Since we’ve been talking about politics, here is a great resource for women who are interested in politics: Womanstake.org! The change in the administration here in the United States is changing a lot of things in the political sphere, especially when it comes to women’s issues. Most recently, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed in the final congressional vote. Gender income disparity is a serious problem, Barbara Conable (from the World Bank) made the famous statement: “Women constitute 1/2 of the world’s population, perform nearly 2/3 of its work hours, receive 1/10 of the world’s income, and own less than 1/100 of its property.” And that’s something that needs to change.
Archive for January, 2009
The swearing in of Barak Obama yesterday was epic in every sense. A nation that has struggled for hundreds of years with the practice of slavery, the repression of rights based on race has elected Barak Obama to the highest position possible in the United States.
I wasn’t able to go down to DC to the inauguration, but our nation’s capital (which homes 600,000 people on a normal basis) hosted an estimated one million people on the National Mall that spans from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capital building nearly 1.5 miles away.
His speech was deep and accessible. His tone was serious and uplifting. His suit was classic and stoic.
This is all very important, but what about Michelle Obama? The media spent much time speculating on Obama’s choice of pastors for the inauguration, who would be speaking, how much he would spend on the multiple balls to follow, however there was much more attention payed to what our First Lady would be wearing.
There was much chatter after Michelle Obama took the stage with her husband at his acceptance speech. Was it too bold? Was it fashionable? Was it too much? Her inauguration day outfits evoked a similar response.
Here is a woman who isn’t afraid to be bold–I don’t think you could be married to a man like Barak and not be infused with his charisma. Her fashion choices throughout the campaign have been treated differently than other women like Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton. By keeping her wardrobe low-key (I recognized her dresses as one from H&M that my roommate bought), she makes a message that she has said time and time again–staying grounded is important. Michelle is one of the most accomplished First Ladies our nation has seen, and I am definitely excited to see what she does with the White House.
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Spend Martin Luther King Day Volunteering in Your Community
Did you know:
“Initiated by Congress in 1994, King Day of Service builds on that that legacy by transforming the federal holiday honoring Dr. King into a national day of community service grounded in his teachings of nonviolence and social justice. The aim is to make the holiday a day ON, where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and move our nation closer to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King envisioned.” -mlkday.gov
This year MLK Day falls just before the Presidential Inaguration, and President-Elect Obama has made a call for living out this call for a day of service. Through the website http://usaservice.org/content/home/ you can find a place in your community to donate an hour or your day to helping those around you.
There was a fantastic article in the New York Times yesterday about Afghan girls fighting for education rights. As we all know, the Taliban was one of the most repressive governments the world has ever seen. Women and girls were denied the right to education, one of the most fundamental and important rights of all. Schools like the Mirwais School for Girls were opened by coalition forces after the ousting of the Taliban in November of 2001 were opened all around Afghanistan.
The Mirwais School for Girls is located in a very rural region of the country has been met with positive response from the girls in the area. Nearly 1,300 girls attend the school. However, remanence of the old regime exists. Acid attacks are frightfully common in countries like Afghanistan. Read about Shamsia Husseini, a girl who was a victim of an acid attack, but she isn’t letting it stop her from getting an education.
While many tune in on the Golden Globe Awards for the glitz and the glamour– a who’s-who and a who’s-wearing-what on the red carpet, we here at PeaceKeeper watch to see what Hollywood considers important. It was clear to see that this year, Hollywood is going humanitarian by awarding the amazing film Slumdog Millionaire with Best Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Original Score.
Director Danny Boyle uses cinematography and a brilliant cast to depict a tale of hardship, love and loss. The film follows a boy named Jamal Malik who is one question away from winning 20 million rupees on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? when he is arrested on suspicion of cheating. How could a slumdog like Jamal know all the answers? Jamal tells his story through flashbacks that illuminate a very real portrait of life for many. Labor servitude, domestic servitude and sexual servitude are all aspects of the global trafficking cartel, and the characters of Slumdog Millionaire go through it all. According to UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), “Some 2.5 million people throughout the world are at any given time recruited, entrapped, transported and exploited-a process called human trafficking-according to estimates of international experts.” Not all slavery involves direct kidnapping. It is common practice in some rural peasants in Brazil are lured into slave labor by promises of jobs and livable wages. Plantation recruiters promise a $100 equivalent advance to a prospective worker, who take it thinking that the money is given to them, when in fact the $100 puts them so deep in debt that it is nearly impossible to escape.
Children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking– and unfortunately it usually results in children being forced into the sex industry. Sex tourism is a 7 billion dollar a year industry, where innocence has a high price. It is estimated that around 500,000 girls below 18 are victims of trafficking each year, constituting the largest group in the sex industry. According to a recent global estimate, of the 12.3 million who are victims of forced labor, 1.39 million are involved in forced commercial sexual exploitation– and up to 50% of the sexually exploited are children (international Labour Association, 2005).
Slumdog Millionaire uses elements of truth, art and humanity to tells a tale that goes beyond storytelling by bringing awareness to the men and women like Jamal who don’t have screenwriters. Watch the trailer below, and watch something that will change your life.
As the sun was setting on the last day of 2008, I sat down with a notebook and penned a few goals I had in mind for 2009. And by the next day I had already broken my resolution to stay healthy by catching a cold. There goes my resolution to start running, too! So instead of ACTUALLY running, I’ve been reading about OTHER PEOPLE running. One of my favorite green blogs ecorazzi mentioned that Matt Damon would be narrating a film called Running the Sahara that documented three men’s epic journey across the Sahara Desert that began in 2006 and ended in February of 2007.
Charlie Engle, Ray Zahab and Kevin Lin ran 4,300 miles through six countries to complete their marathon-of-all-marathons in an astounding 111 days. In the Sahara Desert. Let me repeat that: the SARAHA DESERT. Not only did these three men push through some of the most extreme temperatures and dangerous wind forces, they did it all RUNNING on SAND. Being able to run two miles on sand is a feat of athleticism if you ask me, considering the extra effort and the risk of getting sand in your shoes.
The film Running the Sahara is not only about the personal struggles and triumphs of these three men. Partnered with H2O Africa, the documentary depicts the beauty of the African desert as well as that of the African people and focuses on the water crisis that cripples many African countries alike. [Side note: it's no surprise that Damon is the narrator; he is one of the co-founders of H2O Africa!] The film’s website has some great photos of the trek to tell the story until the documentary is released sometime in March of 2009.
Happy New Year!