Author: Farahnaz Mohammed

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Measuring Water in Meters

As with anything in the United Nations (UN), there is much discussion and debate around every decision. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), noble as they are, is no exception. As the UN refines them, one of the thorniest issues is the matter of how to measure the progress and success towards the attainment of each goal. As gender equality is one of the mainstays of the next fifteen years, it is a topic that concerns women’s rights, and will be undoubtedly be up for discussion at Women Deliver 2016 in Copenhagen. The current debate around quantifiable targets isn’t glamorous – we’d much rather hear, “ensure a safe childbirth for all mothers worldwide” than “reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births”. Numbers impose painful limitations on what we can do about excruciating realities. But our own New Year’s Resolutions are proof enough that, for our own good, pomp should be second to practicality. Ambitious but abstract goals are much more likely to end in failure: lose weight; read more; be …

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The Maverick Collective: Bringing Cancer Screening to Uttar Pradesh

At Women Deliver 2016, Girls’ Globe attended the launch of The Maverick Collective, an initiative by Population Services International (PSI) and the brainchild of HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Melinda Gates and Kate Roberts. Borne of frustration about a lack of follow-through on ideas for change, the collective aims to bring philanthropy to a new generation of donors, those who are actively engaged with their projects on the ground. Girls’ Globe was able to talk to some of the inaugural members of the Maverick Collective, which has projects spanning across the globe. The following is an interview with Kathryn Vizas, who tackled the issue of cervical cancer in one of the poorest and most populous regions of India.  GG: How did you hear about The Maverick Collective? KV: It was 3 and a half years ago, I was at  a women’s conference in New York which I sort of decided to attend on a whim because some of the topics seemed interesting. My husband and I had recently relocated at that point, so I hadn’t …

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Empowerment as a Luxury Item

‘Empowerment’ has become a buzzword in feminist circles, a rallying cry to improve the lives of women in rural developing countries as well as those trying to shatter glass ceilings in Fortune 500 companies. Four syllables capture the very abstract, but vital goal that feminists and organizations worldwide are trying to accomplish. Like anything that has gained traction in the public consciousness, many have capitalized on ’empowerment’. A search for ‘feminist products’ will bring up novelty items like a mug with the words ‘male tears’ emblazoned on it, and Etsy has multiple pages worth of accessories and apparel dedicated to wearing feminism, quite literally, on your sleeve. This isn’t a problem in and of itself, but it encapsulates the increasingly cosmetic standard of the word. This doesn’t just redirect our attention to how we’re using feminism to make ourselves look, rather than think. It spills over into a bigger phenomenon of a superficial feminism, one that steers clear of the messy, unattractive and painful problems beneath it. For example, Hilary Clinton should be a resounding victory for feminism, as a …

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France’s Prostitution Ban: One Step Forward or Two Steps Back?

The French have a long history with prostitution. From Madame du Barry to the paintings of Degas and Picasso, prostitution has been celebrated as an inherent, and even glamorous, part of French culture. But in 2016, the reality of the practice is starkly different. Now, the majority of prostitutes are trafficked, often immigrants fleeing political or economic hardships only to find themselves at the mercy of an often abusive sex trade. In response, France has criminalized sex work. The law takes a more modern approach: the guilty are no longer the workers, but the clients. Someone caught buying sex can now be fined a whopping $1,500 euros (USD $1,700) and repeat offenders can be slapped with a $3,750 (USD $4,260), according to Vocativ. Criminalizing the sale of sex is a moral minefield. On the one hand, the women’s empowerment movement advocates a woman’s right to do whatever she wants with her body; that means the right to say no as well as the right to say yes, for compensation or not. Sex workers are protesting the decision, publicly rallying with signs declaring that …

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What Kesha’s Case Really Reveals

On February 19th, outlets published a photo of singer Kesha sobbing in a courtroom as a judge revealed she’d ruled against her. In a much-publicized case, the singer had been trying to get a preliminary injunction to allow her to stop recording with her producer, Lukasz Gottwald (better known as Dr. Luke). Kesha has said her producer abused her physically, sexually, verbally and mentally from a young age, allegations which Dr. Luke denies and claims are an attempt at extortion. The ruling sparked an outcry from Kesha’s fanbase as well as support from celebrities like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. Amid the frenzy of lawsuits, countersuits, hashtags and Hollywood, we’re ignoring the deeper meaning of Kesha’s case. In a case that boils down to he-said, she-said, as Kesha’s does, even strong advocates of feminism have to leave room for a sliver of doubt. What is troubling is who consistently gets the benefit of that doubt. A Big Ask “You’re asking the court to decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry,” said …

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A Global Problem: Visualization of FGM Around the World

FGM has a reputation of being a rare and remote practice, inflicted on only girls in the poorest communities in the most underdeveloped countries. L ittle surprise. Given the brutality and futility of the practice, it is difficult to imagine that it would persist long if girls, women and their communities were given alternatives. Yet, FGM does persist in great numbers. And most people are surprised to learn that although it is concentrated in Africa, it is also seen in the Middle East, Europe, North America and South America, with unconfirmed reports in other countries. A brief overview of FGM globally shows the scope of the problem. This month’s stand against FGM needs to be truly international to ensure all girls and women, regardless of country, regardless of community, are protected from cutting, burning and scarring, both physically and psychologically. Check out this interactive map which gives a broad scope of the issue around the world.   Cover Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond, Flickr Creative Commons

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Breaking the Silicon Ceiling – an Interview with Audrey Eschright

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about the lack of women in the technology field. Rightfully so. In a world where technology has become the backbone of many societies, women should be involved in the creation and development of the innovations revolutionizing our security, healthcare and finances, be high up in the companies that distribute them and be part of the social media sites we faithfully log into every day. The lack of diversity in technology is striking, and recognized from the media to the White House. Employee networks in technology, as one article writes, “can look like an old boy’s club.” Gradually, this is being called out and acted upon, in ways good and bad. Ellen Pao stands as a figurehead for the controversies surrounding the issue and last year’s GamerGate’s fiasco at SXSW showed passionate voices on both sides of the debate. On the ground, there are smaller, but equally powerful movements dedicated to helping women and girls break into the tech scene. One of the individual spearheading her own project is Audrey Eschright, from …

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A Wishlist for 2016

There’s a lot we hope for every New Year. Good health. Thinner waists. Fatter paycheques. This year, Girls’ Globe is hoping 2016 brings us significantly more. As a group, we travelled to Mexico City and New York. We were fuelled by the tireless work of grassroots organizations, multinational corporations and brave, fearless women on the ground. In light of what we’ve seen, what’s powered us and pained us, here’s a few of the things we hope for after December 31st. 1. Better representation of women in media & pop culture. In light of all the pressing and painful issues women around the world face, women in popular culture may seem somewhat trivial. However, in a world where television and movies dominate enormous screens in Hollywood and infiltrate small television sets in rural villages, the potential for media to influence perception is greater than ever. A better representation of women goes beyond a move away from an unhealthy ideal body or face. It also extends to showing women as full, complex and capable characters. From fictional characters like Jessica Jones …

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Gender Based Violence and the Refugee Crisis

In the last few years, we have heard the term ‘refugee crisis’ so often, it has practically lost it’s meaning for us. The examples are countless: from recent conflicts, like the Syrian war, age-old economic asylum, as seen on the US-Mexico border or the flow of migrants from Indonesia to Australia, the powerful surge in refugees to Europe now making international headlines, or myriad smaller crisis between smaller neighbouring nations and with the internally displaced. “The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a nonprofit group, estimates that about 60 million people are displaced around the world right now, a figure higher than the estimated 50 million people left displaced at the conclusion of World War II.” – Peter Dizikes, MIT It is difficult not to grow numb to the plight of refugees, when it seems there are so many, in every corner of the world. Added to which, language and cultural barriers make it difficult to connect with those living in circumstances that are already impossible to imagine, much less understand. Yet, refugee crises are one of the great tragedies of the …