Author: Sally Pope

Women Delivering Development: Reproductive Health, Environment and the Post-2015 Agenda

This week I had the opportunity to attend a working meeting on integrating women, reproductive health, and environmental issues into the Post-2015 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals, and FP2020 hosted by the Wilson Center Environmental Change and Security Program, Center for Environment and Population (CEP), the Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program and the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health. The meeting brought together a group of impressive stakeholders from the areas of women’s health and rights, climate change, and sustainability and included a special screening of the Wilson Center’s documentary “Healthy People, Healthy Environment” about empowering women and leveraging women’s rights to make a positive impact on the environment. The panel from the Women Delivering Development Meeting from left to right: Sean Peoples, documentary director; Kim Lovell, Sierra club Global Population and Environment Program; Mary Mavanza, Jane Goodall Institute; Suzanne Ehlers, FP2020 and Population Action International; D. Carmen Barroso, International Planned Parenthood Federation; and moderator Vicy Markham of the Center for Environment and Population. What exactly is the connection is between women …

#LandMatters for Women

Consider the following: Women produce more than half the food in the developing world 43 out of 48 African countries and 21 out of 42 Asian countries have gender inequality in regards to entitlement to ownership of land It’s estimated that only 1% of the world’s women own land Land Matters is a month-long campaign developed by Devex highlighting innovative solutions and furthering the dialogue among smallholder farms in developing countries around the world, land experts, social entrepreneurs, business people and governments. In partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute  and with support from organizations like USAID, Chemonics, to name a few, this campaign hopes to create a collaborative movement to tackle land challenges for, among other sectors, women. What is the situation for women and land rights? In many parts of the world patriarchy still rules. The UN-HABITAT report Women’s Rights to Land and Property highlights how women have no rights to land because land ownership is all too often bestowed upon the male head of the family – the father, eldest son or husband. In the …

Save Our Sisters: The “Abused Goddesses” Campaign

What’s one way to draw lots of attention to an issue? Combine iconic religious imagery with modern day problems. That’s what the new “Abused Goddesses” Campaign highlighting domestic violence in India is doing. The campaign depicts hand-painted images (based off of photos taken with real models) of Hindu  goddesses bruised, battered and beaten with this caption at the bottom: Pray that we never see this day. Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.” Adjacent to this message is a telephone number to report cases of domestic abuse. The images are visually beautiful and attention-grabbing, making them a powerful tool for drawing attention to their message. We’ve heard a lot recently about violence against women in India, sexual violence in particular. But this new campaign is expanding the lens of how we’ve been looking at violence towards Indian women. The campaign is reminiscent of the first public campaign against domestic violence in Saudi Arabia …

The Right to Quality Education: Katelyn Campbell’s Protest

Seventeen-year-old Katelyn Campbell just wants a quality education. She wants it for herself and she wants it for her peers. She recognizes that it is something that is her right along with the right to speak out against poor education. What she doesn’t want is to be threatened when she speaks up for her rights. She doesn’t want her future jeopardized because of it. She doesn’t want to have to sit through a misguided moral presentation that misinformed and slut-shamed her and her peers. But, this is exactly what happened when Katelyn protested against a recent abstinence-only speaker who spoke at an assembly at her high school in West Virginia. And, so her principal threatened to contact the college she had already been accepted to, Wellesley College (with an impressive list of outspoken female alumni), to inform them of her “bad behavior” and that she was a “backstabber.” It’s baffling why schools are even still teaching abstinence-only programs, given that they have been shown to have poorer outcomes (i.e. those who go through the program, …

The Freedom Center: Bridging the Past and Present of Slavery

As we approach the end of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month here in the US, I want to take a moment to highlight an institution that is making strides in raising awareness about the reality and horrors of slavery and human trafficking. And, it just so happens to be located in the modest Midwestern city that I live in, Cincinnati, Ohio! The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is situated on the Ohio River, which was the dividing line between slavery and freedom in the US up through the late 1800s, in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. The Freedom Center is commonly and erroneously referred to as a museum. But, it’s really more than an institution dedicated to objects and ideas of the past. The Freedom Center is an active symbol of consciousness, a platform from which voices can be heard, and a bridge linking the past and present. Oh yes, and it has the first permanent exhibit in the world dedicated to modern-day slavery and human trafficking. This exhibit, Invisible: Slavery Today, truly …

Gender Violence and AIDS: The Effect on Women

Right now is a busy time in awareness raising. We are currently in the middle of the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence’ (which kicked off on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and, as you may have seen, December 1st was the 24th World AIDS Day. Ending gender violence and the fight to stop the spread and find a cure for HIV and AIDS have been hot topics on the international health and development scene for awhile now; and the awareness raising only continues to grow as strides are being made to address the problems. But, since these two issues are at the forefront of our minds right now, let’s take a look at how they’re related and what we can do to help end both. HIV and AIDS affects women in unique ways: women are biologically more susceptible to contracting HIV; pregnant mothers can transmit the virus to their children during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding if ARVs (antiretroviral drugs) aren’t used to prevent transmission; women as victims of …

Women & Water

Women and water have a very unique relationship. It’s not something that’s very obvious unless you do your research on how the two are associated. In many parts of the world, especially developing countries, water plays a big role in women’s lives. Take a look at these figures on women and water: On average, women and girls travel 10-15 kilometres per round trip to a water source; Each day women and girls worldwide spend 152 million work hours collecting water for their families; Women carry up to 15 litres of water per trip; Surveys in 45 developing countries showed that women and girls were responsible for the collection of water for 76% of households; Women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa spend 40 billion hours each year walking to collect water. For many households, the women and girls are responsible for the collection of water that will be used for cooking, cleaning, drinking, sanitation and hygiene. This would be simple if the houses were hooked up to accessible and clean water systems, but as the statistics …

I am Malala, You are Malala

By now many of you are probably familiar with the story of the 15-year old Pakistani school girl and human rights activist Malala Yousafzai. At the age of 11, Malala did the unthinkable, she spoke out very publicly in a diary blog featured on BBC criticizing the Taliban’s repressive policy against educating girls. For this, Malala and a fellow schoolgirl were gunned down as they left school on October 9th. Malala and her friend’s pain were not in vain. It’s incredible the level of reactions to Malala. For an extremist group that is so against giving rights to women, they sure are giving this young girl plenty consideration and ample attention. It’s obvious by their retaliation that her words struck a chord amongst the group, and they felt threatened. Conversely, support of Malala has poured in from all corners of the world and condemnation against the Taliban has been severe. World leaders, country governments, activist-minded celebrities, everyday people have been inspired by Malala’s story and the ensuing violent act. New life has been breathed into …

International Day of the Girl

If October 1st and 2nd’s premiere of ‘Half the Sky’ pumped you up about all things women and girls you’re in luck, the celebration isn’t over. October 11th is the very 1st ever United Nations International Day of the Girl. This day is intended to raise awareness, educate and generate discussion and action about advancing the lives of girls and highlighting opportunities. The idea behind having an international day devoted to girls started at the 2011 UN General Assembly where the UN General Assembly Resolution on the International Day of the Girl Child was created. Since this resolution passed, organizations around the world focused on Organizations around the world, like School Girls Unite (an organization of young female students and leaders with a mind towards advancing the MDG) and Plan International (an organization focused on children’s development who’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ initiative inspired the UN resolution), have rallied to make this day something special. supporting gender equality, education and women rallied to make this day happen in a big way. So why is …

GEMS: Fighting Domestic Trafficking One Girl at a Time

When most of us think about trafficking, we think about it on an international scale, right? What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear (or read) the word “trafficking?” How about stories of girls being transported across Southeast Asian borders to work in brothels or young Chinese children whose parents think they are sending their child off to a better life, ending up enslaved in America paying off a never-ending ‘debt’ in restaurants and nail salons? Or what about the major feature films like ‘Taken’ and ‘Trade’ (both awesome movies, by the way) that you’ve seen trailers for on TV or watched on Netflix? These grotesque, global escapades catch people’s attention. The thought of a person being transported across borders, oceans, continents to an unknown land where they ‘disappear’ underground is a chilling thought to anyone. But, what we don’t hear and think about as much is that trafficking isn’t just an international issue, it’s domestic, too. That’s a really scary thought. How about the fact that it could happen to people …