Earlier this month, the Women's Media Center featured an excellent "exclusive" written by Kenyan feminist and scholar Achola O. Pala. Presenting a perspective too often unheard within women's activist communities, Pala argues that feminists from formerly colonized countries should look to their own cultural heritage for guideposts in creating greater justice in their communities. Here are two gems to whet your appetite:
Hollaback! has been documenting street harassment for half a decade and is poised to take it to the next level: an iPhone app. Not familiar with this grassroots movement? Check out this PSA posted on Feministing yesterday:
In today's WMC Exclusive, "An Architect of Feminist Human Rights Law," human rights leader and feminist foremother Charlotte Bunch offers a tribute to Rhonda Copelon, who had a profound impact femininst human rights law. Says Bunch,
Feminist and human rights lawyer Rhonda Copelon often worked behind the scenes, but her finger prints, or perhaps I should say brain waves, are all over many of the most important breakthroughs in progressive feminist advances both in the United States and globally...Feminist scholar Ros Petchesky called Rhonda her “model of a life fully realized.” Even more than her brilliance, Ros cited her friend’s “practice of a truly feminist humanity in the everyday—her devotion to younger generations, her fierce and loving presence for her many friends; and her passionate embrace of both politics and fun.”
As most of you know, March is Women’s History Month--a month dedicated to remembering all those amazing female figures too often left out of history textbooks. Do you know who your foremothers are? One of NCRW’s member centers, the Women’s Media Center, has been featuring exclusives on notable women all month. This week’s feature on Jeannette Rankin brought me back to high school and my early days of feminist awakenings.
The Christian Science Monitor featured several articles this week on the veil and the Muslim Women's Movement. They're well worth the read! From "Behind the veil: Why Islam's most visible symbol is spreading:"
April 28, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-BairdI post this today, in honor of Fair Pay Day, with a sense of both frustration and hope. I’m frustrated that three decades have gone by after the passage of the Equal Pay Act and we still don’t have pay equity. I’m frustrated that what progress we’ve made has been achingly slow and small. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, the wage gap has closed by less than half of one cent per year since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. At the current rate of progress, it will take 50 years to close the wage gap. This is simply intolerable. It is unacceptable that after decades of feminist lobbying, women continue to earn only 78 cents for every man’s dollar. In some occupations, the gap is even wider. Among finance and insurance occupations, women earn 55.2 cents on the dollar and the wage gap among physician surgeons is 63.5%. Even as I write this, I’m struck by Michael Kimmel’s recent comment at a panel I attended , questioning why we discuss women’s wages as a function of men’s wages. Why not make male privilege and the gendered dynamics of the economy more visible by reversing the equation? Men make $1.28 for every woman’s dollar. Despite this frustration, however, I remain optimistic. This optimism springs from an unlikely source: the economic downturn.
April 1, 2009 posted by Deborah SiegelDeborah Siegel is the author of Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild, creator of the group blog Girl w/Pen and a long-time friend of the Council. The following was originally posted on Recession Wire as Deborah's latest installment of her weekly column, Love in the Time of Layoff. Those who read this column know that I’ve been writing very personally about how the downturn has affected my relationship. In all honesty, I’m starting to fear that by focusing on what’s happening inside relationships, we may be losing sight of larger contexts—what could and should be happening in the structures that govern our lives. The personal is political, after all! Whoever invented the notion that a wife who earns less than her husband has a career that is, by definition, “expendable”? The ubiquity of this sentence—“she has an expendable career”—was brought home to me once again when I read Diane Clehane’s “Recession Marriage Wars” in yesterday’s Daily Beast. Clehane poignantly shares her frustration that for her, and for many working mothers she knows, “The recession means wives are under pressure from their husbands who tell them a sitter is now a luxury they can’t afford.” These are working mothers, mind you—women who have defined themselves by their careers for most of their lives and who know that being a good mom and having a great career are not mutually exclusive. As someone with big hopes of starting a family, and as a feminist, I’m thinking government-funded or employer-subsidized childcare is sounding like a pretty darn good idea right about now.
I was recently in Calcutta, India, my place of birth, home to where my mother, a sibling, old friends, and sweet memories still reside. This is my other “home” where I try to get to every year to renew and regenerate myself, and recharge from the stresses of a running a two working parents’ nuclear household in frenetic New York City. My trip last month came after a two year gap; I felt the familiar overwhelming desire to be there, to be a part of the sights and sounds of an India that were at once familiar and yet distant to me. Having left almost 23 years ago to move to the US, I have a unique insider-outsider vantage point. I was born and brought up there; I know things instinctively – all the cultural puzzles, contradictions, nuances of language, wordplay and verbal cues, body language, subtle things - that only a native-born can ever know. But, having been away long enough, and trained in and working in a field where critical inquiry is required, I can no longer accept without questioning the status and daily conditions of millions of people living in absolute poverty, what Collier refers to as The Bottom Billion. Even as India’s economy grows steadily at about 8% a year, there are entire communities of people, some 300 million of them, who live under a $1 a day without regular access to food, water, housing, livelihoods, reproductive healthcare or education. Malnutrition in children under five is at a staggering 45%.
February 10, 2009 posted by admin My first memory in life is of my mom holding me up as a human shield to try get my dad to stop beating her—possibly to stop from killing her. I was 2-years-old at the time. My book for young women, RESPECT: A GIRL'S GUIDE TO GETTING RESPECT AND DEALING WHEN YOUR LINE IS CROSSED (Free Spirit Publishing, 2005), was born out of a life riddled with disrespect. Like many girls and women I’ve met, I grew up in this home where domestic violence, addictions, incarceration, near poverty and "-isms" from racism to sexism were diminishing my family. But I was one of the lucky ones who discovered the many keys to breaking this cycle. Through following my passions, discovering my mission in life and getting help--among other Steps to Respect--I learned that respect is always within reach because true respect starts on the inside. Now as I travel the country coaching girls and women, I hear a lot of stories just like mine. And as part of this work, I share with them an amazing video made by Jennifer Uribe, our 19-year-old program assistant at Respect Rx (a venture I founded last year). Jen's video includes powerful stats that some girls have heard and some haven't, like: