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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Half the World: Perspectives on the Power of Women

Shira Tarrant speaking at UConn Storrs: Pornfed: SexySmart Choices in a XXX World

Shira Tarrant will speak at UConn Storrs campus during  2011’s  National Women’s History Month events.  She is an “expert in gender and sexual politics, pop culture, and masculinity” and is a prolific author on these topics.

Here’s the scoop on her Storrs CT appearance:

Shira Tarrant

Shira Tarrant speaking at UConn Storrs

WHEN:  Wed 3/23/2011, 7 pm

WHERE: Student Union Theater, University of Connecticut, Storrs CT

TALK TITLE: Pornfed: SexySmart Choices in a XXX World

Event is free

Tarrant is an Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at California State University, Long Beach, CA,

Her most recent publication is below, posted on AlterNet.

AlterNet / By Shira Tarrant

Pornography 101: Why College Kids Need Porn Literacy TrainingMobile technology and abstinence-only guarantee that more young people get their sex ed from pornography. Its time to talk to them about what they’re watching.

via Pornography 101: Why College Kids Need Porn Literacy Training | Media | AlterNet.

From PNAS: Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science

Shirl Kennedy has a great new blog — Full Text Reports…. and nothing but! Great new resource. I’ve added it to the list of blogs on the right menu of this page. Reports from great sources, all full text and — I believe — open access for everyone.

Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Explanations for women’s underrepresentation in math-intensive fields of science often focus on sex discrimination in grant and manuscript reviewing, interviewing, and hiring. Claims that women scientists suffer discrimination in these arenas rest on a set of studies undergirding policies and programs aimed at remediation. More recent and robust empiricism, however, fails to support assertions of discrimination in these domains. To better understand women’s underrepresentation in math-intensive fields and its causes, we reprise claims of discrimination and their evidentiary bases. Based on a review of the past 20 y of data, we suggest that some of these claims are no longer valid and, if uncritically accepted as current causes of women’s lack of progress, can delay or prevent understanding of contemporary determinants of women’s underrepresentation. We conclude that differential gendered outcomes in the real world result from differences in resources attributable to choices, whether free or constrained, and that such choices could be influenced and better informed through education if resources were so directed. Thus, the ongoing focus on sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing, and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort: Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past, rather than in addressing meaningful limitations deterring women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers today. Addressing today’s causes of underrepresentation requires focusing on education and policy changes that will make institutions responsive to differing biological realities of the sexes. Finally, we suggest potential avenues of intervention to increase gender fairness that accord with current, as opposed to historical, findings.

Full Paper (PDF)

AlterNet: Sex R Us: The Rise of Enlightened Sexism

Sex R Us via AlterNet: Sex R Us: The Rise of Enlightened Sexism.

I know this may not sit right with some of my readers, but many young women have been totally snowed by the patriarchy into thinking that dressing in the skimpiest of clothing is empowering and equalizing while it is neither. How many men do that? The male gaze is having a feast and not having to put in any effort on their part. Dr. Douglas explains this so clearly in her new book (excerpts below, more at AlterNet). Wake up, girls.

The following is an excerpt from Susan J. Douglas’ new book, The Rise of Enlightened Sexism (St. Martin’s Press, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Susan J. Douglas

Here’s the twist that emerged. Some young women wanted sexual equity with men: that’s a claim for equal power. They didn’t want to be mere sex objects, they wanted to be active sexual agents. But while true and total sexual equality between men and women is still too threatening, it has nonetheless proved lucrative to flatter women that they have it. So the media began to highlight this message: it’s through sex and sexual display that women really have the power to get what they want. And because the true path to power comes from being an object of desire, girls and women should now actively choose—even celebrate and embrace—being sex objects. That’s the mark of a truly confident, can-do girl: one whose objectification isn’t imposed from without, but comes from within. You have to admit, this is a very slick contortion.

The best way to gain this kind of power is to cater to what men want. And you’re not acquiescing to men or to patriarchal sexual requirements: by submitting, you’re in the driver’s seat! Thus, in the hands of, say, Cosmo, the sexpert appreciates the ultimate requirement to please him (even at her expense or discomfort if necessary), to reassurehim about his performance, and to constantly monitor and refine her ability to look sexy and to do what he wants and needs. This persona of the sexpert is almost always white, young, heterosexual, slim, busty, beautiful, and middle- or upper-middle-class (i.e., the media’s target demographic). She is ideal for the age of enlightened sexism because she is a hybrid of empowerment and objectification. In this way, women’s hopes for sexual equity have become wrapped up in glossy images that sold jeans, underwear, magazines, music videos, and TV shows and allowed Victoria’s Secret to conquer the malls of America. And as the image and prevalence of the sexpert colonized more media outlets and hailed ever and ever younger girls, her image polarized women and men, especially along generational lines.

To check for this book in a library near you, here’s the link in WorldCat

Bronte sisters power figures

Huffington Post: Yemen’s Sacrificial Child Brides

Madeline Wheeler

Madeline Wheeler

Abuse prevention advocate, Playwright
Posted: April 14, 2010 11:04 AM

The Yemen Observer reports that Elham Madhin al Assi, a 12-year-old Yemeni girl, died from internal bleeding just three days after her March 29th wedding. She was swapped in exchange for her brother’s bride — given to a man twice her age. The medical report released by the Hajjah hospital states Elham suffered “sexual exhaust, cervix tears, and severe bleeding.” The AP interview with Elham’s mother is even more disturbing. Before her daughter lost consciousness, she told her mother that her husband, who said he had sought tranquilizers to subdue his bride, tied her up and raped her. Following the night of her rape, her husband brought her to a clinic because she couldn’t walk. He was advised by doctors not to have sex with Assi for 10 days. She died the next day.

Though termed a “swap marriage,” the tradition where a brother of the bride marries the sister of the groom, it is essentially child sexual exploitation under the guise of marriage. The widespread problem of child marriage in Yemen made international headlines in 2008, when 10-year-old Nujood Ali ran away from her abusive husband and was awarded a divorce. Nujood went on to be an international celebrity for women’s rights — championed by Hillary Clinton and awarded “Women of the Year” by Glamour. Though a brave, young girl who won the hearts of many, CNN reports that Nujood continues to live in abject poverty and discrimination.

Yemen officials continue to battle over the legal age of marriage and in so doing, defy the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Twelve-year-old Fawziya Ammodi, died last fall, after three days of labor with her still-born baby. None of these cases in Yemen criminalize the husband since it is still not against the law to marry a child, nor to rape her, once she is your wife.

It is widely known that child marriage is a violation of human rights and now it is increasingly becoming known as a health hazard. As I wrote last summer, child brides face a high risk of abuse, rape, contracting HIV/AIDS, and dying in childbirth. According to the 2009 UN Millennium Development Goals report, of the 536,000 annual maternal deaths, 70,000 were adolescents, making pregnancy the leading cause of death for girls ages 14-19.

This week in Lesotho, South Africa, Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, launched the fourth edition of Facts for Life, a publication which delivers life-saving information to families and communities on how to prevent child and maternal deaths, diseases, injuries and violence. It is a co-publication by UNICEF, WHO, WFP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNDP and UNAIDS. The increased health risks for birth mothers under the age of 18 are mentioned repeatedly in the new edition and child marriage is specifically noted as a harmful practice. Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their twenties.

In their 2005 observations of Yemen, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child stated many concerns, including Yemen’s inconsistency in defining a child’s age, the low legal age for marriage of girls, and the fact that girls were marrying even younger than 15 years due to the lack of law enforcement.

Five years have passed and Yemen is still one of the worst places to be a child. The committee’s September 2009 observations and recommendations are not for the light-hearted. In addition to their continued concern that the law still does not provide equal protection to all children under the age of 18, the committee is “deeply concerned” that the following offenses against children are not explicitly criminalized: illegal adoption, sexual exploitation, especially under the guise of “tourist marriages” or “temporary marriages,” forced child labor, child pornography, and the sale of children — with parental consent — for their organs.

This is a human rights crisis in a country where grown men in parliament sit and argue for the right to marry children under the pretense of religious authority. The UN needs to do more than be “deeply concerned.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ann Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director, should visit Yemen and let them know that the world is watching their snail-paced response to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. We need to send a strong message that girls are not property to be sold or traded. Girls are not objects existing to prove men’s “manhood” in Yemen or any other country in the world.

Sanctioned early marriage is legalized, sexual-exploitation of children.

Follow Madeline Wheeler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/madelineangela

Read more at the Huffington Post

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