Archive for the ‘women empowerment’ Category
Trans & Womyn’s Action Camp (TWAC)
April 3rd-8th, 2013
TWAC is an action camp for folks who identify as female, trans-gender, trans-sexual, gender queer and gender variant. This is an intentional space to share campaign information and direct action skills in a conscientious, supportive, empowering and encouraging environment for voices often marginalized, and then to take collective action together at the end of the camp!
From the Dine’ women defending their native lands against destructive mining, to the eco-feminists defending forests from logging and developing; from the immigrant and trans women defending their lives from the prison industrial complex, to the mothers and midwifes defending their bodies and babies from the patriarchal medical establishment, women and trans folks have always been powerhouses of political action, and TWAC aims to support this in a safe(r) environment.
Some campaigns and subjects that have been discussed as Florida’s possible focus (which YOU can help us shape) include Eco-defense, environmental racism, immigration, the private-prisons/deportation systems, and birth justice.
We are reaching out for more hands, hearts and minds to unite with us for this week-long event helping us organize an amazing, powerful and inclusive gathering! If you or anyone you know has interest in helping with the organizing for TWAC 2013 or would like to propose/host a workshop, presentation, discussion or skills-sharing please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR MORE INFO see twac.wordpress.org or facebook.com/twactwac
Please donate the indiegogo site – there is an awesome video there with interviews from so many lovely lake worth folks!
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.
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
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.
Taking a cue from 2003′s Calendar Girls, a movie in which older British women bare all for leukemia research, Erika Biddle decided to jump on the train of the increasingly popular brand of calendars where locals pose naked for a cause.
In celebration of Earth Day’s 40th birthday, Biddle only asked women over 40 to pose, resulting in 15 women ages 44-78 posing au naturale in naturally beautiful locations.
The 500 calendars were sold, raising $8,000 for the non-profit organization Green Living and Education.
To hear about all the locations Biddle chose, read the full article here
In other Nude News, these women (and 2 men!) protested naked against the war in Afghanistan, hoping to put an end to the myth that War is Peace
Eight women from commonwealth countries Cyprus, Ghana, India, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Jamaica and the United Kingdom are undertaking what seems like the impossible – skiing over 900 kilometers from Antarctica to the geographic South Pole.
Marking the 60th aniversary of the Commonwealth, the expedition aims to demonstrate the potential of greater intercultural understanding and exchange, while at the same time highlighting the achievements of women across the world.
The team members from Brunei, Cyprus, Ghana and Jamaica will be the first person from their nation to ski to the South Pole. Those from India, Singapore and New Zealand will be the first women from their country to do so.
Fantastic as these achievements will be, the expedition is about much more than national and global records. The team members will return to their home countries as role models to inspire others, particularly women, to reach beyond the expectation of others and follow their own path.
Representing a Commonwealth of 52 nations and 2 billion people around the globe, the expedition team is a diverse group of real women selected from over 800 applicants. Before joining the expedition many of the team members had never been in sub-zero temperatures, put on a pair of skis or spent the night in a tent – a fact which makes the challenge they are undertaking even more remarkable.
The 900km journey from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole will take around 40 days. The team will survive on lightweight dehydrated rations and melted snow. They will sleep in tents on the ice at night and pull sledges containing all the food, fuel and equipment they will need. Travelling without a guide, the team will need to rely on each other to navigate themselves safely to the bottom of the world.
The team expect to arrive at the South Pole around New Year’s Day 2010.
A gem from the feministing community:
By Annushay Hossain
I grew up knowing my country was drowning. My childhood memories are full of flashing images of annual monsoon rains making rivers out of our roads, lakes out of our rice paddy fields, washing away farmers’ harvests, pushing the rural population into our already overpopulated capital city. Of course the yearly floods alternated with even greater natural disasters- cyclones, tornadoes, you name it growing up I saw it. The rumor in the playground was that in twenty years Bangladesh would be completely underwater.
Today that statement is no longer a rumor, but very much a reality. According to the UK ‘s Guardian publication, Bangladesh makes up not even 10% of the land mass of South Asia , but over 90% of the region’s water passes through it. Experts state that Bangladesh ‘s shifting and intensifying weather patterns are making a bad situation worse. The case of Bangladesh shows us that climate change is real, and is already impacting populations and ecosystems around the world.
But the case of Bangladesh shows us something more: That it’s the world’s poor who will feel the impact of this change the hardest. And who exactly are the poor? Women, who make up approximately 65% of the world’s poorest populations.
Because of the traditional domestic responsibilities which fall on women and girls, experts state that climate change is having a disproportionate affect them. Women are the primary caretakers of families, primary managers of everything from food production to water management in their households. As UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) puts it, women are the ones who cook, clean, and farm for their families, in addition to providing health care and hygiene. Women are not only on the “frontlines” of climate change, but their work and relationship with the environment is so intimate that their experience with it changing is often just as personal.
Let’s look at the issue of water for example, a natural resource especially sensitive to climate change, and one that traditionally women are the managers of in their households. According to UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women), women and girls on average travel 10-15 kilometers, spending up to 8 hours a day gathering water for their families. Droughts caused by climate change are shrinking up and eliminating existing water supplies, making the distance to walk even longer. Because of the distances women and girls have to walk to fetch water for their families, millions of girls around the world are unable to go to school. Imagine that. The average person would never make the connection between accessing water and girls’ education. Yet it exists.
As the gendered impact of climate change becomes increasingly palpable, my question is- where are the feminist voices? Why are more women’s rights advocates and activists not picking up and rallying around this issue vigorously? Everyday you see articles in the news, but where is the real action? More importantly, where is the outrage? Just yesterday I read an article in the LA Times talking about how the newest kind of refugee is not from war, but from of climate change. They are called “climate refugees” and the LA Times states that almost 10million people around the world have been forced to leave their homes for “reasons ranging from rising (or falling) sea levels, lack of rain, and desertification.”
Back home in Bangladesh , the list of innovative ideas to combat and more importantly, adapt to climate change is endless. International aid organizations are working with local NGOs to build “floating villages,” clinics on boats, and help women educate their communities about securing flood and cyclone shelters.
But there has to be more. Women may be in the frontlines of climate change, but they are not only its victims. Their personal and intimate experience of the harsh impacts of climate change means that within them lies very real solutions to combat it. If the voices from the women’s rights movement don’t pick up this issue, loudly, clearly and unanimously, climate change will not only drown out countries, but the agents of change, women, with it. And that is simply not an option.
It is the responsibility of the women’s movement, both here in the US and abroad, to make the issue of our altering environment, our issue, otherwise everybody loses. Climate change is a human rights issue, but its very obvious gendered impacts make it a women’s rights issue.
The Global Gender Gap 2009 report was published a short while ago and had some interesting findings. Like most years, the Nordic countries took the top spots with Iceland coming in at number one. The World Economic Forum measures progress in the areas of politics, education, economy and health for the report. Yemen was ranked last of the 134 countries and the U.S. slipped three places to 31, while South Africa came in at number 6.
“Girls and women make up one half of the world’s population and without their engagement, empowerment and contribution, we cannot hope to achieve a rapid economic recovery nor effectively tackle global challenges such as climate change, food security and conflict,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.
To view the whole report check out the PDF. Also, here is Saadia Zahidi, a co-author of the report, talking about its significance:
Usually when I post about women and water, I am talking about third world women. But we can’t forget that there is also a water crisis going on in America. Bijoyeta Das reports for We News on the conception of the Women Water Walkers in 2003 and also the global day of climate activism where over 4.400 events in 172 countries have been planned for Oct. 24 to draw attention to the need to cut greenhouse emissions.
(WOMENSENEWS)–Their lips wind-burned, feet blistered, shoes worn out. They keep walking.Sometimes they walk as much as 54 miles in a single day, taking turns carrying eight liters of water in a copper pail and an eagle staff, a six-feet long carved staff with eagle feathers attached, which serves as a flag for Native Americans. At night, they rest in the houses of their supporters or in lodging arranged by a casino. Some nights they camp out in the bitter cold.
For six springs, Mother Earth Water Walkers have walked nearly a month to circle one of the Great Lakes in North America.
Since 2003, they have walked the shorelines of Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and twice around Lake Michigan.
This year they walked up one coast of the St. Lawrence River, starting at Kingston, Ontario, on April 13 and down the other. They ended on May 1 at Riviere-la-Madeleine, Quebec.
Two Anishinawbe women lead the annual event, which started as a Women Water Walk on a cold wet Easter day in 2003 in Odanah, Wisc.
Along the way, many Native American men and women join them.
The goal is to raise awareness that water is essential and sacred.
Call to Lower Greenhouse Emissions
The United Nations Climate Change Conference is scheduled for December in Copenhagen, Denmark. World leaders are expected to clinch a comprehensive global treaty to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
Tomorrow, Oct. 24, over 4,400 events–called climate actions–are being planned in 172 countries to stir public awareness and urge leaders to commit to policies that will lower global levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million. That’s the level that James Hansen, a scientist with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has identified as needed to sustain human civilization. The current level, according to a dynamically updating monitor on 350.org, the grassroots group organizing Saturday’s events, is 387.
Along with building the buzz online and through posters, the campaign uses off-the-wall strategies, such as baking cookies at 350 degrees F and stringing up 350 socks and pieces of underwear.
The group’s leaders include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against apartheid; Liz Thompson, an environmental leader for small island developing states, such as Barbados; and Vandana Shiva, an Indian activist for agricultural practices reform and adherent to the alter-globalization movement. The lead organizer is Bill McKibben, a Vermont writer who authored the first book about the dangers of climate change 20 years ago.
But the Water Walkers are not part of this or any media blitz. You won’t find them on Twitter or Facebook.
“We walk the talk,” said Josephine Mandamin, 67, a native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, and founder of the Mother Earth Water Walks, in a phone interview this week. “We don’t have to be on the media and television. You just walk with the water and the people get the message.”
Great Lakes Landscape Changed
The human population of the Great Lakes basin is approximately 42 million, according to a report “State of the Great Lakes,” which was prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, and Environment Canada. Increases in population and urbanization have changed the landscape of the Great Lakes, which in turn may result in an increase in erosion, sediment transport and degradation of water quality in the tributaries and the near-shore areas. Between 1992 and 2001, 2.5 percent (2 million acres) of the Great Lakes basin was subjected to change in land use, according to the 2009 report.
“Some conditions of the Great Lakes are improving while others are deteriorating,” said Phillippa Cannon, a spokesperson for the EPA. One of the current programs of the EPA’s Great Lakes National Office is to clean up contaminated sediments from the most polluted parts, she said.
But when you ask Mandamin about human-made climate change and the havoc scientists say it is wreaking, she says Mother Earth is doing what she can by “cleaning herself” in the form of fires, floods and landslides.
Mandamin described herself as a grandmother “looking after the water for the next generation for the unborn.”
“In every nation, any country, any First Nations that I have heard, women were the carriers of the water, from the wells to the house,” she said.
According to the “State of the Great Lakes” report, the climate in the Great Lakes region is shifting. Winters are shorter, annual average temperature warmer and rain and snow are heavier. The air and water temperatures are increasing, while the lake ice cover is decreasing.
Cannon said that Congress is considering the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, in which the president has proposed $475 million to address the problems in the Great Lakes. “That would certainly make a big difference towards continuing the work of cleaning up the Great Lakes,” she said.
Inspiration for First Walk
The idea for the Water Walks welled up in 2002, from the Sundance Ceremony in Pipestone, Minn., where the Grand Chief E. Benton-Banaise-Bawdwayadun of the Anishinawbe reminded the women of a prophecy made about 10 years ago by an Anishinawbe elder:
“In about 30 years, if we humans continue with our negligence, an ounce of drinking water will cost the same as an ounce of gold.”
The leader also talked about how traditionally women have been the carriers of water and that it is believed that one day women would walk all of the Great Lakes.
That prompted Mandamin to initiate the first Women Water Walk.
In 2003, after a send-off ceremony and feast of moose stew, fish, wild rice and Bannok– a traditional native bread prepared by pan-frying–women from different clans came together to pace the 350 miles of the Lake Superior coastline.
For the last couple of years men have realized their duties, too, and are walking beside the women on the spring treks.
Since 2006, men hold the symbolic eagle staff to give strength during the walks; however, women continue to carry the pail of water. “There was a uniting of the minds for the water, with the water and because of the water,” Mandamin said.
Walking All Day
Gary Fourstar, one of the founders of this event, said the female-dominated group led another 10-day walk for the water, starting at the headwaters of the Tiber River in Italy and ending at the Vatican in 2007. More than 80 people, including Native American elders, participated in the walk.
The goal of the water walk is to spur people to give thanks for their water and to realize that water is alive and needs protection, said Debora Fourstar, president of the Many Horses Foundation and married to Gary Fourstar.
She said the Western world has lost respect and connection with nature.
Bijoyeta Das is a multimedia journalist based in Boston.
For more information:
The NGO Plan International reports that sending girls to school impacts the economic growth of a country, here’s why, from the Inter Press Service:
Sending more girls to school may help poor countries get out of the economic slump faster, the NGO Plan International says in a new report. Just a one percent rise in the number of girls attending secondary school boosts a country’s annual per capita income growth by 0.3 percent.
Girls are a formidable future workforce – if they get adequate training. There are over 500 million adolescent girls and young women in developing countries, Plan estimates in its report ‘Girls in the Global Economy: adding it all up’. But many girls do not have the opportunities for good education, and the financial crisis is worsening their situation.
In times of economic hardship, girls in the poorest countries are the first to be pulled out of school, the report says. Some parents consider the education of boys to be more important, and girls often have to start working, or looking after children as their mothers try to improve household income.
“Boys are also affected,” Nikki van der Gaag, co-author of the report acknowledges. “But in a different way,” she tells IPS. “While writing the report, I was surprised to find that there are very little specific data about the situation of boys or girls. Such information is needed to adjust policies.”
The information available suggests that investing more in girls is a good way out of poverty. “Countries with the lowest number of girls in education lie at the bottom of the human development rankings,” van der Gaag says.
Investing in education promises an attractive return. “An extra year of education increases a girl’s income by 10 to 20 percent; it is a significant step in breaking the cycle of poverty,” the report says.