Month: February 2017

What is the “Global Gag Rule” and what does it mean for Women and Girls?

Two days after the Women’s March, the new president of the Unites States signed an executive order reinstating the Mexico City Policy, popularly known as the “Global Gag Rule”. The moment was captured in an emblematic photo: Donald Trump – surrounded by men – signing an order that so significantly affects the lives of women around the world, in what many described on social media as a picture of patriarchy. If you’re wondering what patriarchy looks like: A group of white men watch as Trump reinstates the #GlobalGagRule pic.twitter.com/ZV1OX41ziF — Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 23, 2017 This group just made it more difficult for women to get access to health care worldwide. You tell me what’s wrong with this picture. pic.twitter.com/8UQFWg8qO3 — Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 23, 2017 But what exactly is this controversial policy, and what are its implications for women, girls and beyond around the world? 1) The policy’s origins This policy is a U.S. government foreign policy. It was not originally created by Trump, simply reinstated by him. It was created by the …

Female Networks: Creating Magic by Getting Women Together

2017 might turn out to be the year of female networks. Are you part of any organised network, virtual or physical? I wasn’t, at least not actively, until last year when I joined a Swedish Facebook group for women only, Heja Livet. Nowadays, I seem to start every other sentence with “I saw this thing in that female network…”. When I joined, Heja Livet consisted of 1,500 young women. Today, not even a year later, we are over 24,000 women (you heard me!) sharing our lives with each other. According to Swedish TV channel SVT, Heja Livet is the third biggest Swedish all-female Facebook group. Why should you be part of a female network? The idea of Heja Livet is to prove wrong that outdated idea of women not supporting each other. The two founders of the group, Emely Crona Stenberg and Caroline Levy, have a basic requirement for all posts and comments: no hateful or mean content allowed. As Emely an Caroline put it: “Constructive criticism? Sure. Hate? No”. Recently, something called The Wing …

The Young Women of the Ukrainian Government

The Ukrainian Revolution of 2014, also known as the Euromaidan Revolution, induced a widespread series of changes to the sociopolitical systems of Ukraine. This self-organized revolution was focused on ensuring closer ties to the European Union while also working to dispel corruption within Ukraine, starting with the removal and exiling of Ukraine’s president at the time, Viktor Yanukovych. One of the most significant changes was the installation of a new government filled a great number of inexperienced and idealistic youth. But as time progressed it became clear that the criticism faced by these young politicians and bureaucrats has fallen mainly on the women holding these positions of power. The question for Ukraine is how it will handle the upheaval of its traditionally male-dominated political landscape? In Mid-November 2016, 24-year old Anastasia Deeva was appointed to the position of Deputy Minister of the Interior, becoming the youngest person to hold a post of a Deputy Minister in Ukraine. The decision by Arsen Avakov, Minister of Interior, to appoint the young 24-year old to such a high level …

Postpartum Depression and the Danger of ‘Bad Mom’ Stigma

“I felt so trapped, like I had a made a huge mistake in having my child.” It’s heart-wrenching to imagine any mother having to say these words about her own child merely days after giving birth. But while interviewing Serena*, a young, resilient, postpartum depression (PPD) survivor last year, I was taken by surprise by this phrase. Serena’s story about her struggles as a mother suffering from PPD were poignant. From difficulties getting out bed and taking care of herself, to a severe emotional disconnection from her own child and family, Serena suffered for weeks after giving birth to her first child. She felt unsupported and, after hearing accounts of mothers who were enjoying motherhood, she soon labeled herself a “bad mom” which caused her depression to deepen further. It was not until she found a support group with other women going through similar struggles that she regained her strength and spirits. In the peer group, she found solace in knowing she wasn’t alone and that she was not indeed, a bad mother. The women who …

Encouraging Girls to Take on the World through Education Centres in India

Offering girls basic education is one sure way of giving them much greater power – of enabling them to make genuine choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead. This is not a luxury. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women establish it as a basic human right. So why is it that despite proving to be a blessing to society the girl child is – in the worst case scenario – killed in the womb, or otherwise allowed to breathe but only the air of negligence, discrimination and deprivation? Today, we’re not only proud of great women of science like Sunita Williams, or women who’ve acted as agents of change like Sarojini Naidu, or  women who’ve taught us what it means to be human like Mother Teresa, but we also encourage such people to come forward and reform our world. Why is it that even though we claim to be the biggest democracy in the world we simply cannot destroy the …

Equality Must Start Early

Blog post written by Lisa Öhman, intern at the Girl Child Platform Many of us would agree that gender equality must begin in early ages, but why is this so important? The Swedish School Inspection has now presented a report of their review of preschools’ work with equality. The purpose of this review was to see if girls and boys are given the same opportunities to try and develop abilities and interests without being limited by stereotypical gender roles. Research and investigations have previously shown that if there is a lack of a conscious equality work then stereotypical gender roles can be strengthened instead of being made visible and questioned. The conclusion of the review was that the Preschool policy on gender equality is not clear or defined, and can thus not be used effectively. It is imperative that equality is worked with consciously in preschools through a girl perspective – by which we mean that girls have limited possibilities to live a life free from discrimination and the conviction that this must change – because …

UN Experts Call for Action on Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes

Breastfeeding is recognized as a human rights issue for both mothers and babies, and those who wish to breastfeed their children have the right to unbiased and accurate information to be able to make informed choices. There are numerous barriers facing women worldwide in regards of optimal breastfeeding. Inappropriate and varying knowledge and skills among healthcare workers, non-existent maternity leave and non-supportive cultural practices are only a few that affect and hinder women who wish to breastfeed. On November 22nd, a joint statement by a group of UN experts was released to urge action on one major obstacle: the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, also known as formula. Together, they call upon Member States to implement legal measures to protect babies and mothers from misleading, and often aggressive marketing. Let’s have a look at some facts: Global sales of breast-milk substitutes total US$ 44.8 billion In 2019, the number is expected to rise to US$ 70.6 billion Of 194 countries analyzed, 135 have some form of legal measure in place related to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (also …

Knowledge and Perception about Family Planning by Women in Uganda

Blog post by Sylvester Nnyombi, Content Guru, Reach A Hand, Uganda Phoebe Nabaweesa* was 22 years when she decided to try a family planning option mid last year. She zeroed in on the injection primarily because she had observed its impact on her best friend for quite some time. Most of which was positive- at least as far as she was concerned. Phoebe’s friend had a good appetite, gained weight and was having sex without getting pregnant. Phoebe went to a clinic in Konge, one of the suburbs of Kampala, with a preset mind to receive the injection. Parting with 4,000UGX (Approx. $1) she received it, and that’s when all hell broke loose. “I had a constant flow of blood from the time I got the injection. It was like having my period every day for three months!” the 23-year old factory worker in Konge narrates. Having seen the blood flow for a month, she returned to the health facility, this time seeking medical attention. The attendants tactfully told her that the body needed time to get …

A Beginner’s Guide to Stopping Time

This piece was written by Julia Z. – a high school student from the United States of America. All opinions are her own. We hear our grandparents say it. Preach it. Sitting around a crackling fire surrounded by family. Those wise with age warn those who listen eagerly – live while you’re young, enjoy every moment, time moves so fast. We hear the poets telling us to seize the day. Time is an enigmatic topic that attracts scholars, academics, and even inexperienced teenagers like myself. Is it possible that when people tell us to seize the day, they really are warning us to retain our innocence for as long as the universe will allow? Innocence is lost when the weight of the world is suddenly shifted onto the shoulders of an unsuspecting child. Burden, struggle, and responsibility are what make you transform from an innocent child to an adult who wears stress on his or her face like a child wears a smile. What I am describing hit me on a recent trip to Ethiopia. …

The Women’s March on Washington: 5 Lessons in Feminism for My Son

For most of 14 hours on Saturday, my son and I were on our feet in Washington D.C., unwilling to be comfortable and refusing to be silent. As I saw it, the educational possibilities justified skipping a day of school, even when the learning opportunities at the march included Henry reading a sign and asking loudly, “What’s an orgasm?”At that moment, I faced one of few occasions when I’ve replied: “Ask your father.” Though I bypassed that teachable moment to keep us on task, the Women’s March on Washington served my mothering well. Together with my son, who is privileged enough to live a life in which his privilege is so fundamental as to render it mostly invisible, we marched to experience some basic lessons in responsible, active citizenship. Here are the lessons I hope he and other kids at marches around the globe might have experienced: 1. Humanity and decency are not political. We might vehemently disagree with the political ideologies of the new administration, but standing up and marching with millions of people around the world was less of a political statement than it …