All posts tagged: Equality

My Views on Transgender Feminism

Feminism is alive and constantly redefining itself. It has long been an empowering roar fed by the voices of all kinds of women. Today, something else can be heard too. It’s the sound of thousands of women – transgender, transexual and intersexual women – who have found their own voice, strength and value with the help of feminism. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a renowned feminist, recently stated that the life experiences of transgender women can’t be the same as cisgender women, because, in her opinion, they have experienced male privileges before transitioning. “It’s about the way the world treats us, and I think if you’ve lived in the world as a man with the privileges that the world accords to men and then sort of change gender, it’s difficult for me to accept that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning as a woman and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie I would like to explain why this is relevant for the trans community. …

Activism in Indonesia: a movement for change

It has been a couple of weeks since I got back home from an intense week in Indonesia. With our project Let’s Talk Equality, my project partner Anna and I visited several organizations and doctors in the suburbs of Jakarta and Bali. The objective of the trip was to gather footage for our documentary on maternal health in Sweden and Indonesia. I was completely blown away by the positive energy present in every office I visited. Despite facing a lot of resistance, people were determined and confident that it was worth all the work. Having tried to understand the slow and difficult process for change in Indonesia, I will try to share some of my observations here, before the launch of our documentary later this spring. Having grown up in Sweden, I was raised under the impression that certain privileges were certainties. Like legal abortions. Low maternal mortality rates. Free contraception. Paid paternity leave. The right to love regardless of gender. In Indonesia, none of these “certainties” exist. In fact, abortion is illegal. As is homosexuality. Parental leave is exclusive for mothers and …

#InvestInUGchildren Media Tour: Teenage Pregnancy in Arua District, Uganda

It’s a humid Saturday morning when we arrive at Bondo Health center in our air-conditioned land rovers to have a meeting with health workers, teenage mothers and community members. I enter the stuffy metal tin roofed meeting room a little late, and find everyone settled on concrete benches. All eyes are on a young pregnant woman in the corner, I realise as the discussion is going on that she is not really a full grown adult woman, she is a pregnant teenage girl. Her hands are shaking, she can barely get a word out of her mouth. Her eyes keep darting around the room looking for help. Anyone would feel nervous too, imagine sitting in a room full of strangers while they ask you, “How could you allow yourself to get pregnant?” “Will you be returning to school once you’ve had the baby?” It must be too overwhelming for a young girl like her, and I doubt she ever considered the consequences of her pregnancy. We continue to ask our questions as though we understand …

Data Revolution in Post 2015: Who, What and How!

The important role of data in making informed decisions has been articulated in the Post-2015 development discussions. However, too often data is usually released after a long time at best and is inaccurate (missing marginalized groups in the society) or driven by donor priorities at worst. The unfortunate result of this is that governments end up using inaccurate data to come up with incorrect policies.  While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) only tracked eight goals and eighteen targets, the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require governments to report national progress against a whooping seventeen goals and one hundred and sixty nine targets. At an event, organized by Johnson & Johnson and partners dubbed “Data for Decision Making: Post -2015 Health Measurement and Accountability,” panelists were able to unpackage what it will take to realize the data revolution. Below are some of the highlights. The Politics of Measurement: Who, What and How! The amount of data being generated daily has grown immensely. According to one study, the world’s data produced in the last two years has increased …

From MDGs to SDGs: Stepping into the World We Want

In Africa, there is a common phrase that says, “When the drummers change their beat, the dancers must change their steps.” In September, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are set to be adopted by Heads of States at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). This meeting will bring together developed and developing countries, politicians, private sector leaders, civil society organizations, faith groups and others to adopt a set of 17 goals that aim to  take forward the job that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set in motion by intensifying action to empower the poorest and the hardest to reach. Will the global community be dancing to a new beat that will truly be transformative and have a positive impact on the lives of women and girls or will the new development agenda play out like a broken record? The following are a few reflections of the proposed 2030 agenda: Looking Back – What Worked The MDGs have been praised for being useful tool in providing benchmarks for the achievement of special development gains, for priority …

Towards Individualised Parental Leave in Sweden

Sweden is famous for being one of the most gender-egalitarian countries in the world. A generous welfare system makes it easier for both women and men to balance work and family life. In Sweden, parents are given 480 days of parental leave when a child is born or adopted. Mothers and fathers are expected to share equally between these days. It is possible for one parent to take up to 420 days while the remaining 60 days are reserved for the other parent. Although both parents have the right to share the parental leave, women are more likely to be the primary care-giver (women claim 75 % of parental leave). In the Swedish labor market 30 % of all women work part time compared to only 11 % of men. In 2013 women earned on average 15,8% less than the average male employee and women are underrepresented in economic decision-making positions.  This has started a hectic discussion in Swedish politics and media about how to solve this gender gap. Today, many Swedish parties are arguing about the inequality of parental leave. Feminist Initiative claims that an individualised …

Help Lesotho Builds Local Capacity

By Stephanie Vizi, Help Lesotho Intern Thirteen-year-old Retsilisitsoe Pone spends her Saturdays washing clothes in a stream and the only local water source that runs through Ha Majara, a village located in the mountainous district of Thaba Tseka in a small African country called Lesotho. She carries the washing on top of her head as she climbs to her home, a small rondavel hut on the side of a mountain. She returns home to make dinner for her younger brother and sister. In a black, cast iron pot over a small fire she cooks papa, a staple starch of Southern Africa. Her nine-year-old sister, Retsepile, picks a few leaves of moroho (cabbage) from the family’s keyhole garden to eat with the papa. Their brother, Khosana, 11, is just returning from the fields where he works shepherding cattle. Retsilisitsoe is the sole caregiver for Retsepile and Khosana. The grade-six student lost both of her parents three years ago and has been providing for her siblings ever since, with occasional help from relatives and a quarterly $75 …

Remembering America’s Lost Women

Growing up in Pakistan, I was a rule breaker. I got in trouble for speaking my mind and making my own choices, two things good Pakistani women were not supposed to do. Until I broke a rule that could not be fixed or overlooked, falling in love with a Shia man, though I came from a Sunni home. In Pakistan, our families were at war, so we went to Canada. North America was my safe haven, a place I could make my life choices without fearing shame and violence. America afforded me an escape from the fear of honor violence, the abuse thousands of women around the world experience for bringing dishonor to their families. This violence can take the form of physical, emotional or sexual assault, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. America was my safe haven, but, unbeknownst to many, it is not safe for everyone. Honor violence is not a problem relegated to countries like Pakistan; every year, thousands of girls in North America experience honor violence and even lose their lives …

Cutting Female Circumcision From Egyptian Culture

Written by C. Kott Suhair al-Bata’a was once a 13 year-old Egyptian girl, described by her family as sweet and spirited. Today she lies in a tomb near the home she grew up in, after she died a year ago, while undergoing surgery for female genital mutilation (FGM). Despite the fact that FGM was banned in 2008, it remains a common practice in Egypt. UNICEF reports that more than 90% of women in Egypt have undergone the procedure. This issue has the support of prominent political and religious groups. FGM is perceived as an initiation into womanhood that defines a girl’s femininity and cleanses her of sexual impurity. Individuals, activists and organizations hope that Suhair’s tragic death will create change for other girls. A landmark trial is underway with the potential to alter the face of Egyptian society. Initially, Suhair’s family filed charges against the doctor who performed the operation. Later they dropped the charges, claiming Suhair was being treated for genital warts. Vengeance for Suhair might have ended there, had Reda al-Danbouki not intervened. Al-Danbouki is an Egyptian human rights …