Archive for the ‘Women's Rights’ Category

One Billion Rising

One Billion Rising

From the President of the United Steel Workers:

From vday.org:

Events in California:


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SOS Hillary Rodham Clinton conducted her last meeting for over 200 world representatives summarizing her/the State Dept’s achievements in prioritizing global partnerships with governmental and non governmental groups.

It’s worth watching the video in the link above. It really says something about her focus since 2009. It will be interesting to see how these new partnerships are nurtured under Kerry.

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Clipped from Dipnote. The Annual World Food Day was on October 16th. Women are the key to  food security:

Photo of the Week: Observing World Food Day | U.S. Department of State Blog.


A Kenyan man shows millet he has grown at his farm in Siranga in western Kenya, July 18, 2012. [USAID/Kenya photo/ Public Domain]

Sarah Goldfarb serves as DipNote’s Associate Editor.

Every year on October 16, the international community unites around World Food Dayto increase awareness about global hunger. Today, nearly one billion people suffer from chronic hunger, and more than 3.5 million children die from undernutrition each year. As President Barack Obama said in his message recognizing World Food Day, “The United States has a moral obligation to lead the fight against global hunger, and we have put food security at the forefront of global development efforts. Through initiatives like Feed the Future, we are helping partner countries transform their agriculture sectors by investing in smallholder farmers — particularly women — who are the key to spurring economic growth and sustainably cultivating enough food to feed their people.”

In remarks at a Feed the Future event in New York last month, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “As a result of all the work of so many people over the last four years, food security is now at the top of our national and foreign policy agendas, as well as that of so many other nations in the world, because we understand it is a humanitarian and moral imperative, but it also directly relates to global security and stability. I’ve seen in my travels how increased investments in agriculture and nutrition are paying off in rising prosperity, healthier children, better markets, and stronger communities.”

In this week’s “Photo of the Week,” which comes to us from USAID/Kenya, a farmer, who benefits from the support of Feed the Future, shows millet grown on his farm in western Kenya on July 18, 2012. Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, supports agricultural cooperatives and producers organizations throughout the world, helping link smallholder farmers to markets.

You can learn more about U.S. efforts to to improve food security and nutrition worldwide by following @FeedtheFuture@USAID, and @StateDept on Twitter, or visiting the websites of Feed the Future, USAID, and the State Department’s Office of Global Food Security. In the comments section below, let us know how you observed World Food Day.

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“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Let’s be clear, women in the US are still not equal citizens.

Regarding health care, the very fact that women were mentioned by line item in the Affordable Care Act so often shows that without these inclusions women would continue to receive a standard of care unequal to that of men.  Because the Equal Rights Amendment is yet to be passed, there is no single standard of equality by which to judge and assure fair treatment.

Without the ERA, we chose instead to present the same face of discrimination to the world, as Iran, Somalia, and Afghanistan. Under Bush, even with Biden as Chair of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Obama, as a Committee member, CEDAW languished, as it has, since 1979.

Even under a Democratic presidency CEDAW still slumbers.

These two failures are that of Congress, because they have never made it to presidential signature. Nor have they ever come under judicial review.

Though it is hard to imagine any Democrat elected president would have vetoed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and many of us were upset that it was Obama, amid much fanfare, rather than Clinton, who was able to sign it, the fact is that the Bill was enacted.

The others, the Fair Pay Act, and Fairness Paycheck Act did not pass Congress. Again, since women are not equal citizens under a single standard, a multitude of bits of bills, each striving for a little slice of fairness, is currently the only way to achieve eventual parity.

As such, these are also failures of Congress. There is only one way to improve this condition. It entails an active defense and offence; but it first it requires an ownership of who we are.

Many of us are uneasy about the idea of defining ourselves. We may think it is too constricting or outdated. Some of us remember a time when using the term seemed a little too “whitebread” and did not correctly articulate the needs of women of color. I believe that Michelle Obama may have partly felt this way when asked if she was part of our group and she demurred. Some of us are still learning and believe that if we just try hard enough, wear the right clothes or behave, things will turn out all right.

Gaining equality is messy, sometimes dirty and smelly, often loud, frightening and even violent. Above all it is a process, rather than a one-time goal. It is a matter of choices.  In the politics of women it is usually a matter of choosing the better of two, not so good choices. Pulling historical context forward to the present helps the process.

In the debate conducted on Oct. 16th President Obama said this:

“In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured, because this is not just a — a health issue; it’s an economic issue for women. It makes a difference. This is money out of that family’s pocket.

Governor Romney not only opposed it; he suggested that, in fact, employers should be able to make the decision as to whether or not a woman gets contraception through her insurance coverage. That’s not the kind of advocacy that women need. When Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, there are millions of women all across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for not just contraceptive care. They rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings. That’s a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country.

And it makes a difference in terms of how well and effectively women are able to work. When we talk about child care and the credits that we’re providing, that makes a difference in terms of whether they can go out there and earn a living for their family. These are not just women’s issues. These are family issues. These are economic issues. And one of the things that makes us grow as an economy is when everybody participates and women are getting the same fair deal as men are.”

Now I don’t like the Affordable Care Act because I think it should have been a single payer system, rather than one based on the profits of insurance companies. Additionally, it has vulnerabilities for women because they are incorporated by line items that can be modified by a conservative Congress.

However, that does not take away from President Obama’s comments. The apparent groking of his SOS Clinton, (Women’s rights are human rights!) indicates the theme of Obama’s presidency toward women’s issues.

This is feminism.

Where the presidency has made successful inroads, to date, is outside of Congressional gridlock and misogyny.  The Executive Branch has made a series of proclamations and Orders that advance the cause of women and girls, and therefore, humanity. For example, in 2009 he signed an Executive Order establishing the Council on Women and Girls.

A look the website for the Council shows that from that beginning has flowed a series of ideas, forums and actions that are enlarging the concept of women in government, including “The Equal Futures Partnership and United States Commitments to Expand Women’s Political and Economic Participation” (STEM) that was created this month.

This concerted Executive Branch effort has been seen elsewhere in our dealings internationally through the UN and the State Department.

These efforts unfortunately, are ephemeral. They could change with new players in the Executive Branch of a second Obama administration, or they could be actually snuffed by one of Romney’s construction.

What are WE  going to do?

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From the DOS:

International Day of the Girl: To Give Girls Everywhere What We Want for Our Own Daughters | U.S. Department of State Blog.

International Day of the Girl: To Give Girls Everywhere What We Want for Our Own Daughters


Two Indian girls play on a street on International Day of the Girl Child in Hyderabad, India, October 11, 2012. [AP Photo]

Melanne Verveer serves as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

As the world comes together to mark the first-ever International Day of the Girl on October 11, we are filled with hope, but also a sense of urgency. Just this week, a masked Pakistani Taliban militant attempted to assassinate Malala Yousufzai — a 14 year-old Pakistani schoolgirl — on her school bus simply for going to school and speaking up for her right and the right of girls everywhere to get an education. This barbaric act reminds us all too painfully that in far too many places, some still don’t value girls and want to ignore their fundamental rights as human beings. What is so inspiring about Malala’s story is the outpouring of support she has received from every level of her government and ours, and from Pakistanis of all walks of life. So many people from around the world have stood up to say that she is like their own daughter.

That flood of support for Malala gives us great hope, but there is still so much work to do. While girls have made great progress in the last decade, research has shown that in many parts of the world, girls are still less likely than boys to be enrolled in school, especially secondary school. They have less access to medical care, are more likely to suffer from malnutrition, and are more prone to becoming victims of violence and discrimination. This is why we must redouble our efforts to ensure that governments, communities, and families work together to address deeply entrenched values that discriminate against women and girls, and improve the lives of girls worldwide so that all children can reach their God-given potential.

This week, the UN and NGO partners are using this first International Day of the Girl to galvanize commitments to end child marriage — a harmful traditional practice that robs young women of their childhood, traps them into poverty, and exposes them to health risks, early pregnancy, and gender-based violence. On October 10, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chair of The Elders and one of the founders of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, Executive Director of UNFPA Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, many private sector and non-profit partners and I joined Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Department of State as she announced several new public and private commitments to end child marriage and promoting girls’ education.

Child marriage is a threat to the fundamental human rights of girls, and to the health of communities. Ten million girls every year become child brides. One in seven girls in the developing world marries before she turns 15. These young girls are forced into motherhood before their bodies are ready, and too many die giving birth as a result. 

We know that education is one of the single best ways to shield girls from early marriage. Studies show that girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to marry as children when compared to girls who have little or no education. Adolescent girls who stay in school are more likely to delay marriage and childbirth, are less vulnerable to HIV/AIDs, and will enjoy a greater quality of life. They are more likely to earn better incomes, have fewer and healthier children, and participate in civic and political processes. Studies have found that child marriage often coexists with other poor reproductive health practices and abuses, including female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), cross-generational sex (spousal age gaps), gender-based violence, a higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, and obstetric fistula and uterine prolapse, both highly stigmatized conditions brought on as a result of prolonged labor. Keeping girls in school, especially enabling them to complete secondary school, is essential to global efforts to end child marriage.

The United States is proud to be working in partnership with governments, the private sector, and civil society. Through the new Empowering Adolescent Girls to Lead through Education initiative (EAGLE), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are working together to ensure thousands of adolescent girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) make successful transitions to secondary school. A $15 million initiative, EAGLE will tackle many of the barriers that keep girls from continuing post-primary education, such as cost and school safety, and will emphasize leadership training for girls. Since well-trained teachers are essential to girls’ success in school, the Department of State will provide teachers who come to the United States for educational exchange programs courses to strengthen their ability to recognize and address the unique challenges girls are confronted with in the classroom. We will also invite educators from around the world to come to the United States to research and find ways to improve girls’ education in their home countries. And beginning this fall, every one of the thousands of Peace Corps volunteers sent to work in underprivileged schools around the world will have training in gender and education. Finally, USAID is working with the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs in Bangladesh to test approaches based on health care, education, and legal research, and will enlist religious authorities, media, local governments and NGOs to promote community awareness and sensitization to the issue of child marriage.

The UN and private foundations are also stepping forward in meaningful and powerful ways — The UN Population Fund and the Ford, MasterCard, and MacArthur Foundations have pledged a total of $94 million to the cause of girls’ education and to addressing and preventing child marriage.

Investing in girls is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to can do. Progress for girls and women and progress for families, communities and nations go hand in hand.

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These are worth reading. It was a fine eulogy for Chris Stevens, and a good inspirational speech tolling human commonalities. 

Remarks by the President to the UN General Assembly | The White House.

I had to wonder about some of the the meanings of this part, however:

[…At a time of economic challenge, the world has come together to broaden prosperity.  Through the G20, we have partnered with emerging countries to keep the world on the path of recovery.  America has pursued a development agenda that fuels growth and breaks dependency, and worked with African leaders to help them feed their nations.  New partnerships have been forged to combat corruption and promote government that is open and transparent, and new commitments have been made through the Equal Futures Partnership to ensure that women and girls can fully participate in politics and pursue opportunity.  And later today, I will discuss our efforts to combat the scourge of human trafficking….]

At least mentioned was the “Equal Futures Partnership“. Started last year, the United States with 12 other partners, businesses,  and NPO’s the Partnership intends to promote women. A fact sheet HEREdescribes what actions the US  intends to take to promote equal partnership for women in this country.

This could be important stuff.

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U.S. Strategy To Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally | U.S. Department of State Blog.


Some one asked me the other day why I wasn’t more actively supporting SOS Hillary Rodham Clinton for POTUS 2012. She doesn’t have lot of time left to complete her tasks as SOS. This is a remarkable new strategy, if no other reason than as an attempt to codify a viewpoint.

Imagine trying to pass similar legislation for the the US. WE can’t even pass CEDAW.

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