Archive for December, 2009

A Babel of Jargon

Posted on December 31, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, culture, media, stereotypes.

Photo by Beralpo, Wikimedia Commons

A collective indigestion of jargon. Photo by Beralpo, Wikimedia Commons

My friend is looking for a job. He finds an ad of the US-based Mercy Corps and calls me for a translation. The ad is in English - sort of - but he can’t figure out what it is about:

“Invitation for a consultancy in conducting a training on enhancing facilitation skills of development practitioners of livelihood enhancement programs.”

What does this text mean exactly, except that we have a collective indigestion of development jargon from NGOs and the UN, from academics and politicians, and that the media is complicit in this masquerading of long words as substance?  (more…)

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Out of darkness: facing breast cancer

Posted on December 28, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, culture, health, media, women, men and more.

Guest blogger: Paola Rolletta, IPS stringer in Mozambique.

I feel neither more “good” nor more “patient”. I am a hard-headed woman, as always. Attached to life, as ever!

Paola Rolletta by Luis Abelard

Paola Rolletta by Luis Abelard

The day when my friend Pigi, my oncologist, told me that I had breast cancer, I cried desperately. The first thing I did was to phone my partner to tell him this piece of news, of which I had had some premonition. And I understood that premonition really exists.

Curiously, I did not wonder “Why me?”  My reaction was: “This cursed disease has hit me too!” (more…)

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Fabrications around AIDS in 2010

Posted on December 26, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, HIV/AIDS, arts, culture, health, media.

By Mary  Crewe and Pierre Brouard
Center for the Study of AIDS, University of Pretoria, South Africa

csa-calendar-red Fabrications is the theme of the  2010 calendar produced by the  Center for the Study of AIDS.  The gorgeous images are digitally manipulated African textiles.

The notion of “fabrications” was inspired by the many stories of the AIDS quilts –  designed to tell a story about someone who had died of AIDS, to honour them and to create a memorial to them that could be used as part of the fabric of people’s daily lives.

A fabrication is in this sense both a physical construction of fabrics, but also a psychological and social construction, the story of a life.

We need to tell people’s stories but we also need to acknowledge that we use stories to make sense of AIDS, to cope with it, to fashion it into something bearable, to give it meaning. (more…)

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Famous and infamous births

Posted on December 21, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, arts, children, culture, health, human rights, media, politics, religion, reproductive health, stereotypes, violence, women, men and more.

By Paula Modersohn Becker

By Paula Modersohn Becker

When is a photo of a woman giving birth considered pornographic? Take your pick:

A. When it is shown in a pornographic magazine, film or website.
B. Never.
C. When it is emailed to government officials urging action to improve public health.

One could argue about A and B but this blog is about C.

Earlier this year, in Zambia, Chansa Kabwela, news editor at the feisty opposition newspaper The Post, was charged with circulating pornography with intent to corrupt public morals. (more…)

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CEDAW!

Posted on December 18, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, culture, harmful practices, health, human rights, politics, religion, reproductive health, violence, women, men and more.

Ask the woman sitting next to you in the bus, train, plane, taxi-brousse or donkey cart what is CEDAW, and most probably you will draw a blank look. C’est quoi?

Yet CEDAW - Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women - has likely impacted on her life and her daughters, if she has any, in many ways, from pension and inheritance rights to the passport they hold.

Quilt made by women of Kyrgztan. (Unifem)

Quilt made by women of Kyrgztan. (Unifem)

CEDAW, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly 30 years ago today, is the global Bill of Rights for Women, the first international human rights treaty devoted to gender equality.

Through its 30 articles, CEDAW has boosted women’s rights worldwide in many ways.

(more…)

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Women human rights defenders under attack

Posted on December 10, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, culture, human rights, media, violence, war rape, women, men and more.

Let’s do a quick review of women and violence in the news in the last weeks.

What's in the news on Human Rights Day?

What's in the news on Human Rights Day?

Why today? Because it’s the last of the 16 Days against Violence against Women, arguably the best known global campaign of the women’s movement, and also Human Rights Day.

Today, Sahrawi activist Aminatou Haidar starts her fourth week of hunger strike at Lanzarote airport in the Canary Islands. She is so weak she has to be transported to court by wheelchair or stretcher. Last week, the head of UNHCR called on Spain and Morocco to resolve her issue on humanitarian grounds.

The award-winning Haidar is known as the Sahrawi Gandhi for her non-violent protests for the independence of her desert country, the Western Sahara, ruled by Morocco since 1975.  (more…)

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Living a woman’s life

Posted on December 4, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, adolescents, culture, health, media, politics, women, men and more.

Today at noon my daughter graduated from high school. In the afternoon, the email brought news about very dear friends.

Motherhood, sisterhood, friendship.

Motherhood, sisterhood, friendship.

In Paris, the Chilean researcher, novelist and feminist Ana (Nicha) Vazquez Bronfman had died, aged 71. She was a beacon for a generation of Latin American women for her insights on identity  and gender. One concept she elaborated specially was “transculturation” - the permanent construction of identities in this world of global migration. In 2006 she wrote superbly about sexuality among the elderly – transgressions and secrets, she called it.

In Rome, my friend and fellow journalist Paola Rolletta underwent the next to last chemotherapy session against breast cancer. She was jubilant to see the end of the chemical bombardment. Like antiretrovirals, chemo saves lives but is no picnic.   (more…)

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WORLD AIDS DAY 2009

Posted on December 1, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, HIV/AIDS, arts, children, gays and lesbians, harmful practices, health, human rights, media, politics, religion, reproductive health, stereotypes, truth commissions, violence, war rape, women, men and more.

We share the wish of Marie Mendene Owono:  SEND AIDS AWAY.

By M. Sayagues

By M. Sayagues

Marie Mendene  is an extraordinary activist from Cameroon and one of the first African women to say publicly that she lives with HIV, in the 1990s, when AIDS was a disease of shame and blame.

This is one of my favourite photos about AIDS in Africa. I took it at Sunshine, her NGO in Douala, in 2003, before antiretroviral treatment became widely available. Only a few Cameroonians in cities could get the life-saving pills.

The day I took the photo, Marie had queued for seven hours and  received only half of her monthly ARV pills. She was understandably upset about the poor logistics and delivery of medicines. AIDS magnified all the inadequacies of health systems.

That was then. Today, nearly three million people in Africa are on ARV treatment. This seemed like a dream then, but activists were campaigning hard to make it come true.

Marie had a clear vision of activism. “We should go beyond the begging bowl and the appeal to compassion, beyond the stage of being used to do prevention and awareness, and become part of real-decision making around AIDS,” she told me.

Marie is to the right in the pic, with a fellow activist.

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