Month: December 2012

The New Girl Power Brought to you by Rwanda

I was extremely excited to read Annika’s latest blog post about women’s representation in Parliaments around the world and her recognition of Rwanda’s government boasting an outstanding 57 percent women MPs. Everyday as I sit and work on my graduate thesis, (which is a study of electoral gender quotas and more specifically, Rwanda’s women Parliamentarians) I find myself continually flabbergasted by the fact that Rwandan women’s political progress is not a bigger deal. When people ask what I am researching, they are generally shocked to learn Rwandan women represent a majority in Parliament. I’ve seriously considered making t-shirts that say, “Rwandan women represent a majority in government. THIS is the new Girl Power.” According to its history and precedent, Rwanda should still be a failed state. However, by 2011, Rwanda was very close to meeting several of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, gained its own stock exchange, and has been listed as one of the safest countries in which to live in Africa. As Annika recognized, Rwandan MPs have made serious advances in terms of women-focused …

Chagas Disease: The Neglected Killer

Wake up world! Chagas disease is here and, according to the recent Doctors without Borders: Lives in the Balance symposium, it has the potential to be as devastating as “the next HIV epidemic.” So, what exactly is Chagas Disease? Chagas negatively affects the heart, esophagus or intestines and can be transmitted congenitally or through the help of a vector.  DNDi describes Chagas disease as the following: A parasitic disease transmitted primarily by large, blood-sucking reduviid insects widely known as the “kissing bug.” The disease is endemic in 21 countries in Latin America, where approximately 8 million people are infected.  Without an adequate diagnosis and treatment, one in every four Chagas patients develops a fatal symptom of the disease, usually swelling of the heart muscle. Unfortunately, if a pregnant woman becomes infected with Chagas, there is absolutely no medication available anywhere in the world that can treat her. Even more staggering is the fact that there have been ZERO new treatments developed for Chagas since the 1960s. (I repeat, the 1960s.) Therefore, since pregnant mothers lack access to proper …

Decent Work for Domestic Workers!

Protesters demanding fair wages for domestic workers. Photo courtesy: nic0/Flickr.com Few days ago it said 12.12.12 in our calendars. This date was an important day for domestic workers, trade unions and activists in over 50 countries mobilized to raise awareness, put pressure on decision makers and to encourage governments to ratify legislations to protect domestic workers. This campaign is called ’12 by 12’, which was launched in December 2011 by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in partnership with a wide rage of actors to make 12 countries to ratify ILO Convention No. 189 and Recommendation No. 201 by the end of 2012. The latest estimates published by the International Labour Organization shows that over 50 millions workers worldwide are employed in domestic work. In Latin America and the Caribbean, domestic work represent up to 11.9 per cent of the total employment followed by 8.0 per cent in the Middle East, 4.9 per cent in Africa and 3.5 per cent in Asia. As shown above, domestic work is a significant source of employment for many …

Why equal representation?

In 2011, the global average of women in parliament stood at 19, 5 %. That means not even one out of five is a woman. Only 9 of the world’s 194 states in the world have more than 40 % female parliamentarians. Today’s representation in parliament is a clear sign that the work for a more gender balanced world is still being neglected. And with few women in the legislative bodies the situation is likely to persist since these are the institutions where policy directions are set. Policy directions that will shape the economic, social and political future. Without a balanced representation between the sexes, the concerns and interests that come from women’s experiences will not be given equal attention in a parliament. Studies have shown that when the presence of women increases, both substance and shape of politics change. Rwanda, known for the horrific genocide that took place between April and May 1994 has today’s biggest representation of women in the whole world – 56, 3 %. This started as a consequence of the …

Read All About It! Top 10 Gender-Focused Books

In the spirit of end of the year “best-of” lists, I have created a list of my top ten favorite books centered on gender issues.  (Warning: These books may not qualify for your average light, happy-go-lucky-read-on-the-beach book.)  However, if you are interested in gender issues and love reading memoirs and historical non-fiction on the subject, then I have created a holiday reading list just for you! 10. Mighty be our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War -(2011) Leymah Gbowee & Carol Mithers During the Liberian Civil War, Gbowee’s life changed dramatically as she endured the deaths of several friends and relatives.  As a young mother, she realized that women suffer tremendous amounts during periods of conflict; however, she also noticed that women working together could create a powerful voice for peace.  In 2003, Gbowee helped to organize the Liberian Mass Action for Peace and held public protests and sex strikes.  With the Liberian women united, Gbowee helped bring peace to her nation at last. 9. Development with a Body: Sexuality, Human Rights and …

Gender Violence and AIDS: The Effect on Women

Right now is a busy time in awareness raising. We are currently in the middle of the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence’ (which kicked off on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and, as you may have seen, December 1st was the 24th World AIDS Day. Ending gender violence and the fight to stop the spread and find a cure for HIV and AIDS have been hot topics on the international health and development scene for awhile now; and the awareness raising only continues to grow as strides are being made to address the problems. But, since these two issues are at the forefront of our minds right now, let’s take a look at how they’re related and what we can do to help end both. HIV and AIDS affects women in unique ways: women are biologically more susceptible to contracting HIV; pregnant mothers can transmit the virus to their children during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding if ARVs (antiretroviral drugs) aren’t used to prevent transmission; women as victims of …

The Indian Enigma – Part II

After last week’s blog describing the increasing presence of the phenomenon of the so-called “Indian Enigma,” you may have finished the article with a sense of hopelessness surrounding the undernutrition of women and girls.  However, that is not the case. Although a daunting task, non-profit organizations such as The Hunger Project, Freedom From Hunger and Oxfam International are successfully tackling these exact issues in order to improve nutrition for women and girls throughout India. The Hunger Project works to improve undernutrition through its bottom-up strategy known as the Panchayati Raj Campaign whereby women become active local governing officials.  The Panchayati Raj Campaign mobilizes people at the grassroots level to build self-reliance, empowers women as key change agents and creates effective partnerships with local governments within a five-year cycle. In the past year, elected and empowered women representatives have led a series of successful campaigns including the Malnutrition Awareness Campaign.  The aforementioned campaign has successfully made the public aware of problems associated with malnutrition, ways to prevent and treat malnutrition, as well as the government’s role and …

WORLD AIDS DAY

Today is World AIDS Day. Last year alone, 2.5 million people became infected by HIV. However, that is 50 % less than the rate of new infections 10 years earlier. We are making progress, but there is so much more to be done! Girls Globe is joining this battle and today we want to raise awareness of this epidemic. The international community is now joining forces to end mother to child transmission of HIV by 2015. This is possible! A decline in new born babies infected is happening today. But it needs to accelerate. We would like to encourage you to join (RED). They are combating AIDS with many private partners, making it so easy for YOU and I to help give people access to treatment. Be smart when you shop, be generous when you give. We all have a part to play. Something that struck me is that the Global Fact Sheet by UNAIDS states: In 26 of 31 countries with generalized epidemics, less than 50% of young women have comprehensive and correct knowledge about …