Archive for July, 2009
Nidya Sarria writing for Council on Hemispheric Affairs does not beat around the bush when it comes to the gender divide in water issues:
As caretakers and homemakers, women are usually responsible for finding water according to its accessibility, availability, quality, and use. Despite their prominent role in the use and management of water, women are generally not consulted on matters of water infrastructure or policy, even though United Nations researchers suggest that the perspectives of women need to be taken into account when building wells and bettering access to cleaner water.
This is exactly why I believe so strongly that the feminist movement and environmental movement need to combine. It’s for the greater good of both communities, and would elevate the status of each.
Sarria notes that in developing regions, a quarter of woman’s productive time is spent collecting water for their families. The increased time that women are spending collecting water is due the increase in agricultural development which contaminates their water streams with pesticides, fertilizers, etc, causing the women to travel farther for a safe water source. Because women are spending so much time collecting water, it also limits their ability to contribute any income to the household (which immediately gives their husbands all the power).
Furthermore, when meetings are held to discuss water issues, women are left out.
This lack of active participation by women in water organizations, reinforced by cultural norms that typically do not allow women membership or leadership, is deeply problematic. Women and men tend to have different priorities and perspectives. Water management and policy that does not take women’s viewpoints into consideration nearly always becomes ineffective.
If the future of water follows the endorsements of the Wold Bank, The Global Water Partnership and the World Water Forum, water will be privatized, sealing its fate as only a luxury for those with money, and not as an intrinsic right to human life, which it is defined as.
Sarria points to education as a big step in combating some of these problems. Educating women on their health and family planning will relieve some of the strain on natural resources if women have smaller families. Education also leads to empowerment, and if women are empowered they might step into some of those water planning meetings and beat down gender norms to voice their much-needed opinions.
I’m not as into health care coverage as I should be (considering I’m a new college grad), but I thought I’d present a smattering of blogs and news sites that are telling the truth and making some great points about whether or not abortion will have a future in health care reform.
First the lies:
Planned Parenthood says, not true.
Current law already protects individuals from having to perform abortions if doing so violates their religious or moral beliefs. There is nothing in any of the health care reform proposals that would change current law or would require an individual health care provider to perform abortions.
Jamison Foser at Media Matters debunks the myth that tax-payers will be funding abortion (or why it shouldn’t matter if they do).
The idea that taxpayers shouldn’t pay for insurance that covers medical services they don’t support is fundamentally incompatible with the very concept of insurance. If every interest group wields veto power over the medical care insurance can cover, insurance simply can’t work. If there is a reason to grant such veto power only to those who would use it to prevent insurance coverage of abortions, reporters like Matthews haven’t explained it. (And, no, public opinion does not present such a reason, as recent polling showing strong public support for women’s reproductive health coverage makes clear.)
Everything I have read so far points out over and over again that the majority of health care plans DO cover abortion, and taking that away, will take away a huge part of women’s reproductive rights.
This summary by Jodi Jacobson of where abortion stands in health care was by far the best on catching me up to speed. She explains how some republicans can’t make the connection between contraception and fewer abortions, and how some pro-choice democrats will allow abortion to be used as a “bargaining chip” which Jacobson translates to: “Women get thrown off the bus.”
Looking for comic relief in this situation? You won’t get any. Fox also plans to ban an upcoming episode of Family Guy that deals with abortion.
“20th Century Fox, as always, allowed us to produce the episode and then said, ‘You know what? We’re scared to f–king death of this,’” MacFarlane said.
On the bright side, there is plenty going on in terms of grassroots action. Here are a few that RH Reality Check reccomend.
If you don’t know who Sarah Haskins is, well, your life is about to become a lot better. She’s the creator of Target Women, the hilariously witty segment on Current TV’s InfoMania that breaks down the media through a feminist lens.
I was lucky enough to see her perform at the 2009 Women, Action and the media conference in Boston. She’s smart, funny, and has a great take on all the media crap that’s thrown to women. She also just sold a screen play called Book Smart that I hope makes it to the big screen.
Salon.com named her as their “girl crush” and demanded she get a job on The Daily Show and whenever a new Target Women airs, it’s immediately embedded on feminist blogs.
What I like most about Sarah is that she will openly call herself a feminist, and that’s rare today. While her show doesn’t throw the word feminism around liberally, she’s not pretending that we’re in some kind of post-feminist world and reminds us every Thursday just why feminism IS still relevant.
If this isn’t enough to give you a girl crush also, I’ll leave you with two things:
My favorite answer to the question, are you a feminist?
Yes, I’m a feminist. It is an extension of my lifelong war against pantyhose.
To me it means that as women we are individuals before we are gendered people and that we’re not defined by our gender except in the ways we chose to appropriate that definition.
We’re in a weird generation, right? Our Moms were forced to grapple with that definition more immediately, and I think it’s changed as we’ve grown up. The core issue “how do I fight bias against me because of my gender” is still there but has gotten more complicated and wrapped into all kinds of identity issues about how you present yourself as a woman and I pretty much think it’s your choice and fuck pantyhose. So, hence my answer above.
I think all comedians bring their experience and perspective to comment on the world and I am a woman, so that gets involved. – via The Bastion
AND, my personal favorite Sarah Haskins clip – Target Women: Wedding Shows
In her directing debut, she acts out sex with flies, spiders, snails, bees, and that’s only season one. Season two has a deep sea theme with whales, starfish and barnacles. The name of this short film series? Green Porno.
The series is part of the sundance channel’s effort to promote green living through 1-2 minute clips like the one above. The super cool thing about Rossellini’s performance is that she’s not limited by her gender. As Bitch Magazine points out, the commentary that Rossellini is creating is not only informative about the sex lives of animals, but a discourse on gender roles. In the short films she plays male, female, hermaphrodite and sexless characters who mate with all sexes as well. It’s also extremely silly and fun, with child-like sets and over-sized cardboard cutouts of praying mantises and spiders.
According the Rossellini, she always wanted to direct and has had a passion for animals her whole life. When Sundance asked to do short, flashy films about the environment, she immediately thought, sex!
Also featured on “The GREEN” are series called, The Lazy Environmentalist and Eco Trip. I spent a couple hours on the Sundance site just playing around with all the fun stuff like “green porn” name generator and reading the blog SUNfiltered.
While I’m not always a fan of “going green” when it promotes consuming seemingly “green” products, I love this kind of creative way to get people involved and inspired about caring for the planet.
Slate’s weekly column My Goodness gives some good advice for anyone looking to help in getting a safe water supply to the 1 billion people who lack access.
Some 3.5 million people die each year from water-related diseases, and almost 3 million of them are children. While most Americans simply turn on the tap, people in many parts of the world spend three hours searching for clean water each day. Not because there isn’t enough water to go around but because poor people are systematically denied access to the clean water they need.
The column lists three main ways to aid countries like Honduras, Guatemala, etc.
1. Donate. According to Sandy Stonesifer, $20 gives 20 years of safe drinking water to one person, $200 gives a Honduran household tap water and a toilet
2. Volunteer. Doing anything from educating others to physical labor in Africa can make a difference
3. Speak up. Support legislation that supports safer water initiatives by asking your senators to co-sponsor the bill.
No matter what you do, there’s an enormous potential for return on your investment. Every $1 spent on water and sanitation programs creates an average of $8 in costs averted and productivity gained—not to mention the lives it saves.
These women are amazing. The Gulabi Gang (literal translation: pink gang) dress in pink saris and fight injustice in unconventional ways. Sampat Pal, 47, founded the gang three years ago in Uttar Pradesh.
“Since its inception three years ago in a lawless area of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, women from some 600 villages have joined the group, wielding heavy clubs and and traditional bamboo batons, called lathis, used by police for crowd control to “convince” wife beaters, rapists and corrupt bureaucrats to change their ways. — via San Fransisco Chronicle
Pal has been charged with 11 criminal offense, but it doesn’t change her goal of showing women that they can stand up for themselves.
The great bloggers over at feministing have written a great deal about how marketing pink products like laptops, ipods and gameboys to women is a sexist practice so when I see pink used to represent power its extremely refreshing. Taking such a strong symbol of femininity like the color pink and using it to demand power is an amazing example of what feminism has the potential to be.
This pink gang also is part of a growing trend of women who are banding together to fight for their rights.
Vandana Shiva, one of my favorite ecofeminist authors has a new book out. Soil Not Oil is just the latest in her long line of incredibly eye opening books by this India-based author. Starting with the chipko movement in the 70′s, her activism is all about celebrating women’s rights and nature’s rights together.
Want to get involved? Navdanya (translation: nine crops that represent India’s collective source of food security) offers both volunteer opportunities and internships that can be found at the website. Definitely something to think about if you’ve just gotten laid off or looking for a different experience.
Like most 20-somethings, I turn to John Stewart for my media breakdown and could not of been happier when he invited Robert Glennon, professor at the Universirty of Arizona, to discuss his new book Unquenchable: America’s water crisis and what to do about it.
One thing they both agreed on? Americans are lazy.
Stewart, through his joking, managed to hit a number of great points, the most poignant being that American’s are not apt to do anything to stop this crisis that involves exerting effort.
Stewart: Is this one of those situations where they are going to say to us, “the only way to save humanity is to change your behavior,” because…[those solutions have] never worked, we’re very lazy.
Glennon reasons that Americans think of water like air, infinite and limitless and that preserving this critical part of life is a lesson in valuing it.
Glennon also points out that current energy saving techniques are some of the most water-wasting practices. hmm…could it be that ethanol isn’t the solution to all our problems??
Concerns over ethanol production have been widespread. The Environmental Protection Agency had this to say’:
“…because of land use impacts, most biofuels actually cause more global warming pollution than conventional gasoline. According to the EPA’s draft rule, most corn ethanol is expected to result in more global warming pollution per gallon than regular gasoline for the next 33 years.” – via friends of the earth
I hope to post more about water issues the future, both about the crisis in America and the crisis that is already taking place in third world countries. Why? Because the collection of water in rural villages is mainly a woman’s task making water’s preservation and access a woman’s issue, feminist issue and an ecological issue.
Any google search on water conservation will give you long lists of ideas, here are a few that I found the most helpful (and that may not be as obvious as turning off the water while you brush your teeth!)
- Use a water-efficient showerhead. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you up to 750 gallons a month.
- Fix any leaks and replace old toilets – one of the biggest water-wasters!
- Organize your landscape into groups of plants by the amount of water they require.
- Use the water from cleaning out your fish tank for plants and wash your dog on the lawn instead of in the bathtub!
These and 100 more ways to conserve can be found here.