• Monday, April 21, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    Gender Masala - Notes on gender - A spicy mix

    This blog brings out the flavour of gender issues, from the network of IPS writers and friends. Gender Masala is part of the Inter Press Service project Communicating for Change: Getting Voice, Visibility and Impact for Gender Equality. Check it at www.ips.org/mdg3/


    Famous and infamous births

    21 Dec 2009

    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 »

    WORLD AIDS DAY 2009

    01 Dec 2009

    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.

    Watchdog citizen journalism against gender violence

    27 Nov 2009

    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 »

    A spiritual gift

    23 Nov 2009

    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 »

    Children’s health and the invisible Ethiopian men

    17 Nov 2009

    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 »

    Being male was the cameraman’s bad luck

    03 Nov 2009

    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 »

    Beauty as an optical illusion

    12 Oct 2009

    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 »

    Red light for Burqa-wearing drivers in Bahrain

    05 Oct 2009

    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 »

    HILARIOUS CONDOM ADS

    21 Sep 2009

    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 »