South Korean “comfort women” being abused again. Time for honesty not revisionist history.

“Japan has leveled insults at them rather than offering an apology,” South Korean President Park Gyeun-hye told visiting US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last month.

This sounds all too familiar. Revisionist history. Blame the victims. If they wait long enough, they’ll all die and this will be over. Not.

Let’s be vocal about our support of these women.  If the situation was reversed, what would Japan expect from South Korea? How about standing in the “other’s” shoes for a while. Respect and honor for all people.

Comfort women

Peter Ford/The Christian Science Monitor

The abuse of “comfort women” has proved a particularly painful memory, not least because for nearly half a century it was repressed. Only in 1990 did the first South Korean women lift the veil of shame they had drawn over Japan’s forcible recruitment of an estimated 200,000 young women and girls to serve in military brothels.

Just 56 of the 239 women who publicly acknowledged their experiences are still alive.

The controversy has grown since Shinzo Abe became Japanese prime minister last February. Six years ago, during his first term as prime minister, he argued that there was no evidence that any of the “comfort women” had been coerced into prostitution. That contradicted the earlier finding of an official Japanese commission, and caused an outcry around Asia.

Read the article at: Korea to Japan: Time running out for ‘comfort women’ resolution

The Complexities of Putting Ideals into Practice: Interview with Margaret Randall by Linda Ruutu

Films and feminists inspire. A University of Connecticut undergrad viewed The Unapologetic Life of Margaret Randall in a recent WGSS course at UConn and was moved to contact this amazing feminist activist to find out answers to some important questions. The result is this fine interview published in the Monthly Review.

margaret_randall

Margaret Randall

Here is just a snippet in reply to a question about Margaret’s ability to transform personal injustices into broader social understanding. This question involved her struggle to regain her U.S. citizenship in the face of a denial because of the 1952 McCarran-Walter Immigration and Nationality Act.

So I felt an obligation to fight for those people as well as for myself. I knew it would be important to use my case to try to change immigration law in general. This intimate knowledge played itself out for me in a number of concrete ways. For example, throughout the years of my immigration case I was constantly made to feel that if I just said I was sorry, that I “would never write those things again,” it might help me win. I won’t say I wasn’t tempted from time to time. But I knew that I must stick to my conviction that I had a right to have written what I had written, to have expressed the opinions I had expressed — even when twenty years after the fact I might express them differently. I would wake every morning and recommit myself to defending the ideals in which I believed.

Here’s the link to the interview: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2013/randall240713.html

Updated: Guide to Global and Transnational Women’s Activism from Rutgers

Great guide!

Global and Transnational Women’s Activism from Rutgers University.

RutgersGlobalMap
Transnational as well as country specific sites, organized by continent. Contains documents, publications, statistics, and much more from Women’s Activists around the world.

Very fine collection. Many thanks to Kayo Denda, Women’s Studies Librarian at Rutgers.

Brooklyn Museum: Writing Women Back Into History

Wikipedia has a gender problem. Alexandra Thom is heading up a project to add entries and substance to Wikipedia on all the women included in Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” which is permanently installed in the Sackler Gallery at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York. Not only are entries on the women of history lacking but female editors to Wikipedia are also much fewer than non-female. What’s up? It’s no surprise that men write mostly about men. Well, ladies, start your engines.

Thom writes, “The Dinner Party is an icon of feminist art, which features the names of 1,038 women in history…”

She found many of the names had only “stub” entries and almost 100 others had no mention at all. You can follow Alexandra’s project through the Brooklyn Museum blog starting with the two links below.

Brooklyn Museum: Community: bloggers@brooklynmuseum » Writing Women Back Into History.

Ending the ongoing cycle of omission

Bravo, Ms. Thom! Wikipedia is so heavily used by folks around the world. How many more women will your work inspire to become editors of Wikipedia to fill out this gross omission. I know I’m on board.

2013 Socially Conscious Consumerism

Updated for 2013!

Some folks already have everything they need and you just don’t want to add to their load of stuff. Consider making a donation in their name to a good charity. If you don’t have a favorite local, national, or international charity, use the Charity Navigator to find one. It lists a great many — like Oxfam, Women for Women, Care, and many more. It also rates these and lets you see how much of their money is spent on salaries, expenses, if they hire fundraisers, etc.

If you’d like to be a more socially conscious consumer, here are some organizations, some local , some online, where you can purchase gifts while making a difference in the lives of real people. Avoiding the “big box” stores is a place to start. Buying from local merchants (Co-ops, CSAs, Farmer’s Markets, etc.) benefit our local towns, population, and small businesses. Think again before buying fruit from places thousands of miles away. When was it picked, how much petroleum was used to get it here, is there a local alternative? The more we demand local produce, the more will be grown by local farmers. How cool will that be?  What’s not available locally, look for fair trade. It’s putting your money in good hands.

These suggestions come from our UConn faculty who teach and embody the ideals of these organizations. The sites are listed alphabetically! No order intended. If you have some other suggestions, please add them via a comment to this blog. And pass these on to your friends and family!

common good market:

Our Vision for New England
Our vision for Common Good Market is to re-connect you to the people who actually make things – beautiful, useful everyday items for the home. Buying locally made products helps build more resilient local economies, leads to improved environmental outcomes, and a better future for our children.

Common Good Market is committed to promote locally made, environmentally responsible products through our e-commerce site and at regional events. We want to help foster a renewed reliance on locally sourced raw materials, supplies, and labor for new and creative endeavors — the foundation for a revitalized, more sustainable New England.

In the end, our personal choices- how we spend our money, what products we buy, and how we support the efforts of people in our community through those choices – is the only way we can begin to reshape our economy and our future…one local purchase at a time.

Dean’s Beans (fair trade coffee):

We only purchase beans from small farmers and cooperatives, largely made up of indigenous peoples working hard to maintain their culture and lifestyles in a hostile world. We do not buy beans from large estates and farms. We’ve been there, and have seen the conditions of chronic poverty and malnutrition within which these farms produce those other coffees. Look in your kitchen – do you know where your beans come from? Each player in our cycle of production and distribution, from the farmer to the consumer, participates in socially just and environmentally responsible trade. We hope that all other coffee companies will follow our lead. We are proud to be a founding member of Cooperative Coffees, Inc., the first roaster’s cooperative created to buy direct, Fair Trade coffee from farmer coops, and make it available to any small roaster who wants to participate in the Fair Trade movement. We are also active members of the Fair Trade Federation, an international organization of dedicated Fair Traders (no poseurs allowed).

Green America

Green America (formerly Co-Op America) is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982.
Our mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.
Our Vision: We work for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the bounty of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come.

Heifer International

Heifer’s Mission to End Hunger Heifer envisions… A world of communities living together in peace and equitably sharing the resources of a healthy planet. Heifer’s mission is… To work with communities to end hunger and poverty and to care for the earth. Heifer’s strategy is… To “pass on the gift.” As people share their animals’ offspring with others – along with their knowledge, resources, and skills – an expanding network of hope, dignity, and self-reliance is created that reaches around the globe. Heifer’s History This simple idea of giving families a source of food rather than short-term relief caught on and has continued for over 60 years. Today, millions of families in 128 countries have been given the gifts of self-reliance and hope. Read Heifer’s blog.

NOVICA

Mission We want to give artists and artisans around the world a global platform to express their true artistic talents and to spur their creativity. And, we want to provide you with access to unique, hard-to-find items at great values that only the Internet infrastructure can allow. At the deepest essence of our philosophy, we want to create a bridge between you and the many talented artisans across the globe. We want you to know about who you’re buying from. We want you to feel that attachment to the product and to the hands that created it. In the spirit of the Internet, let us bring you together. NOVICA. The World is Your Market.

 SERRV:

SERRV is a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide.

For more than 60 years, SERRV has worked to eradicate poverty through our direct connections with low-income artisans and farmers. We market their crafts and foods, find joint solutions to their challenges, and help them grow and embrace the future. One of the first alternative trade organizations in the world, SERRV is a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (formerly IFAT) and a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF).

We strive to enrich lives around the world and to inspire real change for the better.
Our work encompasses more than just buying and selling.
We offer prepayments so our partners can sustain their business.
Create new designs so they can build their markets.
Teach new skills so they can develop their craft.
Provide grants so they can expand their resources.

We support equal rights for women.
Guide sustainable development.
And of course, pay a fair wage.

10,000 Villages

Fair trade provides under- and unemployed artisans with an opportunity to earn vital income and improve their quality of life by establishing a sustainable market for their handcrafted products. Ten Thousand Villages is a founding member of the WFTO – the World Fair Trade Organization, a global network of more than 350 fair trade organizations in 70 countries.

As one of the world’s oldest and largest fair trade organizations, Ten Thousand Villages has spent more than 60 years cultivating long-term buying relationships in which artisans receive a fair price for their work and consumers have access to unique gifts, accessories and home decor from around the world.

WTFO key principles of fair trade

Tropical Salvage Old wood. New use. Positive change.

Tropical Salvage practices a simple business model. We salvage old deconstruction and rediscovered wood and put it to new imaginative use. In doing so, we contribute to positive economic, social and environmental change. Old wood, new use, positive change. The disappearance of old-growth tropical forests in the developing world is largely influenced by the developed world’s demand for exotic wood products, its demand for wood pulp to supply industrial paper production, and its demand for industrial commodity quantities of agricultural products whose cultivation converts biologically diverse ecosystems into vast monoculture plantations. Salvaged wood provides all the same benefits, without the high environmental costs. Tropical Salvage offers a conduit to access accurate information about logging industry practices in southeast Asia and an opportunity to buy responsibly, thereby choosing reform of needlessly destructive policies and practices.

Fair Trade Federation Fair Trade Federation

How often do you think about human rights? from CWGL at Rutgers

The Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University challenges all of us to be involved in our world. Great post below.

How often do you think about human rights?

Understanding the human rights perspective is critical to respecting and defending the rights of all people worldwide regardless of race, gender, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and identity. As individuals and communities, we (rights holders) have a responsibility to hold our governments (duty bearers) accountable to upholding human rights. Wherever you are and however you identify, your human rights are inalienable.

Although human rights have not been fully realized around the world there has been progress as a result of global social movements demanding justice and an end to impunity as well as the international human rights framework. The human rights framework is both a legally binding mechanism as well as an ethical lens for respecting each other’s humanity.

As an ethical lens, human rights has been intrinsically valued in all societies and has a long history dating back well before founding of the United Nations. We can read about human rights concepts in various religious texts, throughout the renaissance, and the age of enlightenment. Human rights are associated with international relations as well as domestic affairs.

Human rights are internationally agreed universal standards. These legal norms are articulated in United Nations treaties including, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The first point (Article 1) that the UDHR makes is that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Although the UDHR was written about six decades ago, its relevance is enduring. Many of the ideas address concerns and critical issues that people continue to face globally in in the 21st century. Issues regarding inhuman punishment (Art. 5), discrimination (Art. 7), property ownership (Art. 17), equal pay for equal work (Art. 23/2), and access to education (Art. 26/1) are pertinent matters in countries South and North of the equator. However, go to any country in the world and I am certain that you will find at least one article from the UDHR that has not been met. Which begs the questions: since not one country has a clean human rights record, shouldn’t we think about human rights more often?

I use the royal “we” which includes not just you and me, but governments as well (which the last time I checked are made up of people). Bottom line is, international treaties are signed and ratified at the discretion of governments. Once a human rights treaty/convention is ratified by a United Nations Member State, the State has a legal obligation to apply the content to its national law, and government representatives have a responsibility to ensure that human rights are progressively realized.

More specifically, States have an obligation under international human rights law to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, including economic and social rights of people within their jurisdiction. This is particularly relevant given the current financial crisis. For example, when businesses (e.g., banks or corporations, etc.) threaten and/or erode basic human rights, such as the right to food or the right to water and sanitation, the government is obligated to step in to protect those rights.

So we think we know human rights, but when was the last time you thought about it? Did you think about it when you read about 46.2 million people living in poverty in the U.S.?  Or the lack of regulations governing the trade in arms and their impacts on women and children? What about the racial and ethnic discrimination that has caused numerous genocides globally? Do you ever consider the waysgovernment expenditure or revenue impacts our human rights? How about the fact that around the world, one woman dies every 90 seconds from complications of pregnancy or childbirth?

Have you thought about human rights lately? Email me to let me know.
by Margot Baruch, Program Coordinator, Economic and Social Rights

See original post at http://cwgl.tumblr.com/post/29411425698/how-often-do-you-think-about-human-rights

AKIMBO — After Rio+20, Women’s Voices Loud and Clear

I recently encountered an organization new to me — the International Women’s Health Coalition whose offices are on 7th Ave in New York City. They seem well positioned, well thought out, and very engaged in their work. In the section on who we are, it says:

We are passionate and tenacious professionals who, together with our international Board of visionaries and leaders, work with hundreds of partners worldwide to secure every woman’s right to a just and healthy life. We are funded by private foundations, UN agencies, European governments, individuals and corporations. We do not accept funding from the U.S. government. (emphasis mine)

As you can see from my little “shout out” of the last line, I was very surprised at that statement and had never seen it stated so bluntly before. If any of my readers know of other organizations that refuse money from the US gov’t, please let me know. Of course, I can understand this. The strings attached and the control over actions that come with “Bush” money were outrageous and lacking in a sense of the world and human rights. But is that still in effect now? This puzzles me.

The IWHC has a blog — AKIMBO. Most recently, Alex Garita covered the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20″) held in June of 2012 and I offer you a short excerpt which shows the quality of the blog and its clarity of thought:

Since the inter-governmental negotiations began in December 2011, feminist organizations were told by key countries, including Brazil and South Africa, that the Group of 77 (a group that represents “developing countries” in United Nations negotiations) would not break over differences of position on “controversial issues” such as gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights because “more important issues were at stake”.

Disappointingly, this was Brazil’s consistent position throughout the process as it sought to affirm its leadership within the Economic South and obtain gains on other issues such as the green economy and trade. Our allies remained vocal throughout the process and helped secure the language that we will use for enshrining reproductive health and human rights in future development agreements. These critical positions came from: Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentina, the United States, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Israel and Mexico.

If you would like to read the final document, see “The Future We Want”.

via Akimbo — Standing Strong for a Woman’s Right to a Just and Healthy Life.

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