Friday, October 24, 2008
For those of you who are familiar with their music, did you know that these women are also out to improve the world for young girls? Yeah, I thought that might interest you (or else you would not be reading this blog).
In August 2001 a summer program was developed on the Portland State University campus. This was called the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls (RnRC4G). To understand how incredible this program is, check out their mission statement:
The Rock’n’Roll Camp for Girls, a 501(c)3 non-profit, builds girls self-esteem through music creation and performance.
Providing workshops and technical training, we create leadership opportunities, cultivate a supportive community of peers and mentors, and encourage social change and the development of life skills.
This amazing program has grown and developed with the help of many amazing people throughout the past seven years. The volunteers, teachers, musicians, and the community in general have established a place for young women to learn, not only music, but a safe and creative way to express and understand themselves.
In the summer of 2007, Raining Jane volunteered to teach and inspire these young women in Portland. I thank them for their contribution to this wonderful program, and even more so for introducing me to it. I am proud to spread the word about any course or group dedicated to improving the lives of young women.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
If you want to end poverty and help the developing world, the best thing you can do is invest time, energy, and funding into adolescent girls. It's called the Girl Effect, because girls are uniquely capable of investing in their communities and making the world better. But here are 10 things that stand in their way:
*Let's see some ID. Without a birthcertificate or an ID, a girl in the developing world doesn't know and can't prover her age, protect herself from child marriage, open a bank account, vote, or eventually get a job. That makes it hard to save the world.
*Illiteracy does not look good on a resume... 70% of the world's out-of-school children are girls. Girls deserve better. They deserve quality education and the safe environments and support that allow them to get to school on time and stay there through adolescence.
*...and pregnancy doesn't look good on a little girl. Child marriages are the norm in many cultures where women's bodies aren't considered their own property. Pregnancy is the leading cause of death for girls 15-18 years old. Girls have a right to be able to protect their health and their bodies.
*The face of HIV is increasingly young and female. When girls are educated about HIV, they stand a better chance of protecting themselves. but education is not enough. Girls need to be empowered and supported to make their own choices.
*A nice place to work would be nice. If girls have the skills for safe and decnet work, if they understand their rights, if they are financially literate and considered for nontraditional jobs at an appropriate age, if they get their fair share of training and internships, they will be armed and ready for economic independence.
*The check is in the mail but it's going to your brother. Only one-half of one cent of every aid dollar spent in the developing world is earmarked for girls. And yet when a girl has resources, she will reinvest them in her community at a much higher rate than a boy would. If the goal is health, wealth, and stability for all, a girl is the best investment.
*Adolescent girls aren't just "future women". They're girls. they deserve their own category. They need to be a distinct group when we talk about aid, education, sports, civic participation, health and economics. Yes, they are future mothers. But they actually live in the present.
*Laws were made to be enforced. Girls need advocates to write, speak up, lobby, and work to enforce good laws and change discriminatory policies.
*She should be a statistic. We won't know how to help girls until we know what's going on with them. Hey, all you governments and NGOs and social scientists: You're accountable! We need an annual girl report card for every country so we can keep track of which girls are thriving and which girls are not.
*Everyone gets on board or we're all overboard. Boys, girls, moms, dads. If we don't all rally to support girls, nothing is going to change. Not for them, and not for us. Change starts with you. So get going.
Ladies, we have got to do something! Please, PLEASE spread word about this amazing program. Send the link for the Girl Effect to every one you know. Talk to your daughters and sisters about what YOU can do.
Perhaps the most inspirational moment in this article was that "the campaign to end the practice has been alive in his community for several years, and that in the recent past, educated young women in Kapchorwa have shunned it."
The power of information and education should never be underestimated. I am proud to be an educated woman, and I want to celebrate my sisters in their accomplishment.
Monday, October 13, 2008
*I want to write about Sarah Palin, as she is a woman in the spotlight, but I am not sure how to go forward with the blog: what do I say? Do I discuss her political leanings? Do I only highlight the good, but ignore the bad? I cannot do that, and so I must take much more time to figure out her blog.
*I think I will write a few in the near future focusing on the amazing women in my personal life. Many show amazing strength every day, and they deserve highlighting as much as anyone else.
*My good friend Kelly is a history teacher, and she has a passion for women's history and women's rights that make me feel completely ignorant! I want her to visit and blog about some famous (and some practically unheard of) women in history who have paved the way for us.
If you would like to suggest someone (preferably with a specific example of why they deserve mention, and/or a link) please feel free to comment.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
In South Dakota they have passed a law concerning the necessity for informed consent in abortion. Starting now, in order for a woman to obtain an abortion in South Dakota she, and her doctor, must signed a written statement that states (among other things) that:
*the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being;
*the pregnant woman has an existing relationship with the unborn human being and that the relationship enjoys protection under the United States Constitution;
*by having an abortion, her existing relationship and her existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated;
*a description of all known medical risks of the procedure and statistically significant risk factors to which the pregnant woman would be subjected to, including: (i) depression and related psychological distress, and (ii) increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.
The conservative side of me commends the direct and no-punches-pulled mentality of this law. I can respect that they wont sugar-coat the situation; they wont act like it is easy or healthy. That is a good thing, in my opinion. And hopefully it will cause some women to rethink their decision, especially in the case of those doing it for selfish reasons.
On the other hand, it is a poorly written law with many things left unconsidered. For example, how can you acknowledge that the fetus is a living human being without acknowledging the process as murder? If you believe it is a living human being, and you decide to halt its living, then that is murder. The definition of it, in fact. So that leaves a huge loophole gaping open. Is this a gateway law to considering abortion as murder, or is this a confused halfway attempt?
Many people could argue that this is just a "mean law" to make women feel guilty about doing what they have "the right to do". I want to understand that point of view, but for me personally it would be like saying it was mean to put criminals in jail. An almost arguable point that comes down to this: they made a choice. Consequences must be paid.
I don't expect everyone to agree with me; far from it. I just want to spark debate and conversation. This is an issue that affects women and families everywhere in one way or another. What do you think?
Friday, June 20, 2008
In London the abortion rate for young women has reached a record high. This past year (2007) there were a recorded 163 abortions by girls under the age of 14. This statistic is frightening, but not nearly as terrible as the statistic for girls under the age of 16: 4,376! That means that there were over 4,200 abortions for girls age 14 through 16!
Professors and professionals are churning out ideas to aide this new situation. They are aiming to prevent the pregnancy. I do not wholeheartedly agree with Julie Bentley's statement: "Younger women are making different choices about their lives and choosing abortion over motherhood. But education and contraceptive services will stop them becoming pregnant in the first place." Surely this is oversimplified! While I believe that our youth deserve and need a better sex education program, I do NOT think that we can lie to ourselves and them by suggesting that know-how and a pill will keep them completely from harm. We, as adults, need to be teaching them about consequences, about chances and about "fairness". If a teenager read the statement "education and contraceptives WILL stop you from becoming pregnant" they would be wholly misinformed. Most birth control has a success rate of 99%, which of course means that 1% of the time it is unsuccessful. That doesn't sound like much, it really doesn't, but that is one time out of 100 that someone gets an unpleasant surprise.
We need to teach our youth about the consequences of their actions. We need to be truly honest, even blunt, to get the point across. Too often people of all ages view life with the "it could never happen to me" lens on, and it is truly dangerous. They need to understand cause and effect: pregnancy is a possible effect of sex. Abortion is a possible effect of pregnancy. But how many teenagers have thought ahead to the possibles effect of abortion? On their body? On their spirit? On their friends? On their family?
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Tyra has been chomping at the bit to find a "plus-sized" model that could take home the gold, and she found her. Whitney was named America's Next Top Model for cycle 10!
This girl may be full-figured in the modeling world, but in the real world she is a gorgeous girl with a feminine shape. Curves used to be desirable in a woman and I am loving the return of the trend. Despite popular computer mottos of "You can never be too thin or too powerful" (blech) the pendulum is starting to swing back over to the juicy beauties of yesteryear!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I have been cheering for Whitney since the beginning; not only because she is the "plus size" girl, but also because she is good at it and has fun! I say "plus size" in quotes because by real world standards she isn't very big. One thing I have come to notice is the difference in that definition. In the fashion world I would be overweight, or at least plus sized. I can handle that; being confident in my own beauty is a blessing and an honor I do not need the fashion industry to validate. However, I do love when they make 'exceptions' like those frequently made on America's next Top Model. It gives me a little faith in humanity and the ever-swinging pendulum of beauty standards.
Whitney has made it to the top four girls, and I am ecstatic! It makes the show that much more suspenseful for me. I believe she has made it farther than any other plus sized model on ANTM. I have only watched devoutly for the past three cycles, but I have seen episodes from almost all cycles. I want to dedicate this success to some other "big girls" and celebrate their beauty:
Friday, May 2, 2008
My good friend Lauren is a prime example of a beautiful, strong, Christian woman. She has such conviction, not only in the deep spiritual sense, but also on a smaller scale: she gives herself incentives, like “I won’t eat this cookie until after I have cleaned my room”. How cute is that?! Cute as a button, that’s how cute!
This angel has worked in youth ministry for years now, finding a true calling to minister to and befriend teenagers. Lets be honest, not everyone has that much patience – do you? It takes quite a bit. She uses her gifts, not only as a minister but as an actress and amazing singer, to share her joy and her Lord with the world. She is lucky even – no, convicted enough – to go after the things God wants for her and be satisfied every day of her job. I can honestly say I don’t know what that feels like.
She has inspired me to do so much. I am making connections with some of our teenagers. I have set aside my pride (and shame) and used my life experiences to teach these girls, at least on a small scale. I look forward to the opportunity to continue in this. I pray that I can be half as inspiring and beautiful as Lauren and exude Christ’s light in this world of overwhelming darkness.
Plus, any delightful nerd who can proclaim that ‘Jesus is her Jedi master’ deserves a crown!
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Dove has done it again. This newer video, "Onslaught", has quite a powerful message as well.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Mamie Banya, a member of the Bondo Society, claimed, "Any organisation that has accepted funds from overseas donors to wage war against FGM is fighting a losing battle. Let donors keep their money, we will keep our culture."
The ritual is regarded as "harmless" while it "promotes marital fidelity". One demonstrator even stated that "it has made us women be responsible housewives to our husbands". Women were actually using the phrase "we love FGM" during their protest. They say that if the process was outlawed in their region, as it is in many others all over Africa, they "will become uncontrollable". It is a very important part of their culture that they hold dear.
That is hard for an American to handle, especially when we hear so many stories of women who experienced it as children; women who were scared, in great pain, forced against all will to be cut by unsanitary tools. According to the July 12th issue of Women's Policy, Inc., written in 1996 mind you, in areas in the Sudan where antibiotics are not available, it is estimated that one-third of the girls undergoing FGM will die.
Another piece of this puzzle often left unmentioned is HIV. Many women, especially those who experience infibulation, the most severe and damaging form, are left with no sexual options other than anal intercourse to please their husbands. This radically increases the odds of catching and spreading the virus.
If you believe in prayer, please say one for these women. Those that are suffering from the practice against their will as well as those who fight desperately to maintain it.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Fatima was born in Somalia, where she spent the majority of her life, up until the past seven years. When she was seven years old she was circumsized.
Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM, is extremely common in African and Middle Eastern countries, for different reasons. For some it is a rite of passage, for others a religious requirement. It is sometimes meant to prevent a woman from feeling sexual desire, therefore "protecting" her.
The process consists of the removal of the entire clitoris. Often the labia are sewn together as well.
Fatima wants to use this show as a platform to raise awareness of this horrible tradition. Girls of all young ages experience this, and the fatality rate is staggering. These procedures are often done amateurly, especially considering how many countries have now made it illegal. Even in England there is a huge subculture of this practice, given the rising percentage of Middle Eastern inhabitants.
I applaud Fatima for making her effort to change the world. Each of us has potential to do this; it is only a matter of trying.
Monday, February 4, 2008
"A group of women wearing white dresses splashed in fake blood, proclaiming themselves Miss Juarez, Miss Atenco and Miss Michoacan in reference to places in Mexico where women have been raped or killed protest beside the stage where the Miss Universe's native dress fashion show was held in Mexico City, Sunday, May 20, 2007."
As you can tell, I am quite tardy in keeping with these events. This is especially true when you take into account that these horrendous rapes, kidnappings and murders started in 1993. Or at least that is when they started getting noticed.
There is no way of knowing for sure how many women have been kidnapped, humiliated, mutilated, raped and murdered on the soil of Juarez. And no one seems to be trying very hard to stop it. Well, that statement is too blanketted; no authority or government seems to be trying very hard. There are angels working day and night to protect these women. Esther Chavez Cano, for one, has made it her life's work to keep these women from danger and help them when it is too late. She founded Casa Amiga, a sort of safe house for these women. She is a Vagina Warrior and an angel.
There are many theories surrounding these crimes, but there is one at the fore-front: many believe that the attackers are sex-offenders from El Paso. Apparently the border between the two is laughably easy to cross; from American soil onto Mexican soil, at least. We are so busy "protecting our country from them", but we have given no thought to protecting them from us. Apparently El Paso has a very large population of sex offenders. Well, what better hunting ground for these men than an unpoliced desert of impoverished women who 'would not be missed' (from a legal and societal standpoint)? If there is any merit to this theory, and I fear there is quite a bit, than we need to take action. We need to set up serious perimeter protection. What police do exist in this region are so under paid that bribery is common, understood and accepted. This region is also a huge market for drug trafficking, bringing in more bribe money, more violent characters and fewer acting police.
Ask yourself, what can I do for these women? The easiest, and perhaps the best, is prayer. The next easiest, in my opinion, is spreading awareness. Obviously, donating your time and your money would be a big help. Just think, you could change someone's life today. Hell, you could save someone's life today!
Eve Ensler, of course, has commune with these women. She introduced me to a whole world of hurt that I could learn to heal. If you are interested in donating, her website is a great place to start. You can also go to the Casa Amiga website.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Eve's star-studded performance will include Salma Hayek, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Jennifer Hudson, Glenn Close, Julia Stiles, Ashley Judd, Marisa Tomei, Calpernia Addams, Rosario Dawson, Kerry Washington, Ellen DeGeneres, and musicians Joss Stone, Common, Eve, and Charmaine Neville. A few of these women have shown up in this very blog before for their beauty and bravery.
I would give quite a bit to be able to attend this event. Some of my fellow Vagina Warriors and I were hoping to make a road trip out of it. As it turns out, I will be unable to go but for happy reasons; I myself will be in a production of 'The Vagina Monologues' in my hometown. Of all of the reasons I could come up with, this is the best.
I hope you are as inspired by the work these women do as I am. I hope you get involved. Even if all you do is go to see a production of it, you have helped to spread awareness. To find an event near you, follow this link.