Beauty as an optical illusion

Posted on October 12, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, adolescents, arts, children, culture, media, stereotypes, women, men and more.

Fashion models in ads are optical illusions and the award-winning  video Evolution of Beauty, from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty proves the point eloquently. Watch it at:

http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.ca/bblank.asp?id=6895

Digital cosmetic surgery - nip-and-tuck, botox and liposuction, on the screen, with a click - render these models picture-perfect (excuse the pun) and thoroughly unreal.

There is no way a non-photoshopped  woman can attain that perfection. Hey, we are human. We have flaws.

(more…)

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Red light for Burqa-wearing drivers in Bahrain

Posted on October 5, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, culture, human rights, politics, religion, stereotypes, women, men and more.

Guest blogger: Suad Hamada, IPS correspondent in Bahrain

Dressed to drive? By S.Hamada

Dressed to drive? By S.Hamada

Burqa-wearing women may lose the right to drive in Bahrain over a conflict between government and conservative lawmakers.

The government wants to amend the traffic law and grant male traffic officers the right to ask women to lift the veil and show their faces.

On the other hand, some lawmakers are loath to approve the amendment or at least demand that female traffic officers be employed for this task.

Let’s hope that in either way it will be a win-win situation for women: that they will continue to drive, and enter a job sector that has been reserved for men since the 1970s.   Bahrain doesn’t impose a dress code on women. Wearing a burqa (or Niqab, in Bahrain) is a personal choice.

OK, not all women here wear a burqa as personal choice; some do it to obey their male relatives or conservative families. (more…)

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Putting a value on our work

Posted on September 24, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, culture, media, women, men and more.

Guest blogger: Miren Gutierrez, IPS editor-in-chief

Seven PM at the supermarket. After a long day at the office, she is standing in line to pay for groceries to make dinner, stealing glances at her watch, grappling with two young kids who want her to buy some chewing gum…

Unequal sharing of the work pie. M. Sayagues

Unequal sharing of the work pie. M. Sayagues

Does this picture ring a bell? Survey after survey across the world report that women put in between 20 and 30 hours a week of domestic and family work. Unseen, unsung and unpaid, yes, but not insignificant.

Unpaid work in the home, done mainly by women, is estimated at approximately 50 percent of all productive activity even in industrial countries, and as much as 60-70 percent in many developing countries,” says Hazel Henderson in an interview with IPS.  (more…)

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HILARIOUS CONDOM ADS

Posted on September 21, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, adolescents, culture, media, religion, reproductive health, stereotypes, women, men and more.

Gender Masala has been dealing with serious topics seriously …it’s time for a fun break!  Check out these hilarious condom ads from several continents. They make safe sex fun.

Make safe sex fun. By M. Sayagues

Make safe sex fun. By M. Sayagues

Ranging  from sassy dialogue to black humour, these are one-minute comedies with a smart punchline. The Mother from Hell and the Spoiled Brat skits have a Borat-like humour.  And who would have thought a condom ad from India would depict anal sex?

Click on the ad from Argentina even if you don’t speak Spanish.  Everybody who has been a teenager will chuckle about these teens, their parents and their predicament. (Watch it here)

Laughing got me thinking about how seldom one sees humorous ads about condoms in English-speaking Southern Africa. I have seen some cool ads in Mozambique, though – I think there were Brazilian advisors involved. (more…)

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Breakthrough for Women at the UN

Posted on September 18, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, human rights, media, politics, women, men and more.

Guest blogger:  Ann Ninan, IPS Gender Editor

Is there room for us as well? M. Sayagues

A breakthrough for us as well? M. Sayagues

The UN has finally decided to stand up for women!  A decision to create a new agency for women was taken by the General Assembly on September14.

Our colleague Thalif Deen, IPS bureau chief in New York, was the first and only journalist to report it for the first several hours.

But this blog is not to crow about our scoop.

I’m quite excited by the prospect of a new women’s agency with money and political power. No longer will the world’s feminists have to lobby from the outside to put their views on the table. They have now won admission to the high table.

Any one of those bright, articulate, activist women can emerge to lead the agency. The reality is likely to be less rosy. But chances are that, because it’s new, it will be less under the thumb of the old boy network.

You think I’m a romantic? What the hell, there is no harm in dreaming, is there?  (more…)

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Missing the Point? A critical review of MDG

Posted on September 14, 2009, by mercedes, under children, health, human rights, women, men and more.

Next time you read a story or a press release moaning about how country X will not reach the Millennium Development Goals, think twice - whose goal and whose target is it? We know the deadline but do we know the baseline?

Instead of striking a balance between ambition and realism, the MDGs have become “money-metric and donor-centric”, “meaningless catch-all phrases.”

So says Jan Vandemoortele, a Belgian national, a United Nations senior official and one of the architects of the MDGs, in a thought-provoking article in the July issue of  Development Policy Review of the Overseas Development Institute. (read it here)

Unrealistic? A crowded classrom in Guinea Bissau...

Unrealistic goal? A crowded classroom in Guinea Bissau...

The author recalls that the MDGs were set up in 2000 as collective targets based on extrapolations of global trends.  They are vague by definition; they are not one-size-fits-all.

Instead, one should look at countries’ historical backgrounds, natural endowments and specific problems, then adapt the Goals to each circumstance, as Mozambique, Cambodia and Ethiopia have done.

Otherwise, this puts undue pressure on the poorest countries and, given that most of these are in Africa, nurtures Afro-pessimism.

For example, the global target for education “is not realistic” for countries in conflict, he says.                              (more…)

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Italian Women – The Horror

Posted on September 10, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, adolescents, culture, human rights, media, stereotypes, violence, women, men and more.

Guest blogger: Miren Gutierrez, IPS editor-in-chief

Have you seen the Italian documentary Il corpo delle donne (available with English subtitles)?

It is horrifying, like a horror movie.

“Women –real women— are an endangered species on television, one that is being replaced by a grotesque, vulgar and humiliating representation,” says an introduction to the documentary by Lorella Zanardo.
women_han_
This picture shows a woman hanged from the ceiling, like a ham, surrounded by legs of ham. This and other images, taken from real TV shows, speak for themselves.

Il corpo delle donne is a 25-minute terrifying documentary that undresses the degradation of women in Italian television. (more…)

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HAPPY BIRTH-DAY TO ALL MOTHERS

Posted on September 7, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, children, health, human rights, reproductive health, stereotypes, women, men and more.

Safe motherhood for all. By F. Beaumont.

Safe motherhood for all. By F. Beaumont.

My daughter Esmeralda turns 18 today. Like all parents, I am amazed at how time flies. Like all mothers, I get reminiscent about those days, 18 years ago.

I was very pregnant and very happy. I lived in Rome, Italy, and I wanted a home birth.

I wanted music, soft light, friends, baby on my stomach still attached by umbilical cord, no drugs, and no epidural. A birth by my own rules, not by a cold hospital’s.

I found a group specialized in home births – Il Melograno. Their package included ob-gyn and midwife, courses, support and, more importantly, a woman-friendly feel. A photographer from Marie Claire magazine would do a photo reportage on my happy home birth.

Our premise: pregnancy is neither a disease nor a disability. Pregnancy and birth have become over-medicalized; women should reclaim it from doctors overly fond of control and caesareans. (more…)

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No longer invisible: caregivers speak out

Posted on September 4, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, HIV/AIDS, culture, human rights, media, violence, women, men and more.

Guest blogger: Glenda Muzenda, Care Work Manager at Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA)

I just attended the Grassroots Women’s International Academy on Home Based Care in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It was a mixed bag of fun meeting women from all walks and works of life from Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zambia, Ghana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

Caregiving in Mozambique. Photo: Janine Morna

Caregiving in Mozambique. Photo: Janine Morna

The Huairou Commission and the Land Access Movement of South Africa brought us together to share experiences of home-based care.

It is fascinating how in Malawi the care givers alliance has moved forward. Victoria Kalomba, of the Malawi Group of Women Living with HIV and AIDS told us that the ministry of health and social development had spearheaded a campaign to raise awareness about people infected and affected by HIV.

The process had the ministry informing the support groups of individuals who had tested positive after visiting clinics so they could be reached and helped.

I am worried about this way of outing positive people even in the aim of  mobilizing support groups. I feel that it is a human right violation to have to give information of someone’s HIV status.

(more…)

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Timeless wisdom: traditional healing in Africa

Posted on August 31, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala.

Tall, thin and dreadlocked, Kwame Sousa is an artist, a documentary film producer, and an avid soccer player. Whenever he sprains a muscle, he visits his granny or the neighbourhood traditional healer for a rub with a homemade herbal potion.

“It smells strongly of wine gone vinegary but it works ,” he says.

The forest is their pharmacy. Photo: M. Sayagues

The forest is their pharmacy. Photo: M. Sayagues

Last year, when he was scratching madly with chickenpox, his  granny’s ointment of coconut oil and leaves relieved the itchiness.

When his friend  Geane Castro  feels a cold coming, his grandmother makes him a hot bath with water infused with leaves and bark, then a special tea with plants she gathers in the forest. Presto, he recovers.

I meet them at Teia D’Arte, an art gallery in Sao Tome, the capital of the tiny two-island nation of Sao Tome and Principe, off the coast of Gabon.

With a rich biodiversity of 600 botanical species and 132 endemic plants, the islands’ rainforest is a well-stocked pharmacy for herbalists.

Their knowledge is captured in a decade-long  ethno-pharmacological study published last year. Researchers worked with 40 traditional healers, midwives and grandmothers to identify and classify 325 medicinal plants, note 1,000 recipes and test 25 plants in the lab. Many look promising for developing new medicines. (more…)

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