Archive for 'culture'

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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Watchdog citizen journalism against gender violence

Posted on November 27, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, culture, harmful practices, human rights, media, politics, stereotypes, violence, women, men and more.

The sisters can do it by themselves. By A. Vilanculos

The sisters can do it by themselves. By A. Vilanculos

The buzz in Mozambique during the recent elections was not the TV debate among presidential candidates debate (there is none) or their programs  (all vague).

What had tongues wagging was citizen’s journalism, dispatches by ordinary folk about electoral irregularities from the Rovuma to the Maputo rivers.

Good stuff: government cars illegally used for campaigning, with cellphone pics of their registration plates (until officials wised up and started covering up plates and ministry logos with party posters). Reports of youth tearing downs other party’s posters, fistfights, intimidation, and police lack of impartiality.  (more…)

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A spiritual gift

Posted on November 23, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, arts, children, culture, human rights, religion, stereotypes, violence, women, men and more.

Patriarchal in all senses. By M. Sayagues

Patriarchal in all senses. By M. Sayagues

What drives a 17-year-old girl to enter a monastery? Today she is 30, and still happy about her choice. Her eyes sparkle and her laughter comes easy. She exudes peace.

I will call her Gabra (gift, in Amharic), for our conversation was private. I met her at a monastery near Lalibela, the mystical city of rock-hewn churches in northern Ethiopia.

Monastic life has a long tradition and prestige in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The oldest monastery dates from the 6th century. A monastic renaissance between the 13th and 16th century brought great moral and political authority to clergy.

Custodians of tradition

Custodians of tradition

Gabra’s rock-hewn monastery dates from the 12th century. Her room is excavated in the pink tufa rock. Two built-in-the-rock platforms, covered with a thin mattress, do as couch and bed. An old cupboard holds a few plates and cooking utensils, three of the long green robes worn by Ethiopian peasants, the white headscarves that nuns wear, and two pairs of sandals.

(more…)

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Family health managers

Posted on November 20, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, children, culture, health, women, men and more.

Women are the agents of family health in Ethiopia. By M. Sayagues

Women manage family health in Ethiopia.

...on top of all their other duties. By M. Sayagues

Pics by M. Sayagues

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Children’s health and the invisible Ethiopian men

Posted on November 17, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, children, culture, health, stereotypes, women, men and more.

Guest posting by Gifti Nadi. After ten years with the International Women in Media Foundation in Washington DC, she is back in her home country, Ethiopia.

By Gifti Nadi

By Gifti Nadi

This was not an ordinary polio vaccination day for the children of Babile and Kombolcha, small towns about 500 km East of Addis Ababa.  Ferenjis (foreigners in Amharic) had arrived!

About 100 Rotarians from the USA and Canada paid their way to Harar and Dire Dawa in Eastern Ethiopia to join local health workers in a massive drive to vaccinate 11.5 million children under five nationwide.

In recent years, 24 cases of polio have been detected in Ethiopia, likely coming from Sudan, says the World Health Organisation.

We travelled in small groups to the towns nestled against the backdrop of stunning mountains. We went door to door and were warmly welcomed by the primarily Muslim, Oromo and Somali families. (more…)

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Being male was the cameraman’s bad luck

Posted on November 3, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, culture, human rights, media, stereotypes, women, men and more.

Guest blogger: Suad Hamada, IPS correspondent in Bahrain

Shall we talk about it?

Shall we talk about it?

A Saudi woman journalist escaped punishment last week but her cameraman wasn’t so lucky.

Rozana Al-Yami, 22, was pardoned by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah after the court sentenced her to 60 lashes for her work at the talk show  Red Line in LBC, a Lebanese satellite TV.

She made international news. He didn’t. No one mentioned that he has to serve a two-month jail term.  His name remains anonymous  in press reports.

Some would call this positive discrimination in favour of women but to me iit s a general bias. Women have been striving all over the world for equality,  not favoritism. (more…)

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