Bridget Hargrove of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, her four-year-old son Ayden and one-year-old daughter, Emma, wade in baby pools away from the oil contaminated Gulf of Mexico on Grand Isle beach in Grand Isle, Louisiana on May 21, 2010. Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle said the town has closed its beach effective from noon Friday due to the presence of oil on the beach. (REUTERS/Sean Gardner) #
Natural gas siphoned from the BP oil leak burns off on the Discover Enterprise on May 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast. Ultra-deepwater rigs and other equipment are being assembled at the site, preparing for a procedure called a “top kill” that BP hopes will stop the flow of oil from the well. (John Moore/Getty Images) #
These Kemp’s Ridley turtles, photographed on May 23rd, 2010, are considered the smallest marine turtles in the world and are being held at the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts because they cannot be released in the wild, due in part to the Gulf Coast oil spill. (Dina Rudick/Boston Globe) #
Volunteers from the Grassroots Mapping project made a trip in a small boat (upper left) to the the Chandeleur Islands near Louisiana’s Misissippi Delta on May 9th, 2010, taking with them a balloon (green tether seen at left) and photo equipment to help document the impact of the oil spill. Public domain photo provided by Jeff Warren and Grassroots Mapping project. #
Two amazing conferences are coming up that will have some excellent speakers AND are affordable. I’ll be live blogging hopefully from both and of them and also will hopefully see you there!
The first is the Feminism and Climate Change conference at Barnard College in NYC on February 27th. One of my favorite environmental leaders, Majora Carter, will be giving the keynote address. For Barnard students, the conference is free but for everyone else the suggested price is $50.
The second is the annual Reproductive Justice Conference from April 9-11 at Hampshire College. It will be my first time attending, but friends of mine that have gone in the past say it’s an unbelievable experience.
I totally forgot about my Tuesday’s ritual in all the excitement of having a fondue party at home with my friends, so today I give you TWO women, both featured in Yes! Magazine. The first is Otana Jakpor from California and the second is Lorraine Kerwood from Oregon:
She found that just two hours’ exposure to an indoor air purifier diminishes lung function. The board added her research to its evidence, and approved regulations making California the first state to restrict ozone emissions from indoor purifiers.
Otana, now 15, attributes her interest to her mother, a severe asthmatic. Since she was a child, Otana has helped her mother and tried to figure out the causes of her condition. Today, Otana works for environmental justice and awareness.
Otana has presented her research at conferences as a spokesperson for the American Lung Association, and she’s met with the head of the EPA and congressional officials to advocate national regulations for ozone emissions.
Lorraine Kerwood turned a computer-repair hobby into a community endeavor. She is executive director of Oregon-based NextStep Recycling, which provides computers and job training to disadvantaged and special-needs people, and sells refurbished computers and other electronics at two ReUse stores.
Diagnosed with autism in her youth, Kerwood taught herself how to fix computers in college. While a social worker for the Oregon Department of Child Welfare, she began refurbishing old computers for people who couldn’t afford them, mainly her clients.
Demand was so high that in 2004 Kerwood quit her job and expanded her computer operation to a warehouse. NextStep refurbished 700 tons of electronics in 2008 and expects a 34 percent increase this year.
From Common Dreams:
African-American farmers have staged a massive protest in Washington DC calling on the US government to deliver on cash payments promised to the group years ago.
In 1999, black farmers won a landmark case that granted them a billion-dollar compensation settlement on the grounds of racial discrimination by then US authorities.
But now the group says that tens of thousands of African-American farmers have not received the funds that they were promised.
Al Jazeera’s John Terrett reports from Washington DC:
Jessica Yee, a special correspondent to the blog Racialious is doing excellent work with her group the Native Youth Sexual Health Network. Recently they produced a collection of short pieces called “Protecting the Circle, Aboriginal Men Ending Violence Against Women”. Here is what Jessica had to say about it to Racialicious:
Along with the support of our partners, we have produced a short written collection of submitted works by Aboriginal men from across Canada. We would like to acknowledge them for all their remarkable contributions and commitment to ending violence against women, but also of recognizing the full spectrum of gender identity and self determination when violence is committed against all persons.
The whole collection can be seen here in PDF form and below is the first piece in the collection.
Woman – by Walter Woodman
Strength is something all men want
to shed tears or have fears
is something we taunt.
To show force against mothers, sisters, girlfriends
isn’t something you do
as REAL men.
To be humble yet strong role model to others
to not only see women as things
but all of them mothers.
For without them where would we be?
no mother earth, no mothers womb
no mother you, mother me.
A woman has given you life as a gift
so respect her, cherish her
so your soul can lift.
A woman is creator
A woman is love
A woman is mother
Mother earth, and the sky above.
Women’s groups all agree on one thing about the earthqauke disaster in Haiti: to rebuild successfully, start with the women.
When relief is distributed by women, it has the best chance of reaching those most in need. That’s not because women are morally superior. It is because their roles as caretakers in the community means they know where every family lives, which households have new babies or disabled elders, and how to reach remote communities even in disaster conditions.
Unfortunately even before the earthquake, women were struggling in Haiti. Now, with no resources, they are left open to violence and hunger. The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) is “cautiously optimistic” about a new plan that distributes rations to the female head of the household.
The programme, launched yesterday, provides women with coloured and dated vouchers that can be exchanged for a 25-kilogram (55-pound) rice ration at one of 16 centres in Port-au-Prince – including at the Sylvio Cator Stadium, which before the earthquake was the country’s national soccer stadium and now houses a tent-city of displaced Haitians.
Both Madre, AWID and other women rights groups remain adamant that helping women will result in a faster rebuilding process for the rest of Haiti. For more excellent analysis on the ongoing crisis in Haiti check out the AWID’s new section devoted to earthquake relief.
Every week I will post a short biography from The United Nations Who’s Who of Women and the Environment. This week is featuring Mei Ng from China:
From meeting rooms to pollution hotspots, from lobby platform to legislative chambers, from recycling sweatshops to landfills, from congested streets to country parks, from consumer wasteland to green homes, from kindergartens to university lecture halls, from freezing air-conditioned offices to wind farms in southern China, from urbanized Hong Kong to unsustainable villages and drought plagued provinces in developing China, Mei Ng’s green footprint has travelled far and wide. In the last 15 years, her effort to promote awareness and transfer NGO experience has helped to catalyze the budding green movement in China since 1992. Mei Ng’s green message has travelled 26500 km to 15 provinces and touched over 860,000 people.
Mrs. Mei Ng is the Director of Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong). She was elected to the UNEP Global 500 Roll of Honor in 2000. In the same year, she was appointed by the State Environmental Protection Agency as China Environment Envoy. In 2003, Mrs Ng was decorated with the Bronze Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong SAR Government for her environmental contribution to Hong Kong.
Mrs. Ng has actively participated in environmental policy development and community mobilization. She was appointed to the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) since 2001 and invited as an advisor to the Hong Kong Sustainable Industry Council.
Leading a dedicated team to catalyse sustainability thinking, environmental governance and public participation, her priority campaigns include responsible consumption, renewable energy, community participation and sustainable development through women and youth empowerment.
Her millennium vision is to mobilize women folks to safeguard their environmental and quality of life. Turning pig waste-to-energy in China’s arid western region to halt logging and desertification and raising awareness of women factory workers in Southern China’s pollution hotspots, Mei Ng believes in lighting a candle rather than curse darkness.
As a sustainability pathfinder, Mei Ng has been lighting small candles in Hong Kong and China. She believes in Do-It-Yourself Environmentalism in keeping with the spirit of Sustainability.
For Shannon Hayes, a writer for Yes Magazine, this question also involved the impact her decision would have on the planet. She doesn’t believe in conforming to gender roles, but the sustainable benefits of having her AND her husband stay home with the kids outweighed any negatives. After doing some research she also discovered that it was only after the industrial revolution took over America that taking care of the household was deemed “women’s work”
A search for the origin of the word housewife traces it back to the thirteenth century, as the feudal period was coming to an end in Europe and the first signs of a middle class were popping up. Historian Ruth Schwartz Cowan explains that housewives were wedded to husbands, whose name came from hus, an old spelling of house, and bonded. Husbands were bonded to houses, rather than to lords. Housewives and husbands were free people, who owned their own homes and lived off their land. While there was a division of labor among the sexes in these early households, there was also an equal distribution of domestic work. Once the Industrial Revolution happened, however, things changed. Men left the household to work for wages, which were then used to purchase goods and services that they were no longer home to provide.
Hayes had the notion that she was not alone in her new profession which she deemed “Radical Homemakers” and went across America to study other families like hers.
By virtue of these skills, the Radical Homemakers I interviewed were building a great bridge from our existing extractive economy—where corporate wealth has been regarded as the foundation of economic health, where mining our Earth’s resources and exploiting our international neighbors have been acceptable costs of doing business—to a life serving economy, where the goal is, in the words of David Korten, to generate a living for all, rather than a killing for a few; where our resources are sustained, our waters are kept clean, our air pure, and families and can lead meaningful lives.
Read the rest of Hayes testimonial to Radical Homemakers here
Every week I will post a short biography from The United Nations Who’s Who of Women and the Environment. This week is featuring Oral Ataniyazova from Uzbekistan:
Oral Ataniyazova is an obstetrician who also holds a doctorate in medical science. In 1992 she established Perzent, the Karakalpak Center for Reproductive Health and Environment, in order to help the women and children of Karakalpakstan, an ethnically distinct and autonomous republic of Uzbekistan.
Over the last several decades, the Aral Sea — once one of the world’s largest inland seas — has shrunk to almost half its size. Due to the severity of the pollution in the area, it is believed that its entire population has been exposed to dangerous chemicals over extended periods of time. Public health in the region has deteriorated with the worsening ecological situation. Over the past 20 years, there has been an increase in the rates of anemia, kidney and liver diseases, allergies, tuberculosis, birth defects and reproductive pathologies. Women and children are among those most affected by the Aral Sea crisis
“Perzent” means “progeny” in Karakalpak. For her research, Dr. Ataniyazova studied about 5,000 reproductive-age women in Karakalpakstan. Her findings were so alarming that in 1992 she founded the first Karakalpak women’s clinic for reproductive health: the “Marriage and Family” Clinic. In addition to scientific research (e.g. on water quality), family planning and medical assistance, Perzent offers a wide range of educational and community programs that focus on raising public awareness about the region’s environmental and health problems. Most of Ataniyazova’s activities concentrate on women and how they can improve their lives, including family health and the quality of food and water.
Perzent trains local groups in areas such as health and hygiene, sustainable agriculture, as well as women’s and children’s rights. It created the Ecological Club “Shagala” to provide environmental education programmes in rural areas. Together with the Save the Children Fund it started an environmental education program for 5-6 year old children. Additionally, the centre has published brochures and booklets on health and on the relationship between health (particularly reproductive health) and the environment, and maintains an environmental library open to the public.
With branches in several rural districts, Perzent has created a 50-acre organic farm, a women’s clinic and a publishing house. To fully involve the local people, Perzent actively solicits ideas from communities for practical solutions to the region’s problems. More than 10,000 people have been involved in the organization’s activities.
Ataniyazova has worked on these issues at the national, regional and international levels. As an expert in reproductive health, she has been a key spokesperson addressing various international agencies, including the United Nations. Despite many difficulties during the past two decades, Ataniyazova has helped improve the health and status of women and children in one of the world’s most dramatic ecological hot spots. Undaunted, she continues to speak out about the crisis that is destroying the lives of her patients and the future of their communities.
Oral Ataniyazova was honoured with the Goldmann Prize in 2000.
Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but there was a week long internet breakdown here on the Ashram. Now I’m back and decided to share my excitement about traveling to Nepal with a Nepal-themed story.
From Women’s E-News:
Rajin Rayamajhi, a lawyer with Women for Human Rights, likened the proposal to “buying and selling a woman.”
Many single women, as widows here prefer to be called, are illiterate and only 2 percent have higher education. Rayamajhi said the proposal would be difficult for many to understand. This makes them vulnerable to men who would marry them for the money and then leave, taking all the funds.
She also slammed the payments for increasing the risk of violence and trafficking once widows were again under the control of a husband. Critics further say that the proposed legislation encourages a different kind of dowry, though the Nepali government has been trying to eliminate that system, and advances the notion that a woman’s security and empowerment is dependent on marriage and men.
Although the group encourages young widows to marry, they stress the importance of independence before remarrying. Widows in Nepal face many rules as single women.
Single women are not to wear jewelry or bright colors, especially red; they are not to eat meat or seasoned food; not allowed to participate in celebrations; and often not even allowed to touch other people. Their increased dependency on living relatives makes them more vulnerable to, and often the victims of, verbal, physical and sexual abuse and frequently their property and inheritance rights are violated. The practice of Sati, where women were ritually burned on their husband’s funeral pyres, was outlawed a century ago.
“One minute you have everything and the next it’s gone,” said Thapa, whose own husband died 20 years ago while serving as a physician with the United Nations in the first Iraq War. She was left with three sons aged 4, 9 and 10.
Almost immediately her relatives forcibly removed her treasured diamond nose ring, which she’d worn since receiving it at 14 from her parents as a gift for completing high school. She was made to wear colorless clothing and at her brother’s wedding she was not allowed to help with the preparations. As a widow, she was considered bad luck.
Read the rest here