon sign saying, ‘Women only in this building.’ And that can enhance women’s vulnerability,” she says, adding that she’s seen women in all-female housing become stigmatized as prostitutes. Shilpa Phadke of Partners for Urban Knowledge and Research in India says she supports the women’s trains in Mumbai, but that there’s another side to them that is often overlooked: Having a small percentage of cars reserved for women effectively makes the rest for men. Indeed, women are almost never seen in the general compartments without a male companion.
© Ramzi Haidar | Afp | Getty Images
© Chiara Goia | The New York Times
© Susan Hall
© The Advocacy Project
A Look Inside Women’s Spaces Clockwise from the top-left: Women enjoy a peaceful commute on the Ladies Special trains of Mumbai; All-female-operated pink taxis in Mtaileb, Lebanon offer female customers secure transportation; Most trains in Japan include women-only cars to help curb incidences of groping; Men are not allowed inside the walls of Afghanistan’s Kabul Women’s Garden, with the exception of boys under the age of 12. Inside, women take down their veils, participate in fitness classes, plan businesses, and seek refuge in female companionship; Since 1995, the women of Kenya’s Umoja Village have been living away from men. The village has become a haven for women fleeing abusive marriages and sexual violence. worldpulse.com | 53
Most agree that spaces exclusively for women are an important step to help women safely navigate the public realm. Phadke does not advocate for more women’s spaces to be created, though she believes the trains will be needed for a long time. “There is this element that you’re being segregated and clearly it is a paternalistic move,” she says. But more importantly, “the presence of women’s compartments on trains enshrines women’s right to be in public spaces.” Some believe that women’s spaces for safety just mollify the problem while sidestepping its root: the need to change norms for men’s public and personal behavior. That’s why Nehad Abuo El-Komsan, chair of the Egypt Centre for Women’s Rights in Cairo, objects to the women-only spaces cropping up in Egypt now. This includes cars on the metro, a new café, and taxi services exclusively for women. It is the state’s responsibility—not each individual woman’s—to make sure women can be safe on the streets, she says, because “when we isolate women, we punish them.” But for now, most agree that spaces exclusively for women are an important step to help women safely navigate the public realm. Mursal Hamraz, a first-year student at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, speaks fondly of a newly renovated women’s garden in her home country, Afghanistan. It has women-only fitness classes, women-owned shops, and a mosque with religious classes given by women. She says she frequented the garden for months to take Tae Kwon Do lessons. The name alone—women’s garden—gives women who would otherwise be
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confined to their homes a right to be there, she says. “There is only one place for women to go without the service of men in Kabul,” she says. “This place is so good, because it’s already called ‘women’s garden’ so the male family members can’t stop women from going to them.” Back on the train in Mumbai, the noise here is still just a fine, low murmur. The ladies start conversations with strangers, allow their children to play around the car, and Muslim women often lower their head coverings for the breezy ride. “It’s more safety and less crowded, and you can make friends!” Pallavi Doiphode, 26, says. She and her interior design co-worker each say they always take ladies’ compartments, because the general compartment is too crowded and opens the door for harassment. Ranjana Sukumaran complained about harassment as our train pulled up to its final stop. The teacher’s voice gets shrill as she complains in Hindi about men who rush in and try to touch her on the train. “They’ve pushed me!” She can’t speak up about it to anyone when she’s on the crowded car, says Sukumaran, whose silky dupatta scarf covers her chest and reaches her knees. She proposes taking segregation by sex even further: All the evening commuter trains should have half the cars for women and half for men. As we pull into the final station, it’s so quiet we can hear the fans overhead. Women chat as we file out, and as soon as we step down it’s as though a stereo system playing the Mumbai jostle has been suddenly switched on again. We’re immediately merged with the men, shoving our way up the stairs. ● Taylor Barnes is a journalist in Mumbai who writes for the Christian
Science Monitor, the GlobalPost and the Miami Herald. She is also this year’s recipient of the Inter-American Press Association’s annual scholarship to support reporting in Brazil.
Among the contributions women make to a company, stock performance may be the most overlooked.
The Pax World Global Women’s Equality Fund (PXWEX) is the only mutual fund in America to focus on investing in companies
that are global leaders in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. The way we view it, when women are at the table, the discussion is richer, the decision-making process is better, the organization is stronger and the benefits are felt by everyone – including investors. To learn more, visit www.paxworld.com/womensequality
Before investing in a Pax World fund, you should carefully consider the fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information about the fund, please obtain a fund prospectus by calling 800.767.1729 or visiting www.paxworld.com. Please read it carefully before investing. Equity investments are subject to market fluctuations, the fund’s share price can fall because of weakness in the broad market, a particular industry, or specific holdings. An investment in the fund involves risks, including loss of principal. Equity investments are subject to market fluctuations. The fund's share price can fall because of weakness in the broad market, a particular industry, or specific holdings. Distributed by: ALPS Distributors, Inc. Member FINRA (9/10) worldpulse.com | 55
Care for Your Body as You Do the World et’s face it. As women, one of our greatest Achilles’ heels is to put everyone and everything before our own health and well-being. But if we have any hope of building a healthy world for women and girls, we first have to stop devaluing our own bodies. Here’s how you can drop everything and take a long weekend to worship your body. By attuning to the rhythms of your physical self, you can recharge your entire life. GET STARTED: Take the freefall. Pick a block of days and cancel your meetings and make arrangements with your family and friends. A long four-day weekend or more is ideal, but you can adapt this sabbatical to as short or as a long as you are able.
A day to open up your senses Silence | Choose a quiet place that you have always wanted to visit. It may be your city park, a nearby field, or river. Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh is famous for his walking meditation that says, “Walk like you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” As you walk, breathe in and say, “I am home.” Breathe out and say, “I have arrived.”
Vision | Visualize yourself at the peak of health and wellness. Are you running a marathon or simply breathing easily during allergy season? What are you eating? How does your skin feel?
Prepare | If your body is a temple, your bed is an altar. Make your bed a sacred space. Wash the sheets and plump the pillows. Spritz your linens with Listen | Pay attention to the sounds around you. Let the silence lavender or chamomile oil. enter your body. Close your eyes and Unplug your alarm clock, and listen to every cell in your body starting remove any old pictures or with your left toe, up your leg, up to photos. Light a candle and your head, down through your lungs, ring a bell to clear the air. your intestines, and down the right Sleep until your body is side. Are there any messages your ready to wake. body is trying to tell you?
56 | worldpulse.com
A day to cleanse and detoxify Sweat | Find a local sauna to sweat out impurities. Our bodies soak up toxins. If you do not have access to a sauna, turn on your shower at full steam and close the bathroom door. Light some candles and sit in the steam. Cleanse | Draw a map of the important people in your life. Where you find tension or anger, practice compassion, forgiveness, and letting go. Who also practices good health in your life? Consciously design a community of people who reinforce and reflect your goal of health. Learn | Go to a library and linger in the health and wellness section. Pull out books that focus on areas that are important to your vision of a healthy you.
Fast | Don’t listen to the radio, read the newspaper, or go online. The language of conflict and crisis can unconsciously drain us. Give yourself a break from the daily deluge of outside input. Journal | Create your dream plan for a balanced life. Write about what your healthy and balanced self will look like, putting your visualization from day one into words.
Day 1 Photo © Ocean Photography | Veer; Day 2 Photo © PinkTag | iStock
A four-day body sabbatical every woman can do to feel more free and powerful in her body
Day 3 Photo © Blend Images Photography | Veer; Day 4 Photo © MichaelSvoboda | iStock
Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos—the trees, the clouds, everything. Thich Nhat Hanh
A day to savor and luxuriate Massage | Treat yourself to a massage. Poll your friends for their favorite practitioners. If a massage is too pricey, ask a friend to do a trade with you. Bathe | Take an extra-long bath with candles or soak in the hot tub until your fingers prune up. Follow with a cold dunk. Make sure you have a cool glass of water by your side.
Caress | Lovingly rub your entire body with your favorite natural lotion. Be sure to pay attention to every inch of your body, including the tips of your fingers and toes. Dine | Invite your favorite friend or two for a dinner using seasonal local ingredients. Wear luxurious clothes that make you feel fabulous.
A day to connect and be joyful Stretch | Wake to your body’s natural alarm clock. Indulge in an hour of stretching like a cat, feeling how your body moves.
Move | Get active. Play a sport with friends, go on a hike, rollerblade, do yoga, take a new class you’ve been interested in.
Play | If you have children in your life, adopt them for an afternoon of play. Play hard in the park or in a backyard. Notice how easy and free children are in their bodies and follow their lead.
Interact | Connect with those around you. Ask questions, talk, meet your neighbors. Seek out others who are committed to living a balanced life and share with them what your body sabbatical has meant to you. Think about how you can make elements of your sabbatical a part of your everyday life. ●
worldpulse.com | 57
World Pulse Journey February 2011:
All I know is that every time I go to Africa, I am shaken to my core. Stephen Lewis
© Eric Lafforgue
The Heartbeat of East Africa
Join hands with the women of Kenya and Rwanda for an adventure of a lifetime. Be inspired by amazing women leaders whose local programs are boldly tackling the world’s toughest issues: HIV/AIDS, poverty, water access, and education. We will take in the rich beauty of two unique countries and form world-changing alliances that will last long after we’ve returned home.
58 | worldpulse.com
A portion of the funds will benefit selected local women-led organizations that are creating positive change in Kenya, Rwanda, and worldwide. Dates of travel are January 31 - February 13, 2011. Contact us to find out if seats are still available: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Bryan Lowry | HawaiiPictures.com
Hawai’i: My Islands of Enigma Author Kiana Davenport looks to ancestry to reclaim her homeland
lying over Hawai’i, the most isolated archipelago on Earth, my islands appear tiny and fragile, mere morsels stored in the great wet cheek of the Pacific Ocean. This gives them an otherworldly quality that renders tourists childlike as they descend into their fantasy of Paradise. But these same tourists are startled when, strolling the beaches of Waikiki, they are confronted with the realities of island life. Crime is rampant here, our prisons full. “Ice” addiction is epidemic. Per capita, native Hawaiians are the largest consumer of crystal methamphetamine in the US, smuggled in by foreign drug cartels. Because of massive overdevelopment of tourist resorts and an attendant disregard for environ-
the crackle of satellite receivers in the distance. And yet, our elders say Hawaiians will survive these adversities. We are proven warriors, intrepid nomads of the Pacific, descended from migrating tribes of northeast Asia who in the late Paleolithic and Neolithic Era moved southward to spread across the sea by way of New Guinea and the Antipodes. With nothing to guide them but wind and the heavens, my navigator-ancestors sailed their canoes blindly into a huge, forbidding ocean. Through years of voyaging they learned to interpret waves and study the stars, thereby telling the direction of winds and currents, the distance from landfall. Perhaps with the help of Kane-huli-koa, our god of the seas, they arrived on these shores and thrived.
We are proven warriors, intrepid nomads of the Pacific. mental concerns, our seas are full of toxins that endanger our coral reefs. Rare birds and plants are now extinct. US military Blackhawks pierce the sky, reminders that the threat of terrorism is close to home. Jihadists have already struck other island nations, including Indonesia and the Philippines, killing hundreds of innocents. So we have grown used to the Wup! Wup! of patrolling military helicopters whirling across the sunset,
Rather than tiny and fragile, my islands are magnificent and catastrophic, shaped by earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, and ongoing volcanic eruptions. This is the stuff of which Hawaiians are made. The rich lava-soil that nourishes our food shows in our strong, dense bones, our taro-tough teeth and in our big, wide lu’au feet. We are gentle and loving, also fierce and warlike, built for cataclysms—a people of extremes.
Historically, those of more “advanced” societies thought of us as backward, stone-age natives of oral traditions who sang and danced out our genealogies and war chants, who, until the 1800s, had no use for printed words. But I have come to think of “backward” as a potent, even sacred, word. For it is only in looking back, in revering ancient traditions, our deep love for Nature, and our gods, that Hawaiians will survive. As Kahu o ka ‘aina, guardians of the land, we are now laboring to detoxify our ocean waters, repropagate our marine life, our wildlife, and rainforests. We are educating our children to stay away from drugs, tending to our elders, and preserving our traditions and our Mother Tongue. In the chaos of a new century we are reclaiming our islands for the coming generations. And I believe our gods are watching us and listening. Often I hear a whispering in the trade winds. Aloha: a word that means more than “hello,” more than “goodbye.” When ancient Hawaiians chanted the word, it bestowed a special blessing. Aloha. “May you have everlasting breath.” ● Kiana Davenport is the author
of the best-selling novels Shark Dialogues, Song of the Exile, and House of Many Gods. Her forthcoming novel, The Last Tattoo, will be published in Spring 2011. Her novels and short stories have been translated into 20 languages.
worldpulse.com | 59
Reem Al Numery was just 10 years old when she was married to a cousin who was three times her age. Now she’s divorced and speaking out against child marriage. By Tracey Samuelson
he medals from her many awards hang on the walls of her home as Reem Al Numery takes our international call with a grace and maturity rare for someone her age. She’s just 12 years old, but she’s already been married and divorced. Reem was playing in the street of her Yemen neighborhood just a few months after her 10th birthday when a cousin three times her age took her to her grandfather’s house and immediately married her. Though her mother objected to the union, her father consented. “I was a little girl,” Reem explained with the help of a translator. “I was not fit for marriage, but I was poor.” According to a 2001 UNICEF report, in many parts of the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia, economic factors mean that the marriage of young children, mostly girls, is an all too common practice. That same report says that 17% of girls age 15 to 19 in Reem’s home country of Yemen were married in 2004. Yet Reem’s story has one key difference from that of many of her peers who also marry young: She successfully negotiated her divorce. After only one week of marriage, Reem knew she had to escape, alleging that her new husband beat and shackled her just to get her into the taxi to bring her home after the wedding. But divorcing as a child bride would prove more difficult than marrying. “When I tried to get a divorce they said I couldn’t, that I was too young, and I said, ‘How come you
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I was a little girl. I was not fit for marriage, but I was poor. Reem Al Numery (left) poses with her lawyer, Shada Nasser, who helped her successfully negotiate a divorce last year. Child marriage is a common practice in Yemen, where 17% of young girls aged 15 to 19 are married.
didn’t say I was too young to get married?’” It would take two years of legal battles, but Reem, with the help of her lawyer Shada Nasser, the international media, and a high-placed government official, convinced the judge to grant her a divorce. Shada Nasser had experience in child marriage cases. She represented another girl, Nujood Ali, in her divorce case in 2008. Like Reem, Nujood was forced to marry when she was only 10 and ran away from the husband she says abused her. Both Reem and Nujood’s cases received significant media attention in Yemen and around the world. Reem was one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2009, the same year she was named an International Woman of Courage by the US State Department. Nujood was one of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year in 2008, and she’s recently co-authored the book I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced with a French journalist. Both girls are considered activists against early marriage. But both girls cite increasing frustration following their international successes. Before her book was released and royalties helped ease her family’s financial situation, CNN interviewed Nujood for an article and reported that she was “bitter,” longing to return to school, and frustrated that the international media attention hadn’t translated into financial help for her family.
Reem is similarly upset by the aftermath of her court case. She has been unable to attend school because she cannot afford transportation fees. She told us she desperately wants to study English and eventually become a doctor. “I am so frustrated,” she said. “I see girls who are able to study and able to speak English and I am not. I would like for someone to help me.” But there’s one form of help she isn’t interested in—a new husband. “I don’t want to go through the same ordeal again,” she adds. “I won’t think about marriage until I’ve finished school, so I can make a future for myself.” If there is a silver lining to Reem and Nujood’s cases, it’s that Yemen has increased the legal age for marriage to 17. Reem believes that politicians have done all they can to prevent child marriage and it’s now the responsibility of fathers and would-be husbands. She advises families to delay marriage and girls to stay in school. “Marriage is a responsibility,” she said. “And girls need to first live their childhoods.” ●
RESOURCECENTER Visit worldpulse.com/action to find out how you can help put an end to child marriage.
© Evelyn Hockstein | Polaris
© Vistas from Soni Rakesh
Global Gatherings Join movers and shakers at these inspiring conferences and events. TEDWomen Revealing the Ideas of Women and Girls Worldwide December 7 - 8, 2010 | Washington, DC From the makers of TED—the conference dedicated to “ideas worth spreading”—comes the first-ever TEDWomen event, committed to broadcasting the innovative ideas of the world’s most fascinating women and girls. Revolving around an eclectic program of 18-minute talks, the event will illuminate women’s leadership across continents and fields of inquiry. Attend in person, watch live online, or organize your own TEDx event to bring innovation to your own community.
Women in the World Summit March 10 - 12, 2011 | New York, NY Last year 300 women leaders came together for a trailblazing conference that explored the greatest challenges facing the world’s women. Many of the same women are returning in March—this time to consider solutions. The second annual Women in the World conference, co-hosted by Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, promises a dynamic discussion of global success stories. Confirmed participants include Ingrid Betancourt, Leymah Gbowee, Meryl Streep, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Condoleeza Rice, and ambassador Melanne Verveer. “Women are the mothers of invention,” says Tina Brown. “This summit will bring together the inspirational people and ideas generating remarkable success stories all over the world.”
Sustainatopia 2011 Local Action, Global Impact March 31 - April 4, 2011 | Miami, FL This annual conference is a unique, sevenday fusion event focusing on sustainability, investing in women, and cooperative solutions. Our communities and planet cannot wait any longer, and Sustainatopia believes that it is time to go green in the grandest of styles. Featuring lectures, films, music, art, and dialogues, World Pulse is proud to be an official sponsor of this timely event.
worldpulse.com | 61
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Visit our Action Center to find out how you can make a difference for women! Whether it’s helping a woman leader in Pakistan write a grant for her water sustainability program, attending a women’s conference, or buying fabric to support an artisan group—you’ll find out just how easy it is to make a big impact for women around the globe.
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Malalai Joya | Afghanistan Exposed
40 | FRONTLINE JOURNAL
EXPOSED oday, I’m not sure of my life, I’m not sure of tomorrow,
reached record levels. But rapists, most of whom are
and when I go outside my house, I don’t know if I will make it back. But I have vowed to speak out and tell
powerful warlords, enjoy immunity—or are pardoned by Mr. Karzai himself.
Seven years ago, the US bombed Afghanistan under the pretenses of “bringing democracy” and “liberating Afghan
see suicide as the only answer to their miseries and desolation. Self-immolation among Afghan women—a practice where
women.” Within weeks, the Taliban was removed and we Afghans had hope that we’d be able to create a promising
women douse themselves in gasoline and set themselves ablaze—has never been so high in our history: In the first six
and free society. Then, only weeks later, the US government
months of 2008, there were 47 cases recorded at just one
betrayed us by relying on the criminal warlords of the Northern Alliance to aid them in their fight against the
hospital in the Herat province in Western Afghanistan.
Taliban and to help run the country. And now, there are ongoing negotiations to have the Taliban, which has regained its foothold in my country, officially share power with Hamid Karzai’s puppet government. US/NATO forces have killed more Afghan civilians than terrorists—without any repercussions. The US and its allies
“There are many more secret heroines in Afghanistan.”
are here for their own interests and the fate of Afghanistan’s people has no price to them. The Taliban, along with warlords and drug smugglers (including Burhanuddin Rabbani, Abdul
But I do not want to choose the path of suicide. Being
Rab Rasul Sayyaf, Qasim Fahim, Younis Qanooni, Ismail Khan, Gulabzoi, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Rashid Dostum, Karim Khalili,
killed by the enemy is much better than committing suicide. I am young and I value my life; I don’t want to be killed.
General Daud, Hazrat Ali, and Ata Mohammad) who make up
I don’t fear death; I fear political silence against injustices.
Afghanistan’s ruling class, are in reality the sworn enemies of true democratic values.
I fear becoming neutral to the fate of my people the way many Afghan intellectuals who preferred money and high
I have been a vocal critic of the warlords who have taken
I know my enemies are very powerful: They have guns, money, foreign support, and links to armed groups. But
criticizing the very criminals I served with. In an effort to silence me, the Parliament has banned me from media inter-
what I have is the powerful support of my people, which gives me courage, determination, and hope for a bright
views, taken my diplomatic passport, and forbidden me from
future. My enemies have little true footing among the people
traveling outside Afghanistan. Although I hate guns, I have to live under the protection of armed guards whenever I go
of Afghanistan and that is their biggest weakness. The day they are disarmed, the people who have been victims of their
outside and I have been forced to hide my identity and wear
brutal actions for decades will find justice.
a burqa in public. Having already survived four assassination attempts, I move from home to home every night and live
To help the people of Afghanistan there are several things we must do. We must end the drama of the “War on Terror,”
under the constant threat of death.
which is a war on poor and innocent people. As soon as pos-
Even so, I vow to speak out about the truth here in Afghanistan; it is the best possible way for me to care for
sible, the US/NATO troops must vacate our country. We want liberation, not occupation. With the withdrawal of occupation
my suffering people. Over 85% of Afghans are living below the poverty line and don’t have enough to eat. While the US military spends $65,000 a minute in Afghanistan for its
forces, we will only have to face one enemy instead of two. The warlords and their accomplices must be disarmed and brought to justice in an international criminal court. The
operations, up to 18 million people (out of a population of only 26 million) live on less than $2 US a day, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Many women in Afghanistan find all doors closed to them. Gang rape of women—some as young as 4 years old—has
international community must stop giving money to the mafia government. It is a heartwrenching fact that over $15 billion of aid has been given to Afghanistan in the past seven years, but with the vast majority grabbed by warlords, NGOs, officials, and donors themselves, only a tiny portion of it is reaching the
These women need our backing. They need the support of the peace- and democracy-loving people of the world, who can join hands with the voiceless people of Afghanistan. Education must also be supported directly. If Afghan people have education, they can stand up for themselves, and the Taliban and Northern Alliance will not have much chance to mislead them. We know no foreign power can bring peace and democracy, and that these values can only be achieved through our own power. That is the key to solving the crisis in Afghanistan. I am heartened by recent signs of protest from ordinary Afghans against the current regime. The power of the people is like the power of God, and this power will only get stronger day by day. ●
Russian journalist who was assassinated in 2006.
© Gregor Rohrig
“As Africans we need to start challenging our leaders. We need to start taking responsibility for our continent.”
world know—through her blogs and “labor of love” digital projects—that the continent is loaded with the power of the
performance of Kenya’s parliamentarians. Mzalendo
people and their solutions. Today she is on the forefront of a wave of young Africans who are using the power of blogging,
enables Kenyans to talk directly to their officials,
cell-phone texting, and web-enabled democracy to push their countries forward and help Africans to truly connect. When Kenya erupted in violence in early 2008 after the
and helps ordinary people understand what the government is doing, so they
presidential elections and the government clamped down with media bans, Okolloh had a vision. With the help of websavvy friends, she created Ushahidi, a web-based map where
can hold them accountable. Through Mzalendo, and now Ushahidi, Okolloh deeply believes that the people of Africa, once connected through digital projects
‘’testimony’’ in Swahili, has captured widespread support and is currently being released as a free application that anyone can customize to bring awareness to crises in their own regions,
like Mzalendo and Ushahidi, can break the cycle of exploitation by corrupt leaders. And, in doing so, she hopes that Africans will start exercising their right to hold officials accountable
from rapes to looting, from the Congo to Chechnya. When the idea for Ushahidi struck, Okolloh already had
en masse. “Accountability stems from demand,” she insists. “It is important for us to keep an eye on the political class and to ensure
her own personal and popular blog, Kenyan Pundit, as well
as another site she runs, called Mzalendo, which monitors the
that the promises they have made are delivered,” she continues.
Afghanistan’s Farida Nekzad Founding Freedom in Afghanistan “I stay, continuing my job and duty: because of my future, because of my country, because of my women.”
Mexican journalist and social activist Lydia Cacho is no stranger
Farida Nekzad, deputy director of Pajhwok Afghan News, is a leading
to death threats for her work reporting on domestic violence,
voice for freedom of the press in Afghanistan. Farida has watched as
But despite the danger she faces every day, she remains a vigilant reporter and advocate for women’s rights.
movie about Joya’s historic 2005 election to the Afghan
MEDIA | 51
“If in Mexico you go to jail for telling the truth, then you get out and keep telling it until things change.”
organized crime, and sex abuse. In April 2008, the Mexican government detained and tortured her for exposing trafficking and pornography rings in print.
Watch Enemies of Happiness, a
In lands where few dare to speak out, these are some of the relentless women journalists who refuse to be silenced.
Kenyans can report real-time acts of violence (and acts of peace) from their cell phones. Ushahidi, which means
PHOTO: © APC
Get a Closer Look
JOURNALISTS TO WATCH
Kenya’s Ory Okolloh: Blogger and New Media Visionary Mobilizes Voices of Africa
is no sob story. Okolloh is devoting her life to letting the
Contribute to Malalai Joya’s security and her education and health care programs at malalaijoya.com. Send Malalai Joya and her organization words of support and encouragement on PulseWire at worldpulse.com.
of the Organization for Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities. She is the recipient of numerous international awards, including the Anna Politkovskaya Courage Award, in honor of the renowned
Conduit for a Continent
Mexico’s Lydia Cacho Ribeiro Putting Her Life on the Line
MALALAI JOYA is a former Afghan parliament member and the current director
ry Okolloh is turning heads in cyberspace. A young Kenyan lawyer and activist, whose family
MALALAI JOYA demands an end to the “War on Terror” and a withdrawal of US troops, who she says have killed more innocent civilians than terrorists in the last seven years.
working in the underground and openly risking their lives.
struggled to send her to school and whose father died of AIDS, she is bent on communicating that Africa
“I don’t fear death; I fear political silence against injustices.”
people. Afghanistan could have been rebuilt two times with this amount! There are many more secret heroines in Afghanistan, both
posts under the Karzai regime have done.
over Mr. Karzai’s government. Though I was elected to Parliament in 2005, I was illegally suspended two years later for
Since parliamentarian Malalai Joya laid out her plan for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan in our pages (Afghanistan Exposed, Issue 3, Winter/Spring 09), she has released a memoir (A Woman Among Warlords), and was named one of Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential people of 2010. While Joya chose not to run for re-election in September 2010 as a protest against corruption in Afghanistan’s electoral process, she vows to remain a strong voice for her country’s people.
According to UNIFEM, 65% of the 50,000 widows in Kabul
US’s Emily Wax A Searing and Human Gaze
the truth of what is happening in my country.
© Defense Committee for Malalai Joya
Even with the assassination threats she faces, Malalai Joya, often called “the bravest woman in Afghanistan,” speaks out—naming warlords and telling the international community what it must do now.
The map on Ushahidi’s website allows anyone to submit crisis information via web or cell phone. Born out of the post-election violence in Kenya in early 2008, today, it’s being released as an open source crisis monitoring tool that can be used in any region of the world. Currently, it is being deployed in the war zones of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). “Otherwise we will find ourselves in the same scenario in a few years.” In a few years, there’s hope that the political landscape will be far more democratic and responsive to ordinary people in Kenya and elsewhere, thanks to visionaries like Okolloh. Although Okolloh once had an opportunity to have a six-figure salary because of her talent and law degree, she’s long since forsaken that. She’s in for the long haul: “Because my passion is here, because I want to do things that are fulfilling. Because I’m so needed here.” ● Visit ushahidi.com and drc.ushahidi.com to learn more.
Burma’s Aye Aye Win Not Backing Down
“There is such a small group of us covering this. When we don’t go in, it means Americans don’t see what’s happening here… it’s a heavy responsibility.” Washington Post foreign correspondent Emily Wax fearlessly and tenderly covers complex
militia have murdered colleagues who were doing the very work she does daily, but she has vowed to continue to expose injustices in the name of advancing women’s rights
humanitarian issues that often go unnoticed by other media outlets. Known specifically for her honest and unflinching on-the-ground coverage of the genocide in Sudan, Emily is one of few who have reported in-depth on what the UN calls the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
in her country.
PHOTO: © International Women’s Media Foundation
PHOTO: Courtesy of Emily Wax
“I’m letting the people inside the country, as well as outside, know what is happening. It is a great job—to at least tell the truth, so the world can see inside Burma.” For the better part of the last 20 years, Aye Aye Win has been one of the only Burmese women journalists covering what is perhaps the bloodiest chapter of Burma’s history. Reporting under the watchful eye of a military junta that abhors free press, Win risks her safety to bring news to her people and is credited with opening the door for other foreign media to report in her country. PHOTO: © International Women’s Media Foundation
Happiness in a DIRTY WAR In one of the most perilous countries to tell the truth, journalist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro risks her life to expose the web of corruption behind Mexico’s escalating drug war. we have more addicts than ever in our history. More than half of our 110 million people are as poor as the poor in Africa. Women in Chiapas
question: Should I keep going? Should I continue to practice journalism in a country controlled
embracing all life, and blossoming trees colored an eternal spring paradise over Mexico City. To the international community, Mexico was at peace; but inside, we were in the midst of a dirty war with a president who carefully controlled our image to
live as do the poorest women in Pakistan. Mexico has only 34 shelters for battered women; all of them are run by nongovernmental organizations. Our right wing, war-prone president has made violence a formal tool for social control. While our
by 300 powerful, corrupt rich men? Is there any point to demanding justice or freedom in a country where 9 out of every 10 crimes are never solved? Is it worth risking my life for my principles? As long as Mexico is a corrupt, violent nation,
the outside world, silenced those who stood up against poverty, and censored journalists for
government tells the world we belong in league with developed nations, we have been declared
the answer is yes. I know the true power to building peace
revealing truths to the media. I remember hearing my mother and her friends whispering in the living room of our middle-class apartment. They were discussing the increasing authoritarianism of our government. Earlier that day, in Northern Mexico, police had seized a student movement, and most of those
one of the world’s more dangerous countries, with femicide persisting from north to south and drug
and equity lies in our ability to choose, every day, not to live in fear and to never give up
students had “disappeared.” But this wasn’t an isolated incident. From 1968 until I was a teenager in 1980, more than 3,000 young men and women who challenged the legitimacy of the State’s carefully controlled rhetoric were assassinated, incarcerated, or simply went missing. Around the same time, my family and I traveled by car through the mighty mountains
Every day I am confronted with the enduring
While our government tells the world we belong in league with developed nations, we have been declared one of the world’s more dangerous countries, with femicide persisting from north to south and drug cartels controlling our government’s every action.
of Chiapas, where indigenous girls were sold into marriage. I got a crash course in the true realities
cartels controlling our government’s every action.
our right to happiness. I have learned that
of my homeland. From the mountains of the north to the rivers in the south, millions of Mexican women had no right to own land or go to school. I learned that skin color divided my people between Indian, mestizo, and white. My country was blessed with amazing rivers, lively jungles, deserts, and beaches—a sampling of a perfect
My early experiences have led me to commit my life to exposing these truths and fighting these injustices. Along with millions of Mexicans, everyday I explore my ability to listen, to understand, to question. But I must also exercise my ability to stay alive. I am a reporter, but also a survivor of rape, kidnapping, incarceration, and torture at the hands
when a policeman tortures, he does not want a confession; he is doing it to exert power. Every time I have tequila and dance with my friends, when I hug a woman who has trusted me with her story, I challenge that power. A corrupt government will try to take away our hope and our power to believe in change. For me, to write,
world—but the government stole land from farmers, forcing mass emigration to the United
of the police. I travel around Mexico in an armored car due to the death threats against me—death
States. We had enough oil to become a rich nation, but politicians squandered the money for their own purposes. And now, four decades later, we are still a people under siege. We are bleeding under a “war
threats enacted by Mexican officials who have sold justice to the very mobs I expose in my writing. Just this month, I received e-mails threatening me with decapitation. These are not idle threats; in the last two years, Mexico has seen almost 1,000
against drugs,” with more than 11,000 deaths in two and a half years. With drug prices lowering,
journalists assassinated by organized crime groups who are fearful of exposure.
© Marcelo Salinas
was eight years old when I learned what it means to be a Mexican citizen. It was June of 1971. The sun shone as if
Over the last 15 years, Mexican journalist LYDIA CACHO RIBEIRO has taken on her country’s most powerful and deadly figures—exposing corruption at the highest levels, child pornography rings led by the political elite, and the web of power behind the drug war.
to share, to tell the truth sets me free from the power of tyrants. ●
LYDIA CACHO RIBEIRO is the recipient of
the 2007 IWMF Courage in Journalism Award and is the author of The Demons of Eden: The
Sign the International Women’s Media Foundation petition to call for Lydia Cacho Ribeiro’s protection at worldpulse.com/action.
Power Behind Child Pornography, for which she was arrested. Follow her blog at lydiacacho.net.
Visit Café Mexico on PulseWire to connect with other women on the frontlines of Mexico’s drug war.
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You cannot make decisions thinking only about the upcoming elections and gaining popularity—you have to think about future generations.
Daughter of the Amazon As Brazil threatens to reverse years of environmental gains in favor of economic growth, presidential candidate Marina Silva promises to put the Earth back on the agenda.
ince the 1970s, Brazil has been known as a hot spot for environmental degradation. Between government policies that led to the massive destruction of its Amazonian forests; improper mining techniques that have tainted
water supplies; and high emissions in its main cities, the largest country in South America has long been a major concern for environmental activists everywhere. Under the influence of a woman named Marina Silva, all that has changed. As Brazil’s environment minister from 2003 to 2008, the country once thought to be among the worst environmental offenders in the world turned a corner. Today Brazil is a country that powers its cars with energy-saving ethanol, relies heavily on hydroelectric- and wind-produced energy, and legislates to protect the land rights of indigenous communities. In 2009, it soared
It is the marriage between tradition and modernity, between city and forest, sky and earth that will make Brazil into the nation we seek. MARINA SILVA TO TIERRAAMÉRICA
There are alarming signs that he may be right. In February, President Lula da Silva approved a controversial hydroelectric
poor and oppressed], and saw what was happening to my people. I had a strong desire to participate in the struggle for the ideals that they were
© Johnny Lye | iStockPhoto.com
© Octavio Campos Salles | iStockPhoto.com
putting forward and decided to leave the nunnery. My entrance into politics wasn’t a snap decision. After graduating in 1984 from the Federal University of Acre with a teaching degree in history, I began to teach and get more involved in politics: lobbying with Mendes on behalf of grassroots communities and teachers unions; fighting for water, electricity, and sewage treatment in remote communities; and leading peaceful demonstrations with Mendes to warn against deforestation and the expulsion of forest communities from their traditional locations. In December 1988, Mendes was killed. He had led a successful campaign
Following the River Toward Justice Marina Silva in her own words. AS TOLD TO NATALIE HOARE
was born in the state of Acre, in the western part of the Amazon. My parents were rubber tappers, but my mother passed away when I was 14 after giving birth to 11 children. We were completely isolated, as rubber tappers are scattered throughout the forest. Our nearest neighbor was around two hours away and it took two and a half days to get to the state capital following the river. Today there’s a road, but back then, we had to go the long way around, on foot. At 15, I was taken ill with hepatitis, and at that time, there were no doctors or healthcare in the forest. I didn’t know how to read or write until I left home at 16 and a half. I asked my dad if I could go to the city to get proper treatment and to study, because at that time, I had a dream—I wanted to be a nun—but you can’t be a nun unless you’re literate. In September 1975, I went to the city to find a doctor, a school, and a
to second place in National Geographic’s Greendex survey, which ranks countries by environmentally sustainable consumption patterns. But Brazil’s environmental gains may not be long-lasting. Experts predict that by 2014 Brazil will be the fifth-largest economy in the world, ahead of France and Britain. It’s these economic ambitions that threaten the country’s environmental footprint. In 2008, Marina Silva stepped down from her post at the Ministry of the Environment to return to her previous position in the Senate, citing a “growing resistance” within the Brazilian government to protecting environmental interests as her reasoning. When Silva announced
dam in the heart of the Amazon rainforest that will flood nearly 200 square miles of land and displace an estimated 30,000 indigenous residents. And in late 2009, Brazil discovered unprecedented oil reserves off its coast that it plans to privatize and bring ashore to finance its economic and social development—a move that threatens to lessen its reliance on renewable energies and increase greenhouse gas emissions. Now, as Marina Silva watches Brazil’s environmental excellence wane, she is hoping to protect the forests she grew up in from the highest seat of power. She’s running for president in this year’s October elections; if
church. I stayed at a cousin’s home and started a literacy program for adults. I had already learnt mathematics with my father in the rubber plantations because when we sold the latex on behalf of all of the owners, we had to discount 17% of the weight to account for the moisture content. Because most people were illiterate, they used to take 30% or even 40% off. My father taught me how to work it out so that I could do it accurately and not be ripped off. It took me about 15 days to learn to read. The teachers were amazed. Within the next four years, I managed to complete the equivalent of primary and secondary schools, and by 1979, I was ready to go to university. I had also
her decision, there was a collective cry of worry from Brazilian environmental supporters and the international community alike. Sergio Leitao, the director of public policy for Greenpeace in Brazil, even said, “It’s time to start praying.”
she wins, she’ll not only be Brazil’s first woman president, she’ll also be the country’s first Afro-Brazilian leader. And she just may be the country’s greatest hope for maintaining its environmental record.
spent two years and eight months in a nunnery. But then I met Chico Mendes, a rubber tapper turned environmental activist, and discovered liberation theology [a school of thought in Christianity that aims to bring justice to the
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to prevent an area of forest earmarked for protection from being turned over to a cattle ranch. This made the rancher furious, and a few days later, he sent his son to murder Mendes. Mendes was a very close personal friend and had a big influence on my political thinking. I served as environment minister from 2003 until May 2008. When I started the job, the rate of deforestation was growing very quickly, and I knew that there was no way of reversing that process without involving the rest of the government, so we created a cross-ministry initiative, the Amazon Region Protected Areas program, which also involved several international conservation organizations. By cooperating, we succeeded in reducing deforestation over three consecutive years, reaching a 57% reduction. And within the environment ministry, we created 24 million hectares of protected areas, designated 10 million hectares of land for indigenous populations, seized about 30,000 illegal properties and around one million cubic meters of illegally logged wood, and arrested 700 environmental criminals—illegal loggers and so on—125 of whom were actually employees of environmental bodies. I realized I could no longer create the right political conditions to sustain the initiatives at the same sort of pace, so I asked to resign. It was a very difficult decision but I could not stay if the measures I had set up would be removed. I believe that all the world’s leaders are facing a great challenge that will continue for centuries, whether we want it to or not: how to develop with protection and how to protect development. In the case of Brazil, our greatest challenge is to protect the forest, because its destruction is responsible for three quarters of carbon dioxide emissions in Brazil. In the case of developed countries, the challenge is how to change the energy matrix and decarbonize their economies. To be effective, you must be a political environmentalist and not a politician who is also an environmentalist. In the environment ministry, you cannot make decisions thinking only about the upcoming elections and gaining popularity—you have to think about future generations. In Brazil, everyone has equal potential. What they lack is opportunities. In my case, the opportunity was education. ●
Ory Okolloh | Conduit for a Continent Ushahidi, new on the scene when we featured it in 2009 (Conduit for a Continent, Issue 3, Winter/Spring 09), has become the go-to source for organizing crisis response. Developed to promote accountability after Kenya’s 2007 election violence, Ushahidi is a web and mobile application that crowd-sources and maps crisis information. Since we profiled Ory Okolloh, director of Ushahidi, her pet project has grown from a handful of volunteers to a thriving international organization. From vote monitoring in Sudan, to humanitarian response following Chile and Haiti’s devastating earthquakes, to forest fire risk prevention in Italy, Ushahidi has become a powerful open source platform that is helping to democratize global crisis response.
Lydia Cacho | Happiness in a Dirty War In 2009, Lydia Cacho shared her story with World Pulse Magazine readers, detailing her life as an investigative journalist working against Mexico’s ugly political realities (Happiness in a Dirty War, Issue 4, Summer/Fall 2009). In April 2010, Cacho was recognized with the International Press Institute’s Hero of Press Freedom Award for her courageous reporting on domestic violence, child prostitution, organized crime, and political corruption. Cacho has also released a book (Con mi hij@ no or, Not with my daughter/son), a guide to prevent and heal child sexual abuse. Mexico still pushes the rankings as one of the most dangerous places to be a reporter, and Cacho continues to face threats against her life.
Marina Silva | Daughter of the Amazon When World Pulse spoke with Marina Silva last spring (Daughter of the Amazon, Issue 5, Spring/Summer 2010), she was in the midst of a bid for the presidency of Brazil. On October 3, she surprised the world by taking 20% of the votes. Her unexpected success forced a run-off between opponents José Serra and ruling party candidate Dilma Rousseff. At the time of press, it was not clear whether Serra or Roussef would take the presidency. Although she did not win the election, Marina Silva’s leadership on environmental issues continues to put pressure on Brazil to maintain its environmental record.
This piece was produced in collaboration with Geographical Magazine.
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Books Even Silence Has an End
Ingrid Betancourt | Penguin Press, 2010 | Colombia In 2002, former Colombian senator Ingrid Betancourt was kidnapped on the campaign trail by the rebel group FARC and held hostage in the jungle for six years. Now she is telling her incredible story in print. Betancourt exposes the brutality and mind games she endured in captivity and explores the unraveling of her relationships with fellow prisoners, as well as the lingering effects of cruelty on the psyche.
Sofi Oksanen | Atlantic Books, 2010 | Estonia Oksanen teases out dark secrets in this novel that weaves together the stories of a young sex-trafficking survivor and an elderly widow. The harder these two women try to cover up the past, the more relentlessly it muscles its way into the present. Expert storytelling reveals the linked fate of these two characters and a dark time in Estonian history. A disturbing and brilliant novel that refuses to let the record of cruelty be expunged.
War Is Not Over When It’s Over
Ann Jones | Metropolitan Books, 2010 | Global War Is Not Over When It’s Over is a searing report back from six post-conflict zones where violence against women continues on an epic scale. Author Ann Jones documents her work with the Global Crescendo Project—an initiative that put cameras in the hands of women survivors around the world to embolden them to see, name, and speak out against the atrocities of daily life. In this account, we hear their voices, their pain, and their struggles, but also their solutions and hopes for the future.
Birute Regine | Prometheus Books, 2010 | Global Iron Butterflies reveals the stories of more than 50 women who are leading world-shifting movements. These leaders, including a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, an Australian aboriginal elder, and a former prime minister exemplify a feminine power that is creating a new world—a world that embraces radical, revolutionary vulnerability and welcomes the paradoxical.
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By talking, you always can find a little open door, through which you can touch the heart. The brain is good, but the heart is more powerful. Ingrid betancourt to Time magazine
News from Home
Sefi Atta | Interlink, 2010 | Nigeria Author Sefi Atta writes her characters with remarkable imagination. One story is told from the perspective of a woman condemned to death by stoning and another is in the voice of an Internet scam artist. At times heartbreaking, at times humorous, the stories in this collection, all inspired by newspaper headlines, cover a range of experience in Nigeria and the Nigerian Diaspora through a cast of unforgettable characters.
Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work
Edwidge Danticat | Princeton University Press, 2010 | Haiti/USA In her gorgeous prose, Danticat delivers a passionate treatise on the urgency of art, written from personal experiences as a Haitian immigrant living in the US. Elegant passages in this collection of essays reveal Danticat’s devotion to the writer’s craft—perhaps fueled by her belief that “someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.”
Songs of Blood and Sword
Fatima Bhutto | Nation Books, 2010 | Pakistan Fatima Bhutto was born to write this book. The niece of Benazir Bhutto, and a rising voice for reform in Pakistan, the 28-year-old poet and writer pens her place into the family legacy in this memoir. The skeletons in Fatima Bhutto’s family’s closet are the same skeletons that haunt her country. One by one she removes the bones of Pakistan’s history and examines them with endearing curiosity and piercing honesty. Songs of Blood and Sword is a personal and accessible primer to the complex dynastic politics of this young nation.
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Music Oppression is a disease and once we allow it to breed we can all be susceptible to it. muneera rashida to MTV
Luisa Maita | Cumbancha, 2010 | Brazil Lero-Lero, the title of Brazilian songstress Luisa Maita’s debut solo album, means “chit chat” in English. Raised in a musically inclined family and steeped in the musical heritage of her country, Maita has managed to link classic sounds such as the distinct squeak of the Brazilian cuica with surprising guest appearances by the fiddle, breath sounds, and clapping hands.
Star Women the Mixtape
Poetic Pilgrimage | Self-Released, 2010 | UK Emerging hip-hop duo Poetic Pilgrimage’s debut album, Star Women the Mixtape, is a breathless outburst of raw energy and talent. “Unlikely MCs” Muneera Rashida and Sukina Abdul Noor combine melody, spoken word, anti-war politics, social commentary, and Islamic spirituality in rousing anthems that pour straight from the heart.
Khaira Arby | Clarmont Music, 2010 | Mali Khaira Arby elevates the tradition of praise singing while invoking struggles against colonization and protesting the practice of female circumcision. Rooted in the sounds of Malian desert blues, Arby harnesses her powerful voice with a fierce commitment to every syllable and intonation.
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Angelique Kidjo | Razor & Tie, 2010 | Benin
Lion of Panjshir
Ariana Delawari | David Lynch Music, 2009 US/Afghanistan
Musical jetsetter Angelique Kidjo crosses between Brazil, West and Southern Africa, and the funk and soul movement of North America. The Benin-born star reimagines songs of musical legends like Miriam Makeba and James Brown, while featuring current artists Roy Hargrove, Dianne Reeves, Bono, and John Legend—a mix sure to captivate Kidjo newcomers and longtime fans alike.
Ariana Delawari recorded Lion of Panjshir in her parents’ basement in Kabul—a gutsy move made even gutsier with a track titled “Be Gone Taliban.” While Delawari calls Los Angeles home, she gives a nod to her Afghan roots in this album, effortlessly folding Afghan instruments, the tabla, rabab, and dilruba into her edgy folk sound.
On a Day Like This
Meklit Hadero | Porto Franco Records, 2010 | US Ethiopian-born, North American-raised Meklit Hadero establishes her style of musical storytelling through smoky vocals and sudden melody changes. On her debut album she sings a tender lullaby: “In some countries there are a hundred words for rain.” We think there are more than a hundred words to describe Hadero’s folky, contemporary sound.
Y La Misteriosa En Paris - Live a FIP Lila Downs | World Village, 2010 | Mexico
In the softest whispered lines of Mexican folk song “La Llorona,” the deep timbre of Lila Downs’ voice carries enough force to knock you off your feet. In her first live album and backed by an eight-piece band, Downs lifts her voice to dance beats and belts out politically charged ballads for a whirlwind experience that captures the energy of her shows.
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Julia Bacha | Just Vision, 2010 Palestine In 2004, Palestinian leader Ayed Morrar united Fatah, Hamas, and Israelis in a campaign against Israel’s barrier wall that barred villagers of the Palestinian town of Budrus from reaching their farmland and olive groves. Budrus deftly follows these brave peace activists as they navigate a harsh political landscape and ultimately succeed in winning access to their land. The magic of Budrus is that in the end everyone seems to learn something: from the town’s women who lead the resistance, to Morrar’s own 15-year-old daughter who steps into the path of a bulldozer to stop its path, to Morrar himself who is inspired by the courage of his followers.
Off and Running
Nicole Oppe | First Run Features, 2009 | US
If the small village of Budrus can have such big success, so can everybody. Iltezam Morrar to World Pulse
As an African-American girl adopted into a Jewish, multiracial, lesbian-headed household, Avery might not have the typical family. But her story is universal and immediately relatable. This candid and intimate documentary captures Avery’s struggle for identity as she juggles high school, a promising track career, and a drive to connect with the birth mother she never met.
Pushing the Elephant
Beth Davenport/Elizabeth Mandel Arts Engine, 2010 | Democratic Republic of Congo/US The war in the Congo has killed more than 5 million people since 1996. Rose Mapendo is one of the conflict’s millions of survivors who carry around stories of heartbreak. In the face of unspeakable atrocities Mapendo has chosen forgiveness—a choice that has inspired her humanitarian efforts and strengthened her devotion to empower other women affected by the conflict.
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Women Without Men
Shirin Neshat | Film First Company, 2009 | Iran Set in 1950s Iran, Women Without Men is the aesthetically stunning directorial debut of visual artist Shirin Neshat. The open and wild places between orchard walls allow four women to meet, affording each the rare freedom to decide her own fate. This is a beautiful and profoundly unsettling film that reveals the link between women’s lives and the fate of nations.
Peter Brosens/Jessica Woodworth Bo Films, 2010 | Peru Stories of mining operations that contaminate indigenous communities disappear between headlines every day. From the first ominous shot of a pool of mercury in the open sun, the directors of Altiplano handle the telling of this story with blazing color and sweeping narrative. Arresting cinematography delivers the weight of this steadily unraveling tragedy as we watch war photographer Grace and bride-to-be Saturnina absorb the ripple effects of one company’s greed.
Last Train Home
Lixin Fan | Zeitgeist Films, 2009 | China In Last Train Home, the effects of globalization come to life through the story of one Chinese family. Distanced from their children by factory jobs far from home, Qin’s parents return to their home once a year on Chinese New Year, along with 130 million other migrant workers. This emotional account documents a daughter’s struggle to cope with her parent’s physical and emotional absence—and her parents’ heroic effort to hold the family together across great distances.
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Browse our favorite products from unique and empowering women-centric small businesses around the world.
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colorful clutcheS The result of a collaboration between a Brooklyn designer and artisan groups in Kenya and Madagascar, these stunning bags are hand-woven from raffia, a renewable raw material, to promote environmental conservation. $69.00-79.00â€‚|â€‚shopmarysol.com
Peaceful garden scarf Fairly made in Costa Rica, this scarf is screen-printed with flowers and text “Remember always the beauty of the garden for there is peace.” $34.00 | Think Conscious Apparel for fairindigo.com
“Idea” earrings Balinese silversmith Kenari makes these sterling silver earrings inspired by bamboo designs from the 1950s. $33.99 | novica.com
ikat jacket Hand-made by a women’s cooperative in Mumbai, sales of this playful jacket provide women with fair wages and support community development programs. $49.00 | matatraders.com
Knit gloves Made in Peru with low-impact dyes, these gloves combine traditional hand-looming with urban design. Sale of Indigenous Designs products provides a fair wage to 700 families in the highlands. $36.00 | indigenousdesigns.com worldpulse.com | 73
Meditation chair Be at peace in your meditation practice knowing your chair was fairly traded and handwoven from renewable water hyacinth plants by a small artisan group in Bali. $299.00 | Gaiam.com
Olive oil soap The product of a collaboration between Palestinian and Israeli women, these healing and soothing soaps are produced with fine olive oil and traditional techniques in the West Bank city of Nablus. $25.00 | Sindyanna of Galilee for serrv.org
La Jicara journal This journal from Chiapas, Mexico collective Taller Leñateros revives an ancient bookmaking art form. La Jicara is printed in silk-screen, wood block, and bound as a pre-Hispanic codex. Taller Leñateros produces a variety of handmade paper products, including cards, books, and journals. $64.00 | tallerlenateros.com
ivy pillowcase Simple and stylish, these pillows are made in India by independent artists using organic cotton and natural dyes with coral ivy designs. $32.99 | 108 Mala for worldofgood.com
ocean waves cups Perfect for a cup of tea, these are handmade by Indonesian artists. $32.00 | Mitra Bali for fairtradewinds.net
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Handwoven Beauty Fairly Traded TAMMACHAT’s naturally dyed silks and cottons combine contemporary styling with traditional skills to bring you timeless fashion accessories and home décor. Each piece is exquisitely handwoven in limited editions. Each purchase helps a woman artisan in rural Thailand or Laos celebrate and sustain her culture, family, and community. t 902 624 0427 | tammachat.com
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VOICES Contemporary Lectures Join us for our 18th Season of bringing the most inspiring women of today! Listen to the life stories of incredible women. Their stories change our lives.
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We want communities to celebrate both the ribbon cutting for their new pump, and the one that’s lasted 20 years. That’s why we bring people, communities, organizations, local entrepreneurs, and local government together so that solutions last. That’s also why we monitor our work over time and publicize the data.
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The Power of Women Leading From The Heart
Nina Simons ‘Moonrise’ brings together thirty wise essays on transforming the old ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ division into a human style of leadership. These are writers and activists who know how to link rather than rank, and so can help each of us to learn as well as to lead.
- Gloria Steinem - pioneering feminist, author, and founder of Ms. Magazine
Available at www.bioneers.org/moonrise
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photo: Jennifer Esperanza
Nina Simons’ new book “Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart”, edited with Anneke Campbell, is the sixth Bioneers anthology book. Featuring a tapestry of over 40 voices and stories, Moonrise illuminates how women and men are redefining the leadership landscape across diverse perspectives, generations and ethnicities. Contributors include Alice Walker, Rachel Naomi Remen, Jensine Larsen and Eve Ensler, with a foreword by Terry Tempest Williams. Nina Simons, Bioneers cofounder
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3 Actions You Can Take to Embody Change Run for Congo Women
Run for Congo Women, started by Lisa Shannon, is a growing movement of runners, walkers, and ordinary citizens demonstrating solidarity and generating support for women survivors in the Congo—one of the world’s deadliest conflict zones. Mobilize your community, raise funds, and take steps toward a peaceful and secure future for Congo women. You can join the movement today by signing up for a run or walk—or start your own!
Advocate for Women-Led Recovery in Haiti
Almost a year after the earthquake that killed an estimated 220,000 people, Haiti is still reeling from its effects, and women have been hit hardest. Reports show that women are increasingly vulnerable to sexual violence and that services for survivors are inadequate. A petition by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti calls on the UN to prioritize the needs of women, strengthen response to gender-based violence, and include more women in decision-making. Sign your name to make sure that women’s voices are not forgotten in the recovery effort.
Empower a Girl Through GoGirlGo
The best gift you can give a girl is the gift of discovering her own strength. The Women’s Sports Foundation has found that when girls have a positive physical outlet, they not only do better in school, but they establish healthy habits and attitudes that they will carry through life. In fact, their entire communities can feel the benefits. The Women’s Sports Foundation’s GoGirlGo initiative offers sports and well-being programs to underserved girls throughout the US. Today’s active girls are tomorrow’s powerful women. Donate to GoGirlGo to activate a new generation of women feeling free and powerful in their bodies.
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7 Spiritual Leaders of Our Time Women Transforming Faith Same-Sex Relationships Around the World Rwanda's Women-Led Revival
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VIEWCHANGE.ORG STORIES POWERING PROGRESS
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