Author: Justine Stacey

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Everyday Violence Against Women- Join the Conversation

Tomorrow, (Feb. 3rd) the founder of one of Girls’ Globe’s Featured Organizations, Gary Haugen (of the International Justice Mission– IJM), is releasing a new book called The Locust Effect. The book emphasizes the necessity of ending everyday violence if we want to eventually see the end of poverty. As I read through The Locust Effect and Gary’s recounts of people he and those at IJM have encountered in the field who have experienced extreme forms of violence, I am filled with a mix of emotions- mostly sadness, anger, and disbelief. At the same time, I am relieved a book such as this will engage new audiences and inform readers on the debilitating realities of everyday violence. This week, the Girls’ Globe blogging team will be raising their voices in a conversation about everyday violence, and more specifically, everyday violence against women. Today, to kick-start the conversation, I want to talk about everyday violence and how far reaching its effects are specifically, on women and girls. In The Locust Effect, everyday violence is defined as violent …

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HIV: I am Positive

When it comes to HIV, I am positive. I am positive because I refuse to be any other way. I am positive because too many people are negative about a disease that is neither deserved nor disgraceful, but circumstantial. I am positive because 35.3 million people, almost half of whom are women, are living with a disease that has no cure. Of these women, 76 percent live in Sub-Saharan Africa and often become infected because of gender-based sexual or physical violence. I am positive because I cannot imagine looking at another woman negatively after she has had her rights completely stripped away through a violent act, only to discover she now also has an incurable disease. I am positive because I believe positivity, action, and support create the best environment for sustainable change. I am positive because when a woman in Sub-Saharan Africa is diagnosed with HIV, she needs an environment that encourages sustainable change, so she can access proper care, antiretroviral therapy (ARTs), and emotional and economic support. Unfortunately, not all share my positivity. There …

Photo courtesy of: Arne Hoel / World Bank

Grassroots Voices and Family Planning: Keeping Women at the Forefront

The past few days at the International Conference on Family Planning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia have been fantastic in highlighting an array of voices, perspectives, commitments, and calls to action from a number of organizations, foundations, private sector representatives, and individuals. Large, international conferences such as this one are important to bring people together, create new partnerships, and facilitate discussion on issues that are relevant to the rights and well-being of women and girls. Especially important within these large conference settings, is ensuring the voices of women at the grassroots level are included in panels, sessions, and discussions. It is imperative that these voices are elevated and incorporated into action plans and goals, especially regarding something as integral to the progress of women as reproductive health and family planning. At this conference in Addis Ababa, the most insightful and inspiring ideas I have heard, came from local women and men who have dedicated their lives to working throughout Ethiopia’s rural areas to provide access and enhance choice for women in planning their family sizes and …

Photo Credit: Lindsay Mgbor/Department of International Development

Family Planning in Ethiopia: Progress for all Millennium Development Goals

In just a few days I’ll be heading to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with 3 other Girls’ Globe bloggers to cover the third annual International Conference on Family Planning. The conference expects a participatory audience of approximately 4,000 people and is co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia. The 2013 conference theme is “Full Access, Full Choice” and will include panel presentations, a policy-making forum, skill-building sessions, and an exhibit area all focused on family planning and reproductive health. Ethiopia was selected to host the third annual conference because of its strong commitment to family planning and the progress it has made on access to family planning measures such as modern contraceptives. Since 2000, Ethiopia’s prevalence of modern contraceptive usage has increased by 350 percent, and the average number of births per women has decreased by almost 13 percent. This is important because the ability of Ethiopian women to access contraception helps them …

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Menstrual Health: It’s Your Box, Know What Goes In It

Ladies, truer words have never been spoken. Nor spoken enough. When it comes to periods, the products we use, and the health implications that result from their use, we aren’t talking enough. This is a problem. Period. All puns aside, the taboo around menstrual health is outrageous. Menstruation is a natural bodily function for many women, and is something that if not managed properly, can have serious health implications. Health issues resulting from improper menstrual management can interfere with a woman or girl’s ability to attend school, go to work, and reproduce. Let’s connect the dots- half of our population is female, and if half of our population isn’t getting educated or contributing to the economy because of poor health, some pretty important things like population growth, economic sustainability, and livelihoods of entire communities are in jeopardy. The taboo topic and lack of awareness around menstruation, especially in countries like my own (Canada), is simply something that needs to change. Luckily, it’s going to. This is all thanks to a refreshingly empowered, new, women-led company …

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Sam’s Story: How One Woman’s Journey to Islam Holds an Important Lesson for Us All

Meet Sam. A young, Canadian woman constantly surrounded by friends, working toward a university degree in psychology. Sounds like a fairly average North American student, right? I would tend to agree. However, recently, Sam has taken on a very personal and spiritual endeavor, and is in the process of converting to Islam. When I first learned about Sam’s journey, I have to admit I was kind of surprised. As a young, educated woman myself, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the idea that another woman would choose to dedicate herself to a faith under which some customs have aided in marginalizing and disempowering women. After speaking one on one with Sam, who formerly associated with Christianity and Buddhism, and who openly admits to previously disliking the idea of Islam for women, my understanding has been changed. My conversation with Sam began with some background on how her journey came to be. An extremely intelligent girl enrolled in a competitive university program, she explains she has always had a busy mind, and made the decision …

Emma and Justine with Wessel, Jane, and Gary from MenCare

Men Care! How Fatherhood Can Enhance Gender Equality

By: Justine Stacey and Emma Saloranta Today many countries around the world are celebrating Father’s Day. Fathers are role models for their children – but the notion of what it means to be a “good father”, or a “good man”, isn’t always a straightforward thing. In many countries, masculinity and fatherhood can be associated with toughness and hardness, and the primary care giver’s role is placed on mothers. However, there are organizations working on changing those notions, and changing the way we think about masculinity and fatherhood – and through this, trying to change gender norms and roles, and empower women and girls through partnerships with men and boys. After publishing a post on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists blog, emphasizing the need for increased engagement of men in promoting gender equality, we were thrilled to come across organizations at the third Women Deliver Conference doing this exact work around the world, and running an international campaign promoting new notions of masculinity and fatherhood. Appropriately named, MenCare is a global fatherhood campaign …

Mark standing in front of his photo exhibit at Women Deliver 2013

Art with Heart: One Man’s Journey to Empower Women through Photography

Within the realm of international development and women’s empowerment, we come across a lot of passionate people who have dedicated their lives to advocating change. When we hear about the injustices and atrocities affecting women and girls around the world, I’m often surprised more people aren’t getting involved and trying to do what they can to make a difference, no matter how small. An area we are lacking in the realm of women and development is engagement. How do we expect to increase our resources, funding, and capacity in the fight for equality if people don’t understand on one hand, the extent of the problems women face, and on the other, the extent of the capabilities women possess when provided proper rights and resources. Recently, at the Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur, I came across an artist, a male artist, who through his photographs, has been able to express both. Meet 20-something Mark Tuschman. A young American working to finish his PhD in neurophysiology at Berkley University. After receiving his first ever camera from …

Courtesy of www.girls20summit.com

Gender Budgeting: It Just Makes Cents!

Today (May 9th) African Union Women Affairs Ministers are kicking off a week-long conference in Addis Ababa in an effort to coordinate new ways of upping women’s economic capacity in Africa through gender budgeting. I’m happy to see a conference such as this happening. In much of rural Africa specifically, women perform a majority of work (especially in areas of farming and food production) but remain segregated to the informal workforce, receiving no benefits and little access to resources. Thus, a conference during which important women leaders can focus in on the issue and design new ideas and programs to make change is not only great, it’s necessary. The question that remains is what exactly does ‘gender budgeting’ entail? I’ve seen “gender budgeting” appear more and more often in development literature and government policy over the past few years, so it’s important we understand what it is, or alternatively, what it is not. Gender budgeting is NOT a separate budget for women, nor is it a measurement of money allocated to women and men. Gender …

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International Women’s Day. Let’s Talk!

As I’m sure most of you are aware, there are a TON of days dedicated to celebrating, commemorating, and advocating various causes and/or achievements worldwide. I happen to think this is a wonderful thing. These days give advocates a chance to unite around the world to raise awareness and promote important issues that many people may otherwise know little about. However, there are SO many of these days, I for one, find it hard to keep track of them all. I often forget about them until the day-of, which is unfortunate, partly because I make a mean cupcake (and what better way to celebrate special days than with cupcakes!). I hate to admit it, but last year I completely forgot about International Women’s Day until March 8th (the day-of). I was slightly devastated by my forgetfulness, somewhat because I did not have any of the ingredients I needed to make cupcakes in-house, but mostly because I had missed out on opportunities to get involved in important events in my community that celebrated women’s achievements and advocated current issues important to …