Nigeria Takes a Step Forward for Women and Girls


Just when you thought the War on Women couldn’t get any worse, and that you have heard of everything, in April of this year, there were Federal charges brought against a doctor in Detroit, Michigan, USA, who works in an emergency room.  She had been arrested and charged with performing Female Genital Mutilation on two 7-year-old little girls.

Women in the United States have been fighting to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation from the world since the early 1990’s.  It is a terrible practice, done to control women and girls.  It is what makes women marriageable in many cultures in Africa, some parts of Asia, and parts of the Middle East.

As people immigrate to America, they bring a lot of pieces of their culture with them.  America has always been enriched by the cultures of other nations, but this is not a piece of culture that is enriching.  It is a method of subjugating girls and women.  It is against Federal and State laws.

The countries of the world have begun to respond to the outcries against this horrible practice.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan fell from power in 2015.  This was due largely to the fact that he seemed to be unable to search for or find the almost 300 Chibok schoolgirls abducted and enslaved by the Boko Haram.  Jonathan did, however, sign a law banning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).  This law also makes it illegal for men to abandon their wives and children without financial support.

This is a huge advance for women’s rights in Nigeria.

The United Nations, in 2014, confirmed what has long been known — FGM causes psychological and physical damage, including: infertility, loss of sexual pleasure, severe infections, fistulas, endangered childbirth labor and death.  In 2017, it is estimated that nearly 25% of Nigerian women are enduring the effects of the procedure.

The British newspaper, The Guardian, joined the United Nations in an effort to fight FGM.  With the support of the UN Population Fund, the paper helped local journalists cover the after effects of the procedure.  The new law in Nigeria can partly be credited for playing a part in this fight.

There have been at least five decades of humanitarian work on this issue in regional African and Middle Eastern women’s movements.  Feminists and the global women’s movement have also worked to end the horror of FGM.

This practice has also been confronted by women’s rights activists in the global North, where it occurs in some immigrant communities.  Even in the United States, where the procedure is called clitoridectomy, it is practiced as a “cure” for masturbation, lesbianism and to make a young girl marriageable.

Activists in Nigeria warn FGM in Nigeria and other African countries is a systemic culturally ingrained practice, and that eradicating it will take time.

With such a large population, Nigerian’s voice in favor of women and girls is very important.  Mary Wandia, FGM program manager of the International NGO Equality Now, states “We hope that other African countries, that have yet to ban FGM – Liberia, Sudan, Mali, among others – do so immediately to give all girls a basic level of protection.”

Stella Mukasa, Director of Gender, Violence and Rights at the International Center for Research on Women, adds, in Christian Today, “It is crucial that we scale up efforts to change traditional cultural views that underpin violence against women.  Doing so involves laws and policies, as well as community-level engagement and programs that work to empower girls directly.”

There is still much work yet to be done, but the new law is encouraging.  It gives young Nigerian women opportunities to express themselves free from fear of this traditional practice which has been so oppressive to their health and spirit.  This practice has been handed down from one generation to the next by mothers and is usually performed by a wise woman, or a wise man, in the tribes.  It is done without sterile conditions, anesthesia, or proper equipment.  Usually, a straight razor is used.  The child is unprepared emotionally for the procedure.

The actual procedure varies from place to place. Some tribes cut out the clitoris only; others remove both clitoris and labia.  Still others would have nothing left but the meatus so that the child can urinate.  This it the reason these girls were considered marriageable, because this has been performed on them, so that they didn’t enjoy sex too much.  It gave the husband a sense of security when he traveled, that he could leave the wife at home and she would not turn to another man for satisfaction.  He could therefore be sure that any children would be of his bloodline and no one else’s.

The mentality of the mothers who brought their daughters for the procedure is that it was done to them, so it should be done to their daughters.  Therefore, education is a vital part of the process of eradicating FGM, as is more sex education for both genders.  This can help lead to a freedom from the pain, humiliation, pain and degradation of FGM.

The decades of work done to stop FGM, and the work that is presently being done, which must continue into the future to save girls from this violence against them, is one of the most important humanitarian efforts being done on behalf of women and girls.

With its new law, Nigeria joined 23 African countries in banning Female Genital Mutilation.  At least 200 million women and girls, worldwide, have already suffered genital mutilation and its long term consequences.  Nigeria’s law is good next step, but we still have far to g0.

 

Namaste

Barbara

 

 

 

Every one of us can make a difference in the world!

Are You a Feminist?


domesticviolence_logo What makes people decide to be a feminist person? For me it was reading about the witch trials in Europe and how women who understood the healing power of herbs and were in attunement with animals were called witches and killed in various horrible ways. Millions of women, men and children were killed for being witches. It was a mass hysteria which took over most of Europe and England. As always, there were sexual favors that might save your life. But torture was always a part of it and men were usually the jailers, guards, judges and executioners. Add to that the abuse from my childhood,  and feminism was what made sense to me in this crazy world, though this was the seventies. We still live in a harsh, unjust and often uncompassionate world.

 

I got involved with Domestic Violence. And I was proud and excited to be able to help women and children; to be a feminist.  “Feminist” is the only tag I will tolerate wearing. Many women live feminist lives and just don’t label themselves as such. I have known women who just never thought of themselves in these terms; but they lived it and passed it on to their children.

 

Feminists are like trees in a woods. We come in all sizes and shapes. Some are intensely passionate, as I was, and marched and picketed for women’s rights and children’s rights. Some quietly lived their lives without giving a thought to what kind of woman they were.

 

Every woman who has taught her sons never to hit a woman is a feminist, whether they use the term or not.

 

Every woman who has taught her sons that “no means no” is a feminist.

 

Every woman who insists their family functions with justice for all members is a feminist.

 

Every mother who teaches her daughters how to take care of themselves is a feminist.

 

A feminist isn’t a weird aberration of what a woman is. A feminist simply believes that all human beings are equal, regardless of sex.

 

He or she believes that women’s work is as important as a man’s, and they should be paid equal wages for equal work.

 

Feminists believe that no one should be owned. We do not believe that marriage means that one partner now owns the other. A couple, married or not, should be equal partners, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses:  a compliment to each other.

 

Feminists believe that no one should have control over a woman’s body except herself. Doctors and the government do not even try to tell men what to do to/with their bodies, yet it is acceptable for them to do so with a woman.  Not to a feminist.

 

Feminists and Humanists believe that  we are all brothers and sisters living on one planet together. We also believe that every child deserves a good education and corporate America should not benefit from these kids financially.

 

Feminists and Humanists believe that lives should be free from fear and violence. If you are in a violent relationship, get out. Call the hotline number on this blog and get the help you deserve.

 

 

It is time for a woman president. I strongly feel this. Men should not have all the power and control in governments and it is time to change this. There have been a few women leaders in countries around the world and now it is time for America to step into the future.

 

The time is way past the days of “the little woman at home, cleaning, taking care of children, and cooking dinners for the boss”.  Those days, rightly, died out in the forties. They died out because of a man, Hitler who brought the world to the brink of destruction. Men were drafted to fight and push the Nazis back into Germany. So our government needed women to go to work. The icon of that age was “Rosie the riveter.”

 

Until the War, a woman had been told she only had value in the home, and then found out she had value in work outside of the home. Some even found out they enjoyed that work outside of the home; it made them feel needed and important. When WWII was over, women were forced back into the home to make jobs for returning vets. For some this was great. For some this chaffed like cheap wool on sensitive skin.

 

Then Betty Friedan wrote a book called the “Feminine Mystique” and the simmering pot boiled over.  Many women wanted to work; others wanted to be home with their families. Many wanted to both have a job and family.  Some women didn’t want to have children, and didn’t feel that made them incomplete, or less of a woman.  None of this had to be an either/or choice. And suddenly, women began to realize that we do, indeed, have choices. We could be the woman we were meant to be. We weren’t less than men, and the choice we could make didn’t make us less of a woman, or more of a woman. Whatever we chose, we could be gloriously all we were meant to be, and all we wanted to be.

 

Progress is coming and women will be a part of it. We will partner in the future with feminist men and make this a better, fairer, kinder world. There will be equality for all lives. All lives will have quality. Hunger will end and disease will be cured not just for the wealthy but for the less fortunate also.

 

Whether you are a silent feminist, an outspoken one or not a feminist doesn’t matter. The future is coming and together we will make it be better than it has ever been.

Namaste, Barbara

 

Embrace your world and make it be whatever you want.

Embrace your world and make it be whatever you want.

 

fgm11

Just What is a Feminist?


I chose my subject this evening because I read a social media comment which described a feminist as a woman somewhere between an angry alien and a rabid wild animal. Now, I did not respond to the individual because I continue to work for peace and compassion in the world and in my personal world.

 

In case you are not aware, I am proud to be a feminist. A feminist is a woman. Just like any other woman. There are some differences. Feminists are men and women who believe females are people just like any man is a person.

 

Feminists  also believe in equality. They believe that both sexes are born equal. Not every man can drive a race car at 100 mph, and not every woman can turn out a perfect Beef Wellington. Feminists do look at the world and see what is wrong and unjust. Some people look and turn away because what they see is horrific. For all of the wonderful people in this world of ours, there are many who are evil.

 

A feminist looks at what is wrong in the world and sees it and then begins to look at how it can be changed. Whether a feminist man or woman, they will not turn away from the ugliness but will work, speak out, write, protest to change the wrong.

 

We, as women, have the vote because of women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and hundreds of Suffragettes (feminists) worked to make Congress to give us the vote. They even went to the dire length of handcuffing themselves to the White House fence. They were arrested, and once in jail they went on a hunger strike and the media told the world and we got the vote. This is of course, a simplified version of the tale.

 

 

WeCon

I became a feminist in the seventies. Abuse was the issue that ignited my heart and passion. I do not believe that one person has the right to hit another. Women and children have the right to live without violence and fear. If a woman is the abuser, she needs to face the same consequences as any man who batters.

 

Women have the right to make their own decisions. To marry or not to. To pick her friends. Men have control over their bodies and the government would never think to tell them what to do with them. Even the man who hires the prostitute is usually protected from prosecution, while the woman is charged and will be in jail at least overnight. The government has repeatedly tried to control women’s bodies and how we choose to use them.

 

A feminist is a person who feels that women should receive equal pay for equal work. We have never had this in the USA. My sister found out she was making less than the men in her department. She was, justifiably, upset.  She was doing more work than literally anyone in the company (when she left, her duties had to be spread over 5 people), yet she still made less than men with less education. Was that right? No.

 

Some feminists are wonderful wives and mothers, both stay-at-home mothers and working mothers. It is what they choose to be and that is great. I, myself, have nine grandchildren. I have also marched for Hard Hatted Women. Women who wanted the right to work in construction. It is their right to choose how to support themselves and /or their families.

 

So, like black lives matter, so do women’s lives. And for those who disagree, perhaps a long look in a mirror would be a good thing to try. Hugs, Barbara

 

everynineseconds

How to Spot a Feminist


spotafeminist

How To Spot A Feminist

Two fun-loving hijabi women ask the big questions.
by Adam Grannick for the Moral Courage Project“If someone is dressed a certain way, they are representing to the world that they adhere to a certain set of beliefs.” Comedians and actors Radhika Vaz and Nadia Manzoor are shattering this assumption with their new video, How To Spot A Feminist.Manzoor and Vaz play two hijabi women, Shugufta and Fatima (Shugs and Fats), who are struggling to make hipster Brooklyn their home. Vaz and Manzoor, who are both sketch comedians and writers, decided to launch Shugs and Fats as a web series together. “We had amazing creative chemistry and we had to work together,” they said. “We felt doing it with our clothes on was the best way.”They venture into new territory in this short video, produced in collaboration with Moral Courage TV, where they’re “looking for life’s answers in all the wrong places.”

The two women ask passersby to evaluate the feminist leanings of popular figures such as Kim Kardashian, and then turn the questions toward themselves. They were surprised at the answers they received when they pushed further and asked, “do we look like feminists?”

Check out their hilarious new video below, question your assumptions, and pass it on!

 

 

bjwordpressdivider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some days, we all need some humor. I have over a foot of snow here. So you get humor!!!

Some days, we all need some humor. I have over a foot of snow here. So you get humor!!!

 

What leading feminists hope to accomplish in 2015


By Ruth Tam January 2

In 2014, modern feminism faced more scrutiny than ever before. But women writers and activists could not be silenced. In discussions about campus sexual assault, street and online harassment and race, women dominated the streets and the Twittersphere. From the creators of #BlackLivesMatter to a MacArthur genius fighting for women’s labor rights, we asked 16 of the year’s most influential voices for what they hope to accomplish in 2015.


‘So Popular’
host | @JanetMock

My hope is that feminist, racial justice, reproductive rights and LGBT movements build a coalition that centers on the lives of women who lead intersectional lives and too often fall in between the cracks of these narrow mission statements.

 

 

 

 

Lux Alptraum, 32 | BinderCon co-founder | @luxalptraum

I’d love to see publications make a greater effort to include the voices of women, gender non-conforming people, and people of color – and put programs and policies in place that will help to level the playing field.

 

 

 

Leigh Stein, 30 | BinderCon co-founder | @rhymeswithbee

I would like to see less digital dualism, which perpetuates the fallacy that online harassment isn’t “real” harassment when in fact so many women writers face threats just for doing their job -writing- on the Internet.

 

 

Ai-jen Poo, 40 | National Domestic Workers Alliance director, Caring Across Generations co-director, created #dwdignity, #caringamerica, #womentogether | @aijenpoo

I would like to see the creation of 2 million new, living wage ($15 or more) caregiving jobs, and more affordable options for quality care for working families, particularly in light of the numbers of women in the workforce and the rapidly growing older population in America.

 


Elizabeth Nyamayaro, 40 | Senior Advisor to Executive Director of UN Women, heads HeForShe campaign | @e_nyamayaro

We have an amazing opportunity with @heforshe for one half of humanity (men) to join in solidarity with the other half of humanity (women) in creating a shared vision of gender equality that benefits all of humanity.


Jessica Pierce, 29 |  Black Youth Project 100 National Co-Chair | @JFierce

I hope that 2015 brings a focus on turning the anger and frustration around the issues of police brutality and violence against black people in this country into concrete policy changes being led by the diversity of leaders I’ve seen and continue to see in the 2014 actions. We want to convene the table of change, not have a seat at it.


Charlene Carruthers, 29 |  Black Youth Project 100 National Coordinator | @CharleneCac

I hope to see a continued resurgence of young Black people owning their power to end police and domestic violence. 2015 will be a year of fresh ideas mixing with tried and true organizing tactics in the tradition of leaders like Ella Baker.

 


Lindy West, 32 | Writer, performer, I Believe You | It’s Not Your Faultfounder and editor  | @thelindywest

I want to see Twitter, Facebook and YouTube set up coherent standards and effective block/report tools to protect users from abuse, and hate speech–particularly rape victims being harassed and doxxed for speaking out about their rapes.

Mikki Kendall, 38 | HoodFeminism.com co-editor, created#solidarityisforwhitewomen#fasttailedgirls#NotJustHello @karnythia

I want to see a mass realization that police brutality is a feminist issue and for mainstream feminist organizations to help change those policies.


Feminista Jones, 35 | Social Worker, writer, activist, created #YouOKSisand #NMOS14 | @FeministaJones

In 2015, I’d love to see more representation of women of color in sociopolitical actions, and I’m doing my part by organizing a Women’s Freedom March centering on women of color and our stories.

 

Mia McKenzie, 38 | Award-Winning Writer, Black Girl Dangerous founder | @blackgirldanger

I want to see queer and trans people of color with radical social and political analyses dominate independent media by creating and growing our own platforms, so we can centralize and control our own narratives.

 

Alexandra Brodsky, 24  | Know Your IX founding co-director;Feministing.com editor; The Feminist Utopia Project co-editor, Yale Law School student | @azbrodsky

I hope we can channel the energy around campus gender-based violence toward creating more options outside the criminal justice system for all survivors, not only students.

 

Patrisse Cullors, 31 | Dignity and Power Now executive director, co-created #BlackLivesMatter | @osope

In 2015 I hope for a movement that is fighting for ALL black lives, and that allows for the stories of ALL black women to be in the forefront of our fight.

 


Alicia Garza, 33 |  National Domestic Workers Alliance Special Projects Director, co-created #BlackLivesMatter @aliciagarza@blklivesmatter

My 2015 resolution is to make sure that black women, especially black queer and trans women, are playing a strong leadership role in the growing movement for black lives and black liberation–because black women are the portals to the future, we can do a lot to shape a new economy and a new democracy for all of us.

 

Opal Tometi, 30 | Black Alliance for Just Immigration Executive Director, Co-Founder http://www.blacklivesmatter.com, co-created #BlackLivesMatter,#reunitehaitianfamsblackimmigration.netreunitehaitianfamilies.com |@opalayo

In 2015 I want to see our communities continue to rise up to challenge the criminalization of our people. At the national and local level my organization BAJI and the national network we coordinate, the Black Immigration Network, will be campaigning to end mass incarceration, detention and deportation.


Brianna Spacekat Wu, 35 | Giant Spacekat head of development |@spacekatgal

In 2015, I want fewer speeches about supporting women in games and more concrete action – it’s time to open up gamedev to the rest of us.

 

The is the time for all of the feminists in the world to accept the challenge to demand ensure equality for all human beings and the end of women and children having to live in fear and violence. Let’s make 2015 the year for justice for minorities and children.

Woman Becoming


womenequal

Women were best known by their homemaking skills and cooking skills. Because of the feminists in the last wave of women’s rights, women can now choose what they want to be in life. Women can choose to be just about anything. They are in the military, in the tech sector, they are doctors and engineers. Back in the day, you could be a secretary, nurse or teacher. I have three daughters of whom I am very proud. They know it isn’t easy to be a woman and to take care of themselves and give to their children and husbands. One has three children, teaches special ed and just got her Master’s Degree. She is thinking about getting another degree to be able to teach blind children in schools but also in other institutions. When she finished her Master’s Degree, she made me promise not to let her go back again, and she has relieved me of that promise. We laughed together as we talked about how my promise only lasted for fifteen months. My second daughter, has a good job working in an organization that promotes business in her city. She is also married and has twin sons. She travels often for her job and must weigh all the facets of her life and she takes tennis lessons for herself. My youngest daughter is a stay at home mother. She does have a catering business and is able to balance the three youngest grandchildren. I will admit she has the best laid out kitchen I have ever seen. It is not the most expensive kitchen but working in it is a dream. I am telling you these things because they are women I know the best. They didn’t reach this balance easily or quickly. But they have created the type of lives that fits them. It took work to accomplish all of this but they are young women I am proud of.

wyomingtheequalitystate

“But every contradiction

Has the condition of resolving

Itself through the process

Through the process of

Becoming, becoming, becoming,

Becoming, BECOMING!”

—-Megan Terry, Approaching Simone

bjwordpressdivider

Women writers have shown that their characters may transcend social roles to become fully human beings who respond with joy and anguish.  They share their experiences as women to show their commonality with that of other women, and through their writing they validate the experiences of all women. Such writing helps women readers overcome their feelings of isolation and encourages them to stop internalizing their failures as purely individual. It promotes sisterhood, and it offers male readers a basis for comparing their experience. Other writers concentrate on frank explorations of the “problem that has no name,” Betty Friedan’s words for women’s unease about their socially imposed roles. Many writers are rewriting old myths from a feminine perspective. Feminists emphasize process more than achievement. Women are seen finding ways to be self-creators, distinguishing between themselves as objects of others’ perceptions and as perceiving, imagining individuals capable of making their worlds. Women have come to realize that education is vital for all women. It doesn’t mean that they must work outside the home, but young women are learning that education only gives a woman more choices.

The equal rights ammendment must pass this year...2013

The equal rights amendment must pass this year..

“Relearn the alphabet,

relearn the world, the world

understood anew only in doing,

understood only as

looked-up-into out of earth,

the heart of an eye looking,

the heart of a root

planted in earth.

Transmutation is not

under the will’s rule.”

—Denise Levertov’s Relearning the Alphabet (1970 )

womensopinion                                                                                                                                                     Women are people too!

Today, we hear a lot of people talking about man caves. A place where they can be privately in touch with themselves. Feminists understand this need and though they are willing to share space with a man, she too needs her own space in which she can continue to make herself “at home.” Though this may seem selfish, it is clearly  a vital need of all human beings. I recommend that you read  A Room of Her Own, by Virginia Woolf. There are many misconceptions about equality between women and men. Women do not want to raise up women and be over men. Equality is not something that allows one gender to rule over the other. It creates a society where both genders do what is right for themselves, their families, their communities and each other. Many women are looking inward to find themselves and are being rewarded with the joy of self-discovery.

womenathletes                                                                                                                  Women are capable of being great athletes

Women need to be able at last to live within, and not to move to the rhythm of others. Women deserve, all around the world, to live they choose, and not a life they are forced to live. Many women’s lives continue to deny, remove, isolate, taking the children one by one. They live now as then in their own solitude. In this solitude women win a reconciled peace. But women deserve more than a reconciled peace. Women need to grow, to discover themselves or to become all that we are meant to be. Everything. No longer tied to husband, children and the house. Women have much to contribute. Women have much they want to contribute. And women have much they will give no matter who stands in the way. Women in countries around the world, despite cultural and religious differences are strong emotionally. They want educations and to contribute to their communities.

bjwordpressdivider

Unlearning to Not Speak

“Blizzards of paper

in slow motion

sift through her ,

In nightmares she suddenly recalls

a class she signed up for

but forgot to attend.

Now it is too late.

Now it is time for finals:

losers will be shot.

Phrases of men who lectured her

drift and rustle in piles:

Why don’t you speak up?

Why are you shouting?

You have the wrong answer,

wrong line, wrong face.

They tell her she is womb-man,

babymachine, mirror image, toy.

each mother and penis-poor,

a dish of synthetic strawberry icecream

rapidly melting.”

—Marge Piercy, a feminist author of novels and poetry

womenjobscharts

guarda5


Our founding president, Gloria Steinem, is turning 79 on March 25th and there are 79 reasons why YOU should celebrate with us! Sign Gloria’s Birthday card here:http://forwomen.org/79reasons

G

Gloria Steinem is my role model. She is a feminist and a woman who has given her life to women’ s issues and the problems we face each day in our lives. She was also the head of Ms. Magazine, which I read cover to cover every month. She has inspired and shared the work of changing the way society looks at women. Yes, it has been much worse, much worse.

I have had the privilege of meeting her and talking with her. So I am wishing Ms. Steinem a wonderful birthday and may you have many, many more. Those of us who were on the battle lines with you appreciate what you helped us to do! May it be the best of years.