Stories from Quick Reads and Women & Gender
Kurdish media outlets are abuzz with a photograph of a Peshmerga woman, sitting beside an automatic weapon, breastfeeding her child. The picture has been widely distributed on social networking sites, highlighting the strength of Kurdish women and the resilience of female combatants in the ongoing fight against ISIS.
In contrast to the contentiousness of breastfeeding in many Western countries (most recently in the United Kingdom), Kurdish media outlets have largely welcomed this Peshmerga woman breastfeeding her child, celebrating how the photograph captures her dual roles as a “warrior” and a “nurturer”.
Kurdish Internet users have also praised the Peshmerga woman, whose identity remains unknown. Kemal Taher from Erbil remarked, “I don’t know what to say about this lioness of Kurdistan, wishing them success on the battlefield, May God protect you all”. Shakar Sndy from Sulaymaniyah said, “An example that we’re proud of”.
Marita Seara, blogging for Voces Visibles, invites us to reflect on the suffering of women sexually subdued during armed conflicts. The author recommends us to watch the documentary The war against women, where director Hernán Zin describes rape as real “weapons of war” and confronts us with the reality of victims of these atrocities. Thus, the documentary shows us some figures regarding sexual violence during the most heinous armed conflicts of the last decades:
Bosnia, 1992 a 1995: 40 mil mujeres violadas
Uganda, 1985 a 2006: 4000 niñas secuestradas y violadas
Ruanda, 1994 entre 250 mil y 500 mil mujeres violadas.
República Democrática del Congo, 2008-2013: 200 mil mujeres violadas.
Bosnia, 1992 – 1995: 40,000 women raped
Uganda, 1985 – 2006: 4000 girls abducted and raped
Rwanda, 1994 between 250,000 and 500,000 women raped
Democratic Republic of Congo, 2008 – 2013: 200,000 women raped
Among the most disturbing data, soldiers from Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda confess been militarly trained from very young age to rape women. Just in one of the hospitals in Democratic Republic of Congo, a third of 300 monthly female patients must undergo major genitalia surgery.
As former UN representative in sexual violence Margot Wallstrom points out, raping women during armed conflicts destroy not only personal lives, but also the society, and instills fear within communities victims of genocide for generations.
You can follow Marita Seara on Twitter.
Marita Seara Fernández, who blogs on Mujeres construyendo (Women building), calls for the empowerment of rural woman and explains that according to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 58 million women in Latin America and the Caribbean live in rural areas and 4 and a half million are farmers.
Meanwhile, Seara Fernández claims that although starvation has been reduced, it hasn't been so among women, where it has increased. FAO representative for the region Raúl Benítez stresses the need to empower women in economics and politics, which requires the educational gap and access to farming resources to be diminished. The solution is to stimulate rural women's empowerment:
Esta premisa debe estar considerada a la hora de diseñar leyes y programas determinados. Deben capacitarlas, enseñarlas a sacar provecho de sus recursos y de lo que aprenden. No solo esto, se debe reducir las brechas educacionales y tecnológicas.
This premise must be taken into account when designing laws and programs. They should train women, teach them to make the most out of their resources and what they learn. Not only this, educational and technoloigcal gaps must be reduced.
Thus, the efforts made by Soledad Venegas in Oxaca, México, aimed at empowering rural women throught the access to ICTs, represent an example, that allow access to knowledge about production mechanisms, business and commercial exchange and similar experiencies.
You can follow Marita Seara Fernández on Twitter.
Arely Torres-Miranda, blogging for Mujeres construyendo (Women building), questions the misogyny and the chauvinism that exist within Mexican political parties, something they all have in common across the board: former representatives of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) who hire sexual services, videos that involve members of the National Action Party (PAN) in private parties, victims of gender- based violence, homophobia from members of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).
Torres-Miranda explains that with all this chauvinism and homophobia, there are days when she would like to stop her fight for women's rights:
[...] en serio, hay días que quiero rendirme. ¿De qué van todas estas declaraciones? ¿Cómo llegan estas personas a puestos públicos dónde deberían de garantizar y cuidar los Derechos Humanos? Hace unos meses platicaba con un asesor del congreso del estado y le decía que me encantaría poder hacer una iniciativa de ley donde se cuidara que cualquier persona, hombre o mujer, que llegase a ocupar un puesto dentro del servicio público debería demostrar estudios certificados de género y Derechos Humanos…me dijo que no era posible, que eso sería discriminar y entonces, inmediatamente me convertiría en eso que tanto me quejo… ¿entonces, cómo nos cuidamos de esto?
[...] really, there are days when I want to give up. What are all those statements about? How do those people get a public position, with which they should guarantee and take care of human rights? Some months ago, I was talking to a Congress consultant, and I told him I'd like to start a bill where everybody who gets appointed as a public servant should be able to produce certified studies of gender and human rights. He told me that wasn't possible, that would be discrimination and then I immediately would become what I complain about. Then, how do we protect ourselves from this?
And she expresses her doubts in the best possible way: putting them into writing.
You can follow Arely Torres-Miranda on Twitter.
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.
The blog MujeresMundi is an infoactivism project run by Belgium-based Peruvian Xaviera Medina “committed to gender as a key to development”.
[...] Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that Malala is not an isolated case. Education is not an inherent right for girls in many countries, and every day, hundreds of Malalas are threatened for attending to school.
The 2014 Nobel must remind us that Malala Yousafzai is not an anecdotic case, but a everyday reality of thousands of youngster and children around the world.
Mujeres construyendo (Women building) reports about the Campaign Beijing+20 de UN, a small contribution in the fight against gender-based violence. Violence against women isn't just about physical violence, but sexual and psychological violence as well.
According to data provided by UH Women, 120 million girls have been victims of sexual abuse, 700 million women were married while they were still young girls, and 4.5 million of the victims of sexual exploitation are women and girls. In the 21st century, violence against women is still a daily reality:
Esto no es vida, es el infierno. Mientras tú y yo estamos aquí leyendo este post, una niña o una mujer está siendo víctima de violencia en alguna de sus muchas formas, algunas sutiles, otras brutales, pero la realidad sigue siendo esa: la violencia prevalece.
This isn't life, this is hell. While you and me are here reading this post, a girl or a women is becoming victim of violence in one of its many forms, some are subtle, some others are brutal, but the reality remains: violence prevails.
What can we do to fight back?
First, be informed. Second, look for support and report the violence. Third, put pressure on our governments so they comply with laws that protect women. We should also educate younger generations within a culture of peace, put pressure on the media and politicians to raise awareness about this issue, and (why not?) produce our own content, using the digital tools we have at hand.
You can follow Mujeres Construyendo on Twitter.
Marita Seara, who blogs for Voces Visibles (Visibles voices), invites us to reflect on the discrimination that affects girls and teenagers — access to education — and the need of educating our girls today so they can be the empowered women of the future.
According to data backed up by Amenisty International, 41 million girls can't even access elementary education. Illiteracy, child marriage, teen pregnancy are part of a vicious cycle that especially affects our girls. Thus, Latina America isn't exempted from this global issue, mainly about teen pregnancy:
Venezuela ostenta el primer lugar en Suramérica y el tercer lugar en América Latina al ser el país con mayor cantidad de embarazos precoces. De cada 100 mujeres venezolanas que quedan embarazadas anualmente, 25 son adolescentes, de acuerdo al programa de Telemedicina de la Universidad Central de Venezuela.
Venezuela is top of the list in South America and third place in Latin America with the highest rate of early pregnancy. Out of 100 Venezuelan women that get pregnant each year, 25 are teenagers, according to Telemedicine program at the Central University of Venezuela.
Among the causes of teen pregnancy, it's worth mentioning that one-third of unwanted pregnancies are a result of not using protection, and half of the girls affected didn't receive proper sexual and reproductive education before getting pregnant.
So, education is the only way. By educating our girls today, we are empowering women of tomorrow, and therefore, their families and communities.
You can follow Marita Seara on Twitter.
Mujeres Construyendo (Women building) tries to raise awareness with a message mainly for women. Inequality between men and women is a fact, as confirmed by the Center of Economic Studies of Mexico, where we can see that, in terms of salaries, a woman earns 22% less, but this is just one of the problems they face.
In a short animated video they share on their Twitter account, we can see how two girls are talking, one trying to raise awareness to the other that her word is important and is as valid as anyone else's. At the end, the video gives a series of important messages:
Tu voz te da poder, te hace visible y presente. Tienes derecho a expresarte y a decir lo que piensas y sientes. El silencio es tu decisión, nadie te lo puede imponer.
Your voice gives you power, it makes you visible and present. You have the right to express yourself and to say what you think and feel. The silence is up to you, no one can impose it.
With this compelling message, the team of Mujeres Construyendo claims something that seems obvious in the 21st century, gender equality.
You can follow Mujeres Construyendo on Twitter.
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.”