Stories from Quick Reads and Women & Gender
After years of promotion and reviews of documentaries devoted to social change, the site Films for Action released a list of what they consider to be the 100 most influencial and provocative. From critiques to manistream media to the corporate world, passing through the ideas and solutions proposed in and by the majority world, this list of films present a wide view of ideas that many consider crucial to discuss.
Documentaries have an incredible power to raise awareness and create transformative changes in consciousness both at the personal and global levels […] All of the films have been selected because they are either free to watch online, or can be rented online. There are several films we would have loved to add to this list, but they currently don't have an accessible way to view them. As that changes, we'll be updating this list over time. Enjoy!
Dr. Claire Kinuthia, a Kenyan doctor and blogger, writes about how she fell in love with medicine:
How it all began.
Medicine found me when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I have a particularly vivid memory of hearing my dad get up in the middle of the night to go attend to an emergency in the hospital. Dad was already a hero in my little beating heart but that night, lying in bed imagining what he’d been called to do and how many lives he’s get to save, he was elevated to superhero status. I remember trying hard to stay awake and wait for him to tell me all about his “adventures”. Sadly, sleep won that battle. However, the seed had been sown and I always knew I’d be a doctor one day, a superhero who saved lives
As the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada started kicked off on June 6, a number of organizations joined forces in launching the #GirlsCan advocacy campaign. Women Deliver, UNICEF, Right to Play, GAIN and One Goal are using the FIFA as a backdrop to raise awareness of how sports can positively influence girls’ lives and call for more research and funding for girls’ sports.
Lauren Himiak, Women Deliver's Communications Manager, explained it to Global Voices:
The #GirlsCan hashtag and campaign kicked off encouraging the public to share photos of themselves playing sport and talking about why it was important in their development. We have seen everything from female racecar drivers in training to boxers in Africa participate, and we cannot wait keep the buzz growing. The great thing about #GirlsCan is to see the messages coming out of Twitter…”#GirlsCan change the world; #GirlsCan do everything boys can do; #GirlsCan be the next president”!
The campaign is calling on people worldwide to take action, either by participating in the #GirlsCan campaign and advocating on girls’ involvement in sports in their communities, or by spreading the word on social networks. Those interested in the on-going campaigns can follow hashtags #GirlsCan, #PowerInPlay or #InvestInGirls.
Sports programs represent a highly effective, low-cost means of addressing some of the most pressing global development challenges. Involvement in sports improves the overall health of adolescents and young women, including sexual and reproductive health, and it gives children and youth opportunities to be more successful and achieve gender equality in their communities.
Part of the campaign is the Girl Power in Play Symposium which will be held June 18-19, 2015, in Ottawa, Canada. The symposium's agenda this year focuses on the most pressing global gender issues, including girls’ right to play sports and related topics within the fields of health, education, nutrition, life-skills, and gender norms. The pinnacle of the #GirlsCan campaign is expected on October 11, 2015, when the organizations will share collected stories, research, blogs, and ideas on how can sports empower girls on and off the field.
— Periódico La Tribuna (@PLaTribunaFunza) May 8, 2015
Pregnant 11-year-old who refused to abort creates controversy.
We wrote recently about about a 10-year-old pregnant girl from Paraguay who was allegedly raped by her stepfather and who was unable to have an abortion because of legal limitations in the country. Now, in Uruguay, where abortion is legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the case of a pregnant 11-year-old who refused to have one has shocked the country.
This girl, who has been said to have an intellectual disability, was raped by the 41-year-old grandfather of her half-sister. This man is now in custody and will be prosecuted for rape, Uruguayan officials told Agence France-Presse.
Family members, doctors, social organizations, and the media have encouraged the girl to terminate the pregnancy. They have even pressured the government to try and force her to go through with it, according to Pangea Today. The response was, however, not favorable to them:
“There is no risk for the life of the child or baby, so we cannot force her to have an abortion,” the director of INAU, Monica Silva, said.
Zachary Rosen interviews photographer/poet Amaal Said. Amaal was born in Denmark to Somali parents and is currently based in London:
AIAC: Your photographs are remarkable in how they challenge and evolve notions of beauty in mainstream Western media by featuring intimate portraits of melanin-rich young people – with piercings, in headscarves and with natural hair. What experiences inform and shape the content of your photographs?
Amaal Said: I try my hardest to keep close to beauty. I grew up in a neighbourhood referred to as a ghetto in Odense, Denmark. I went back two years ago and all I can remember is how many shades of green I saw. I wish I had captured more of it. My own memories of Odense are at odds with what I read about it and hear from family. It’s always been a beautiful place to me, which doesn’t mean that a lot of sadness and tragedy didn’t happen there, it just means that both elements can exist at the same time.
I’ve spent most of my life in London and I’ve had the pleasure of being in communities with other artists who are doing really important work in the world. I never felt alone in that case. Negative opinions of the countries we came from and the communities we lived in existed. I was in classrooms with other children who claimed that people that looked like me were dirty immigrants who stole jobs and cheated the system. I feel like I spent a lot of time at secondary school fighting people’s opinions. And I’m not in those particular classrooms anymore, but I’m still trying to combat those negative portrayals.
I never saw the documenting I did as particularly hard work. I asked to take people’s pictures because I found them beautiful, because I recognised myself in them. I realise now how important the work is and how necessary it is to push against the images that do not represent us in our best light.
The battle of a French mother to recover her son held in Ecuador by his Ecuadorian father, a case characterized by sexism and misogyny, had been followed closely on Ecuadorian social networks. Valeria Coronel and Antonio Jurado relate for the blog Plató Mundo:
Arianais Alezra, la madre de Gaspard Bruzzone, denunció hace unas semanas el secuestro de su hijo. Ella notificó que el niño se encontraba retenido por el padre […]
En una página web llamada: SalvemosaGaspard.com El padre redactó una carta diciendo que el secuestro es justificado, ya que estaba salvando a su hijo de una sociedad pecaminosa y liberal como Francia […] “las pruebas” de por qué Alezra no estaba capacitada para ser madre […] unas fotografías donde vemos a la madre posando desnuda, bajo intenciones artísticas. […] Aclarar que si las intenciones de posar desnuda fueran o no artísticas, no imposibilitan a una mujer de ser madre.
Arianais Alerza, Gaspar Bruzzone's mother, a few weeks ago denounced her son's kidnapping. She announced that the child was held by his father […].
On a web page named: SalvemosaGaspard.com (Save Gaspard) the father wrote a letter saying that the kidnapping was justified, because he was saving his son from a blasphemous and libertarian society as France […] “the proof” of why Alezra was unqualified to be mother […] some photos of her posing nude, with artistic purpose. […] To clarify that whether or not her motives for posing nude were artistic, this does not preclude a woman of being a mother.
José María León reports on GKillCity how the pressure on social networks (“#FindGaspard was used on about 6,000 tweets in a week and the child's name nearing 10,000 more”) forced the court to return Gaspard to the custody of his mother and allow him to join her on April 8 so they could return to their house in Paris.
— GkillCity.com (@GkillCitycom) April 14, 2015
Gaspard demonstrated that social media does much more than discharging the bile excess.
The NGO Miles (Thousands) and the advertising agency Grey Chile are taking a provocative approach to showing the problem that thousands of women face in Chile with respect to abortion, using three fictitious tutorial videos that show the only legal way to have an abortion in the country.
The “advice” ranges from throwing yourself down the stairs to getting run over by a car.
Abortion is prohibited in Chile, which means that thousands of women have to resort to illegal means in order to abort. It is estimated that there are around 150,000 cases each year, some of which result in the death of the patient.
This campaign seeks to draw attention to this fact and persuade the Chilean government to approve the therapeutic abortion law that was rejected last February.
Warning before you click play: these videos contain graphic images.
Desireé Lozano, blogging for Voces Visibles, urges attention be paid to the extremely high rate of teenage pregnancies in Venezuela, where 25% of the pregnancies are among young people, and the lack of an appropriate public policy to counter this phenomenon and its repercussions. Venezuelan statistics are the highest in South America and remains in first place from two years ago.
Maternal mortality is an issue directly related to teen pregnancy. Desiree cited Venezuelan deputy Dinorah Figuera, president of the Family Committee of the Venezuelan National Assembly, who said the state's responsibility is to provide prevention:
“Una de esas consecuencias es que las madres adolescentes son mujeres que pierden oportunidades para desarrollarse desde el punto de vista profesional y aceptan cualquier tipo de trabajo para tener algún tipo de ingresos. Por esta razón el Estado debe aplicar una gigantesca campaña de concientización para la prevención del embarazo adolescente”, señala la diputada venezolana
“One consequence of teen mothers is woman lose development opportunities from a professional viewpoint, take any job in order to make some income. For this reason, the state should mount a massive campaign to prevent teenage pregnancy,” the Venezuelan deputy says.
Additionally, teenage pregnancy contributes to an already established trend, the feminization of poverty. Furthermore, the phenomenon embodies a risk for the mother’s health, running a greater danger than the average. In her article, the writer collects interesting expert statements on the subject providing an overview of the problem.
Marita Seara, blogging for Voces Visibles, warns about the growing criminalization of abortion in Ecuador, one of the most difficult countries in Latin America for women to obtain an abortion, second only to Venezuela.
Hay dos únicos casos en los cuales es permitido el aborto: cuando corre peligro la vida de la mujer y cuando se trata de una “violación a una discapacitada mental”. A mi parecer, inaudito. Leo en el medio ecuatoriano, Plan V, y no salgo de mi asombro, el proceso en el cual se trata de despenalizar el aborto en dicho país, un país donde, según se señala en dicho medio, 380 mil mujeres aproximadamente han sido víctimas de violación, un país donde una de cada cuatro mujeres han sido víctimas de algún tipo de agresión sexual, un país en el cual ha aumentado un 74,8% los embarazos de niñas entre 10 y 14 años, muchos de los cuales parecen estar ligados a violación sexual; un país donde más de 3.600 niñas menores de 15 años son madres producto de una violación.
There are only two cases where abortion is allowed: when mother's life is in danger and when it's a “rape committed against a learning disabled woman”. To me, it's outrageous. I read on the Ecuadorian new website Plan V and I'm astonished [about] these attempts to criminalize abortion in that country—a country where, as Plan V points out, about 380,000 women have been raped, where one out of four women has been the victim of some kind of sexual assault, and a country where pregnancy in 10- to 14-year-old girls has increased by 74.8 percent—many of them apparently related to sexual assaults. This is a country where more than 3,600 girls younger than 15 are mothers as result of a rape.
Criminalizing abortion would have profound repercussions for doctor-patient confidentiality, not to mention aggravate the country's already staggering social inequalities.
The criminalization concept could be spreading, too. More than a dozen women now languish in El Salvadorian prisons, convicted of “aggravated homicide” after miscarrying. Some of these would-be mothers are serving out 30-year prison sentences.
Saudi historian Dr Saleh Al-Saadoon says women in the West drive because they “don't care if they get raped on the roadside.” He made the remarks in an interview with Rotana Khalijia, a Saudi-owned television channel aimed at Gulf countries, in his defense of a Saudi prohibition that bans women from driving. The video, which created an outcry online, was shared far and wide on YouTube.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women from driving cars. There have been many efforts to break the ban, most recently on October 26, 2013, when dozens of women shared videos driving cars in the day they plan on defying the ban.
The Saudi “historian” notes that:
Unlike riding a camel, driving a car places a woman in danger of being raped, which for Saudi women is a much worse experience than for any women in the western world where women “don't care” if they are raped.
To make his interview worse, he suggested a solution to import “foreign female drivers” to drive Saudi women to prevent a potential rape by contracted male drivers.
In an opinion piece published in alternative magazine Conexiones, Katya Najlis explores the ideas that lead to women being harassed on the street in Nicaragua. The essay presents multiple examples and reflections linking the majority of theories defending the right of Latin American women to move about freely without concern for safety to the social conventions that perpetuate gender inequality:
Los estereotipos hacia la mujer nicaragüense se convierten en otro método de violencia que nadie regula. El machismo asume el cuerpo de la mujer como un objeto público. El uso de imágenes sexistas contribuye a esta realidad, violentándola de forma implícita y posicionándola como un objeto. […] Lamentablemente, algunas mujeres hemos llegado a pensar que es “normal” o que “por nuestra culpa” somos víctimas de este tipo de abuso, y es que los acosadores aprovechan las unidades de transporte –sobre todo las rutas–, para ofendernos sexualmente.
Stereotypes have become another way to commit violence against Nicaraguan women that nobody regulates. Macho sexism assumes that women's bodies are public objects. The use of sexist images contributes to this reality, violating a woman implicitly and positioning her as an object. […] Sadly, some of us women have been led to think this is “normal” or that “it's our fault” we are victims of this type of abuse, and it's because our aggressors use public transport — and especially the streets — to offend us sexually.
Mohammad Moghimi, the attorney of the Iranian activist and cartoonist Atena Faraghdani was arrested on 10 June following a visit to his client in jail. His charges are based on the fact that he shook Faraghdani's hand. Faraghdani was recently sentenced to 12.5 years in prison for posting drawings and content critical of the government on her Facebook page.
According to the Human Rights Activist News Agency, Moghimi has been transferred to ward 10 of Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj. His bail has been set to 20 million tomans -approximately $7000 USD. It is likely Faraghdani will face similar charges.
— Mansoureh Mills (@Mansourehmi) June 14, 2015
— Katniss/Lisbeth (@shokufeyesib) June 16, 2015
The social media campaign for Faraghdani's release can be followed under the #freeAtena hashtag.
Residents of the city of Medellín, Colombia, are asking themselves if the metro is the place to talk about abortion, stemming from an ad by the #ladecisiónestuya (the decision is yours) campaign that's running in the public transit system's cars, as shared by user Jaime Andrés (@JAIM3_ANDR3S):
— Jaime Andrés (@JAIM3_ANDR3S) May 26, 2015
The Decision Is Yours pic.twitter.com/Nbaq2zJHXn
— Jaime Andrés (@JAIM3_ANDR3S) May 26, 2015
The campaign is being spearheaded by a non-profit organization offering sexual and reproductive healthcare services, carrying the message: “398,000 abortions should not be illegal.”
Under the hashtag #Abortonoesculturametro (Abortion Is Not Metro Culture) referring to the set of rules governing Medellín's Metro called “Cultura Metro” (Metro Culture), people have been sharing their opinions for and against abortion, in the same way that the mass transit system installations’ cars are used on a daily basis to post messages using other graphic material.
Under the hashtag #NiUnaMenos (Not One Less), Argentina is mounting a campaign against the alarming increase in the number of femicides, which shows no signs of going down. Many of the country's public personalities have joined the campaign, like cartoonist Liniers, who used one of his best known characters to participate in the movement.
— Liniers (@porliniers) May 12, 2015
3 June. Plaza Congreso. No more femicides.
Femicide, understood as a hate crime against women, poses a serious problem in Argentina. Despite the passage of laws that deal with and criminalize violence against women, these crimes continue to be numerous. The protest will take place on 3 June in the Plaza del Congreso.
The movement gained momentum following the murder of 14-year-old Chiara Paéz. She was allegedly killed at the hands of her boyfriend and had been expecting a child at the time of her death.
The NGO La Casa Del Encuentro, which runs support groups for victims of domestic violence, reported that since 2008 in Argentina 1,808 women were killed by domestic violence, 261 of these girls between 13 and 21 years old. Last year alone, 277 femicides were documented in Argentina, according to Buenos Aires Herald.
Junio del 75 en México no te asombres
Se juntaron mil señoras para hablar mal de los hombres […]
Liberación absoluta es meta de la mujer
Pero aquello de que hablamos
Que no lo dejen de hacer aunque sea por favor
In June of '75 in Mexico don’t be surprised
Thousand of women came together to criticize men […]
Absolute liberation is women's goal
But that thing we talked about
Please don’t stop doing it even if it’s as a favor
The popular Mexican corridos usually refer to women as wives, girlfriends or lovers, but there was a time in history when feminist liberation was reflected in their lyrics. Angie Contreras, blogging for Mujeres Construyendo (Women Building), explains the double interpretation of feminism in that age which still continues today:
El corrido puede tener un sinfín de lecturas, […] explicare dos:
La primera de ellas, una cultura machista muy arraigada en el mexicano, donde la mujer debe asumirse en un rol de casa, educadora y sobretodo de cuidado, es donde recae la frase “que no lo dejen de hacer”, se nos da la libertad pero deben de seguir haciendo lo que ya sabemos hacer […]
Y una segunda está idea que el feminismo es sinónimo de odio a los hombres “para hablar mal de los hombres”, y esto es una malinterpretación del concepto […] la búsqueda del feminismo es una “liberación absoluta”, cuando se buscaban cosas concretas como el acceso a la educación, el derecho a votar y ser votada, la igualdad de salarios.
The corrido has unlimited interpretations, […] I'll explain two of them:
The first one, a sexist culture deeply rooted in Mexicans, in which woman should assume the role of a housewife, a teacher and caregiver, that is what the phrase “let's hope they don't stop doing it” refers to, that liberty is given to us but they must continue doing what we already know how to do.
And a second one is the idea that feminism is synonymous with hating men “to criticize men,” and this is a misunderstanding of the concept […] the search for feminism is an “absolute liberation”, when concrete things were requested such as access to education, the right to vote and be voted, equal wages.
Former French Defense Minister Finds Excuses for the Alleged Rape of Central African Children by French Soldiers
Afrique Info reports that JP Chevènement, a former defense minister of France, stated on public radio Europe 1 on May 3 that the challenging conditions that French soldiers face in the Central African Republic could explain “behavior of that kind” (see video above). Chevènement was referring to the allegation of child sexual abuse by French troops posted in the Central African Republic. The allegations surfaced after disciplinary proceedings were taken against a United Nations employee accused of leaking the allegations to the French authorities.
This text is part of the 49th edition of #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on April 13, 2015.
Underage pregnancy has been rising in Ecuador for the past several years, while abortion even in cases of rape or incest remains criminalized. According to the State Prosecutor, 98 percent of rapes in Ecuador last year occurred within family circles, and 271 took place on the campuses of schools and colleges.
Writing on the blog Plató Mundo, Valeria Coronel and Antonio Jurado took a look at a recent controversial statement by a government official:
El comentario realizado por Alexis Mera (Asesor Jurídico del Estado), en diario El Comercio: “El Estado debe enseñar a las mujeres que es preferible que retrasen su vida sexual y retrasen la concepción para que puedan terminar una carrera” […] denota una falta de conocimiento ante las estadísticas reales de esta problemática y sus causas. Su opinión es grave y alarmante porque solo se refiere a la mujer, […] esto es un reflejo claro de la sociedad machista en la que vivimos.
Nuestra cultura simboliza una falta de educación grave, que sigue atentando directamente a la imagen de la mujer dentro de la sociedad. Éste es el verdadero problema que se debería combatir.
The remark made by Alexis Mera (Legal Counsel for the State), in the newspaper El Comercio: “The state must teach woman that is preferable to delay their sexual life and postpone conception so they can finish their degree” […] denotes a lack of knowledge about the real statistics of the problem and its origin. His opinion is serious and alarming because he only refers to the woman, […] this is an obvious reflection of the sexist society in which we live.
Our culture symbolizes the serious lack of education, which continues directly attacking women image in society. This is the real issue that must be confronted.
In March 2015, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) urged Ecuador to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape and incest.
Continue reading this text here.
WACC, SocialTIC, WITNESS, La Sandía Digital, and Subversiones have called on women interested in telling the stories of strong women in their communities with the purpose of changing the way women are represented in the media.
As one of the representatives of the project told Global Voices, in Mexican media there is not only a lack of production and distribution of content produced by women, but lack of nuanced content, which only serves to replicate dominant stereotypes that do not reflect or promote diversity.
What does the project consist of?
The project consists of an audiovisual laboratory caravan where women will learn about photography, video, and text creation. The laboratory caravan will last six months, holding four three-day sessions in different Mexican communities during May, June, July, and August.
What are the participation requirements?
Women must be 18 and over, residing in central Mexico, involved in community projects, capable of dedicating 8 hours a week from May to September, available for travel during the scheduled dates, commited to sharing with the commuity what has been learned, and have access to a portable computer. Twenty applicants will be chosen.
The registration period for this project expired on March 27, 2015. Organizers are selecting the eligible entries from the ones received from all over Mexico and will soon publish the results. If any questions or inquiries please direct it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's well known that every aspiring beauty queen must answer a difficult question in the interview portion of the contest. Also well known are some of the answers that contestants have given, answers that earned them more publicity than their good looks ever did.
The most recent of those answers was given by Mexican Mariana Morres during the semifinal of the Miss Our Latin Beauty 2015, which has circulated online. The question: “Which partner would you choose to preserve the human species in case of a nuclear holocaust?” Torres answered: “A couple of chimpanzees… You know, due to the theory we come from there, so…”
As expected, Twitter users didn't waste any time in commenting:
— Wonderwall Latino (@WWLatino) abril 10, 2015
Mariana Torres, finalist in Miss Our Latin Beauty really stepped in it while answering a question.
Wonderful! Number 1 fan of beauty queen wisdom. Hahaha.
Mariana Torres makes a fool of herself and loses the final at Miss Our Latin Beauty.
Although some were sympathetic:
Ni se burlen de Nuestra Belleza Mariana Torres y su chimpancé, en un futuro puede llegar a ser pareja de algún político.
— Compa Fer (@fergarvaz) abril 10, 2015
Don't make fun of Miss Our Beauty Mariana Torres and her chimpanzee, in the future she could become the partner of some politician.
26 year old British-Iranian Goncheh Ghavami was arrested in Iran on June 2014 for protesting for equal access for women during sporting events. She was arrested after she attempted to attend a men-only volleyball match at Azadi Indoor Stadium in Tehran. International petitions have been ongoing for her release, until her release on March 31, 2015. Her brother Iman Ghavami posted on petition.org, where many had signed for her release of the news:
Mar 31, 2015 — I have big news for you.
Today I can tell you that Ghoncheh is free! As we were celebrating Iranian New year, Iranian Government wiped out the rest of my sister's sentence. Ghoncheh will not have to spend another day, another hour in prison.
This is amazing news and I wanted you to hear from me directly. You stood by us during those difficult months. You gave my family courage and hope. The uncertainty of autumn and the dark clouds of winter have gone. And the sun once again is shining for my family. Spring is here.
My mum has finally become her old happy self and has found peace again. My mum and I will not forget your generous support and thank you sincerely. Together we brought Ghoncheh home. Ghoncheh also asked me to thank you all for your support.
This has been the best spring for my family. Hopefully this spring brings happiness and peace to all Iranians and all of you.