Month: March 2016

The Women of Solidarity: How History Ignored Fifty Percent of Poland’s Solidarity Movement

The success of Poland’s Solidarity Movement to combat and rid the nation of its communist rule is a pivotal moment in world history. It stands as a testament to not only the power of grassroots-lead revolutions, but how quickly change can manifest across a nation and finally transcend borders. However, it was an arduous road. In 1981, still a few years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the leadership of the Solidarity Movement was arrested during the military coup. This leads one to question, who kept the Solidarity Movement active during the following months and years? From the original firing of Anna Walentynowicz at the Gdnask shipyard in August 1980 to the all-female editorial team of Poland’s most influential underground paper, “Tygodnik Mazowsze”, one can’t help but question why the women of Poland’s Solidarity Movement do not get the credit they so justly deserve? The firing of Anna Walentynowicz marked a historic shift in Poland’s resistance movement for it resulted in some of the most widespread strikes in the nation’s history. Soon, millions of …

Trump’s War on Women

Raise your hand if you are tired of politics. In the United States, we are well on our way through the 2016 elections and frankly it is not looking good. Is anyone else stressed, or is it just me? I consider myself moderate in my political views. When election time rolls around, I often find my opinions and views don’t always fit nicely into either side of our two most popular U.S. political parties. Frankly, I am worried about the future of America. Mainly, I am worried that so many Americans are currently supporting Donald Trump as a President-elect. I almost didn’t write this article. There is part of me that doesn’t want to give Donald Trump more of a reason to trend in the media and on social media. The other part of me cannot help but raise my voice as an American and a woman who is so frustrated with the support his campaign is receiving. I am disgusted. Really, America? Do we want to elect someone for President who has been on …

The Fight for Gender Equality is Incomplete Without Male Involvement

All over the globe, many people have come to believe that gender equality is a feminist issue, as if to say the fight for equality is a woman’s fight. That’s just not the case. First of all, most gender initiatives continue to emphasize women and girl empowerment.  This is understandable as women and girls continue to be the largest victims of gender inequality through discrimination, gender-based violence, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, teenage pregnancies, child marriages and so on. Consequently, such disparities put them at a very big disadvantage in a variety of ways: from reducing their power to act independently, to being less educated and poor, to remaining submissive and always being vulnerable in society compared to the rights of men and boys. Let’s look at the figures of Uganda in East Africa for an example. The 2006 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) found that six in 10 women (60 percent) have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and 86 percent of the violence  is from at the hands of their current or …

The Nobel Prize: A Mostly-Men’s Club?

Since the 1970s, the number of women among Nobel Prize winners remains low. This issue brings to light the gender disparity surrounding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and the need for encouraging young women to pursue their scientific dreams. The Nobel Prize has long been recognized as the most prestigious award available in the fields of literature, medicine, chemistry, physics, peace and economics, and has been awarded to 874 laureates and 26 organizations between 1901 and 2015. Yet, out of these numbers, the prize has only been awarded to 49 women. What is keeping women from earning the recognition they deserve in these fields? According to Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, author of ” Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles and Momentous Discoveries,” “anti-nepotism laws in the U.S. actively prevented women from working at the same universities where their husbands worked until 1971.” In addition, according to Robert Marc Friedman, historian from the University of Oslo, “women faced barriers to entering higher education, especially at elite institutions that offered the resources to do the cutting-edge science …

Building Bridges of Knowledge Between Mothers Worldwide

In January this year, Girls’ Globe launched a new initiative, The Mom Pod, a bi-weekly podcast series about all things related to motherhood. We want to pick the minds of the world’s parents, leading experts in maternal health and women’s rights, and build bridges between cultures, countries and continents. My colleague Emma Saloranta and I became mothers two months apart in 2014 – and throughout pregnancy and in the early months of being mothers we frequently spoke via Skype about challenges and joys. We shared experiences, knowledge and information. We spoke about similarities and differences – being that Emma gave birth in the USA and I gave birth in Sweden. We discussed issues that we encountered and the disappointments that sometimes arose in our experiences during pregnancy or as new mothers. What startled me were the strong norms in our societies that steer women’s opportunities and choices. Throughout pregnancy and especially as a new mother, there are so many other people who have opinions about your choices – and who express these openly. Yet, at the same time, …

Why We Still Need to Talk about Maternal Mortality, and What We Can Do to Prevent It

Although women are benefitting from massive healthcare improvements in pregnancy and childbirth in the last century, many of them still die from complications and not all women receive equal access to these healthcare opportunities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 830 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications every day. At the end of 2015, about 303,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these deaths happened in developing countries and could have been prevented. These shocking statistics reflect unequal access to healthcare services and highlight the gap between the rich and the poor. In fact, 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries and more than half of these deaths occur in humanitarian settings. In addition, for every 100,000 live births, the maternal mortality ratio in developing countries is 239 compared to 12 in developed countries. Moreover, the probability that a 15-year-old woman will die from a maternal cause is 1 in 4900 in developed countries compared to 1 in 180 in developing countries. Many of these women …

Let’s Talk About Sex – The Importance of Sexual Education

When I was in the seventh grade we started having classes about sex. Everyone thought this was an awkward thing to talk about and no one really understood why we had to do it. Everyone knew that we were supposed to wait until we felt ready and use a condom, right? A few weeks ago I visited an upper secondary girls’ school in Tanzania and one of the girls came to me with a question. She was 17 years old and asked me what I thought about sex before marriage. Since sex is something that  you shouldn’t have before marriage according to the prevailing norms and and religious views in Tanzania, I felt quite uncomfortable. I didn’t want to step on her toes and say something ”wrong”. So I told her that in Sweden, having sex before marriage is quite common and nothing that is considered weird or abnormal. I was a little nervous of how she would react since it is a tricky and very personal question. This girl continued to tell me that …

Finding Perspective on World Water Day

Post Written by Jennifer Iacovelli Three weeks after I realized my marriage was ending, I traveled to Nicaragua with WaterAid on an insight trip representing Mom Bloggers for Social Good. We visited the most remote areas of the country to see the work that WaterAid was doing with communities lacking clean water access and basic sanitation. It was a life-changing experience that allowed me to gain a tremendous amount of perspective. I met women and teens who were trained by WaterAid to build wells and toilets for their communities. These were women whose husbands were typically away during the week working in the city, and teen girls who missed a tremendous amount of school, if they went at all, because of their household responsibilities. Fetching water from the river took up valuable time that they could have used to work or go to school. The training allowed them to not only gain valuable skills and earn money, but it also empowered them to become leaders in their community. A few of the women even got …

Water Gives New Life to a Slum in Bangladesh

Post Written by Moree Scofield, Community Manager, Water.org For women, children and communities around the world, water gives life. In Bangladesh, the water crisis affects both rural and urban areas, and is a matter of both water scarcity and water quality. While Bangladesh has made commendable progress in supplying safe water to its people, gross disparity in coverage still exists across the country. The poor from the rural areas continue to migrate to the urban areas with the hope of being able to earn larger wages to support their families. Many of these people find shelter in Dhaka’s slum communities. These squatter communities are the most densely populated areas in the country. The enormous quantity of people living in such close quarters causes people living in these slums to have very poor health, compounded by the fact that water connections and toilets are scarce. Most people in these slums live on less than US $2 a day, and many live on less than US $1 a day. Acute poverty, overcrowding, poor housing, and unhealthy disposal …

Global Advocacy at CSW: Girls’ Rights On Our Own Terms

For the past week, I have had the opportunity to join hundreds of girls and young women in the annual Commission on the Status of Women at the UN. Together with eight leaders from the Girl Child Platform, we advocated for two things: that the rights of girls and women needed to be at top of every development agenda and we need to define the empowerment of girls and youth on our own terms. First of all, the rights of girls need to be defined in a comprehensive and ambitious way. Governments in partnership with the development community need to guarantee every girl’s right to a life free of violence and discrimination; the right to health, education and adequate nutrition; the right to water and the right to a healthy environment. All these rights need to be guaranteed in order to ensure the wellbeing of girls. Throughout the event, we worked to raise the rights of girls in the agenda and to ensure they are all guaranteed in a comprehensive way. When it comes to international …