Archive for the ‘cultural connection’ Category
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.
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.
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.
Since I was away and wasn’t able to keep up with all the great reflections from women on Copenhagen I’ll provide you with a list of just that from the Feminist Peace Network:
Activist Naomi Klein kicked off the Klimaforum, the alternative people’s gathering being held in conjunction with the Copenhagen Climate Change talks by pointing out that the official talks had official corporate sponsors, which says it all when it comes to integrity:
Naomi also had critical words to say about Hopenhagen and its branding extravaganza. “The globe has Siemens logo on the bottom and the whole event is sponsored by Coke. That is a capitalization of hope but Klimaforum09 is where the real hope lies,” she said.
“Klimaforum is not about giving charity to the developing world its about taking responsibility and the industrialized countries cleaning up our own mess,” she concluded.
In a followup article, she writes,
A highlight of my time at COP15 so far was a conversation with the extraordinary Nigerian poet and activist Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International. We talked about the fact that some of the toughest activists here still pull their punches when it comes to Obama, even as his climate team works tirelessly to do away with the Kyoto Protocol, replacing it with much weaker piecemeal targets.
If George W. Bush had pulled some of the things Obama has done here, he would have been burned in effigy on the steps of the convention center. With Obama, however, even the most timid actions are greeted as historic breakthroughs, or at least a good start.
“Everyone says: ‘give Obama time,’” Bassey told me. “But when it comes to climate change, there is no more time.” The best analogy, he said, is a soccer game that has gone into overtime. “It’s not even injury time, it’s sudden death. It’s the nick of time, but there is no more extra time.”
Global Sister has an excellent article up called, A Feminist Focus on Climate Change which points to a fascinating study by BRIDGE that looks at linkages between gender and climate change, well worth the read.
UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid has this to say:
“Women should be part of any agreement on climate change — not as an afterthought or because it’s politically correct, but because it’s the right thing to do. Our future as humanity depends on unleashing the full potential of all human beings, and the full capacity of women, to bring about change.”
Women, Water, and Climate Justice—Cameroonian Human Rights Activist Asaha Elizabeth Ufei Leads the Way posted by the NAACP Climate Justice Iniative provides an excellent analysis of how the impact off climate change on water supplies influences women:
As the climate conditions worsen, women are finding it harder to provide food and water for their families. The once reliable and nearby water sources are drying up or contaminated; and the crops aren’t producing enough. So we are faced with questions: How many more miles must women have to walk to provide basic life-sources? What other ways can women sustain their families when the traditional agriculture and craft materials are gone? How many women will have to uproot their families and migrate to other places—that may be hostile to immigrants—because they can longer find food and shelter in their communities? How many more women and girls will be pushed into survival sex work because there are fewer economic opportunities? How many more people who speak up about human rights and organize for change will be severely punished, coerced to leave their countries, or forever silenced?
Dr Sue Wareham, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons’ (ICAN) Australian board member discusses whether nuclear power has a place in how we address climate change in this Q&A with IPS:
IPS: Is nuclear power, being carbon-free, the panacea for climate change problems and should it be a substitute for coal-fuelled power stations?
SW: We don’t agree nuclear power is a sensible way forward in response to climate change. Nuclear power cannot address the issue of climate change. There are physical limitations to the number of nuclear power stations that could be built in the next decade or so.
Even if there is further development of nuclear power, it will be far too slow because it takes 10 to 15 years to get a nuclear power plant at a point of producing electricity. We need action faster than that.
Particularly important also is the links with weapons. We know there are definite links between the civilian and military fuel cycles, and that is a particular problem that will remain as long as nuclear power is there.
There is also the problem of nuclear waste to which no country has a solution yet. We regard it as unacceptable that this generation should leave our waste to future generations. The technological and practical reality is that we don’t have any way of separating nuclear waste from the environment.
Our message is that the world really needs to put serious and significant funding into further promotion, development and implementation of renewable energies—solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels, which have been underused and under-resourced.
In this thoughtful piece, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai discusses what poorer nations need to combat climate change:
Unless the poor countries commit to development, they will continue to be under-developed and they will not be able to improve the quality of life of their people. Yet, any path that continues to encourage growth and use of fossil fuels will generate disquiet. It is for this reason that these poor countries need financial help, capacity building and transfer of not only available, but also affordable technology.
And towards the end of COP15, Maathai presented the People’s Orb to world leaders:
Maathai told politicians that while “They cannot negotiate with the environment they can negotiate with each other.”
Maathai’s call reiterated that of the UN Secretary General’s, who told heads of state attending the opening, “Our job here and now is to seal the deal … a deal that is in our common interest. For three years I have sought to bring world leaders to the table to solve climate change. Now they are coming. Three years of effort have come down to three days of action.”
In her address, Maathai said it was up to the developing world to convince the developed world that the threat of climate change is real, calling on nations to invest in the preservation of forests as a first line of defense against climate change.
Maathai directed the attention of her audience to a metal Orb placed near the head table, saying, “There is an Orb at the end of the table. This orb contains stories, images, voices and messages collected from around the world to create a global mandate for action. It is the sound of the collective spirit which should bring together all the efforts of all major climate campaigns from civil society this year.”
Vandana Shiva speaks to protesters in Copenhagen:
And Democracy NOW’s Amy Goodman reports on Shiva’s thoughts about U.S. responsibility when it comes to financial responsibility for fighting global warming,
Afterward, I asked her to respond to U.S. climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing, who said the Obama administration is willing to pay its fair share, but added that donors “don’t have unlimited largesse to disburse.” Shiva responded, “I think it’s time for the U.S. to stop seeing itself as a donor and recognize itself as a polluter, a polluter who must pay. … This is not about charity. This is about justice.”
Sister Joan Chittister in remarks at Copenhagen,
From where I stand, several strains were clear: Whatever agreements come out of Cop15, enforceability is key. Classism-poor against rich-is a danger. Multilateralism that does not support those nations who stand to be as smothered by the effects of national agreements that deny them economic development as they are by the effects of achieving it through the energy sources of the past will become a major political problem in the future. And, finally, this is only the beginning of a real struggle to resolve it.
“Where there is biodiversity, where there is wealth, where there is culture, that’s where corporate interests flock,”(Norma) Maldonado, deputy head of Ecumenical Services for Christian Development in Central America (SEFCA), an organisation working with women and young people for community development and political effectiveness, told TerraViva.
Special U.N. Advisor on Water, Maude Barlow talking about the water crisis at the Klimaforum:
Several years ago while working in Mozambique, she found a connection between inadequate sanitary protection for menstruating girls and women and lost income and education for towns, cities and entire countries,
Through research, she learned that menstruating girls and women lose up to fifty days a year of work or school because they are afraid of leaking through their make shift rags or bark. Scharpf decided to do something about it and launched SHE, which gives out micro-finance loans and basic health training to local women so that they can manufacture pads from local sustainable materials and sell them at affordable prices. Selling the pads is a source of income for the women and the girls and women who have access to the pads are less likely to contract infections and are able to participate in public life every day of the month.
Watch a promo video for the project:
While we take the availability of pads and tampons for granted in the United States, the lack of access to sanitary options has many dangers.
From the Huffington Post:
In developing countries, periods continue to be a serious handicap. According to UNICEF, ten percent of school-age African girls miss school because of a lack of access to affordable sanitary products. In Rwanda, it’s much worse. According to on-the-ground research by Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), half the girls are missing school due to menstruation and the main reason given is that sanitary pads are too expensive. For women, 24% miss work–up to 45 days per year–for the same reason. This not only limits girls’ educational and women’s professional achievement, but leads to a significant economic loss for nations. SHE estimates that a lack of affordable sanitary pads reduces GDP by $115 million per year in Rwanda alone.
There are also serious health repercussions of not having pads. In Asia, many women still use rags; less fortunate ones use newspapers, banana leaves, even sand or ash. While rags were common before the pad was invented, the problem in developing countries is that often women don’t have access to clean water to wash them. And the taboo of menstruation means that many women cannot hang their rags to dry in the open. So, instead, they hide them in dark, damp places where no one will find them. As one might imagine, infections are rampant.
I won’t be posting for about a week or so because I’m taking a vacation in Sri Lanka…so today I will leave you with a few wonderful links to make up for it
The first I’m a little late in posting..but if you live in a time zone where it is not yet December 10th then please check out this awesome auction supporting the Women Action and Media conference. Among the prizes are a chance to meet with the talented Canadian sister band Tegan and Sara, have the wonderfully poignant Sarah Haskins record your voicemail and have lunch with Jessica from Feministing. All the bids go towards promoting gender justice in the media. I went last year to the conference in Boston and it was a seriously inspiring event with some great discussions taking place.
And now on to some news from Copenhagen:
From Yes! Magazine, a 3 step plan on how to ensure climate justice and end the stalemate between the Global North and Global South
Naomi Klein, an activist and writer for The Nation rejects Hopenhagen
The horrible Danish Text Leak that would take power away from the UN, double the allowance of emissions for rich countries, and put the funds allocated for poor countries in need of clean technology and adaptation to climate change in the hands of the World Bank and IMF
Al Gore in an interview with Slate asks this question to climate change skeptics: “What in the hell do they think is causing it?”
And of course, Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen’s quote heard around the world to turn Copenhagen into Hopenhagen.
Every week I will post a short biography from The United Nations Who’s Who of Women and the Environment. This week is featuring Kaisha Atakhanova from the Repulic of Kazakhstan:
Kaisha Atakhanova, 47, is leading the campaign to prevent nuclear waste from being commercially imported into the Republic of Kazakhstan. A biologist specializing in the genetic effects of nuclear radiation, Atakhanova founded and directs the Karaganda Ecological Center (known as EcoCenter), which promotes grassroots democracy-building and environmental protection within government and civil society.
Atakhanova recently helped defeat legislation that would have allowed even more nuclear waste to be commercially imported into the country. She and her allies argued that Kazakhstan’s mineral wealth made it unnecessary for the country to earn money from waste disposal, and pointed out that contamination would discourage international tourism.
EcoCenter’s broad and well-orchestrated campaign led the national parliament to drop the legislation in late 2003, and the victory has encouraged the growth of a grassroots environmental movement in Kazakhstan. Atakhanova, 47, continues to direct the EcoCenter, and has helped to develop a nationwide network of more than 100 activist groups.
Kaisha Atakhanova was awarded one of six 2005 Goldman Environmental Prizes in a ceremony in San Francisco on April 18. Atakhanova plans to invest her $125,000 prize in educational and environmental projects in Kazakhstan. She spoke to Grist through a translator.
Usually when I write about technology it’s in a negative light, causing climate change, destroying indigenous ways of farming, etc. But one woman from a tribe in Idaho brought her computer skills back to her tribe and this is a case in which technology helped preserve, not destroy, a cultures history.
From YES magazine:
After a stint in the Army and a corporate career in computers, Valerie Fast Horse returned to her Northern Idaho Indian reservation nine years ago and brought her knowledge home to her people.
Fast Horse and her staff built a $3.5 million broadband network from scratch, aiming to preserve Coeur d’Alene tribal history, language, and culture.
Internet technology, Fast Horse believes, can give voice to Native people and dismantle stereotypes. Rezkast.com, a website developed by Fast Horse and her staff, provides a space for Native people to express themselves while sharing ideas, language, and culture with others.
A former member of the Coeur d’Alene tribal council, Fast Horse now wants to improve democracy on the 2,000-member reservation by broadcasting council meetings online.
Fast Horse hopes to inspire a new generation: “I refuse to hear the word ‘no’; instead, I hear ‘not yet.’?”
During dinner with week, my friends and I have been talking about the different customs that take place during the meal. My perspective as an American is that dinner time is the place where everyone gets to talk about their day, however as I have learned it is customary in India to give respect to the food and not talk at all during the meal. Going with that theme, I wanted to post a few of the different kinds of way people say grace, found on Yes Magazine as part of their Food For Everyone series. These are just the few that I liked, but feel free to check out the whole series along with beautiful drawings by Nikki McClure.
|LATIN AMERICAN To those who have hunger
And to those who have bread
Give the hunger for justice.
This food is the gift
|ASHANTI, GHANAEarth, when I am about to die
I lean upon you.
Earth, while I am alive
I depend upon you.
|SIOUX, NATIVE AMERICAN I’m an Indian.
I think about the common things like this pot.
The bubbling water comes from the rain cloud.
It represents the sky.
The fire comes from the sun,
Which warms us all, men, animals, trees.
The meat stands for the four-legged creatures,
Our animal brothers,
Who gave themselves so that we should live.
The steam is living breath.
It was water, now it goes up to the sky,
Becomes a cloud again.
These things are sacred.
Looking at that pot full of good soup,
I am thinking how, in this simple manner,
The Great Spirit takes care of me.