HUMAN TRAFFICKING WARRIORS “I am a free spirit under a free sky, the sky is my family, the stars are my friends, my age is time, my address is in my dreams.”
The Day My God Died Narrated by Tim Robbins and Winona Ryder
A Documentary On The Child Sex Slave Trade And The Brave Daughters Of Nepal introduces us to the heroes of the movement to abolish child sex slavery, many of whom are survivors who are forming new underground railways to move trafficked girls and women to freedom. The Day My God Died
Inspiring profiles of brave young women are interlaced with aching footage from the brothels captured by “spy camera” technology. Director Andrew Levine takes us through ragged curtains and backrooms into the depths of the Kamitipura red-light district in Bombay (Mumbai), known even to tourists as “the cages.” Here sexual servitude is a virtual death sentence —the HIV/AIDS rate among young girls is 80%. The girls are tenderly framed by the lens as they recount their horrifying stories of being taken from their villages in Nepal to the brothels of India, their rescues, and the shelter they find in nonprofit healing centers. There they learn skills and participate in arts programs that rebuild their spirits, including dance and writing. The healing process leads many of the young women, some dying of AIDS, to become determined advocates who risk their lives to save other girls. Some return to their villages with megaphones to warn Nepalese families and urge villagers to ostracize anyone who participates in trafficking. These nonprofit centers are underfunded and dwarfed by the size of the child trafficking problem, but they continue to fight for one life at a time.
Survivors dance as part of their healing process at Maiti Nepal, a Nepalese organization that organizes to prevent trafficking, and rescues, rehabilitates, and reintigrates survivors into local communities.
Driven by a desire to help their sisters, survivors, such as the Maiti Nepal delegation pictured above, are increasingly returning to their native villages to perform awareness-building demonstrations about the dangers of trafficking.
Three trafficking survivors playfully surround Harleen Walia, the Assistant Director and Dance Therapy instructor at Sanlaap, a nongovernmental organization in India that resues trafficked children from red light areas and rehabilitates them in shelter homes.
© Greg Epstein, © Andrew Levine
Modern-day Abolitionists Those who benefit from the flesh trade wake up every morning determined and committed to keep the trade flourishing. So those who work to combat trafficking must meet the challenges with an equal amount of resolve and fortitude.
“We are creating awareness.” — Grace Osakue, Nigeria “We believe that when the girls truly have all the facts and possess the skills to say no, then no matter how poor their parents are, no matter how lucrative the business is to traffickers, and no matter how unwilling the government is to stop it, the girls will refuse to become victims and trafficking will become a thing of the past.”
Grace Osakue is a woman
leading the fight to stop human trafficking in Nigeria, a country where nearly everyone knows of or has had a daughter kidnapped or sold into the sex trade. Osakue is the coordinator of the Girls’ Power Initiative (GPI), a program where young women learn personal and economic empowerment and sex education.
“The girls are showing us that not only are they strong against the risk of being trafficked, but they are catalysts for change in their environment and help other girls to resist the lures of traffickers.”
There are countless numbers of grassroots women leaders who are pioneering programs that are breaking the vicious cycle of human trafficking.
HERE ARE JUST A FEW Guatemala Maria Eugenia Villarreal, Executive Director of Guatemala’s ECPAT. www.ecpat.com
Soviet Union Julliette Engel, The Angel Coalition www.angelcoalition.org India/Nepal Ruchira Gupta, Apne Aap www.apneaap.org Cambodia Oung Chanthol, Executive Director of Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center jinja.apsara.org/cwcc/eng.htm
Ukraine Oksana Horbunova, La Strada www.brama.com/lastrada India Indrani Sinha, Founder Sanlaap www.sanlaap-sa.org
by Jineth Bedoya Lima
The Soul of Colombiaâ€™s Future Weaving pain into strength, the women of our forests defy extinction
In all her life, Maria Candida has only seen forest. She was born under the leafy cathedrals of the trees in Colombia’s Amazon forest, near the crystal waters of the river Vaupes. At 58, she has never taken an airplane, traveled by car, or cooked with modern conveniences.
© Courtesy of Jason P. Howe/wwwconflictpics.com, © www.istockphoto.com (Amazon Forest)
Since she can remember, Maria has refused to move to the city to raise her children, not even to please her husband. Her home has always been Lagos de El Dorado (Lakes of El Dorado) of the municipality Miraflores—a natural rain forest reserve known as one of the earth’s largest hideouts for drug traffickers, coca cultivators, and government resistance fighters. Three hours away from the capital of Bogota by DC-3 plane, Maria’s homeland has been declared by government authorities as the world’s capital for the production of coca. Incalculable tons have been produced here and channeled to North America and Europe. Maria Candida has seen Colombia’s army pass frequently through her bit of forest. She has also seen many journalists from Bogota, looking for sensationalist stories of drug trafficking and, she believes, disguised with intentions of promoting peace and promises of government assistance. In 25 years, five presidents have passed through Miraflores, declaring that its diversity holds the ultimate possibility of social change. Despite these declarations, the forest continues to die.
They have made their pain into incomparable strength. They cry together, laugh together, reclamar together, and hope for the chance to hug their men today, right now. They want them to return; they want it all the time.
One morning, Maria Candida woke up and decided to call together the mulatto, indigenous, and mestizas (mixed race) women in her region. She organized a small group of 30 to work, determined that they would save their families.
"When coca replaced our money, we felt like we had lost the battle, because we were humbled by the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] and their laws,” Candida sighs. “We just want to be free."
Together, they created a small cooperative to produce and sell handicrafts that would not be contaminated by the coca boom. Throughout the1990s, the cooperative sold handcrafted wooden cookware, tablecloths, and lingerie made of gigantic leaves from the fica trees growing by the Vaupes and cups made from the native guadua tree.
The FARC communist guerillas, the oldest guerilla group on the continent, took complete control of Miraflores in 1994. In order to survive, the craftswomen set down their trade to grow coca seeds themselves.
Organizing the women wasn’t easy, according to Maria Candida. "At first, many women resisted because they didn't believe that we were capable of supporting our community by selling our products,” she says. “Besides, we were full of fear. We knew we would have to confront the armed groups that passed through our zone." As coca production grew in Miraflores, the women’s fears slowly came true. The micro-enterprise struggled. First, the Colombian peso was drowned out by an influx of dollars, and later, by pure cocaine itself. Within a span of a few days, white dust in a bag was all that was needed to buy a Coca Cola or a bag of rice, according to Candida. The economic system of the region became like an independent republic.
Colombia’s government never turned its attention to baskets or tablecloths. Nor did it turn towards saving the natural reserve as it slipped out of their hands. The women of Lagos de El Dorado and the rest of Miraflores had to lower their heads and yield to an illegal monopoly. On February 1, 2004, a cloud of helicopters and planes landed on the canopy of Lagos de El Dorado. More than 3,000 military troops occupied Maria’s small hamlet with its population of 1,500 men, women, and children. “Plan Patriota” had arrived, the most ambitious military proposal from the government of Alvarao Uribe Velez, to eradicate the armed illegal groups of the FARC. By May, only 700 of the original 1,500 citizens of Lagos de El Dorado remained; today, there are only 300. Among them are Maria Candida and around 192 children, some
Coca bushes yield four harvests per year. For many in rural Colombia, the poorly paid work of picking coca is their only means of survival.
© Courtesy of Jason P. Howe/www.conflictpics.com
A mother and daughter play at a swimming hole in a Putumayo river. Some locals avoid swimming due to concern over pollution from the coca fumigation program. Residue from the herbicide used drifts into the water and has caused skin rashes and other illnesses.
Margot Media prefers to close her eyes and not think about “what can happen” and continue her work with the Association of Women Entrepreneurs.
with malaria and tropical diseases. The others have fled to nearby cities where they, too, struggle to survive.
that despite toxic chemical fumigations meant to detroy coca and the silence of the state, their extinction is not inevitable.
“We are in agreement that the army’s arrival to guard us and the presence of rifles and ammunition are not going to calm our hunger,” said one woman who decided to stay.
And Maria Candida’s is but one story.
Now Miraflores and Lagos have turned into places of misery. Coca is restricted and the government has not given them another option to survive. Now that there is no food nor possibilities for another future, Maria Candida wants to return to creating her cups of guadua and tablecloths of fica, but she has no money.
© John Wilson Vizcaino
The grand Miraflores is alone. Its children are displaced and entangled in the face of Colombia today, a nation bearing what the United Nations calls “the gravest humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere.” Across the nation, similar stories play out. More than 2 million have been displaced from the conflict. For the women who have decided to stay in the middle of the forest, a new story has begun—the most regressive of their time. Yet, they do not want to leave without fighting and struggling for their communities. They desperately want to show
More than 1200 kilometers away another woman, Margot Media, also fights against war and desperation. She is the community leader of a town called San Gabriel, in the region Cundinamaraca, two hours by car from Bogota. Despite threats and ultimatums from armed forces on both sides, Margot and her community of 1,500 have spent 16 years here, living and working like they always have. They risk their lives by staying. Today more than ever they have projects, dreams, and goals. However, the danger is all around. A year and a half ago, the government army arrived and exiled the FARC to a nearby command center. Margot and the inhabitants say that they feel calm, but if the guerrillas decide to retaliate, they will all surely be killed. Margot prefers to close her eyes and not think about “what can happen” and continue her work with the Association of Women Entrepreneurs. She hopes that the government
vigilant women who would otherwise be displaced for lack of resources and work. Margot and Maria are not the only women who are risking their lives for peace for their communities. Colombia, a country with a landscape richer than most countries in Latin America, with forest reserves that oxygenate the planet and the diversity of so many climates, is consumed by drug trafficking wars, in part through the seeping corruption of drug money at all levels of society. How does one survive? Thanks to groups and communities that believe in the possibilities of change. Thanks to women who have not lost hope, like the mothers, wives, and sisters to more than 3,000 kidnapped by illegal guerillas and paramilitary troops. The women want international organizations to defend their human rights. They want the NGOs to invest in development projects in their cities. They want the U.S., instead of financing fumigations of coca and sending helicopters and arms, to invest in the social part of Colombia —roads, seed projects, and spreading local artisan work throughout the world.
of Cundinamarca will help them by providing 20 sewing machines and, in doing so, give employment to the women of San Gabriel—some of whom are ex-prostitutes with dressmaking skills. Sewing machines would give them an alternative to the violence of the region.
Another group sowing seeds of hope is Operacion Siriri, formed by the relatives of the soldiers and police that remain kidnapped by the FARC guerillas in the bowels of the forest. This group, led by Marlene Orjuela, a woman whose daughter was kidnapped by guerillas for 2-1/2 years, meets every week in the Plaza de Bolivar in downtown Bogota, in front of the Republican Congress. There they pray for their sons and daughters and husbands. In the cold night, they burn candles and carry them in their
These economic endeavors are the bread of the village of more than 1,500 inhabitants. But they need help; it is a heart that needs more arteries to irrigate its blood. On this heart depends the future of more than 600 women. "We have always wanted the women on my street to have something for themselves and to improve their lives. But they need resources and there is no money to set up our microbusinesses and the government doesn't want to invest much of the budget in sewing machines or bakery equipment in order for women to have an alternative to prostituting themselves," says Margot. Recently, Margot has proposed to her group that they sow coca and other products. San Gabriel is fertile earth with an enviable tropical climate and mountains whose skirts grow platanos and a variety of fruits. For now, their small enterprise continues, though precariously, saved by this group of
A mother and her daughter head to the coca fields to begin their day’s work.
© Reuters, © Courtesy of Jason P. Howe/www.conflictpics.com
Thousands of Colombian women stage a protest march through the downtown streets of Bogota in 2002. The coalition of women’s groups, Women Against the War, staged the protest against acts of violence perpetrated throughout 38 years of war by the Colombian government, paramilitaries, and the guerilla-led FARC group.
Many brave groups have organized to struggle for human rights. The Initiative of Women for Peace works to rectify the horrific abuses that have been committed in the rural Colombian conflict zones. The Regional Organization of People’s Women was born in the city of Barrancabermeja, where the fiercest armed conflict and human rights violations have taken place.
We have had to learn to want peace so badly that we fight for it ourselves. right hands; in their other hands, they fiercely hold up the photos of those who left their houses one morning five, six, seven years ago, never to be seen again. They have made their pain into incomparable strength. They cry together, laugh together, reclamar together, and hope for the chance to hug their men today, right now. They want them to return; they want it all the time.
For us and for the almost 13 million Colombians who live in misery, for the other 20 million who are poor, the 2 million displaced, the 3,000 kidnapped . . . numbers do not tell the story of our future. Maria Candida, Margot, Yolanda, Marlene, and the other groups of women and people continuing to work for our country—they are the soul of the future of Colombia.
There is Yolanda Pulecio, the mother of the female ex-candidate for President, Ingrid Betancourt, who was kidnapped by the FARC guerillas over two years ago. Pulecio says her heart beats along with the heartbeats of the other mothers who wait for their kidnapped children. Yolanda has made her way through North America and Europe, clamoring for help to liberate her daughter and the kidnapped of Colombia. She has opened many doors; others have been slammed in her face, but she is not demoralized.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
By her side and Marlene’s, there are countless other groups of tireless, patient, faithful, and hopeful fighters who have roused other women to fight for their causes and peace for their country, our country.
Write a letter to the CEO and shareholders of corporations that are influencing U.S. policy towards Colombia. www.colombiamobil
We have had to learn to want peace so badly that we fight for it ourselves.
Monitor U.S. policy
The Center for International Policy is an excellent resource, maintaining a review of the Colombia record, including campaign contributions from defense corporations and positions on key votes, of each member of the House of Representatives and Senate, and on-going analysis of the impact of U.S. policy. www.ciponline.org/colombia/index.htm
Monitor Corporate Involvement ization.org
Monitor the situation yourself
Experience first-hand the impact of U.S. policy towards Colombia. Join a delegation to Colombia. Witness for Peace and Colombia Support Network as well as several other organizations run delegations several times a year. www.witnessforpeace.org
Jineth Bedoya Lima Journalist of Courage
© John Wilson Vizcaino
“In Colombia, there are millions of stories to tell. Colombians are living in violence,” says Jineth Bedoya Lima. Bedoya, who is in her early 30s, reports on her country’s civil war despite the grave danger she faces. Four years ago, Bedoya went to a Bogota-area prison, where she was expecting to interview a paramilitary leader about rumors that she was on his “hit list.” While waiting for the interview, Bedoya was kidnapped at gunpoint, drugged, then brutally beaten and raped by her captors. That evening a taxi driver found her in a garbage dump, where she had been left with her hands tied.
Though many Colombian journalists have fled for their lives after being repeatedly threatened, Bedoya returned to her job just two weeks after being abducted. She has decided to stay in Colombia and continue reporting, though she now does so under the protection of a bodyguard.
“After everything those kidnappers did to me, journalism gives me the strength [to continue], not only as a professional, but also as a woman. That’s what keeps me going—working—and I don’t believe that going into exile is the solution for me.”
but never lost Colombia has the highest per-capita rate of murder and kidnapping in the world. Two years ago, a political firebrand who was brave enough to try to change all this was taken.The story of Ingrid Betancourt is the story of a woman who loves her country enough to sacrifice everything.
Twice popularly elected to the notoriously corrupt Colombian legislature on anti-corruption platforms, Betancourt fought fiercely against a dangerous cocktail of drug cartels, paramilitary forces, and shady government officials. She struggled for years to attract the attention of the world and to channel desperately needed resources to revitalize the nation’s deteriorating social and econom-
ic fabric. Eventually she was forced to move her two small children out of the country for their safety due to escalating death threats. Not only did Betancourt choose to stay in Colombia, but in 2002 she decided to run for President. Months before the presidential elections, Ingrid was kidnapped by the FARC guerrillas. Two years later she remains captive in the heart of the forests, her whereabouts unknown. Her family clings to hope that she is still alive. Support committees working to free Ingrid have joined forces in Italy, the U.S., France, Senegal, Spain, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Over 1,243 cities have named her an honorary citizen.
© Jean-Marie Perier/www.betancourt.com, © Corinne Vonaesch, © Michel Dhalenne, ©Gildas Chasseboeuf
“There is a clear link between having a strong, legitimate democracy in Colombia and stopping the flood of drugs onto American streets. The American people need to know that.”
THE PEACE WE SEEK by Ingrid Betancourt, kidnapped ex-Presidential candidate of Colombia Columbia is in a state of war. It is an internal, complicated, and extremely violent war that has claimed countless Colombians and destroyed our environment and economy. The war has also had a serious impact on other countries. Its most tangible effect is the drug traffic that has wrought havoc on the streets of America. I want to see Colombia free of war, with its democracy reclaimed, its peace assured. This is why we first need to decide what kind of peace we are going to seek. Do we want a fake peace imposed by the use of terror? This is what the paramilitaries are offering us. Do we want a peace that results from a defeat of democracy and the installation of a communist regime? This is what the guerrillas are fighting for. Do we want a peace agreement negotiated by a corrupt regime that uses a false promise of peace as a tool to maintain the status quo that allows the select few to share the privileges? This is what our establishment is trying to preserve. No. The peace that we, the Colombian people, want is a different one altogether. It is a peace rooted in the rules of democracy. It can’t be a peace negotiated by a corrupt, feeble, and vacillating government. People are tempted to think that a certain degree of corruption can be tolerated as a price for minimal political stability in the region. This was the view taken for decades, because corrupted governments and dictatorships were battling communism. Today, we cannot expect to fight drug trafficking while we turn a blind eye to the corrupted ways of our government. These are, after all, one and the same, and they work together to make sure that things don’t change. Today, we cannot expect to enforce civil and human rights laws while we ignore the evidence of electoral fraud. This is precisely the kind of corruption that nurtures violence. Our war in Colombia is the best example of this situation. In this war the Colombian government has permitted the creation of paramilitary forces. Financed by powerful landlords and drug traffickers, and too frequently trained with the help of high-ranking army officials, these illegal troops are used to confront the guerillas and they have an agenda of their own. These illegal troops are doing what the law forbids our army to do: they carry out massacres, tortures, and persecutions. Our government condones their victories because they hold back any form of subversion that challenges its authority—even though this tolerance ends up strengthening the very mafia the government claims to be fighting.
I LOVE COLOMBIA I love Colombia, to the point of making the most painful choices possible in order to have the right to live here. I love our people because I know that having been the victim of the cruelest violence for more than a hundred years, we carry inside ourselves treasures of courage and passion. The anarchy of today’s Colombia is a call for help that the world is refusing to hear. With such treasures, it will not be difficult to construct the Colombia I dream of, that many of us dream of. Imagine what kind of country we would have if we invested in work, in production, in creation, in pleasure, in our families, the extraordinary energy we devote to death. I want to accomplish this. If what I’ve been doing for the past ten years hadn’t produced a response, I wouldn’t feel qualified to make such a commitment. But I have twice been elected with a remarkable number of votes, and today I feel that I’m ready to put a stop to corruption. I also note that the same politicians who hate me also ask me to endorse their proposals, because they know I’m credible; that, unlike them, I can’t be bought. In a sense, I’m forcing them to think that they could also be different. I’m forcing them to imagine the Colombia of tomorrow, the one we all deserve. Now that I’ve arrived at this point, will they kill me, too? My relationship with death is like that of a tightrope walker: We’re both doing something dangerous, and we’ve calculated the risks, but our love of perfection invariably overcomes our fear. I’m passionately in love with life, and I have no desire to die. Everything I’m building in Colombia, I’m also building so that I can happily grow old there, so that I can have the right to live there without fearing disaster for everyone I love. — Excerpted from Ingrid’s internationally best-selling book Until Death Do Us Part. Harper Collins (2002).
“If we have clean elections, we will have a political turnaround. Without their accomplices in the government, the drug lords are like fish out of water.”
In the end, the Colombian government accepts illegal money to win a war that protects not the lives of civilians, but the property of those financing the war. This is why peace cannot be sought without addressing openly the close ties between drug traffickers, paramilitaries, and guerillas. Any peace process has to begin with a strong commitment from all parties to fight corruption in its most sophisticated manifestation: drug trafficking. It is only when we target drug trafficking that we will truly weaken the financial supply channeled to corrupt politicians and terrorists and thereby arrest the perpetuation of violence that has crippled Colombia. Three conditions are necessary to bring peace to our people: The denarcotization of Colombia—We need to weaken the drug traffic partnership with terrorism by making a commitment that fighting it be the sine qua non for any peace talks. The enforcement of human rights laws—We need to re-establish government authority by severing the government’s clandestine ties with the paramilitaries. Support from the international community—We need partners to confront the corrupt and very strong Colombian political force in power. There is no doubt that we need international support to accomplish these goals. The Colombian people cannot be left to confront such powerful organizations on their own. Their tentacles reach far beyond the Colombian people’s control. We will win this war if we can receive support from all over the world—and especially from the American people, not only because our two nations are the victims of this illegal drug traf-
THE KIDNAPPING OF INGRID BETANCOURT
fic and the terrorism it finances, but because we need help from truly democratic countries in rescuing our own democracy. There is a clear link between having a strong, legitimate democracy in Colombia and stopping the flood of drugs onto American streets. The American people need to know that. If the drug lords are financing elections and electoral fraud, they gain control over the government, parliament, and judiciary. But if we have clean elections, we will have a political turnaround. Without their accomplices in the government, the drug lords are like fish out of water. It will be easier for us to beat them and, at the same time, it will shut off the valve that fuels violence and war. A strong legitimate democracy will induce the emergence of a new Colombia. A war against the economic and political power of drugs will cut off the paramilitaries and the guerrillas from their financial source. At the same time, a true, democratically elected government guarantees a political structure that will address and ensure people’s desire for social justice. A combination of these factors can pave the way to peace negotiations and a truce with the guerrillas and the paramilitaries. There is no quick fix, but I am convinced that reclaiming our democracy is the very first step toward peace, and the sole condition for a true alliance against drugs and against terrorism between the people of all nations.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT INGRID www.educweb.org/Ingrid/indexEng.htm www.4ingrid.com/main/accueil.htm
In February 2002, in the midst of her controversial campaign for president, Senator Ingrid Betancourt was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and became one of the thousands of victims of Colombia’s 40-year-old civil war. Following the candidate up to the moments before her disappearance, this remarkable film continues to tell the riveting story of her family’s desperate and continuing quest to free her and keep her campaign alive.
Using voiceovers from radio interviews taken before she was abducted, footage from the campaign trail, and a chilling proof-of-life video released by her captors, Betancourt narrates her own story. Months after her kidnapping, she remains missing, victim to the system she tried so desperately to reform. Unsettling and unforgettable, this gripping film captures with intensity the remarkable dedication of ordinary Colombians to persevere and free their country from the grip of corruption and the horror and turmoil of civil war. Women Make Movies www.wmm.com
Sustainable Peace in Colombia A Panel of Four Colombian Women Peacemakers Convened by the Center for International and Strategic Studies and Women Waging Peace (May 12, 2004)
Catalina Rojas, author of the Women Waging Peace Report In the Midst of War: Women’s Contributions to Peace in Colombia
Catalina Rojas began her remarks by dedicating the presentation “to the women and men in Colombia who have died during the conflict and to those who remain stubbornly alive believing that there are ways other than war to deal with our differences.” She then presented a critical analysis of the conflict, explicitly discussing the multitude of sources fueling the violence. She made special note of the socio-economic contributing factors, which include a poverty level of 60% and an index of concentration of wealth that is higher today than it was during the 1970s. Rojas discussed “the pendulum-like quality of public opinion in Colombia,” which swings back and forth from supporting war to supporting peace. She noted that with the failure of recent negotiations, a fatigued civil society has once again shifted its support toward a military solution. However, Rojas claimed that women have risen as the vanguard sector in civil society to protest a military solution and to strive for alternative avenues to peace. Substantial groups of women in Colombia are now leading the charge for continued negotiations and non-militarized solutions to the violence. Rojas noted that while many women in Colombia are organizing at the local, national, and regional level, the assistance and cooperation of the international community remains imperative. She implored the international community “to learn more about the conflict and women’s involvement in the peace process from those in Colombia working for peace.” She concluded her remarks by asking for greater international cooperation on pressuring the Colombian government to continue negotiations rather than providing it with increased military funding.
© Victoria Stanski/Women Waging Peace
Maria Emma Mejia, Former Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Colombia
Maria Emma Mejia declared that “Colombia will see peace and is not bound to eternal war.” Mejia stated that one-third of the displaced population of 2.9 million people is female; of the 35,000 in arms, 11,000 are women, and of the 6,000 children killed by land mines, 3,500 have been girls. At the same time, women are also playing a dominant role in sustaining social and economic assistance programs. Mejia expressed concern over U.S. policies regarding Colombia, emphasizing problems with Plan Colombia and the “invisibility” of
the Colombian conflict in the shadow of Iraq. In regard to U.N. involvement, she stated that while the U.N. has increased its presence in Colombia, it is acting as a “passive observer without the power to respond.” Alma Viviana Perez Gomez, Consultant, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Colombia
Alma Viviana Perez Gomez discussed the current efforts to construct and mobilize a diverse coalition of women working for peace. This coalition is working to create a set of recommendations for peace that challenge the militarized solutions offered by the Colombian government. The primary intent of the women’s coalition is not only to assist in facilitating a negotiated transformation of the conflict, but also to include and prepare women to be involved in both the process of negotiation and post-conflict reconstruction. Martha Cecilia Quintero Garcia, Former Coordinator, National Network of Women
Martha Cecilia Quintero Garcia stressed the need to close the gap between policy makers and grassroots groups in Colombia. She felt it was also imperative to address domestic violence against women in Colombia as well as reforming the negative perception of women in the Colombian legal system. Q&A
There was a brief discussion on the role of globalization in the conflict. The participants held that globalization has led to a loss of jobs and created an economic disadvantage for Colombians, especially Colombian women. Perhaps the most poignant comment was that in Colombia there is “an absence of state” and a type of “blindness” to the factors that enable the violence. Thus, even if the military successfully retakes territory, without the presence of the state and the rule of law, peace will remain elusive. In essence, without addressing the underlying causes of the conflict, particularly the socio-economic factors, and without a policy of peace based on negotiation and social change, Colombia is likely to remain entrenched in perpetual war. Over all, the panel was characterized by both an impressive and humble sense of optimism and empowerment. The underlying message expressed was that there is an inherent “dilemma in finishing war to begin peace” and that protracted peace in Colombia cannot be won with a purely militarized strategy.
FOR MORE INFORMATION To view the 54-page report In the Midst of War:
Women’s Contributions to Peace in Colombia www.womenwagingpeace.net/content/ conflict_areas/colombia.asp
ÂŠ Giuliano Matteucciemail@example.com/Children in Kabul
A Peace Plan for the Drug War
by Mary Barr
Ten years ago I was a Drug War prisoner. I was reeling from a legacy of abuse that began in my childhood years, and I was addicted to crack, was a homeless mother, and had been incarcerated over 40 times.
But I was among the fortunate. Thanks to my enrollment in a long-term treatment center, I managed to get my life back together. Today I am an advocate for change in our criminal justice system. I speak throughout the world and I work in U.S. prisons, often with women in situations similar to mine, empowering them to succeed. No matter which way you look at it, the current U.S. War on Drugs is not working. Instead, it is creating disturbing and expensive consequences for our society, especially for children. Globally, more kids are trying drugs, and these drugs are purer and easier to get than they were when the term â€œWar on Drugsâ€? was coined over 25 years ago. Government statistics show that drug imports and exports, sales, and use have risen steadily every year. Today the U.S. generates the greatest demand for drugs and has the largest number of prisoners in the world, a quarter of which are nonviolent drug offenders . Too often people convicted of nonviolent drugrelated charges are denied access to the very health and educational opportunities that can help them to make positive changes in their lives. Instead, they are warehoused in prisons that typically cause more problems than they solve. Families are regularly broken apart, leaving children to pay the price for a system that prefers to spend more to make people worse off than to invest in treatment and
prevention. But there is a way out. I propose a 5-point common-sense exit strategy that will lead to true rehabilitation, honesty, and heal-
ing for our children, despite the presence of drugs in our world.
Substance abuse treatment has been proven by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to be 15 times more effective than imprisonment. Treatment is also one-third the cost of incarceration. Throughout the 1990s, a new prison was opened every week in the U.S. while funds for treatment and education were cut. In the U.S., we have incarcerated over 2 million people on drug charges, more than 150,000 of whom are women. Eighty-five percent of these prisoners are incarcerated for nonviolent drug charges and peripheral crimes. In addition, they are parents to over 3 million children. In 2003, the direct costs involved with incarceration as a method of decreasing drug use reached $39 billion. Indirect costs such as lost wages and foster care take the total even higher. And the human costs are unfathomable. A stunning 85% of these prisoners return to prison, and 50% of children who have an incarcerated parent wind up behind bars themselves. Rather than “rehabilitating” convicted drug users, we are handing them and their children a life sentence. Sadly, substance abuse treatment is only available to approximately 10-15% of those who request it. Although it is widely acknowledged that optimum results come from one year or more of continued therapy, as I had, most insurance only covers treatment for about 30-90 days.
been a successful method of dealing with drug problems and that prison sentences are often racially and economically biased. Treat substance abuse as a social health issue and make education, job training, and treatment a priority We know that education, jobs, and treatment are the three major deterrents to any type of crime. Globally, a majority of men and women imprisoned on drug charges have experienced childhood and adult trauma and have below sixth-grade reading skills and low self-esteem. We can redirect a portion of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy’s stated $60-70 billion that are spent each year on fighting the Drug War to programs that ensure that people have access to quality education, opportunities for job training, and health care for treatment. We can also use these funds to create effective ad campaigns to educate the public. Consider gender and age in treatment and legislation Women traditionally have fewer economic and societal opportunities than men. I was not surprised to find that, like me, around 80% of women imprisoned on nonviolent charges had been sexually abused and over 85% have been physically abused. Seventy-six percent of these imprisoned women are mothers.
Change legislation that places non-violent drug offenders in jail for lengthy terms
Building family residential treatment centers where mothers and children can be together will increase the number of women who will seek help and decrease the number of children becoming involved in drugs and crime. Youth programs and peer counseling have proven more effective than traditional treatment for teens.
Judges, lawyers, even prosecutors and law enforcement have called for an end to mandatory minimum drug sentences, stating that imprisonment has not
Redirect international military “Drug War” spending into alternative development and peace initiatives
“Treatment is one-third the cost of incarceration.”
© Human Rights and the Drug War/www.hr95.org
Substance abuse treatment instead of new prisons
Although our own policies at home are not effective, the U.S. continually pressures other countries to follow their directives. In many countries around the world, the U.S. provides billions of dollars of aid and weapons to governments to fight drug wars by proxy, such as Colombia and Afghanistan, but discounts the civilians who are caught in the crossfire and leaves them without viable alternatives. For example, in 2003, I visited the Putumayo region of Colombia, a nation that shoulders the brunt of some of our most costly and ineffective drug policies. In 2003 alone, the U.S. gave the Colombian government $751 million with which to fight drug production, sales, and use—the most military aid apportioned in the Western Hemisphere. Yet every year, more coca is exported from Colombia, and armed violence between government forces, rebel groups, and paramilitary escalates and spills into communities. Plan Colombia is a large initiative funded by the U.S. One component of this plan is to fumigate coca crops and to persuade farmers in the region, who eke out their living growing coca, to grow alternative crops like corn, rice, and hearts of palm, by providing a one-time cash payment of $2,000 worth of livestock or seed. I visited three farms that had participated in Plan Colombia. The alternative crops had been poisoned by aerial fumigation intended to kill coca plants. At one patch of hearts of palm, the Senora stopped and started to cry. She was around 60, and she had spent days in the blasting heat to plant these crops, her family’s livelihood, which were totally devastated. She told me it was the third time she had planted and the third time her crops had been fumigated. Water sources were also fumigated, and people and their livestock had no choice but to drink from them. I met a young attractive woman who allowed us to take a picture of her arms, which were scarred red from the chemicals while tears ran down her cheeks. During an interview with a nurse, she told us health problems in fumigated areas have doubled since the spraying began.
• Every dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saves U.S. taxpayers approximately $7.46 in societal costs. • Treatment of cocaine users is 23 times more effective than eradicating coca. - Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world.
US Aid to Colombia in 2003 • $751 million Military and chemical fumigation expenditures = 80% Economic, social, and peace assistance programs = 20% - Center for International Policy
Rather then having a significant impact on drug production and use, U.S. policies and programs abroad are frequently hurting individuals, families, and communities struggling to meet their most basic needs. A Starting Point
The measures I have described above would be a good start, but since we have spent decades on failed policy at home and abroad, it will take time. Ironically, our current system has stripped from those who are most impacted by current government policies the ability to affect change in their lives and in our country. People convicted of drug charges in the U.S. are often denied education grants, housing, and welfare. In many cases we can’t even vote.
But in the worst cases, we are depriving people of the children they love. I know too many mothers, clean and responsible for years, still fighting to get their kids back. I am so blessed to have my children in my life, but it almost didn’t work out that way. Today I have high selfesteem. I am a great human being, mother, and wife. I visit prisoners in correctional facilities, and I know that with our help they can overcome the many obstacles they face. I bring them messages of hope and inspiration, practical advice and resources. I also educate the public on their behalf, because I want you to know what I know—that they, and their families, are worth it.
Combining her personal experiences with statistical analysis, Mary Barr has been a featured speaker on Capitol Hill, on television and in the print media, and in conferences and universities internationally. Since 1998, her self-empowerment series has been featured in jails and prisons, for which she is the only private citizen to receive the STEP Medal of Honor. She was instrumental in the historic development of the first transitional program in the Former Soviet Union, where she engaged the cooperation of the Chairman of Prisons and several organizations in Odessa, Ukraine. In June 2003, Barr traveled from Bogata to parts of Colombia affected by counter-narcotics efforts interviewing politicians and farmers.
A DOSE OF HOPE • Some states, such as California, New York, and Florida, have set up Corrections Independent Review Panels to assess the costs of prisons, prison-building moratoriums, and treatment alternatives. Drug Courts have fueled some action because while they were sentencing people to treatment, there was none available. • There are many initiatives that are working to reform or end harsh sentencing for non-violent drug offenses. ReconsiDer, www.reconsider.org, a Syracuse-based non-profit, along with city leaders, is holding hearings on alternatives to the Drug War, spurred by waste of finances and ineffectiveness of policies. Even law enforcement is joining the fight www.leap.cc. There are many more examples across the U.S. and the world www.stopthedrugwar.org. • Major residential drug treatment programs, including Daytop, Hazelden, Phoenix House, and Samaritan, have begun to add facilities for women and children. The Federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) has given grants to five states to build residential treatment facilities for Native American women and their children. A small group of women in New York convinced politicians to free up ten beds in a woman’s prison and give them the funds to start a family program instead. • Educators for Sensible Drug Policy, www.efsdp.org, have started initiatives in their cities citing the amounts spent on incarceration vs. education. Along with other organizations they are fighting against the Higher Education Act, which denies nonviolent drug offenders education funds. Chapters of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) are sprouting up in colleges across America.
TAKE ACTION • Call for an end to mandatory minimum sentencing at www.famm.org
• Work for alternatives to incarceration at www.justiceworks.org
• Invite a speaker to any audience and urge politicians to build family residential treatment centers at www.conextions.org
• Start a chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) on your campus at www.ssdp.org • For good, honest, science-based information for kids, consult Marsha Rosenbaum’s Safety First program www.safety1st.org
• Get comprehensive information on the drug war and international issues www.stopthedrugwar.com
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U.S. Democracy—Now What? Perspectives from global democracy specialists
A Challenge for Civil Society Ela Gandhi, South Africa
Ela Gandhi, the grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi, was under house arrest for nine years during apartheid in South Africa. After the dismantling of apartheid, she served as a member of South Africa’s Parliament, representing the African National Congress from 1994 to 2002. Gandhi has received many awards for her extensive work in promoting interfaith dialogue and serves on the Peace X Peace Advisory Council. So where does the world stand after the U.S. elections? One remains apprehensive as to the future of democracy. Two important factors have to be taken into account. One, the U.S.’s electoral procedures are so complicated that most Americans, and certainly the rest of the world, see little prospect of real change unless electoral procedure is reformed. Two, neither Americans nor the world are convinced that the checks and balances currently in place are sufficient to eliminate fraud and corruption. There are also those who believe that there is little difference between the Democrats and Republicans and that ultimately policies will remain the same, no matter who is voted into power. A significant number of people of the U.S., therefore, do not vote. The time has now come when Americans need to seriously look at their own commitment. From the perspective of people outside the U.S., the greatest need is to strengthen civil society. Civil society can, if strong, have tremendous power to transform governments, policies, and economic and social situations.
In South Africa, soon after the 1960 banning of political organizations, our civic structures were considerably weakened. We turned this around by taking up people’s issues through mass mobilization and organizing street committees. We even organized religious groups to participate with us. In that way, all the people are mobilized and empowered to advocate for change through mass action. A recent article I read about the U.S. stated that Republicans are for religion, morality, and a better society while the Democrats reject religion and are not talking about a moral code for society. This kind of misleading information also happens in our country during elections. But if people are involved, they are not fooled by mass media and other propaganda. So we need to create our own machinery to inform people of the truth. Once people come together and are mobilized, they can begin to look at the broader picture of what is happening at a global level. It is hard work. But it needs to be done. www.peacexpeace.org
Missing Who You Once Were Mahnaz Afkhami, Iran/U.S. Mahnaz Afkhami is Founder and President of Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP), Executive Director of the Foundation for Iranian Studies, and former Minister of State for Women’s Affairs in Iran. In exile in the United States, Afkhami has been a leading advocate of women’s rights and democracy for more than three decades. She sits on the board for the World Movement for Democracy.
However, the United States’ original principles, exemplified by the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the concept of checks and balances, the idea of separation of church and state, and the sanctity of the human person and the inviolability of the right to vote, have always been a source of inspiration to other peoples. So has the United States’ role in the formation of the United Nations and its various instruments and agreements on human rights and women’s rights.
In the past, America was a successful model of democracy and nation-building because, for the most part, it behaved democratically at home and, where and when it fell short, it aspired and acted to achieve a more perfect union. It is a pity that in the post-Cold War era, when history has offered us an unprecedented opportunity for working to expand and extend democracy, peace, and human rights, recent U.S. attitudes and policies have led the majority of peoples across the world to view it as a belligerent, unilateralist nation. Still, women in the global South rely on the United States’ constructive support in their struggle against authoritarian politics and totalitarian religious fundamentalisms. They look forward to the day America will regain the path on which it traveled.
© Gandhi, www.peacexpeace.org
Asian, African, and Middle Eastern women have never been as anxious about U.S. attitude and policy as in the past four years. From their vantage point, the U.S. projects the image of a nation whose power entitles it to exemption from moral censure and who posits any criticism of its policies as an attack on human rights and democracy.
“Ultimately electoral politics has its limitations. We know that if we want political change, the best way to do it is through social movements—people’s movements. Awareness-raising and consciousness-raising must happen now.” —Socorro Reyes, the Philippines
Life is Stranger Than Fiction Dr. Socorro Reyes, Philippines Dr. Socorro L. Reyes is the Founding President of The Center for Legislative Development (CLD), a Philippines-based non-government organization that assists in the capability-building of national and local legislatures and broadening civic participation in the legislative process. She is also President of the International Legislative Support Services Association (ILSSA). We all respect the historical vibrancy of American democracy. In a democracy, the rule of law is respected. When Kerry gave his concession speech with no dragging of the feet or sour grapes, this was admired by those of us in the Philippines. However, the recent elections also showed the insularity of American voters and their obliviousness to how U.S. policies affect the world. Although some media show alternate perspectives, they are not utilized by most citizens. There is also much hype about “moral values” but these values are being defined by the Right. There are groups in the U.S. who are pushing for women’s reproductive rights to go back to the Stone Age. The women’s struggle has suffered a setback, but ultimately I don’t think the women’s movement in the U.S. will allow a total reversal of gains in women’s rights. There needs to be some rethinking about how well the election
process is working in the U.S. The elite and the wealthy have a significant advantage. There should be structural campaign finance reform and a direct vote instead of the electoral college. The electoral college is antiquated, and often there is no “paper trail” for votes. In addition, there is no third force like in other nations, which have multi-party parliaments. There must also be gender-responsiveness reform with more women elected into office. Currently there is not a level playing field. There is not even a critical mass of 33% women holding legislative positions! Ultimately, electoral politics has its limitations. We know that if we want political change, the best way to do it is through social movements—people’s movements. Awareness-raising and consciousnessraising must happen now. The bottom line is that social movements must be cultivated. The religious right is very organized. This is a “wake-up call.” Life is stranger than fiction.
Breathing New Life Dr. Kumi Naidoo, South Africa Dr. Kumi Naidoo is Secretary General and CEO of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. CIVICUS is an international alliance of more than 500 organizations and individuals from 100 countries dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. Naidoo initiated and led a wide range of initiatives within South Africa, including the National Men’s March Against Violence on Women and Children and the Electronic Media in Education Forum. The results of the U.S. elections have largely disappointed the majority of citizens around the world, given that the U.S. wields enormous power over their lives. On the positive side, the rise in voter interest and participation was encouraging. And even though many citizens distrusted the voting machinery, it was also important that elections were peaceful. However, I believe the U.S. largely suffers from a deep democratic deficit. The influence of moneyed interests is making it prohibitively expensive to run for political office. Also, in an age of aggressive spin doctoring, citizens do not get complete, unbiased information. Last and certainly not least, is the lack of gender parity. The U.S. does not measure up in terms of gender balance, and falls behind the Nordic countries and even emerging democracies such as South Africa. The role of civil society is critically important in breathing new life into democracy. First, civil society organizations in several countries, including the U.S. are playing a big role in non-partisan voter
education efforts and voter registration. Civil society also offers opportunities for ordinary citizens to take part in public life. Civil society is an important protector of democratic space. In Zimbabwe at the moment, there is a severely battered civil society that is struggling against tremendous odds to prevent the erosion of human rights and democratic politics. Civil society actors are also often better able to find common global approaches to various challenges than their national political leaderships who are constrained by election cycles, various national political expediencies, and often an exaggerated sense of national parochialism. Unless representative democracy is balanced with participatory democracy, democracy will lose its fundamental essence and will be nothing more than a pre-ordained elite legitimization exercise. This is a challenge that faces many countries around the world, and one that needs to be addressed urgently in the United States.
FRONTLINE JOURNAL beyond the headlines
by Cassandra Nelson
Walking for Firewood
left Hessa Hissa camp at dawn with a group of six young women. Behind
us, the unending rows of makeshift tents began to bustle as more than 20,000 displaced people began their day, thankful to be alive. As we walked along the dusty road leading out of the camp and into the vast Sudanese plains, other small groups of women and girls joined us. The women paused each time to exchange greetings. Strangers and neighbors were warmly welcomed to the growing contingent: “There is safety in numbers,” they told me. I was accompanying a group of women on their daily task to gather firewood for cooking. A once routine chore that now can produce grave consequences in Darfur, Sudan. After half an hour of brisk walking, we came to a wadi and waded across the river. When we reached the other side, the women began to split off in different directions in search of the ever-dwindling supply of wood. My original group of six was alone again as we headed up the hills and into the trees. Now, we were deep in Janjaweed territory. Here the women of Darfur have been attacked almost daily by marauding, armed militias—raped, beaten, harassed, and robbed.
Darfur, Sudan We walked on another hour before finally stopping. Now I could see the terror in their eyes and body language. Their familiar and persistent smiles faded. No one uttered a word. The women quickly fanned-out, each selecting a tree to set to work on. The tall grass and shrubs obscured any line of sight between the women, but you could hear each steadily working and chopping the dead wood from the trees with rhythmic swooshes of their axes. I remained with Gumra, a 20 year-old single mother of two. Her husband left her and both her parents died several years ago. Her village was attacked by the Janjaweed and burned to the ground last October. Gumra began pulling branches from a tree with her bare hands, while her baby son Motis slept strapped on her back. She broke her axe several weeks ago and didn’t have any money to fix it. Now she uses her hands and later, when the other women finish collecting wood, they lend her an axe to finish her work. The swooshing and clamor of the wood cutting continued, as every woman strained to detect any sound of approaching intruders. They have developed a system for
when the Janjaweed attack: the one who is attacked or sees the Janjaweed first will yell to alert her companions of the danger. Then every woman runs as fast as possible towards camp—calling out to the other groups of women along the way. They know they cannot fight the Janjaweed, who come on horses and camels, carrying guns and weapons, but if they help each other, some of them can manage to escape.
done. After a long absence, the camp manager returned with a short woman in a burka. Rana was tall and didn’t wear a burka. I was about to complain that this was not the right woman when I realized that this was just another Rana. Another one of thousands upon thousands of women who struggle every day to survive, to take care of their families, and to create a better future despite the violence, the politics, and the injustices that shatter their lives.
Gumra stopped her work to nurse her crying baby. She untied the rags she made a makeshift baby satchel out of and tenderly put little Motis on her lap. Her love and concern for her child overshadowed the fear in her eyes. But then that was why she was out here—two hours away from the camp. Two hours away from safety. She makes this journey into the heart of terror every day to provide for her family. She has no other choice.
Rana became a symbol to me. A symbol of hope because where there is strength and compassion, there is a chance for a better future. She inspired me to change my career and join Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian aid organization committed to ending oppression, helping the most vulnerable people, and building just communities. In my numerous missions with Mercy Corps, I have met hundreds of Rana’s who continue to inspire me even when the situation may seem hopeless.
She carried all the confidence of a CEO, only her “board room” was a As I stood out on the hills wooden pole with a tattered of Darfur, on watch for the Janjaweed, I knew that plastic sheet draped over it. Gumra was another Rana: A
As I watched this woman and saw her courage in the face of fear, her love in an environment fraught with hate, and her nurturing in a place of hostility, I was reminded of Rana.
© Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
Two and a half years ago, I was reporting on the war in Afghanistan and visited the refugee camps near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. It was there that I met Rana, an Afghan refugee, a mother of six children, a widow, and a woman with more courage and strength than I could comprehend. As I walked around the destitute camp and witnessed the horrors of children dying from hunger and disease, she came to me and greeted me with a firm handshake and a direct look into my eyes. She carried all the confidence of a CEO; only her “board room” was a wooden pole with a tattered plastic sheet draped over it. She invited me in and explained the problems the camp faced—no food, no water, no health care, no school. She never flinched, begged, or cried. She did not pity herself or her situation. She simply stated the facts. I sat dumbfounded as images of my life of washing machines, refrigerators, restaurants, and shopping malls flashed through my mind. I silently vowed I would do something to help her and her community. Three weeks later I came back to the Afghan refugee camp, only this time with 50 tons of wheat and rice. Friends and friends-of-friends had all donated money to help buy food when I told them what I had witnessed. At the time, I was a journalist, not an aid worker. But something in Rana had touched me deeply and I needed to do more than write words and take pictures. When I arrived with the trucks of food, I asked the camp manager to find Rana, so I could thank her for inspiring me and giving me strength to do something I had never
woman like so many others who will not give up, who will not be defeated. Her axe may have broken, but never her spirit.
Gumra finished collecting her firewood and stacked it in a neat bundle, tying it with an old piece of frayed rope. She rearranged little Motis on her back and then lifted the heavy bundle onto her head and began her long journey home to the camp. This is just one journey of many that lie ahead for Gumra and the hundreds of thousand of women from Darfur who have been driven from their homes and fled to camps for refugees and displaced people in search of safety, food, and shelter for their families. Cassandra Nelson is working in Darfur, Sudan, with Mercy Corps, an international relief and development organization. With support from donors worldwide, over 2,000 staff and volunteers change lives every day, reaching more than 6 million people in 38 countries torn by poverty and conflict throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. www.mercycorps.org
FOR MORE INFORMATION U.N.’s humanitarian fact sheet on Sudan www.un.org/News/dh/sudan/humanassist.htm
Recommendations for peace from a conference of 16 Sudanese women peace builders, convened by Women Waging Peace. www.womenwagingpeace.net/ content/articles/SudanRecommendation.pdf
To take action see Tsuanami Action, p. 78.
by Stephanie Elizondo Griest
Tears from Turkey There was a time when I prided myself for having tear ducts of steel. I was the only kid on my block who could watch Bambi without bawling; Beaches made me snicker. Graduation. Weddings. Breakups. Disappointments. I endured them all with neither a sigh nor a whimper.
One of the officers pointed with his rifle toward a building labeled “Tourism Police.” I scurried over, dodged the security guard, and barged in on five officers settling down to an afternoon smoke.
Until, that is, I went to Turkey.
Something I’d learned quickly on the road is that tactics differ from country to country. Vodka bribes had taken me far when I was an exchange student in Russia; I’d yelled a lot that past year in China. But what about Turkey? When I approached the men with determination, not a one raised an eyebrow. Realizing that pushy women may not be well received in Turkey, I took a deep breath and tried reasoning with them. They lit up another round of smokes.
My heart stopped. I threw down my backpack, hiked up my ankle-length Guatemalan skirt, and gazed in horror.
I pleaded for their help.
The money belt was still there.
One got up to make apple tea.
Its contents were not.
I was about to ask if they preferred Johnnie Walker Red Label or Black when I remembered that I was broke. I collapsed into a chair in despair, and—beyond my knowledge or control—a tear rolled down my cheek.
I stumbled about the museum in a state of shock. I had used my passport and American Express card only an hour before and deliberately sealed them both back into the belt. What had happened? Had everything somehow fallen out? How could I not have noticed? I remembered reading about thieves who tossed powder into tourists’ eyes and robbed them blind in a matter of moments. Had that happened to me? Panic set in as it dawned on me what I had just lost: money, credit cards, passport, airline ticket, travelers checks, visa. In short, all forms of identity—except my Beijing work permit, which said I was American in Chinese—and all my finances, save for $30 in Turkish lira. I bolted for the museum’s exit, nearly knocking over a museum guard in the process. “My passport!” I shrieked over my shoulder. I raced through Gulhane Park and the Topkapi Palace grounds, darting in and out of tourist patches, frantically retracing the casual stroll I had taken only minutes before. I was nearing the towering minarets of the Aya Sofya when I spotted a Turkish policeman. I scrambled over.
That did it. I was instantly surrounded. One officer dabbed my eyes with a tissue; another handed me a phone. The third took to patting my shoulders and murmuring “No cry, no cry, no cry,” while the fourth gave me some vital instructions: “You can get everything replaced as long as you say it was stolen. Understand? Not lost. Stolen.” The fifth officer pounded away at a typewriter before handing me something written in Turkish that appeared important. With that, I was dismissed to the city police department. I walked out of the building in a daze. I had never seen tears work outside of a B-grade movie. Surely Gloria Steinem would not have approved of what I just did. NOW would revoke my membership. I felt like a coward, an anti-feminist, the world’s biggest wuss.
“I lost all my stuff!” I wailed.
But then again, I was a wuss with an important-looking document in her hands on her way to the city police. I was going places.
He looked at me, amused. A couple of his buddies joined us. “Money! Passport! Gone!” I told them.
I handed over the document with feigned confidence to the
Istanbul had been a destination point on my atlas for ages. After working in Beijing for a year, I finally made it, with loose plans of selling carpets by day and belly dancing at night. My plans changed on my fifth day there, however, during a visit to the Archaeological Museum. As I gazed at a row of headless statues, my hand happened to brush against the spot on my thigh where I always strapped my money belt. Instead of a reassuring bundle, I felt only bare skin.
And then I just got shameless. officer behind the desk. He looked it over carefully, eyebrows raised, before handing it to another officer, who walked it downstairs. I was wondering how someone could have possibly reached inside my money belt without my knowledge when a new police officer joined me. We made small talk for a couple of minutes—Where are you from? Texas? Do you have a horse?—before he stopped abruptly, looked straight into my soul, and said: “I saw you by the Aya Sofya. You said you lost your passport.” I tried not to blink. Was he bluffing? If not, should I? Then I had an idea.
In the 48 hours that followed, I cried for the consulate and bawled for the bank. At first, I waited for a rejection before raising the floodgates. Then I got the tears flowing before I even walked through the door. My tear ducts got a little crusty, but I still managed some sobs for American Express. Not only was I ushered to the front of the line, but all emergency processing fees were summarily waived. My passport was replaced in three hours as opposed to three days; my travelers checks were replaced in a matter of moments. The guys at the airline agency gave me a discount on my new ticket; a bank teller bought me lunch.
“But all my stuff is gaaah-hnn,” I blubbered as a fresh wave of tears dampened my streaked face.
I never did figure out what happened to my money belt that day. But I’ve learned since that the Vietnamese sometimes hire professional criers for funerals.
Within five minutes, I had an official “Declaration of Theft” and directions to the American Consulate.
I am considering a career change.
And then I just got shameless.
Stephanie Elizondo Griest has belly danced with Cuban rumba queens, mingled with the Russian Mafiya, and edited the propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party. These adventures are the subject of her first book: Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana. She has also written for The New York Times, Washington Post, Latina Magazine, and several Traveler’s Tales anthologies. www.aroundthebloc.com Exerpted from Whose Panties are These: More Misadventures from Funny Women on the Road (Travelers’ Tales ISBN:1-932361-11-1. $14.95.
DO YOU HAVE A HUMOROUS CROSS-CULTURAL TRAVEL TALE? WRITE US AT firstname.lastname@example.org
GLOBAL GATHERINGS “Thousands of people from every country, race and religion, in colorful dress, begin to dance and cry.”
Sacred Music Concert: World Parliament of Religions BARCELONA, SPAIN— JULY 7-13, 2004 It’s a balmy summer’s evening in Barcelona at the World Parliament of Religions. Banks of lights are playing on the stone spires of Antonio Gaudi’s Gothic cathedral. Several thousand people sit in silence in the plaza below as Joanne Shenandoah, a Native American from the Seneca tribe, begins to sing. She is followed by a Catholic nun with a haunting soprano voice, from the famous Cathedral of Montserrat where a Black Madonna is enshrined. Sufi dervishes spin to the otherworldly melody of mystic flutes, Buddhist monks chant ancient verses, Sikhs and Hindus sing their prayers, Japanese drummers entrain the rhythms of the night with enormous drums, and at last seven young men come out on the stage with tremendous energy. They are an Israeli group called Sheva, comprised of both Arabs and Jews who sing a wild and wonderful song for peace that brings the house down. They are followed by representatives from different countries who bring blessings of peace for the world. As each blessing is given, a child appears on the balcony above, holding a lighted globe. Sheva picks up the beat again, and thousands of people from every country, race, and religion, all in colorful dress, begin to dance and cry. An elderly woman standing next to me dances with tears streaming from her eyes. She is luminous and filled with hope.
“There are almost no models for what we are becoming as women. This is the greatest opportunity that women have ever had.” —
Barbara Marx Hubbard
Gather the Women Congress Called to Lead, Called to Serve DALLAS, TEXAS—OCTOBER 14-17, 2004 Hundreds of women gathered from around the world for the second annual Gather the Women Congress in Dallas, Texas. The first Congress, in 2003, was the physical evolution of The Gather the Women Matrix, a booming Internet-based forum of women and organizations designed to nurture new models of collaboration.
Joan Borysenko www.joanborysenko.com, www.cpwr.org/
Nobel Peace Nominee and Poet Laureate Ada Aharoni of Israel attended as well as U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Jean Shinoda Bolen, author of The Millionth Circle, and actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador of Women’s Issues, Linda Gray.
“In Gabon, when grandmothers speak, the President listens.” — Bernadette Rebienot, Bwiti elder, grandmother of 23
Jane Roberts, founder of the much-publicized 34 million friends of the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) spoke of her vision in action of a “worldwide grassroots movement for the women of the world.”
Global Women’s Gathering Indigenous and Western Women Align Their Wisdom PHOENICIA, NEW YORK—OCTOBER 14-17, 2004 Thirteen indigenous grandmothers from across the globe gathered to discuss the fate of the earth and how to begin global healing. They included healer Maria Alice Campos Friere from Brazil, Bernadette Rebeinot from Gabon, and Margaret Behan, an Arapahoe-Cheyenne. The grandmothers joined over 300 participants for three days of conversation on how to forge a unified alliance between all the Earth’s peoples in the interests of life and peace. They answered queries from youth, they cried together in sympathy, and above all, they opened their hands, hearts, and souls to heal. Activities included sunrise and sunset prayers, song, and storytelling. The collaborative sessions focused on a range of topics including women’s roles and responsibilities in helping sustain the planet, how we can best make our voices heard, conversations on priorities for a healthy future, prophesies and teachings of the original peoples, and healing from oppression. Even the deer came to listen during the grandmother’s sunrise prayers. www.globalwomensgathering.org Ramya Ramanathan
Futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard was beamed in for the conference and spoke of the birth of “a new archetype of the feminine co-creator.” “Women are increasingly being led from within to give to the world their unique creative self,” Hubbard said. “There are almost no models for what we are becoming as women. This is the greatest opportunity that women have ever had. “We happen to be the women at the time to awaken to the great privilege to serving. I would trust the guidance, intuition, and leadership of women gathering throughout the world.” Next came a call to co-create 6 congresses on 6 continents in 2006. Ever since 1995 in Beijing, women leaders have been itching to come together. Although the United Nations has held a large International Women’s Conference every 10 years beginning in Mexico City in 1965, no conference is planned for 2005. So, women are taking it their own hands. Care to join? www.gatherthewomen.org www.34millionfriends.org, www.evolve.org
“A new time is being born”
— Eve Ensler
“A collective vision grounded in the potential for collaboration across borders, cultures, languages, and ideologies emerged.”
The International Youth Parliament SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—JULY 5-12, 2004
Elizabeth Lesser, Eve Ensler, Jane Fonda, Malalai Joya, Sally Field
Women and Power Our Time to Lead New York City, SEPTEMBER 9-13, 2004 A convergence that was testimony to the vitality of the global women’s movement, the second annual Women and Power Conference brought together over 1,500 people from around the world who are redefining power. The conference, sponsored by Omega Institute and V-day, an international movement working to end violence against women and girls, showcased top women movers and shakers. Authors, artists, futurists, media CEOs, actresses, lawyers, ritualists, and theolo´ gians showed up, including Iyanla Vanzant, Jane Fonda, Sobonfu Some, Rha Goddess, Gloria Steinem, Debra Winger, Sarah Jones, Naomi Shihab Nye, Pat Mitchell, Carole Black, Marion Woodman, Sally Field, and heroic young women leaders such as Yanar Mohammed, Malalai Joya, and Zoya, who arrived directly from life-and-death activism in the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan. Co-organizers Eve Ensler and Elizabeth Lesser advanced what they called “The New Power Paradigm.” “It is time for new definitions of power,” they said. “Humanity is still relying on old power structures and the outdated myth of survival and domination. We need a new myth, a new vision, a new definition of power and leadership.” In her keynote address, Ensler emphasized that “women hold the new paradigm in our bodies, in our beings. The old paradigm is on the verge of collapse. Women are afraid to hold power as it exists today, of domination. We are the carriers of the new paradigm, of partnership, of power from within, not power over. When women are truly in their power, they share resources and power.”
© Omega Institute
A highlight of the weekend was the roof-raising address by Benedictine sister and theologian Sister Joan Chittister. In her deep, authoritative voice, she cried, “Women have been accused of emotionalism, and therefore unfit for leadership. If emotionalism is the intelligence it takes to count the years of work and life lost to warfare, then let’s try that. Let’s try peace and let’s give women leaders the chance to wage it!” When asked at a press conference whether or not she was optimistic about the future for women, Ensler ignited with passion. “Yes, I’m optimistic. [T]he only solution is optimism. I don’t have the right not to be optimistic. These women around the world depend on our optimism. We’d better be optimistic!”
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to join 300 young leaders from 132 countries at the second sitting of the International Youth Parliament (IYP) in Sydney, and to spend a week working alongside social-change leaders from every corner of the world. I was struck by the admirable commitment of so many young people whose energy and vision refuse to be deterred despite a tremendous scarcity of resources. From Mercy, who is devising ways to replicate Uganda’s model approach to slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout Africa, to Aracely, who is innovating new micro-credit programs for single mothers in Mexico and Sanam, who is working tirelessly to fight for the rights of working children in Nepal, everyone I encountered possessed an entrepreneurial spark and a burning passion to make their vision a reality, and we were united by our steadfast belief in the power of education to bring about sustainable social change. We worked together in teams, as diverse people working to address common issues, or gathered with others from the same part of the world to discuss collective solutions to regional challenges. In each grouping and regrouping, experiences and future plans were shared; and as our individual commitments to our own projects deepened, a collective vision grounded in the potential for collaboration across borders, cultures, languages, and ideologies emerged. I was reminded of the power that the U.S. wields in determining the shape of the world’s future and the responsibility we have to use our power wisely. I believe that a good first step is programs that help U.S. youth internalize a sense of global interdependence and develop a sense of empathy for others.
Abby Falik, www.iyp.oxfam.org/
“A new time is being born,” Ensler prophesied. “In the next 5 years we will see a major shift.” www.eomega.com, www.vday.org
“Midwives hold one of the main keys to social, political, and economic development. We have political courage, which should be well known and witnessed.” — Makeda Kamara
International Black Women Healers and Midwives Conference Ancient Traditions, Sustainable Futures PORTLAND, OR—OCTOBER 14-16 They arrived brightly adorned in traditional attire of mudcloth and cowrie shells, kaftas, headwraps, bangles, beads, and colorful fabrics, resilient as every place they had come from: Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and the U.S. They came, beckoned by Shafia Monroe, President of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing, to share traditional healing wisdom and to weave together visions of sustainable futures for humanity. The vibrant gathering was marked with resounding calls for increased governmental and community support for the life-giving work of midwives. “Midwives hold one of the main keys to social, political, and economic development. In many communities, villages, and countries, midwives are often the main or ”soul” source of health care and social work for the family. We have political courage, which should be well known and witnessed,” emphasized Kamara, a Certified Nurse Midwife from Panama. Breastmilk was heralded again and again as one of the most fundamental natural resources for life. “Imagine the decrease in illness, low birth weight, and premature babies if more mothers were allowed and encouraged to breastfeed!” asserted a woman from the African American Breastfeeding Alliance. Denaa’ Mojab, a 7 year-old of Iranian and American descent and a self-described midwife, awed the room with a melody she had created uniquely for the event. ““What is the gold standard for infant feeding?” she sang. “Breastmilk is the answer—it’s nutritional, immunological, cognitively speaking, protection from disease . . . Nourish, nurture us if you please, nothing artificial can do the same . . . lifelong health for mom and baby is our worthy aim.” Yvette Freeman, an actress from the television series ER and a national advocate for diabetes preventiion, encouraged all to “dig deep into this wellspring of life and remember, if we do not get in touch with our own health and well being, we cannot lead our children, ourselves, our families, or our communities.” But it was the wisdom of the 99-year-old Margaret Smith, who has delivered 3,500 babies and never lost a mother, that will linger on. “You must always treat with love, honor, and respect those women and children you usher into this world for nobody cares how much you know ‘til they know how much you care.”
Antoinette Barbour www.blackmidwives.org
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INNER WORLD The Alchemy in Being Overwhelmed Two wise women talk you through to the other side
“Where can I begin? It’s just so devastating and infuriating; there are so many things going wrong in the world. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like I should be involved and fighting everything, but I just don’t have the energy. It doesn’t matter what I do; it’s not going to make a difference anyway.” lean into it As I get more information about global-scale hardship, it’s useful for me to go slowly and connect. Slow enough to fully see the human faces. Slow enough to let in the human stories I’m reading. Slow enough to remember these are fellow humans. When I slow down, I notice that I care, that I am connected.
the next! we are the next! open your fist. we are not here to fight the power, but find it instead. and there is only one location for that: in your own soul. connect to this and you shatter thousands of years of externalized chains. it is here that you find the wild explosive joyous aliveness that comes from living what your own soul is on fire to bring to give and to live!! it is to be connected profoundly to your own life and to all of humanity at the same time = OH YEAH... a rock-your-world life orgasm. welcome home, love souldier. you were born for this. your joy is alchemy. it is an agent of change in itself. the greatest weapon on earth is the human soul on fire with love. get on out there and burn!!! with a wild inferno of soulfire, brigitte Brigitte Secard is author of the book soulfire: the birth of wild aliveness that she wrote at age 28. The London Independent Publishng Group calls her a “global cultural
and socio-political phenomenon.” She can be found catalyzing joyfull revolution everywhere from prisons to Playboy. Her grandmother was born in the Sudan and her grandfather in Syria.
Where I am connected to others, I feel. Initially I feel painful emotions like fear, grief, anger, discouragement, and disappointment. This is such an important piece because I know it means that I’m un-numbing from the daily unawareness that I, as a U.S.er, am conditioned into in my society. As the numbness and detachment thaw, I reconnect. Not only to others, but to myself. As I, in the words of Pema Choedron, “lean into the fear” I connect to my true power. My true power is an awareness that I was born with but has been clouded up by hurtful experiences and hardships that I have yet to fully heal from—they create my knee-jerk defenses, my “shield of protection.” As I pass through this cloud to my power, I am aware, open, and attentive. I am listening. Not only to others, but to myself. The more I move through my own hurt, the more I have longer glimpses that I am completely powerful to change the world and do so from a hopeful, relaxed, and connected place. Each of us can create conditions under which we are able to feel hopeful, and then it is not such a struggle to “find” hope because it’s right there in front of us. Nanci Luna Jiménez is committed to ending racism and sexism in our world.
She is a skilled facilitator in cross cultural communication and alliance building, sits on World Pulse’s Board of Directors, and is the founder of Luna Jimenez Seminars. Her programs focus on personal transformation as a way to foster organizational change and social justice.
start a joyfull revolution our rage and despair are necessary. they provide the spark that wakes us up. they are as instructive as the match that lights the greater fire of opening us to ourselves. however, if we fail to fully open this door, we will continue to fight in the world around us what we fight against most deeply in ourselves.
the missing piece needed to address the state of the union in any given nation is to begin with addressing the state of the union within the individual self. it is here, at this microcosmic level, that all warfare begins and ends. so stop blaming and start claiming, sister! the time of “us” and “them” is no more. nor can we afford to keep recycling leadership from the past. we need Remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the opportunities to joyfully learn and take action, go directly to our Tsunami Action page (p. 78) where you’ll find some of the most powerful actions you can do in just 75 minutes. Write our “inner world” advisors at email@example.com.
All reviews by Maria Jett, unless otherwise noted
Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana Stephanie Elizondo Griest
Griest, now a prolific journalist and coordinator of a New York-based anticensorship activist group called Youth Free Expression Network, was filled with an insatiable curiosity and sense of adventure as a high school student. She longed to escape the confines of her South Texas town. “Learn Russian,” advised a CNN correspondent. She did——and then embarked on a 4-year, 12-nation tour of the Communist bloc. Part memoir, part social inquiry, this first book is filled with the astute observations of an intelligent, self-reflective, empathetic young woman. Fascinated with the cycle of oppression and uprising, Griest dialogues with a wide range of people whose fates have been shaped by revolution and by communism. Griest is a wonderful guide; her prose is vibrant and engaging——never didactic, for she never loses her sense of humor, even as her Western assumptions are challenged and indelibly altered. Villard. (2004) www.villard.com
Inside the Kingdom Carmen Bin Laden
Driven by the escalating cycle of terror/counter-terror to write about her experiences, Carmen Bin Laden offers a shrewd, unforgiving examination of the ancient social codes that still permeate present-day Saudi society. Carmen moved from Switzerland to Saudi Arabia in 1974, when she married into the Bin Laden family. With two daughters of her own, the repression she witnessed there became unbearable, for she knew that even her privileged position would not grant them the right to an education, individual will, and personality. In 1988, Carmen separated from her husband and took her three daughters to live in Switzerland. The book represents her need to separate herself and her children from the events of September 11 as well as her desire to expose the extent to which Islamic fundamentalism threatens Western standards of freedom. Warner Books. (2004) www.twbookmark.com
In Pakistani society, a woman’s worth is determined by two things: the value of her dowry and her ability to produce male children. Sadika’s Way contrasts the extreme conformity of traditional Pakistani values with the American ideal of autonomous individuality. Haq immigrated to the United States in 1978, and she draws upon her experiences with both cultures in this debut novel. In the course of the story, Sadika develops from a dependent, naive girl in Pakistan to a gratified, self-fulfilled woman in America. Sadika’s Way fosters mutual understanding even while it embraces the ideals of self-fulfillment and individual liberty. Appropriate for ages 12 and up. Academy Chicago Publishers. (2004) www.academychicago.com
An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire Arundhati Roy
With this collection of speeches, Roy takes her place beside peacemakers like Gandhi, King, and Mandela. The case she makes for nonviolent resistance is solid and basic: If we hope to save our planet from corporate consumerism, we must organize resistance on a global level. Speaking as a subject of the American Empire, Roy reminds us that with leadership comes responsibility. As “the only institution more powerful than the U.S. government,” American civil society maintains a vitally important role in shaping U.S. foreign policy and global trends. As always, Roy’s humor is biting, and her perceptive grasp on global trends impeccable. Far from condescending to her readers, she extends an empathetic hand to “ordinary” people to plead that we form a worldwide partnership to reclaim democracy for the masses. South End Press. (2004) www.southendpress.com
Roy: Pradip Krishen
A Thousand Sighs, A Thousand Revolts Christiane Bird
In this timely new book—a follow-up to Neither East nor West: One Woman’s Journey through the Islamic Republic of Iran (2002)—Bird takes on the touchy topics of borders, nationality, and ethnicity. She presents little-known Kurdistan as a microcosm of the issues that complicate identity formation in multicultural societies governed by the nation-state. After World War I, Kurdistan was divided between Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, making the Kurds the largest ethnic group in the world without a state of their own. Now they remain bound by cultural ties but find themselves separated by nationalist sentiment and interests. Though disenfranchised and divided, they struggle to influence their own future. Bird includes extensive historical and geographical explanation as well as moving personal tales that humanize and give voice to this highly marginalized and diverse group of people. Ballantine. (2004) www.ballantinebooks.com
Burned Alive Souad
More than 5,000 “honor killings” are reported each year, while many more go unreported. This heart-wrenching story is the first published testimony from a survivor of this horrific tradition. “Souad” grew up in a village in the West Bank where, as in other parts of the world, a woman’s “honor” is more valuable than her life and neighborhood gossip more powerful than truth. At the age of 17, Souad became pregnant. To save face, her brother doused her in gasoline and set her on fire. Rescued by village women, she was not safe even in the hospital, where she received no care and her mother tried to finish the job by coercing her to drink poison. Souad’s story caught the attention of a Western humanitarian worker who courageously negotiated an unfamiliar culture to move Souad and her new child to Switzerland. With burns on 90% of her body, Souad began the long, harrowing task of psychological and physical recovery. Souad’s chilling and inspiring story is a powerful call to action. Warner Books. (2004) www.twbookmark.com
Spirit of Haiti Myriam Chancy
With Spirit of Haiti, an award-winning first novel, Chancy undertakes the ambitious task of creating a collective history through the interdependent stories of four characters. Readers of Edwidge Danticat will appreciate the importance she places on history and memory as the source of cultural bonds. Yet her prose is not sparse like Danticat’s. Chancy’s brims with literary devices and rich images that transpose the harsh realities of Duvalier’s terror-based regime against the personal dreams of her individual characters. Chancy rehabilitates the image of the madwoman, giving her the essential role of seer and keeper of emotional intelligence. The folkloric tale embedded in the center reminds us that in Chancy’s world, true meaning resides in the intangible rather than in material reality. Mango Publishing. (2004) www.mangoprint.com
All About the Girl: Culture, Power, and Identity Edited by Anita Harris
A landmark collection of essays from an array of scholar/activists, this volume explores contemporary Western girlhood from a multitude of angles. While the book is written by and for academics, it remains focused on representations of gender and sexuality in popular culture. Authors investigate the implications of the World Wide Web, the media, and consumer culture for today’s young women. Though the essays concentrate on girlhood in modern, first-world contexts, it also marks third-wave feminism as collaborative, self-aware, and globally minded. Essential reading for students of popular culture and feminism, All About the Girl theorizes without being prescriptive or reductive, simultaneously validating contemporary feminism while casting a critical eye on the forces that shape it and the forms that it takes. Routledge. (2004) www.routledge.com
EAR VOYAGE Rasin Kreyol Emeline Michel
Ripe and bursting, Emeline Michel’s 8th album may as well have fallen off one of the mango trees she sings of. Pounding voudou double nago drums and sensual charcoal hums affirm Michel’s righteous place as the Queen of Haitian song and one of the top-selling Haitian artists in the world. The dense rhythmic joy of Rasin Kreyol is compounded by Michel’s confident and inspirational lyrics. In the song “Ban’m La Jwa,” Michel asks for the strength to live a positive life. “Give me joy/Cleanse me from envy and vanity/Give me humility so my pride won’t limit me/Give me compassion to give with passion.” Times Square Records (2004) www.timessquarerecords.com — J.L.
The Living Road Lhasa
Born in a tiny village in the Catskills, ultra-bohemian Lhasa de Sela spent the first seven years of her life in a converted school bus, traveling across the U.S. and Mexico with her family. The wanderlust bred by this upbringing permeates The Living Road. Lhasa is an admirer of Tom Waits and Pedro Almodovar, and her own dramatic style is similarly marked by a simplicity of metaphor, allegory, and allusion. Each song concocts a striking blend of sultry, earthy tones with abstract imagery and emotion. Lyrics flow effortlessly from English to Spanish to French, and the instrumentation is rich and dark, yet it always retains spicy undertones of Mexican mariachi and ranchero music. Nettwerk (2004) www.nettwerk.com
Ancestry in Progress Love of Ages Sheetal
A captivating, soothing debut album from a masterful new artist. Love of Ages manages to be both meditative and melodic from beginning to end. Sheetal’s sound is a marriage of Gujurati devotional music, marked by North Indian rhythmic patterns and vocal lines, with the ambient, layered harmonies and cord progressions she learned while studying Western music at the University of Michigan. Her pure, caressing voice is the perfect vehicle for these sacred, ancient songs. This is ethereal stuff, an aural tonic ideal for meditation or rainy afternoons. Triloka (2004) www.triloka.com
World-music icon Marie Daulne teams up with the ever-innovative leaders in American hip-hop, the Roots, making great strides in her mission to bridge cultures through music. Daulne was born in the Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) to a Belgian father and Zairian mother and has an intimate knowledge of both worlds. She embraces her mixed-race heritage and is using it to change the face of world music. Recently, she brought her inclusive vision to Philly and began collaborating within the vibrant urban music scene growing there. Here she is joined by a host of megastars, including Erykah Badu, ?uestlove, Common, Scratch, Talib Kweli, and Bahamadia. The resulting sound is cosmopolitan, ancient, and upbeat. Luaka Bop (2004) www.luakabop.com
Reflections Miriam Makeba
Until the late 1990s, Makeba lived in exile from her homeland due to her public criticism of apartheid and ongoing commitment to human rights issues. Today she lives as a free South African. This retrospective album casts a glance back on the long path that led “Mama Africa” home. The album features charismatic new arrangements of familiar favorites: classics like “Pata Pata” and “The Click Song” from Makeba’s Belafonte years; the Pan African, 70s-flavored afro-groove track “African Convention”; and international hits like “Comme une Symphonie D‘Amour,” “Mas Que Nada,” and “Xicada Silva,” which illustrate the singer’s linguistic and stylistic versatility. Like a rediscovered necklace, Reflections is a string of burnished gems. Heads Up. (2004) www.headsup.com
Deb Souad Massi
In 1999, Souad Massi brought her clear tones and light, emotive melodies to the “Femmes d’Algerie” concert in Paris—a performance so stunning it landed her a contract with Island Records and her first commercial success in the form of an album called Raoui (Storyteller) (Wrasse, 2003). The agile songstress developed her style in Algeria, where she nurtured a passion for Andalusian flamenco, Western rock, and traditional Arab instruments. She now lives in Paris, where she’s gaining attention as a talented artist who strives to make a positive contribution through music. Featuring an array of instruments that by itself constitutes an overview of world music, this new album offers a musical style that knows no borders. Massi dances effortlessly from Arabic to English and French, trailing gypsy rhythms and bittersweet imagery behind her. Wrasse Records. (2003) www.wrasserecords.com
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EAR VOYAGE Bari Ojos de Brujo
Straight from Barcelona, one of Europe’s most vibrant alternative music scenes and a hub of European, African, and Mediterranean cultures, Ojos de Brujo is currently causing a stir in the festival circuit with their genre-defying style. Fiery and captivating Marina Abad fronts a group of seven musicians who create acoustic, percussive music that pays homage both to the roots of flamenco and to the spirit of anarchism found on the streets of modern Barcelona. Based largely on traditional rhythms, the songs also embrace elements of Cuban rumba, hip hop, funk, and punk, which lend the album its contemporary urban flavor. World Village. (2004) www.wo rldvillagemusic.com
Far From Home Mariam Matossian
Journey with this talented young artist to distant Armenia on a soaring carpet of haunting vocals and exotic instrumentals. Matossian’s tones are so clear and silky that her voice is reminiscent of a woodwind instrument. Born in Vancouver, B.C., she honors her heritage by focusing on traditional music and including authentic instruments like the djembe, dumbec, and udu. Mariam Matossian. (2004) www.cdbaby.com/cd/mariamm
Oregano Ana Laan
An intimate new album from a rising international star. Born in Madrid and raised in Sweden, Laan grew up speaking Spanish, English, and Swedish. Though most of the lyrics on the album are Spanish, her musical style is a blend of Northern pop influences, with plenty of Brazilian bossa nova thrown in for added beat and heat. “Viene” seduces and mesmerizes with rhythmic, rolling loops that guide suggestively, while “Marigolds” adds a touch of Northern folk. If your collection includes artists like Bebel Gilberto, Sinead O’Connor, and Suzanne Vega, Laan’s silky mix of acoustic and electric, fueled by both melody and rhythm, will be right at home. Nardis. (2004) www.nardismusic.com
Global Women: Ethnic Songs from 14 Countries Various artists
ARC Music presents a guided tour of rare and exotic folk songs recorded by an array of international stars. A few of the names are familiar; South Africa’s Miriam Makeba, Kenya’s Suzanna Owiyo, and Peru’s Susana Baca all make appearances. But a flock of lesser-known artists ensure that the album will expand the musical horizons of even the most committed aficionado of world music. Though many of the tracks are recordings of traditional ethnic songs, high sound quality and contemporary arrangements keep them fresh. Packaged with liner notes in English, French, and German, Global Women is an uncommonly strong attempt to highlight the contributions of female musicians worldwide. ARC Music. (2004) www.arcmusic.co.uk
EYE VOYAGE Afghanistan Unveiled Brigitte Brault and the Aina Women Filming Group
Out of a sense of duty to their devastated country, the first female video journalists trained in post-Taliban Afghanistan turn their cameras on themselves. After the Taliban was defeated, these student residents of Kabul were part of a unique training program for women at the Afghani Media and Culture Center. They document their first-ever travels outside of Kabul to Afghani provinces where the vast numbers displaced by the Taliban now reside. These areas are all but forgotten by the world, and progress here is achingly slow. Aware of their own privileged position, these young journalists want to reveal the courageous faces and voices of Afghani women and children to the world. “It is my responsibility,” they say, “I have to do it.” Women Make Movies. (2002) www.wmm.com
Maria Full of Grace Joshua Marston
Catalina Sandino Moreno makes a stunning acting debut as Maria, a spunky, bright 17-year-old growing up in rural Colombia. Maria’s life changes dramatically when she chooses to become a drug mule, transporting heroin from Colombia to New York City. Award-winning first-time director and screenwriter Joshua Marston interviewed countless real-life drug mules and based his portrayal of Maria on their stories. These mules swallow thumb-sized latex pellets of heroin or cocaine, risking long prison sentences and death should stomach acids corrode just one of these latex pellets en route. The issue of drug trafficking is often addressed in our media, and Maria Full of Grace is a beautifully filmed, humanistic look at the life of one woman learning this business. Rather than overexplaining, Marston allows the tricky details of the job to unfold slowly, so that viewers learn bit by bit, just as Maria does. HBO films. (2004) www.hbo.com/films — Rebecca Reiss
For a Place under the Heavens
Katja von Garnier
Hillary Swank sparkles in the lead role of this ultra-polished HBO film about Alice Paul and the suffragettes who secured the vote for U.S. women in 1920. Director Katja von Garnier treats these relentless activists as multi-dimensional personalities, complete with sexual drive and personal dreams, yet so passionate about their cause that they are willing to sacrifice their private needs to see it through. Paul is portrayed as a brilliant, vibrant leader equipped with a razor-sharp tongue and a strong sense of her own place in history. The risqué cover and modern soundtrack, which includes giants like Lauryn Hill and Sarah McLachlan, may make you forget you’re watching a period piece. Nonetheless, the film is compelling and inspiring, showcasing the wit and charisma of these amazing women. HBO Films. (2004) www.hbo.com/films
A provocative, relevant examination of the clash between liberal and fundamentalist forces, this documentary presents a mini-forum on the issue of eroding civil rights in Pakistan. Sumar speaks with prominent Pakistani men and women to bring forth a lively debate on secularism vs. religiosity. Bold and insightful, the film explores vital questions: Is Islam liberal or repressive? Why is there little support in Pakistan for secular politics? And who benefits from having half of the population covered up by cloth? Sumar frames the dialogue with her own experiences, while diverse viewpoints add to the film’s depth and complexity. Women Make Movies. (2003) www.wmm.com
[LETTER/PHONE CALL/DISCUSSION] 30 MINUTES Join millions of women and take up the challenge to tell elected officials that helping poor women around the world is one of the best ways to end poverty and bring hope for the future. Women’s Edge, a coalition of major international organizations, has launched an exciting nationwide effort to invigorate U.S. women to influence policy and raise awareness. Use their colorful and simple Global Issue Guide and Action Toolkit to take an action that feels right for you. The initiative has already reached 2.6 million women—be a part of it! www.womensedge.org/pages/getinvolved/
4 Use Your Voice to Stop the Atrocities In Sudan
[LETTER/E-MAIL/FAX] 15 MINUTES Log on to the Amnesty International site to urge the Sudanese government to protect people in Darfur and demand the extension of the United Nations arms embargo to include the government of Sudan. At this site you can choose your level of engagement—from level one (15 minutes) to level three (5 hours). www.amnestyusa.org/countries/sudan/ activism.html
4 Help End Violence Against Civilians In Colombia
[LETTER/E-MAIL/FAX] 20 MINUTES. Tell your representatives where you stand. Urge them to oppose further military funding to Colombia, and to instead divert this assistance to support peace initiatives and grassroots economic projects that will benefit the people of Colombia. www.colombiamobilization.org/article.php?.id=34 Find your representative at www.congress.org
Coco, an 11 year-old Hawaiian surfing Queen, dances with the waves.
Support Peace and Security in Uganda 4 and Support Widows and Orphans 4 Whose Lives Are At Risk [E-MAIL/LETTER] 10 MINUTES
Urge the U.S. Administration to work actively for peace and security in Uganda and press for the immediate return of the abducted children. Also, ask your Senators to pass the Widows and Orphans Act of 2003, which will establish a special visa and a crucial safety net for women and children overseas whose lives are at immediate and severe risk, such as in northern Uganda and other war-torn regions of the world. Send a pre-written message directly to your Senators simply by entering your zip code!
Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children Advocacy Action Center www.womenscommission.org
4 Buy fair trade gifts! Make every gift 5 this season a gift that “gives twice” and “gives back.” FIND THE PERFECT GIFT AT THESE ONLINE BAZAARS: Eziba www.eziba.com Global Exchange www.store.gxonlinestore.org Fair Trade Federation www.fairtradefederation.com One World Projects www.oneworldprojects.com Ten Thousand Villages www.tenthousandvillages.com
a more powerful
YOU! ©Joanne Barratt/Island Style Images
4 Take the Million Women Challenge
SYNERGY sparking insight and action Peace X Peace
WOMEN OF VISION AND ACTION www.wova.org
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S MEDIA FOUNDATION www.iwmf.org
MOTHERS ACTING UP
WOMEN’S ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION www.wedo.org
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S HEALTH COALITION www.iwhc.org
WOMEN WAGING PEACE
“If we can share our stories, we can erase all boundaries” — Isabel Allende, Advisory Council Member, Peace X Peace
THE WHITE HOUSE PROJECT
Circles of ordinary women are forming all over the world. Now there is a new network devoted to linking these circles in hopes of spurring an evolutionary leap in human connection and communication.
At the heart of Peace X Peace, a nonprofit organization based in Virginia, is The Global Network—an Internet-based forum that brings U.S. women’s circles together in a one-on-one relationship with a women’s circle outside the country and provides ongoing mentorship and collaboration. Rather than claiming to be experts in peace-building, the Network’s intention is to hold space for “ordinary” people in a democratic, egalitarian process to find ways to build peace together.
When our times force us to make tough choices, Peace X Peace believes that our best choices come out of connection, open communication, and the recognition of ourselves in others. Communication from good intent changes the world, person by person, connection by connection, peace by peace.
THE ASSOCIATION FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN DEVELOPMENT
Currently there are 140 circles participating that link U.S. women to women in places as far flung as Afghanistan, Burundi, Iraq and Palestine, but by next year founder Patricia Smith Melton hopes to see this expand exponentially with 1,000 circles by 2006 and 5,000 by 2007. According to Jennifer Green, Executive Coordinator,“We have learned that 2,000 is the magic number that takes all movements to the next level—we think that at 5,000 circles, the“quickening” will be global and we are looking forward to the 10,000s of women’s circles connecting by 2010.”
More and more circles are seeking connections based on shared passions — such as HIV/ AIDS, micro-credit programs, and domestic violence. A Women’s Initiative is designed to specifically connect Muslim women from outside the U.S. to women in the U.S.
There is also an educational outreach component to Peace X Peace’s work: — A PBS-primetime documentary Peace by Peace: Women on the Frontlines, profiling women peace builders around the world. — The Power of Circles, a short video documenting the inspirational power of women’s circles. — A resource-rich website with a weekly service of women’s news, a peace library, and a Circle Resources section. www.peacexpeace.org
THE GLOBAL FUND FOR WOMEN
WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM AND PEACEWOMEN.ORG www.peacewomen.org www.wilpf.int.ch
WOMEN OF WISDOM
WOMEN’S LEARNING PARTNERSHIP FOR RIGHTS, DEVELOPMENT, AND PEACE www.learningpartnership.org
If you belong to, or are willing to form a group interested in a one-on-one Internet relationship with a women-based group outside the U.S. working for substantive peace, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the short form online. Currently there is a need for more women’s circles from the U.S. and Europe, including Spanish- and French—speaking circles. There is also a call for additional U.S. and Muslim women’s circles to participate in The Women’s Initiative.
SYNERGY sparking insight and action Seeds of Peace
MOMS 4 PEACE
THE GLOBAL FUND FOR CHILDREN
WOMEN’S BUSINESS EXCHANGE www.wbex.org
WOMEN’S EDGE COALITION www.womensedge.org
WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL www.womenforwomen.org
IMAGINING OURSELVES: The International Museum of Women www.imaginingourselves.org
INDIGENOUS WOMEN’S NETWORK
— Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan
“Treaties are negotiated by governments. Peace is made by people.”This forms the very basis for the existence of Seeds of Peace, an organization that is empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence. The program begins at the Seeds of Peace International Camp where, for three weeks, youth whose nations often consider each other“enemies” come to the Maine woods to play and to learn to listen to each other with respect and compassion. Follow-up programs with the teens continue through its Center for Co-existence in Jerusalem. Over the last decade, Seeds of Peace has intensified its impact, dramatically increasing the number of participants, represented nations, and programs. From 46 Israeli, Palestinian, and Egyptian teenagers in 1993, its leadership network now encompasses over 2,500 young people from four conflict regions including Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan, and Greece and Turkey. In 2004, Seeds of Peace launched “Beyond Borders,”which brings teens from Middle East countries including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait to participate in a cultural exchange program between American and Arab youth.
FACE TO FACE
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE FUND
CENTER FOR WOMEN POLICY STUDIES www.centerwomenpolicy.org
CENTER FOR WOMEN AND DEMOCRACY www.womenanddemocracy.org
THIRD WAVE FOUNDATION
DEVELOPMENT ALTERNATIVES WITH WOMEN FOR A NEW ERA www.dawn.org.fj
CENTER FOR WOMEN’S GLOBAL LEADERSHIP www.cwgl.rutgers.edu/ globalcenter
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S TRIBUNE CENTRE
The Seeds of Peace program model has become internationally recognized as an effective model for resolving global conflict and today includes in-depth followup programming including international youth conferences, regional workshops, educational and professional opportunities, and an adult educator program.
INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON WOMEN
WOMEN’S ACTION FOR NEW DIRECTIONS www.wand.org
WOMEN AND WAR PROJECT www.womenwar.org
© Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor. SEEDSOFPEACE 101.
“Seeds of Peace, you are no longer a miracle in the Maine woods. You have found your way into the larger world in so many different ways and you are forging your own path to peace.”
“Existing borders are not necessarily an obstacle for women. Led by our feelings and instincts, women will cross them. Nothing will stop us. As women we want to be able to look our children in the eyes, without shame, and tell them that injustice was committed in our name, and we did our best to stop it. Even when we are women whose very existence contradicts each other, we will talk.” —Terry Greenblatt, Israeli Peace Activist
Council of Indigenous Grandmothers Raising Up Africa’s Orphans Healing Visionaries Midwives of the Future Jewels of Sri Lanka
A Childâ€™s Palette All of Shahjahan Sheriffâ€™s paintings begin with a youth dabbing their personal color choices on his blank canvas. As he paints, he dances.