Stories from Quick Reads and Women & Gender
Liga Inan is using mobile phones to connect pregnant women and health workers in Timor Leste. The innovative program provides mothers with vital information and health advice to ensure the safe delivery of babies. Since its launch, almost 2,000 mothers have been already enrolled in the program.
Bangladeshi blogger Raad Rahman tells the story of a girl in rural Bangladesh who avoided a forced child marriage after she started a grocery shop using a small grant from a local non-government organisation. She was going to be married off to her neighbour's son because her family could no longer support her financially.
NGO Dominemos la Tecnología (Let's master technology) invites to the first #TweetInterview “From softactivism to thinking of a network as a space to protest”, to be held on September 1 from 11 to 13 hs (local time, -3 UTC). The event will take place on Twitter with the participation of political expert and journalist Natalia Zuazo (@nataliazzz), who is currently writing the book “Wars on the Internet”.
This collective cyberdebate aims to reflect on the impact of cyberactivism, how digital disputes counter disputes on public space, among other topics. You can submit your questions and opinions to @DominemoslasTIC.
The NGO was created on 2006 by a group of women from different parts of the world that advocte for online collaboration for social change and the empowerment of women by using information and communication technologies. Their objective is to raise awareness in internet users (especially young and adult women) to control ICT to end violence against women.
You would think that a nation which spent so much of the 20th century doggedly pursing equality would be united today over equal rights for women to pass on citizenship to their children and spouses. You would think that a constitutional provision to prevent discrimination against more than half the population would be entirely non-controversial.
But you would be wrong.
Blogging at Bahama Pundit, Larry Smith says that “the main point is simply that Bahamian women and men should have the same rights under the law.”
The Association for Progressive Communications is asking LGBT activists, women's rights activists, queer bloggers and anyone with an active voice on issues of gender and sexuality on the Internet to participate in their 2014 EROTICS survey. APC explains that the survey seeks to help advocates “understand how sexual rights activists (from a variety of focuses and countries) use the internet to advance their work, what sort of risks, harassment, content regulation, or censorship they deal with, and how they respond to them.” The organization plans to use this information to help increase access to digital security for sexual rights activists and advocate for gender and sexuality issues among Internet rights activists. At a deeper level, they hope to:
…expose the connection between the regulation of sexual speech and content on the Internet and provide evidence that will help sexual rights activists explain the impact of such regulation on their lives and their work.
The EROTICS survey is available in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, English, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Take the EROTICS survey here and visit the project website to learn more about the study.
Once the video of Ray Rice (the American football player for the Baltimore Ravens) hitting his wife went viral, Trinidadian diaspora blogger Afrobella couldn't get the incident out of her mind. “The video where he spits and hits the woman who would go on to be his wife, where he knocks her unconscious and drags her out of the elevator,” she says, “It’s enough to give you nightmares.”
She was also not impressed by the public's response, citing distasteful hashtags on Twitter that made light of a distressing situation and a general bent towards blaming the victim. The blogger, Patrice Grell-Yursik, expressed her concern for the plight of Janay, Rice's wife, and their daughter – but in her effort to understand her situation, she realised that Rice is one of many women stuck in the cycle of domestic abuse:
The more I [...] considered this story [...], the more I kept thinking about my best friend from childhood. Her name is Carys Jenkins, and she works as the manager of the independent domestic violence advisory service (IDVA) at RISE. She’s been working closely with women dealing with domestic violence for years and years. When I mentioned how sick seeing the Ray Rice video made me, she simply responded, ‘I see lots of videos.’
Jenkins shared with her the “cycle of abuse” and the psychological tactics women use to survive. The post also offered practical advice to women who may be contemplating leaving an abusive union, with the blogger noting that “one of the few good things to come out of this story is the sharing and honesty by people who have experienced domestic violence themselves [...] For anyone who’s stuck in an abusive relationship, please know there’s a way out. Please know that a healthy, loving relationship isn’t one that diminishes you as a person or threatens your health and happiness. You can break the cycle of abuse.”
As Laurie-Ann Chin is crowned this year's Miss Jamaica World – apparently despite the live audience's disapproval – Carolyn Joy Cooper, who blogs at Jamaica Woman Tongue, takes on the ugly underbelly of the country's beauty contests.
“If you follow these beauty contests, it’s easy to predict the outcome,” she says. “The light-skinned girl is almost always going to win.” This certainly seems to be the trend. Writer Marlon James blogged about “The Miss Jamaica Mulatto Factory” in 2008. More recently, author Kei Miller contended that the Miss Jamaica franchise represents “hierarchies of race and class as they still operate in Jamaica today”, saying:
The issue is that there is an idea in Jamaica of who is beautiful and who isn’t…that this idea of beauty is, to a large extent, a racially constructed one.
Cooper, who tracked the trend as far back as the 1960s, recalled a column she had written five years ago, dealing with the same issue, in which she “mischievously suggested that we forget about old-style beauty contests and promote a new model”:
So every year we ask ourselves this very loaded question: ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of us all?’ And we all know the usual answer: ‘the fairest.’ But in an ‘out-of-many-one’ society it’s simply not fair that it’s only one type of beauty that is almost always privileged as the winner.
She also challenged the politics of beauty, saying, “It’s really all about power”:
Judges assume the right to decide who is ugly and who is beautiful. Who gives them that power? The contestants? The audience? The owners of the competition?
During the current crisis of the Ebola virus disease (EVD), many reports showcased stories about patients, medical staff, vaccines and the consequences of the disease on the affected countries. But rare are the reports about the daily work of laboratory technicians and of those who care for their daily needs. In a post on buzzfeed.com entitled The Hidden Heroes Of Liberia’s Ebola Crisis, Jina Moore tells the story of these key people in fighting the Ebola virus in Liberia:
Catherine Jeejuah starts so early these days that she doesn’t know the time. It’s irrelevant. She rises when it’s dark, lights a fire, and boils rice and greens for her two kids. By about 6:30 a.m., when light begins leaking through the windows, she leaves for a nearby school.
Here, she does it all again, at a greater scale. Jeejuah, 30, and two other women, all volunteers, are cooking for 12 of the most important, but invisible, people in Liberia right now.
The dozen meals are meant for the team of technicians that tests the blood of suspected Ebola patients. They visit sick peoples’ homes and overwhelmed Ebola treatment centers, sticking needles in the veins of physically unpredictable, highly contagious people. They then drive their blood back to Liberia’s only medical lab, more than an hour from the capital of Monrovia.
Lynn Sweeting, blogging at Womanish Words, wants equality for women in the Bahamas and pens a poem in that regard.
Olivia Kidula explains why breastfeeding in public should not stop:
A friend of mine recently gave birth to her first baby girl and is still getting the hang of motherhood. I began to notice she breastfeeds only when no men (besides her husband or father are around) and when she can “comfortably” hide away in a small space. When I mentioned to her that there should be no shame in feeding and nourishing her child in front of anyone, she responded,
“society would rather she starves than look at my breasts.”
The more I thought about the implications of her words the more upset I became. Who would want a child to starve? Who would truly want to deny a child nourishment and comfort at the chest of his mother?