In China’s Himalayan region is a tribe run by women, where all of the major rules and transactions are handled by women. Children are cared for communally and may not know their true fathers. They are raised in homes with grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins.
You are not equal. Even if you feel like you are. You still make less than a man for doing the same work. You make less as a CEO, as an athlete, as an actress, as a doctor. You make less in government, in the tech industry, in healthcare.
You still don’t have full rights over your own body. Men are still debating over your uterus. Over your prenatal care. Over your choices.
You still have to pay taxes for your basic sanitary needs…
You are not equal. Your daughters are not equal. You are still systemically oppressed.
Estonia allows parents to take up to three years of leave, fully paid for the first 435 days. United States has no policy requiring maternity leave.
Singapore’s women feel safe walking alone at night. American women do not.
New Zealand’s women have the smallest gender gap in wages, at 5.6%. United States’ pay gap is 20%.
Iceland has the highest number of women CEOs, at 44%. United States is at 4.0%.
The United States ranks at 45 for women’s equality. Behind Rwanda, Cuba, Philippines, Jamaica.
Imagine being born a women into a traditionalist culture which assigns many sex-specific duties and obligations that determine what you can do and how you must act, becoming an athlete who broke sports and social boundaries with her stellar performances and then being banned from competing after reaching majority age because your body was deemed to possess too many male characteristics or hormones. This happened to India’s Dutee Chand when she turned 18 – but only after she was unwillingly subjected to a series of intrusive and humiliating physical checks.
This has happened to other athletes as well, but only when they compete as women athletes. Like other woman athletes, Chand has not enjoyed robust support from her government (the Times coverage on this story includes an enchanting profile on Chand, but South Africa rallied around Caster Semenya when her womanity was called into question (NYT):
Unlike India, South Africa filed a human rights complaint with the United Nations arguing that the I.A.A.F.’s testing of Semenya was “both sexist and racist.” Semenya herself would later write in a statement, “I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being.”
… Not long after the policy went into effect, sports officials referred four female athletes from “rural or mountainous regions of developing countries” to a French hospital to reduce their high testosterone, according to a 2013 article in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The authors, many of whom were physicians who treated the women, describe telling them that leaving in their internal testes “carries no health risk,” but that removing them would allow the athletes to resume competition, though possibly hurt their performance. The women, who were between 18 and 21, agreed to the procedure. The physicians treating them also recommended surgically reducing their large clitorises to make them look more typical. The article doesn’t mention whether they told their patients that altering their clitorises might impair sexual sensation, but it does say the women agreed to that surgery too.
In the past, some men did portray themselves as women in order to win competitions, but today’s arguments center around the natural advantages accruing to intersex athletes whose body type may be predominantly female but whose body chemistry levels match more closely to a man’s. MotherJones asks:
Do women with higher levels of the hormone, like Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand, have an unfair advantage on the track? The IAAF says yes, in part because testosterone is linked with lean body mass, which experts on both sides of the debate say is a reason male athletes tend to perform better than female athletes. Testosterone leads to increased strength, speed, and power, IAAF experts argued, which is why many athletes try to illegally take synthetic versions of the hormone to boost their performance.
In this year’s 2016 Olympics, some women athletes who had been disqualified as being too male to fairly compete against other women, are competing because of Chand’s successful challenge to the rules. MotherJones explains:
Last year, the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended the IAAF’s “testosterone rule” after an Indian sprinter named Dutee Chand said it unfairly discriminated against women like her with higher levels … Chand, who will race the 100-meter dash at the Olympics on Friday, said plenty of women don’t fit neatly within (the testosterone test) range, and that there’s overlap between the sexes.
New York Times’ Ruth Padawer sums up the gender issue for athletes very neatly:
…many geneticists and endocrinologists … (point) out that sex was determined by a confluence of genetic, hormonal and physiological factors, not any one alone. Relying on science to arbitrate the male-female divide in sports is fruitless, they said, because science could not draw a line that nature itself refused to draw. They also argued that the tests discriminated against those whose anomalies provided little or no competitive edge and traumatized women who had spent their whole lives certain they were female, only to be told they were not female enough to participate.
After spending years developing a simple machine to make inexpensive sanitary pads, Arunachalam Muruganantham has become the unlikely leader of a menstrual health revolution in rural India. Over eighteen years, Muruganantham’s machine has spread to more than 400 production sites that serve 1,300 villages in the poorest and least developed sections of India. Moreover, since most of his clients are NGOs and women’s self-help groups who produce and sell the pads directly in a “by the women, for the women, and to the women” model, the average machine also provides employment for ten women. His success, both at providing women with more hygienic options and creating local economic opportunities for women, is generating interest in his machine in many developing countries.
For his contributions to menstrual health, Muruganantham was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014. However, his interest in the topic first began in 1998 when, as a young, newly married man, he saw his wife, Shanthi, hiding the rags she used as menstrual cloths. Like most men in his village, he had no idea about the reality of menstruation and was horrified that cloths that “I would not even use… to clean my scooter” were his wife’s solution to menstrual sanitation. When he asked why she didn’t buy sanitary pads, she told him that the expense would prevent her from buying staples like milk for the family.
Muruganantham, who left school at age 14 to start working, decided to try making his own sanitary pads for less but the testing of his first prototype ran into a snag almost immediately: Muruganantham had no idea that periods were monthly. “I can’t wait a month for each feedback, it’ll take two decades!” he said, and sought volunteers among the women in his community. He discovered that less than 10% of the women in his area used sanitary pads, instead using rags, sawdust, leaves, or ash. Even if they did use cloths, they were too embarrassed to dry them in the sun, meaning that they never got disinfected — contributing to the approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India that are caused by poor menstrual hygiene.
Finding volunteers was nearly impossible: women were embarrassed, or afraid of myths about sanitary pads that say that women who use them will go blind or never marry. Muruganantham came up with an ingenious solution: “I became the man who wore a sanitary pad,” he says. He made an artificial uterus, filled it with goat’s blood, and wore it throughout the day. But his determination had severe consequences: his village concluded he was a pervert with a sexual disease, his mother left his household in shame and his wife left him. As he remarks in the documentary “Menstrual Man” about his experience, “So you see God’s sense of humour. I’d started the research for my wife and after 18 months she left me!”
After years of research, Muruganantham perfected his machine and now works with NGOs and women’s self-help groups to distribute it. Women can use it to make sanitary napkins for themselves, but he encourages them to make pads to sell as well to provide employment for women in poor communities. And, since 23% of girls drop out of school once they start menstruating, he also works with schools, teaching girls to make their own pads: “Why wait till they are women? Why not empower girls?”
As communities accepted his machine, opinions of his “crazy” behavior changed. Five and a half years after she left, Shanthi contacted him, and they are now living together again. She says it was hard living with the ostracization that came from his project, but now, she helps spread the word about sanitary napkins to other women. “Initially I used to be very shy when talking to people about it, but after all this time, people have started to open up. Now they come and talk to me, they ask questions and they also get sanitary napkins to try them.”
Today, Muruganantham is looking at expanding to other countries and believes that 106 countries could benefit from his invention. He is proud to have made such a difference: “from childhood I know no human being died because of poverty — everything happens because of ignorance… I have accumulated no money but I accumulate a lot of happiness.” His proudest moment? A year after he installed one of the machines in a village so poor that, for generations, no one had earned enough for their children to attend school. Then he received a call from one of the women selling sanitary pads who told him that, thanks to the income, her daughter was now able to go to school.
For resources to help your Mighty Girl feel prepared for her first period — including several recommended puberty guides and first period kits — check out our blog post “‘That Time of the Month’: Teaching Your Mighty Girl about Her Menstrual Cycle” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=11614
To help your tween understand the changes she’s experiencing both physically and emotionally during puberty, we recommend a variety of books in our post on “Talking with Tweens and Teens About Their Bodies” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=11090
For fun ways to encourage your own Mighty Girl’s interest in invention, check out our blog post, “Building Her Dreams: Building and Engineering Toys for Mighty Girls,” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10430
The petition has attracted over 120,000 signatures since it was posted two days ago. At 100,000 signers the issue became eligible to be debated in Parliament. And by the way, the temp agency Ms. Thorpe works for has already changed its policy.
In a BBC interview, Ms. Thorp points out that 20 years ago it was illegal for women to wear trousers to work and this changed because someone spoke up against that policy as well.
NowThis Media and Huffington Post put together a brilliant little video about the absurdity that is high heel wearing. Watch it – it’s fun and thought-provoking.
In Guinea, where 97% of girls aged 15 to 49 are FGM victims despite the practice being outlawed, Unicef staff described seeing girls taken away from their families against their will to be cut, on the orders of village authorities. One five-year-old died from her wounds.
In honor of International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on 06 February 2016, let’s raise our voices to end this terrible practice. I’m not yet sure how we go about that, but for starters we can share information to let people know this is happening to a lot of women. Have faith that solutions will emerge.
GoldieBlox’s Fast-Forward Girls project celebrates superstar women and the girls they inspire – 10 women role models who have “broken the mold, blazed a trail, and made it happen in politics, entertainment, sport, and STEM. Each superstar is played by a mini-superstar in the making…” and these girls are cuties!
Life was not easy for Melody and Georgina. In their small towns and Georgina’s crowded, one room house there was little room for laughter, serenity, dreams. But music changed that for these young women. Melody says, “Necesitaba una palabra para decir que extrañaba algo que nunca había tenido.” (“I needed a word to express that I missed something that I had never known.”)
Filmmaker Marialy Rivas tells their story of escape from the drudgery of poverty through a 15 minute documentary. Be advised — you might want some tissues before it’s over!
…Chile has practically no social mobility, for how do you build a better future for yourself without education? This was a question I asked myself while making this short film, in which I explore music’s power to inspire children to escape poverty.
Curanilahue is a small former coal-mining town that until recently was one of the poorest in Chile. In 1996, a local school principal started a youth orchestra with the goal of empowering the area’s local children through music. To many, the idea seemed insane, but with the help of donations and grants, the program began to materialize: Soon, the school had an orchestra full of local children who had never played an instrument before in their lives.
Nearly all of the Curanilahue Orchestra’s children have pursued higher education, and most of them are the first generation in their families to graduate from a university. After one, a violinist named Melody, finished her university degree, she wanted to pass on what she had learned: a passion for music, and along with it, a way out of poverty.
As this Op-Doc shows, Melody became a conductor for the new Children’s Orchestra in Chonchi, a small town on the distant southern island of Chiloé. There she met Georgina, a reserved and very focused 12-year-old. Their passion for music intertwined their lives in a very unexpected way.
Oil Change Procedure For Women:
• Drive into Ultra Tune when the odometer reaches 10,000 miles since the last oil change.
• Drink a cup of coffee , read free paper.
• 15 minutes later, pay bill leave with a properly maintained vehicle.
Oil Change Procedure For Men: • Wait until Saturday, drive to auto parts store and buy a case of oil, filter, kitty litter, hand cleaner and a scented tree, write a check for $50.00.
• Stop by the Bottle Shop and buy a case of beer, write a check for $25. Drive home.
• Open a beer and drink it.
• Jack car up. Spend 30 minutes looking for jack stands.
• Find jack stands under old Buick.
• In frustration, open another beer and drink it.
• Place drain pan under engine.
• Look for 9/16 box end wrench.
• Give up and use crescent wrench.
• Unscrew drain plug.
• Drop drain plug in pan of hot oil: splash hot oil on you in process. • Curse and swear.
• Crawl out from under car to wipe hot oil off face and arms.
• Throw kitty litter on spilled oil.
• Have another beer while watching oil drain.
• Spend 30 minutes looking for oil filter wrench.
• Give up; crawl under car and hammer a screwdriver through oil filter and twist off.
• Crawl out from under car with dripping oil filter splashing oil everywhere from holes.
• Cleverly, hide old oil filter among trash in trash can to avoid environmental penalties.
• Install new oil filter making sure to apply a thin coat of oil to gasket surface.
• Dump first liter of fresh oil into engine.
• Remember drain plug from step 11. Hurry to find drain plug in drain pan.
• Drink beer.
• Discover that first liter of fresh oil is now on the floor. Throw kitty litter on oil spill.
• Get drain plug back in with only a minor spill. Drink beer.
• Crawl under car getting kitty litter into eyes. Wipe eyes with oily rag used to clean drain plug.
• Slip with stupid wrench tightening drain plug and bang knuckles on frame removing any excess skin between knuckles and frame.
• Begin swearing fit.
• Throw stupid wrench.
• More beer.
• Clean up hands and bandage as required to stop blood flow.
• Drink beer.
• Dump in five fresh litres of oil.
• Lower car from jack stands.
• Move car back to apply more kitty litter to fresh oil spilled during any missed steps.
• Test drive car.
• Get pulled over: arrested for driving under the influence.
• Car is impounded.
• Call loving wife, make bail.
• 12 hours later, get car from impound yard.
What is this trend, that even women refer to women as bitches? Stop doing this. Demand respect.
is generating quite a bit of discussion. Lady friend Marilyn admits that she uses this word, but in a popular language context (meaning, not with derogatory intent) and @Han Broekman points out that language mutates with time and across cultural lines. But a bunch of my Facebook friends say they’re glad I took a stand.
Whereas the language evolution arguments are intriguing, I stand by my point of view. I believe that the women who are using “bitches” to describe ourselves and other women, are unwittingly being drawn into reinforcing a culture of disrespect for women – which I’m sure is neither their intention nor desire. To the extent that language is a creative tool, let’s create a culture of respect and a future where difficulties women face are no longer part of our collective reality. Here’s a list of what needs to go:
Violence, “is the leading cause of miscarriage, birth defects, and infant mortality (as the perpetrator/abuser almost always escalates their use of violence when their partner is pregant). Recently, national studies found domestic violence homicide is the leading cause of death during pregnancy.” http://www.portlandonline.com/gatewaycenter/index.cfm?c=53054
National studies estimate that 3 to 4 million women are beaten each year in our country. A study conducted in 1995 found that 31% of women surveyed admitted to having been physically assaulted by a husband or boyfriend. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in our country, and the FBI estimates that a woman is beaten every 15 seconds. Thirty percent of female homicide victims are killed by partners or ex-partners and 1,500 women are murdered as a result of domestic violence each year in the United States. http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/domviol/myths.htm
The community turns out to watch girls from the New Light India School celebrate the joy of freedom of escaping prostitution slavery and being free to learn in school by dancing to the song Break the Chain
From the One Billion Rising Movement
“There are 7 billion people on the planet. Half are women. One third of them are raped or beaten.
V-Day refuses to watch as more than one billion women experience violence. V-Day is going further now, saying no more.
We’re inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to walk out, dance, rise up and demand an end to this violence.
On 2.14.13, we will move the earth, activating women and men to dance across every country. The celebration of One Billion Rising will be a WORLD HAPPENING” http://www.vday.org/node/2849
Half the Sky Movement on Gender-Based Violence
The gravest threat to a woman’s life is violence inflicted upon her simply because she is a woman.
Women between the ages of 15 and 45 are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. Often times, violent acts such as rape, female genital cutting, or extreme physical abuse are used to intimidate, humiliate and discredit women, denying them political weight in society and forcing them into silent, second-class citizenship. Beyond personal injury, gender-based violence also results in unwanted pregnancies, severe psychological trauma and an increase in maternal mortality.
Half the Sky Movement is helping reverse this devastating trend by shining a light on these horrific acts of violence and inspiring victims to champion gender equality and safety.
The Dalai Lama’s ideas may make women feel very differently about ourselves. HHDL last Thursday 13 june 2013 commented, “My successor may be (a) woman,” and went on to share these thoughts:
The 77-year-old monk said the world is facing a “moral crisis” of inequality and suffering and needs leaders who can bring compassion to their post.
“In that respect, biologically, females have more potential. Females have more sensitivity about others’ wellbeing. In my own case, my father, very short temper.
“On a few occasions I also got some beatings. But my mother was so wonderfully compassionate,” the Dalai Lama was quoted as saying by Australia’s AAP news agency.
His comments come as an Australian opposition leader sparked a controversy by using “grossly sexist and offensive” words to describe (Australian Premier) Gillard’s body at a party fundraiser menu.
I’m for adopting the L word: as in, Michelle Obama. This a Lady it would be really hard to think of referring to by any other term.
Bergen Community College Chapter of NAACP in Paramus is sponsoring a screening of Half the Sky today 4/29 at 11:45am-2:15pm in Room A-104 (in the Student Center atrium), followed by a panel discussion on empowering women as full citizens across the globe and ending targeting violence against women. Please feel welcome to join.
Renée from Half the Sky organization is coming out from their New York office to tell us about the movement that has been sparked by the book and film, and as one of the discussion panelists I (Kimi Wei) will share my own perspectives as a widow, single mom, domestic violence survivor, sustainability advocate and Happiness trainer.
The BCC Women’s Club and Environmental Club are co-sponsors of the screening, and light refreshments are generously being provided by the Women’s Club.