All posts filed under: Feminism


The Women’s March on Washington: 5 Lessons in Feminism for My Son

For most of 14 hours on Saturday, my son and I were on our feet in Washington D.C., unwilling to be comfortable and refusing to be silent. As I saw it, the educational possibilities justified skipping a day of school, even when the learning opportunities at the march included Henry reading a sign and asking loudly, “What’s an orgasm?”At that moment, I faced one of few occasions when I’ve replied: “Ask your father.” Though I bypassed that teachable moment to keep us on task, the Women’s March on Washington served my mothering well. Together with my son, who is privileged enough to live a life in which his privilege is so fundamental as to render it mostly invisible, we marched to experience some basic lessons in responsible, active citizenship. Here are the lessons I hope he and other kids at marches around the globe might have experienced: 1. Humanity and decency are not political. We might vehemently disagree with the political ideologies of the new administration, but standing up and marching with millions of people around the world was less of a political statement than it …


Standing Up for Girls in the Time of Trump

Trump is threatening the rights and well-being of adolescent girls domestically and globally, especially those whose skin color, religion and country of origin do not meet his approval. The person holding the most powerful and prestigious office in one of the most influential global nations is a sex offender who fetishes his daughter, believes “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing” and views girls and women as a sum of their sexual parts. He is now turning this disgusting misogyny and racism, xenophobia and many other forms of hate, into policy. My work as an advocate for girls just got a lot harder. My work, like all work, begins at home. I visibly resist hate for and with my own daughters, two immigrants of color who are growing up in a time when integral parts of their identity are being challenged. They, and all girls in my life, must see me modeling contested truths: black lives matter, native lives matter and refugee lives matter; women’s rights are human rights; no human being …


The Women Marched. Now What?

London. Miami. Nairobi. New York. Tokyo. All over the world, women (and men!) took over the streets of their cities to join in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, which took place on the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. 21 January 2017 It was a day when history was made. My social media and news feeds were flooded with articles, pictures, videos and comments about the women’s marches around the world. It’s impressive the reach that these marches had – literally on every continent – and I truly believe this fact cannot be belittled or ignored. The marches brought together people from different age groups and backgrounds, although the fact remains that some indigenous, women of color and other minorities felt left out and divided from the white majority that attended the marches. Important issues of the intersection between gender, race, class and religion were brought up during the marches, which amplifies their significance and relevance. However, for the goals of the marches to become reality and …


This is What Democracy Looks Like

I started the morning bright and early at 6:40 and headed to Washington D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington. The metro was packed with chatty passengers wearing pink hats, carrying signs and snapping pictures. Every time a new group of riders boarded the train erupted with cheering. The excitement was contagious, and we all cheered and clapped are way to D.C. They called it the Women’s March but it was evident that it was everyone’s march. We were all there, and everyone had a message to deliver, whether through song, chant, cheer or shouting. And we delivered those messages – with Love, Faith and Courage. Some called themselves Nasty Women, nasty like Rosa, Condoleezza, Sonia, Malala, Michelle and Hillary, while others simply stated they were PISSED OFF. Regardless of the countless voices that were represented in Washington D.C. on January 21, 2017 we all stood together for equality. So if you ask me what Democracy looks like, this is it – An inclusive, reflective representation of all kinds of voices and stories.    


Why I Stopped Combing My Hair

I have to say this, I don’t think I owe anyone an explanation about my rather unusual decision. Moreover, I am by no means imposing my views on other black women. I further declare that I do not represent anyone or any group of people in particular, this is me and it is my personal decision. I cut my hair short in the year 2014, and did a series of cuts then finally decided to start growing it natural. I only applied dye, just to have it colourful and not too boring. I also applied moisturising creams to keep it strong and healthy. My hair is curly, just as black hair should be. I used to comb my hair to have it look ‘neat’, but it would sadly break. The curls are so fine, every time I rubbed a comb, a lot of my hair would go out with it. The process of combing was painful. I then resorted to doing braids, putting on wigs and headwraps to protect my hair from breaking. Much of …


This is What a Feminist Looks Like

An interview with Henry Sawyer.  This Friday, I’m letting my sixth grader skip school. We’re making the long drive from Massachusetts to D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington, an event that has become, at least in this mom’s mind, an ethical parenting imperative in teaching about justice, kindness, and citizenship. With feminism at the core of my  mothering a son towards an inclusive concept of manhood, we’ll join the protest chorus with his tween voice and the fire that’s been in my throat since November 8. In this two-part blog post, we’ll publish our pre-march interview on Henry’s thoughts about what it means to be a boy joining the March followed by our experience among hundreds of thousands of people descending on Washington. The morning of Martin Luther King Day, we sat down on the couch, where this mom interviewed her 12-year-old son about the election, the March, and what it means to be a middle school feminist boy. How would you describe yourself? I don’t want to sound braggish. It’s okay to be confident in what you think …


OK, Ladies – Now Let’s Get in Formation

Yes, you caught me, I totally stole the headline from Beyonce, but it is only because it very well captures what I wish to put forward in this post – the importance of sticking together when times get tough. However, let’s start with a short recap of the year of 2016. 2016 has been a year of some, to say the least, surprising turn of events. Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, the government in Poland suggested that it would be a good idea to deny polish women the right to their bodies, and the U.S Government found it to be no problem to finish the North Dakota Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. On top of that the war in Syria is a never ending story (why can’t they just stop?) and keeps forcing people to flee their homes at the same time as racist and opportunist parties get ever more supporters around the globe, especially here in Europe. Two years ago, when the Swedish Democrats became the third largest …


Brazil’s Problem: Violence Against Women

The movement #NiUnaMenos started in Argentina, but its message and impact has crossed the borders of the country and is now the voice of all Latin America protesting violence against women. On November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women established by the United Nations, women marched in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and other cities against the epidemic indexes of violence against women in Brazil. In a video of the protests in Rio shared on Facebook by Hermanas, a page dedicated to bridge Brazilian feminism to that of the rest of Latin America, women were singing, “violence against women is not the world that we want.” Data shows just how serious the reality of femicides and violence against women is in Brazil: According to the UN, Brazil has the 5th highest index of femicides in the world. According to PRI, “the number of women killed in homicides in Brazil keeps on increasing” (see Graphic 1 below). Also according to PRI, this number is higher among black women (see Graphic 2 below), …


Being a Woman and an Entrepreneur in Malawi

By Mayamiko Chiwaya, Student Driven Solutions graduate, age 16 Starting a business in Malawi is not an easy thing. Most people think that once you come up with a business idea you can implement it right away, which is not always true. To start a business requires hard work and dedication. In this edition, I will share with you the challenges women and girls encounter while striving to start small businesses in Malawi. According to my investigations, the first challenge that women and girls in Malawi often meet is lack of recognition. Women and girls are not recognized as people who can develop Malawi as a country through business. It’s for this reason that they often fail to start small businesses because they are not given the chance. For example, in most banks in Malawi, women are given smaller loans than men. Pamela Banda, age 18, a successful young lady operating a shop selling fashion items once experienced this challenge when getting a loan from the bank, but still managed to get a small loan from …


Gender and Colombia’s Peace Agreement

Gender has become a hot-topic issue since the referendum vote on Colombia’s peace negotiations. Several tumultuous weeks following the failed referendum on Colombia’s peace agreement, renewed negotiations between the government of Juan Manual Santos and the FARC produced a new agreement. Misconceptions regarding the role of gender language within the initial peace agreement, however, seemed to cast fear and doubt that it would be removed from a new accord altogether. Why was a gender focus within the country’s peace deal so controversial? And what follows for women within the country’s peacebuilding processes now that a new agreement has been signed? More than 50 years after the start of a conflict that has resulted in more than 220,000 deaths and nearly six million displaced, the decades-long Colombian war has reached a formal end as of Thanksgiving Day (Nov 24th, 2016). Representatives of the FARC—an armed, left-wing guerilla group—and government representatives under President Juan Manuel Santos had spent four years engaged in peace negotiations. A previous peace agreement was brought to a popular vote in October. Most …