Author: Diane Fender

3 Ways Girls Are Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Do you ever have those moments in life that stick out as “light bulb” moments? Whether you are driving down a road or in a meeting at work. Something hits you like a ton of bricks and you understand certain aspects of life more clearly. One of these “light bulb” moments occurred for me three years ago at the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I walked into the UN with head held high, ready to attend a high level lunch to talk about progress for women, girls and children. I brushed by Melinda Gates and ran into Mohammed Yunus and chatted with him for a little while. I am not the type of person who gets star struck but let’s just say there were a lot of important people in the room. As the beautiful lunch continued, I scanned the room and quickly realized there wasn’t one single girl, woman or child in the room. At that moment I remember thinking: What makes us think that we can wall ourselves into a high level lunch …

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 …

A Letter to Women Everywhere

Dear Beloved Women, How are you doing, really? This is a question a group of friends and I have been asking ourselves on a weekly basis. We meet together in coffee shops, restaurants and over Skype to have real conversations about our lives. There are no guidelines to this question except you can not respond with phrases like “I am good.” “I am okay.” I am fine.” The purpose of this question is to dig deeper into our souls and be honest with ourselves. This is often a lot harder than it sounds. Why should I have to be real when it’s so easy to pretend everything is okay? In this day and age, we are bombarded by so many messages. With a simple click of a button we can either feel great about our lives or overwhelmed. There are so many things competing for our attention. We are constantly scrolling through messages, social media feeds, causes, videos and campaigns. As women, we simply have a lot going on. Am I right? We are CEOs, entrepreneurs, …

Global Movements Can Fight Slavery

I first learned about the issue of modern day slavery well over ten years ago. It was an unbearably hot and muggy day in the capital city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. As I walked the dusty street from my apartment to a local community center, I noticed something I thought was extremely odd. In the middle of the hot day, there were young girls in a local salon. Many of these girls looked like they should have been in school but instead were being made up like beauty queens. I asked a local friend, “Why are these girls dressing up like beauty queens in the middle of this hot day?” She explained to me that these girls worked at the local hotel and restaurant next door. It was at that moment, I learned the horrors and reality of so many women and girls who are forced to give away their bodies often to the highest bidder. This knowledge was confirmed as I returned home later that evening and walked past girls lined up outside the restaurant. At …

Reflection on the Attacks in Cologne

Whenever I see anything in the news about sexual assault or violent sexual crimes, my heart sinks. In my opinion, one of the most horrific acts of terror is to violate another person sexually. Through the course of my work advocating for women and girls, I have listened to so many horrific stories of abuse, sexual assault, sodomy, rape and other forms of torture you can not even readily imagine. I have heard these stories from girls as young as five, from young women and young men. This issue hurts my heart. When skimming through the news, we often do not understand the full picture of how sexual violence impacts another human being. On New Years Eve, women celebrating New Years in Cologne, Germany, never expected their evening of celebration would turn into horror. Women exiting the train at Cologne’s central station were surrounded by men in tight groups. The groups of men proceeded to grope women, sexually assault them and steal from them. My head is still spinning over the media frenzy. Many of the potential assailants …

What’s Missing In the News

This past year, so much has happened in our world. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced due to wars and conflict. In the United States, the news is dominated by interesting political debates and the increase in mass violence. After a quick scan through news feeds, it’s difficult not to feel jaded. Thankfully, globally, we have seen some positive stories of change, specifically for women and girls. We’ve seen strides to combat child marriage, movements in Gambia to make FGM/C illegal and the one-child policy in China repealed. While these are incredible strides for women, girls and communities when reviewing your latest news feed do you ever wonder,  “Is there something missing?” Everyday, I pour over articles and blog posts and think, “What are the stories I am not hearing about?” What stories are being underreported or simply not talked about? This year, I want to highlight topics related to women and girls that often get lost or aren’t included as frequently as other stories in the headlines and mainstream news. So what’s missing from the news, this month? Human Trafficking Awareness Wherever …

The Best of Girls’ Globe In 2015!

The past year has been a whirlwind! As many of you reflect on your year, I am certain you are probably saying the same thing. From adding a new niece to my family, starting a new relationship and diving into my work with Girls’ Globe this year has been full of great changes and opportunities. When I think about all Girls’ Globe has accomplished this year, I am amazed! When I began blogging for Girls’ Globe in 2013, I never would have expected to have the opportunity to watch our online magazine grow into a global network of young women and organizations creating enourmous change for women and girls around the world. It is inspiring to hear daily stories from young women and girls who are gaining leadership skills, learning more about their bodies, starting businesses and advocating for change in their governments. I love talking with the young women and girls’ in our network and hearing about how Girls’ Globe has been a mechanism for them to create change both at a grassroots level in their communities and …

12 Ways to Give Back for Women and Girls

I love holiday traditions. Not only that, but the holidays are one of my favorite times of year. My family gathers and we spend time together. During this season, friends, faith leaders and mentors have challenged me to stop and be present. In the United States, Christmas is a time to spend with family, friends and, eat good food and give gifts. As someone committed to the Christian faith, it is also a time to reflect and celebrate Christ’s birth. Whether you celebrate Christmas, a different Holiday tradition or simply the joy of being with family we have to admit it is so easy to get caught in the busyness. Several years ago, my entire family decided to do something non-traditional for Christmas. We decided to stop giving gifts at Christmastime. Instead of giving gifts we decided to focus on spending more time serving each other. Last year, we each picked a cause or non-profit organization to support. Going around in a circle, we drew names one by one. Each person agreed to learn about their selected family member’s cause …

Women and Communities Working Together to Improve Maternal and Newborn Health

When women work together, change happens. Regardless of where you live in the world, this is a fact that cannot be denied. Women give life, care for their families, work in markets, trade commodities and help their families grow and thrive. We have all heard that if you invest in a woman, she in turn will invest 90% of what she earns back into her family to improve their livelihood. So why do millions of women – and their babies – continue to face unnecessary and life-threatening risk and danger around the world every day? Women lack access to adequate healthcare facilities, skilled birth attendants and at times are not allowed to receive care from a healthcare facility due to cultural stigmas. Despite notable progress that has been achieved, the fact remains that health disparities for women and newborns continue to be broad and interlinked. In 2014, the World Health Organization set forth a recommendation based on fifteen years of maternal and newborn health research. The recommendation posited the need to create women’s groups to improve the health of mother’s and newborns around …

SDG 1: What Does Poverty Mean to Women and Girls?

The first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 1) in the series of 17 goals is to End Poverty in all its forms everywhere. There are seven targets under this goal which vary in focus including reducing poverty by half among men, women and children as well as ensuring more resources are mobilized to aid in poverty reduction. The goal focuses on the need to create sound policies at a local, national and international level which are based on pro-poor and gender sensitive strategies. Does this sounds like Greek to you? I am a international development professional and reading this first goal sounds like I am reading a different language. Sure, ending poverty in all its forms sounds like an incredible goal. Perhaps, an incredibly lofty goal? What does ending poverty really mean? When thinking about the reality of how to work towards this goal there is one key question we need to answer: What does poverty mean to women and girls? Throughout my time working with women and girls this question has surfaced numerous times.  Poverty as it is defined …