Month: March 2017

Removing Barriers to the Fulfilment of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

During this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), I had the privilege of attending an event on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) promoted by EngenderHealth. The 2017 theme for the CSW was “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work”. It may seem as though the topic of sexual and reproductive health and rights does not fit into this theme, but in fact there is a strong link between economic empowerment and sexual and reproductive rights. For women to truly be able to enjoy economic empowerment and equality with men in the workforce and elsewhere, they need to be given the information they need to make decisions about their bodies and reproductive choices. Unplanned pregnancies during adolescence, contracting an STI, HIV/AIDS, and having to deal with the complications of childbirth are all examples of situations that put women at a disadvantage to men economically and in the workforce. With the proper knowledge and access to services, women, starting at a young age, can be empowered to take charge of their bodies …

The Power and Influence of Mothers-in-Law in Lesotho

We have all heard the stories of ‘monsters-in-law’ when a group of women get talking about their husbands’ mothers. Some women are blessed with mothers-in-law who treat them as respected family members, while others struggle with finding balance between two of the most important women in a man’s life. In Lesotho (southern Africa), this same dichotomy exists, but the ‘monsters-in-law’ are creating consequences far more severe than whose lasagna is preferred, or who will host Christmas dinner. When we think about achieving gender equity, many of us assume that men are holding girls and women back through patriarchal norms. But mothers-in-law are women – and they have traditionally been one of the greatest hindrances to empowering women in Lesotho. When a man and woman get married in Lesotho, it is traditional for the newlywed couple to live with the husband’s family for six months with no contact with the brides’ family. If she fails to meet her mother-in-law’s expectations, she will often be mocked and sometimes even abused. For many young women who enter into marriage …

Celebrating 100 Interviews with Inspirational Women

My interview with Women LEAD Co-Founder and Former Executive Director Claire Charamnac, published on March 7, 2017, marks my hundredth Inspirational Woman interview. The realization that my hundredth interview coincided almost exactly with International Women’s Day 2017 surprised me and made me think deeply about how far Inspirational Women Series has come. Back in September 2013, I started interviewing women leaders weekly for Women LEAD, and since then, I’ve had the unbelievable opportunity to launch Inspirational Women Series, which is dedicated to showcasing the experiences of women leaders in social impact, international development, and historically underrepresented fields for women. The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 was “Be Bold for Change”. This intrigued me, because all of the women I’ve interviewed boldly use their actions and words to effect change in their everyday work. And nowhere does their boldness shine more clearly than in challenging situations. In my recent interviews, I started asking questions about the biggest obstacles my interviewees have faced –  whether professional, sector-related, or personal. For some women, their biggest challenge was scaling a …

5 Reasons Why I am Opting for Reusable Sanitary Towels

Post written by Helen Patricia Amutuhaire, Content Developer, Reach A Hand, Uganda I have finally found a solution to my menstrual challenges and it took me a total of 15 minutes. It happened at the Science Cafe hosted by the Health Journalists Network in Uganda (HEJNU) and supported by Reach A Hand, Uganda and UNFPA Uganda. Since 2015, I have been suffering from burns every month due to the use of disposable sanitary pads (towels). Perhaps it’s because my flow has reduced recently or because I am older now (23), or perhaps it’s a reaction to the gel used in the pads. Whatever the reason, the burns put me through hell because the pain is unbearable. The option of tampons is uncomfortable for me, but I still needed to use something. I am still young…these periods are here for a while! The solution became clear as we discussed menstrual hygiene at the Science Cafe. I have been hearing about reusable pads for years now but like a lot of my girlfriends, I was convinced that they are not my kind of thing.  When AFRIpads …

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 …