All posts tagged: Gender

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Be #Bold4Her: Erasing Gender Norms

During this Tuesday’s sessions at the Women Deliver Conference I attended a plenary called “Be #Bold4Her on gender norms: What are we so afraid of?” where a panel of distinguished speakers were discussing the issue of gender norms. This was an interesting session in many ways, highlighting the different difficulties gender norms pose on especially women and girls – but also demonstrating how difficult it can be just to discuss about this issue. That the issue of gender norms is a challenging, much debated and problematic topic is nothing new. This was also something that was evident during the panel, as speaker Dorothy Muroki (FHI 360 Chief of Party and CB-HIPP, Kenya) noted that the global north is already complete according to gender norms if you compare to the global south and the African countries as a response to a comment from Lenita Toivakka (Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Finland), who had said that Finland is one of the best countries in the world to be a mother. In response to Muroki, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda (General Secretary, World …

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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 …

Girls pose for a photo at Tutorial High School; Image c/o Elisabeth Epstein

The Young Women of Tutorial High

I met Walterine during my Baltimore to Guyana layover in the Panama City airport. Seeing that I was reading a Guyana guidebook, Walterine, a proud Guyanese, excitedly sat down next to me and began asking about my trip and my plans while in Guyana. ​I explained to Walterine that I worked with Girls’ Globe and would be speaking with women and girls at Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). Coincidentally (and serendipitously), Walterine worked as the principal of a local high school. Loving the Girls’ Globe mission, she invited me to visit her school and speak to her girls about women’s and girls’ empowerment. Happily, I accepted. Last week, I had the fantastic opportunity to work with 200 young women (aged 13-14) at Tutorial High School. Not only were students engaged and excited to share their ideas about gender equality, but they also were incredibly knowledgeable about gender-related issues. After telling the girls a little bit about myself and about Girls’ Globe, I gave a brief introduction about why ensuring gender equality and empowering young girls is crucial for …

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Access to Justice: A Change is Going to Come

Written by Catriona Cahill, Development Officer, Theatre for a Change In 2012, the United Nations Population Fund revealed that around 34% of the 52,000 female sex workers living in Ghana have had an unprotected sexual encounter with the police against their will. Just over one-third of all women in Ghana have experienced physical violence; the majority of women report that it is most often a sexual partner committing the crime. With sexual violence already prevalent throughout society, just imagine how it is intensified within the industry of sex work where women feel they must necessarily subordinate themselves to their clients. Yet, with only 9% of female sex workers in Ghana reporting a non-discriminatory standard of treatment from the police, it is no wonder that only half of them would consider seeking justice after suffering any form of abuse. Statistics such as this make a strong case for advocating for the rights of these women: the right to report abuse, the right to access justice and the right to live a life free from fear. The current …

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My Modi – The Analysis of an Affectionate Activist

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a special man. It is not just that he happens to lead the largest democracy on planet, or that he recently won his position in a landslide victory that brought 814.5 million people to the polls, 23.1 million of those people being youth (yes… formidable numbers indeed!) but it is the enigma that draws one’s attention to him immediately because with him grows the notion of the ‘Great Indian Dream.’ I watched, with millions of citizens in my country and around the world as he descended upon the United States of America earlier this year. I was both curious and eager to see what he would have to say to an international audience. India is at the cusp of its potential. We have committed to the narrative to all those who are willing to listen that India is ready to play the role of a global game changer in the market place for sustainable development and an emerging performer in the new world order. During Modi’s trip to New York, …

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Defining Family: International Widows’ Day

The 26th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council will come to an end this week. The Council discussions included an annual discussion on gender integration, panel discussions on preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage, gender stereotypes and women’s human rights and sustainable development. A resolution was also put forward on the Protection of Family, a resolution that was originally put forward back in March at the 25th session of the Human Rights Council. However, it was set aside for the next session as many member states blocked the resolution citing the resolution as controversial and damaging to progress made in the aspect of the rights of both children and women. I would like to take this opportunity of the annual International Widow’s Day to highlight just why this resolution is harmful and has the potential to perpetuate the suffering and injustice faced by widows, young women, girls and boys worldwide. Firstly, the resolution builds on recent resolutions that recognise the family as the natural and fundamental group unit of society; …

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Gender Integration and The Gender 360 Summit

Gender. It’s a small word with a major impact on global development. When discussing gender integration, one might assume that the word ‘gender’ equates to solely women and girls. This is simply not the case. Gender refers to all sexes – men, boys, women, girls and all those in the transgender community. Understanding gender’s impact on social and economic growth is the first step towards improving economic development. For example, does poverty mean the same for men and boys as it does for women and girls? In many parts of the developing world, men eat first (and usually most). Therefore, when food is scarce, women and children – especially girls – suffer the consequences of poverty to a much greater degree. Upon coming to the realization that poverty means different things to men and women, boys and girls, organizations and governments can more effectively establish and implement programs and policies to remedy such gender inequalities and thereby promote economic growth. This is gender analysis in action. At yesterday’s Gender 360 Summit, gender advocates from around the …

Photo Credit: Heal the Cuts

Speak Out Against Cutting

Written by: Jaha Dukureh   My name is Jaha Dukureh. I am 24 years old. I am a survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM). I now live in Atlanta, Georgia, but when I was a baby in Gambia, my parents asked a family friend to perform the ritual on me. That day, I was robbed of a part of my femininity.  Since I have started speaking out against FGM, I have met many other girls who have been cut. Not all their stories are like mine. Many of these girls are American. They are girls who were born and live in the United States where nearly 200,000 girls are at risk of FGM. Yes, it is illegal, which is why many girls are subject to what is called vacation cutting. They are sent back to their parents’ home countries, where relatives arrange the ritual. Many of these girls are unaware of what is about to happen to them. They are scarred and traumatised – physically and emotionally. Girls are told the cutting ritual is a transition into womanhood. However, for the rest of their …

Panel discussion on Race, Feminism and Activism - by BarrowCadburyTrust on Flickr

A call for intersectionality in the feminist debate

Quite early in my life I felt and spoke out like a feminist. I didn’t know what a feminist was, let alone know that this feeling and way of being was in fact called feminism. It was in my final year of high school I learnt the term feminist and about the feminist movement. Suddenly, I had a name for my constant behaviour of speaking out on injustices against women, minorities and what I perceived to be injustices in my society. As I became more immersed in this new identity and new group of like-minded people, I realised my references were very white and that there were several areas of conflict with my culture and heritage. I was a white feminist in a black woman’s body. I had little understanding of the concept of intersectionality of race and always argued women’s rights and topical debates from my white feminism vantage point. I have since learnt that one can’t talk about feminism, particularly of women’s rights, outside of race and class. Black women and by extension, black feminism, is …

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#SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen Calls for Solidarity of ALL Women

The Twittersphere has recently undergone a feminist backlash against former “male feminist” and Pasadena City College professor Hugo Schwyzer after his hour-long Twitter meltdown approximately one week ago. While Schwyzer’s uncensored tweets have inevitably ruined his reputation as a male advocate for women’s empowerment, his bluntness has more importantly initiated a renewed conversation centered on the feminist movement and its tendencies to alienate women of color. While Feministe blogger Jill Filipovic sympathized with Schwyzer, blogger Mikki Kendall fiercly tweeted in response: “I feel a moment coming on. Because this has been a banner damned month for white feminists. #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen”. The #SolidaryIsForWhiteWomen hashtag has since been used as a means of “tweeting catharsis” for many. Frustration over double standards held against women of color have been cited by many impassioned tweeters. Many of whom have recalled past and present instances of feminism’s inability to recognize and acknowledge its ignorance and exclusivity of people of color. According to The Washington Post’s “She the People” news platform, the battle of gender versus race has been rampant throughout the …