Year: 2017

Activism in Indonesia: a movement for change

It has been a couple of weeks since I got back home from an intense week in Indonesia. With our project Let’s Talk Equality, my project partner Anna and I visited several organizations and doctors in the suburbs of Jakarta and Bali. The objective of the trip was to gather footage for our documentary on maternal health in Sweden and Indonesia. I was completely blown away by the positive energy present in every office I visited. Despite facing a lot of resistance, people were determined and confident that it was worth all the work. Having tried to understand the slow and difficult process for change in Indonesia, I will try to share some of my observations here, before the launch of our documentary later this spring. Having grown up in Sweden, I was raised under the impression that certain privileges were certainties. Like legal abortions. Low maternal mortality rates. Free contraception. Paid paternity leave. The right to love regardless of gender. In Indonesia, none of these “certainties” exist. In fact, abortion is illegal. As is homosexuality. Parental leave is exclusive for mothers and …

Blood, Sweat and Sequins: Three Women on Taekwondo

When writing a blog post about how I started training in martial arts after an attack, I became curious about my friends who train at the same club. Why did they step into the dojang that first time, and where has this step taken them? I decided to have a chat with my training partners-in-crime. Gabriela, Mia and Sabina all started taekwondo at the same time as me. Six years later, the three of them are still at that same club, they are all advanced students, and Mia has even earned her black belt. Three women, all with different backgrounds and motivation. I was curious about their views and thoughts on taekwondo. Why did you choose taekwondo? Mia, a 30-year-old nurse and children’s taekwondo trainer, puts it this way: “I had been looking for something with another purpose beyond just getting fit”. To become better in taekwondo, you need to train not only your physical abilities, but also the mental ones. This takes focus off the way your body looks, and instead you start asking …

Why Transgender Rights are Women’s Rights

Feminism is inherently controversial, even within itself. There is a political spectrum of feminism, from radical feminists on one end to what Roxane Gay describes, tongue-in-cheek, as ‘bad feminist‘ on the other. Where this political spectrum becomes hurtful is when it excludes or devalues certain women’s experiences over others, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of the denial of transwomen’s rights as women’s rights. Radical empathy may render the thinking behind trans-exclusionary feminism understandable on a knee-jerk emotional level, if not still impolitic. It is easy to be a little bitter as a woman. Many of us have at least the occasional moment where we have a twinge of intense impatience or frustration when our male family members or friends or colleagues are surprised at the minute discrimination we experience daily. This resentment can spill over into a resentment of transwomen, for what some think of as their former privileged position as a man. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for example, came under fire for her comments that “I think if you’ve lived in the world as …

Books to Make You Feel Bold!

To mark International Women’s Day 2017 we’ve been celebrating the commitment and courage of the bloggers and organisations in Girls’ Globe’s network. We asked each of them to share their secrets of feeling BOLD. Here are the top 20 books that Girls’ Globe reads to feel inspired, emboldened and ready to take action! We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie What does “feminism” mean today? That’s the question at the heart of this personal, eloquently-argued essay. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, Nujood Ali Nujood Ali’s father arranged for her to be married to a man three times her age. This book reminds us that hope is a verb. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte This innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers through one woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life. Daring Greatly, Brené Brown A powerful new vision that encourages us to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives. Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby The most inclusive anthology ever attempted of oral and written literature–in every conceivable genre–by women of …

Through Needlecraft Towards Revolution in Sweden

Right now, making a pair of relatively simple mittens, knitting feels methodical. Melodic even. Other times, knitting causes every muscle to strain and my temples to pound with frustration. Sometimes I would rather just burn the sweater I’m knitting since it’s turning out all wrong, but I don’t. Instead I keep knitting, because I know I’m backed by a needlecraft community that is spread out all around the globe. Nea Glad is one of the co-founders of ‘Unifying Progressive Handicraft’ – a needlecraft association based in Malmö, Sweden. She and her friends started the association in the summer of 2012. Since then it has grown and today they get together once a week to hang out and do needlework. Now and then they also participate in political projects or conduct workshops. Nea says: “Through our association we wish to create spaces that enable people of different ages, colors, nationalities and abilities to meet through their mutual interest. It doesn’t matter where you come from or how old you are, as long as you like to needlecraft. In …

#BeBoldForChange: Lerato the Youth Advocate

To mark International Women’s Day 2017, I have conducted a series of interviews celebrating women I feel have had positive influence on society. The third woman is Lerato Morulane. I‘m Lerato, a 21 year-old youth development advocate from Pretoria, South Africa.  My advocacy focuses on the areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), HIV prevention, substance abuse prevention, LGBTI rights and youth participation within the Sustainable Development Goals and African Union’s Agenda 2063. I started my activism work at the age of 12 in Atteridgeville, in the west of Pretoria, focusing on sexual violence the community.  Later, I worked on a teenage pregnancy awareness programme with two secondary schools in Atteridgeville. I serve as a member of the African Youth and Adolescent Network for Eastern and Southern Africa, and I also serve as the Chairperson of the National Campaign for Young Women and Girls in South Africa; SHE CONQUERS. Apart from advocacy, activism and my academic background in mechanical technology, I am determined to pursue a Law degree, with fervent intentions of becoming the African Union Chairperson! What does it …

Women are our Best Support Group

The other day I overheard a group of women talking about something they’d seen on social media. A woman they all knew had reported a sexual assault she had suffered earlier that night on her Facebook page.  She had claimed a man, who the group of women were all acquainted with, had inappropriately grabbed her in a local night club. Immediately, the women started accusing the girl of being intoxicated, because she had posted her message early in the morning. They said that because of this she had no credibility, and they claimed the encounter she described was not even remotely close to what they considered to be sexual assault. They also criticized the fact that she was willing to humiliate the man through social media. While I sat there listening to their unbelievable lack of empathy, I started thinking about gender congruence amongst women in Mexico.  One out of three women worldwide will experience some sort of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. I want to emphasize how important this issue is; these numbers are rising as I write. So, if you read the event …

How Music and Theatre are Educating Young People in Uganda

Last Wednesday (March 8) marked International Women’s Day. The energy and effort within the women’s rights movement has clearly not slowed down from 2016. Events like the Women’s March on Washington (and the ripple effect that that has caused worldwide) as well as the consequent A Day Without a Woman campaign have showcased the creativity and inspiration that emerges when women come together to express their views on what they believe to be right and just. Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU) has been working to set the stage in Uganda for spreading messages on sexual and reproductive rights and health (SRHR) and gender-based violence (GBV) through creative means – music, dance, and drama. The initiative proves that the performing arts are an effective medium of ‘edutainment’ – challenging gender norms and creating spaces to discuss sensitive topics. As a community-centered organization, it made sense for GUIU to partner with Plan International Uganda for a youth-focused program called Ni-Yetu (translating to It Is Ours in Swahili) – operating in five districts of Uganda. In Kampala, Ni-Yetu has introduced two activities to spread messages on SRHR …

#BeBoldForChange: Shakira the Young Health Leader

To mark International Women’s Day 2017, I have conducted a series of interviews celebrating women I feel have had a positive influence on society. The second woman is Shakira Choonara. As a young South African (27-years-old), my passion and goals are centered on improving health systems, especially in low-and-middle-income settings. I am presently pursuing a PhD (public health) and working towards my ultimate dream of becoming the next Minister of Health in SA, or perhaps even being the President of our beautiful nation! As a qualified demographer, I have worked and continue to work on several aspects of healthcare in various regions of the world. I’d describe myself as an academic or researcher by day, though by night and in any spare time I engage in activism around anti-racism, disability rights and broader development issues. 1. What is the special thing in your life that makes you feel bold? Boldness undoubtedly emanates from your dreams and aspirations. We all have our dreams and since I was six years old my dream was to be the President of South Africa. …