Month: December 2015

Wishes Waiting to Fly

A Wishlist for 2016

There’s a lot we hope for every New Year. Good health. Thinner waists. Fatter paycheques. This year, Girls’ Globe is hoping 2016 brings us significantly more. As a group, we travelled to Mexico City and New York. We were fuelled by the tireless work of grassroots organizations, multinational corporations and brave, fearless women on the ground. In light of what we’ve seen, what’s powered us and pained us, here’s a few of the things we hope for after December 31st. 1. Better representation of women in media & pop culture. In light of all the pressing and painful issues women around the world face, women in popular culture may seem somewhat trivial. However, in a world where television and movies dominate enormous screens in Hollywood and infiltrate small television sets in rural villages, the potential for media to influence perception is greater than ever. A better representation of women goes beyond a move away from an unhealthy ideal body or face. It also extends to showing women as full, complex and capable characters. From fictional characters like Jessica Jones …

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Reproductive Health Advocacy: Count Men In

Globally, there is a rising consensus steadily evolving among community leaders, the educated, and policymakers that ending gender-based violence and discrimination requires the full involvement of communities — and in particular, the increased participation of men and boys. This is because men and boys worldwide continue to maintain an unfair high lead compared to women in all areas – in August Houses and in stadiums; in homes, the classroom and the places of work. This is worsened by the still common practice of men making decisions for women regarding their welfare and dictating how they should live their lives. All this is led by the unchecked cultural practices which stem way back before the birth of global equality, gender and women’s rights movements such as the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. These organizations have played a significant role in advocating for gender equality even when gender equity remains not yet achieved. It’s this centralization of power on men together with primitive cultural practices, which make gender inequality a thorn in the foot of …

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It’s time to talk about periods.

Irise International works to support the education and empowerment of women and girls in East Africa through addressing the neglected issue of menstrual hygiene management. In this series of blogs, we look at how menstrual hygiene can affect all girls in a range of cultures and environments. In this blog, Noni Bryson, an Irise Volunteer, looks at our work in Uganda and the importance of breaking the period taboo. To find out more about Irise please visit http://www.irise.org.uk. There comes a day for every girl when everything will change. The day they start their period. For some this will be a joyful change, they have officially become a woman, but for others it can be unnerving. Adjusting to this change in the UK can be difficult, such as making sure you have enough tampons or pads for a full day at school or the worry of people teasing you. For many girls in Uganda, this day often brings fear of illness and stops them from making the most of their school experience. Across East Africa, a …

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Fighting the perfect shape

Growing up, I was extremely skinny. Though I met parts of the ideal body image, I was always asked a lot of questions about not eating enough. Ironically, I was a massive junk food and candy eater. Grass was greener on the other side and I ached to put on weight. At least to stop the inappropriate malnutrition questions being thrown at my mother. Puberty and certain lifestyle changes had a surprise waiting for me. I began to slowly but steadily put on weight. Surprise, surprise! I was extremely unhappy despite the fact that my wish had come true. Till I began to read and critically analyse body image, I was reduced to covering up the flab and dressing in loose fitted clothes. Finally giving in to the uneasy feelings, I wandered into a doctor’s office to get some clarity on the weight gain. Only to find out I had a health condition (Poly Cystic Ovaries Syndrome) that had certain correlations with weight gain. Body image is a huge problem across the world. Fat shaming …

A nurse comforts a 16-year-old pregnant girl in Arua Saturday 5 December 2015. After her mother died, her father suffered mental breakdown and she had to drop out of school. She was impregnated by a man who abandoned her.

#InvestInUGchildren Media Tour: Teenage Pregnancy in Arua District, Uganda

It’s a humid Saturday morning when we arrive at Bondo Health center in our air-conditioned land rovers to have a meeting with health workers, teenage mothers and community members. I enter the stuffy metal tin roofed meeting room a little late, and find everyone settled on concrete benches. All eyes are on a young pregnant woman in the corner, I realise as the discussion is going on that she is not really a full grown adult woman, she is a pregnant teenage girl. Her hands are shaking, she can barely get a word out of her mouth. Her eyes keep darting around the room looking for help. Anyone would feel nervous too, imagine sitting in a room full of strangers while they ask you, “How could you allow yourself to get pregnant?” “Will you be returning to school once you’ve had the baby?” It must be too overwhelming for a young girl like her, and I doubt she ever considered the consequences of her pregnancy. We continue to ask our questions as though we understand …

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Unequal Pay = Unequal World

The pay gap is real. Women are paid less than men across societies, industries and functions. The pay gap is detrimental to human development and until it is eradicated we will not achieve gender equality. Women working full time in the United States typically are paid 79% of what men are paid. Furthermore, a recent study found that female graduates in the United Kingdom apply for jobs whose average salary is £2,000 lower than their male peers. When women are beginning their career on a lower salary than men, it becomes increasingly hard to make up the difference. Why does the pay gap exist? In some instances the pay gap can be accounted for by men’s and women’s choices. For example, more women than men go into teaching and teachers tend to be paid less than other professions. Furthermore, more men than women go into STEM and IT-related jobs, which are some of the highest paying. But it should be clear that these tendencies do not equate with women choosing to be paid less. Rather, …

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Five Ways to Promote Gender Equality in 2016

We are only few days away from New Year’s eve, and the air is filled with the exciting promise of the endless possibilities of the new year. The chance to start over, clean the slate, make resolutions about being a better You – perhaps related to a healthier lifestyle, spending less money, being better at keeping in touch with family and relatives, exercising more, spending less time on the internet, learning a new skill. Resolutions often reflect the person we think we would like to be – an ideal version of Me. This New Year’s, perhaps you can make a resolution to do one thing in 2016 to promote gender equality in your community. It doesn’t need to be anything big or grand, because even the smallest of things can make a huge difference in a person’s life – and, the smallest of actions are often the catalyst for a bigger wave of change and progress. Here are five suggestions on how You can step up for gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights in …

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My Wish this Christmas – Compassion, Solidarity and Logic in Light of the Global Refugee Crisis

Cover Photo Credit: Josh Zakary, (Creative Commons/Flickr) Dear Readers, It has been an amazing year. We have seen progress for women and girls (link to Dec 22 post), and the new Sustainable Development Goals were agreed upon by the member states of the United Nations. This has also been a year of several tragedies – including terrorist attacks in Paris, deaths in the Mediterranean, continued persecution and conflict forcing even more people to flee their homes. It is now estimated that almost 60 million people are displaced – the highest number since the Second World War. Women and children continue to be the most vulnerable group in displaced communities. The United Nations estimate that 80% of the world’s refugees are women, children and young people. Girls are at risk for child, early and forced marriage. Women are still in need of sexual, reproductive and maternal health services, that in many times are not available to them. Gender based violence is rampant. Today is Christmas Eve, celebrated and recognized by individuals across the globe in different ways and according to different …

Photo Credit: UNICEF

My New Year’s Wish

Last night at a holiday party, amid Christmas cookies and carols, I was thinking about child brides. To be honest, I didn’t want to think about child brides; I just wanted to enjoy the party. But child marriage became personal to me in Ethiopia. Since that moment I’m constantly aware of how very interconnected my life is with that of the millions of girls forced into marriage. Child marriage became personal when I was conducting a life skills program with young women. After asking about the women’s expectations, one particularly engaged woman stood up and told her story. Married around age 11, she was repeatedly raped and beaten by the man who is still her husband. “I just want to know,” she said with a firm but emotional voice, “how to make my life bearable.” About two years after her marriage, she gave birth to her first child. I estimated ages, figuring that she must be somewhere between her mid-twenties and her early thirties. Then I came to a haunting conclusion: this woman was my …

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Best Moments for Women and Girls – Round-up of 2015

As 2015 comes to an end, it is important for us to take a closer look at the progress women’s rights and gender equality have made world over. There have obviously been some heart breaking lows like the recent Paris Agreement which says little on gender equality or how some Indian ministers perpetually provide unsolicited advice to women and men or looking at the sheer number of secular bloggers being murdered in Bangladesh. In an interview with @CatchNews, Alok Rawat, NCW’s male member, says the following things. #ThatsWhatTheySaid pic.twitter.com/tPgp2lJ382 — Feminism in India (@FeminismInIndia) November 20, 2015 Luckily, 2015 also included some great and noteworthy victories for gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights. Here are a few chosen moments of 2015 that will remind us how far we have come and how much further we have to go: 1. Female Genital Mutilation ban  Though the United Nations banned Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in 2012, many countries are yet to sign on and begin to ban it on their own lands. In 2015, many African …