March 8, 2013

Happy International Women's Day!

In 2009, I wrote a statement for Women's International League for Peace & Freedom to commemorate International Women's Day. Their website no longer links to past statements, so I'm placing it here to share. Sadly, none of the goals have been achieved.

Women's International League for Peace & Freedom
International Women's Day Statement
8 March 2009

March 8, International Women's Day, is a day to acknowledge the need for women's equal participation in economic and political decision-making, to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of women, and to denounce gender discrimination and gender violence.

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) approaches this day with an analysis of the root causes of war and injustice: the pursuit of profit, rather than the fulfillment of human need. According to Naomi Klein, the problems perpetuated by disaster capitalism include the limitation of political participation to those with "specialized" knowledge, the perpetuation of fear through the buildup of military arsenals, the threat of violence and use of force, and finally the corporate framing of news.

WILPF rejects the notion that gender equality has been achieved. While men remain systematically overrepresented in all levels of decision making, women remain economically disadvantaged; women's work is under-valued and under-paid. From child rearing to the suites of executive offices, women continue to be paid less than their male counterparts.

Women around the world are afflicted by violence; as the UN acknowledged in the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, human trafficking is primarily a euphemism for the sexual slavery of women and girls. The crimes of rape and sexual violence continue and increase unabated during wars.

Women suffer the loss of their children. their homes and their communities during wars as well as being the targets of sexual and physical violence, and it most often falls to women to repair their homes and communities. Yet women are rarely asked to participate in the process of conflict resolution, although their equal participation is mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

WILPF started in opposition of a patriarchal world order that used violence and military to govern. Therefore WILPF began as and continues to be the voice of the voiceless: to demand participation in political decisions on all levels of society--from local elections in San Jose, Costa Rica to national elections in Sydney, Australia to Conference on Disarmament deliberations at the United Nations.

On this International Women's Day and every day of the year, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom continues to lobby in the halls of the United Nations, picket state capitols, and rally grassroots support for political equality, the cessation of war, and the development of a socio-economic system that supports human needs.

Posted by cj at 2:24 PM | Comments (0)

June 2, 2012

Introducing WILPF to LA on Nuclear Abolition Day

The Greater LA Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women hosted a Women's Peace Walk today. They were inspired by Julia Ward Howe's call for women to gather on June 2 as a Mother's Peace Day. I was honored to help the chapter organize the event and was further honored when I was asked to moderate the speakers. Thankfully, I was also able to step out of that role to introduce people to WILPF. Below is the text of my speech.

Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, WILPF, is probably the most influential peace organization you have never hard of. For almost a century, WILPF has articulated the need to address the root causes of war. We insist on ending armed conflict as a means of dispute resolution. And since World War I, we have been challenging governments to recognize the necessity of women's participation in these conversations.

In 2000, we pushed the UN Security Council to pass Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace & Security. Then, we created our Peace Women Project to monitor its implementation. Through Peace Women, we've led a translation project, ensuring 1325 is available in over 100 languages. This allows women peacemakers around the world to use it as a blueprint for creating real space for women's participation in politics in their own countries. We could use help translating it into more languages, so check out for more info.

Implementing the women, peace and security agenda is the responsibility of national governments. Civil Society (that's you and me working together through nonprofit organizations) holds government accountable by monitoring this implementation. Together we can develop National Action Plans, one tool for realizing women's participation in conflict prevention and peace-building.

Last fall, the U.S. Section of WILPF hosted consultations with the State Department in five cities across the country, to facilitate citizen input into the first ever U.S. National Action Plan. We issued a report with 64 concrete recommendations on Human Rights Day, December 10, 2011. Later that month, the State Department released the National Action Plan.

Next week, WILPF U.S. will be briefing Congress on those consultations at a round table hosted by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Congressman Russ Carnahan.

Here's the thing: the U.S. must fundamentally change its foreign and military policy to truly implement the women, peace and security agenda. Military intervention does not make people more secure. Access to food, health care, education, shelter, and jobs make people secure. That's what I mean when I say I'm a human security advocate. It means I respect the fundamental needs that must be met in order to make an individual secure. It means I reject the notion that a monolingual military propping up warlords can ever make Afghan women secure. It means I worry about Iraqi women whose access to basic necessities, like clean water, sewers and electricity was destroyed by the U.S. military and never fully restored.

We in WILPF recognize that creating the women, peace and security framework isn't enough. That's why we monitor all international disarmament negotiations through our Reaching Critical Will project. We provide daily newsletters during those conferences -- updates relied upon by diplomats and civil society alike to keep those processes transparent.

As today is Nuclear Abolition Day, I should tell you that WILPF and its Reaching Critical Will Project strongly supports abolishing the use of both nuclear weapons and nuclear power. We also work towards the reduction of military spending and the demilitarization of politics and economics.

Our current International Secretary General, Madeleine Rees, is leading WILPF in challenging the UN to see disarmament through a human rights framework. The security wonks have never acknowledged the way military spending violates human rights. First, we know the money be better spent on health care, education, housing, and infrastructure development. In other words on implementing the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring human security.

Additionally, selling weapons to countries where they will likely be used to violate international law should be illegal, based on the doctrine of the responsibility to protect.

Right now, Reaching Critical Will is monitoring the Conference on Disarmament. Next month, we will be monitoring the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. Check for more information.

I'll be honest with you now. The Los Angeles Branch has been a bit dormant recently. So I invite you to join me in renewing the LA branch of WILPF by becoming a member or at least connecting with me so I can keep you informed about our future work. Thank you.

Posted by cj at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2012

More Than One Woman Promoted Mother's Day in the US

Earlier in my life, I took at face-value "the progressive history of Mother's Day." Perhaps you've heard it? Someone told you about Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation and told you that ending war is the real reason for the day? Sorry to break it to you, but that's not true.

The reality is that Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis did something amazing in West Virginia. She organized Mother's Work Days, starting in the 1850s to improve health and sanitation. When the Civil War broke out, she asked her members to sign statements of neutrality and provided healthcare for combatants of both sides. After the war, she organized Mother's Friendship Days to encourage the reconciliation vitally needed at the end of any armed conflict. When she died, her daughter, Anna Jarvis, dedicated her life to creating a holiday to honor her mother and all mothers.

According to the Legacy Project, "In 1908, Anna persuaded her mother's church in Grafton, WV to celebrate Mother's Day on the anniversary of her mother's death, the second Sunday of May. It was to be a day to honor all mothers, and also a day to remember the work of peacemaking, reconciliation, and social action against poverty started by her mother." To expand the celebration state-wide, Jarvis needed the help of corporate sponsors. This started the commercialization of the day. The flower and card industry strongly supported the state holiday and federal legislation. Towards the end of her life, Anna Jarvis was bitter about the crass commercialization of her memorial to her mother's memory.

Julia Ward Howe wrote her proclamation in 1870 and promoted June 2 as a Mother's Day for Peace starting in 1872. The celebrations fizzled out after she stopped personally funding them.

I truly appreciate Howe's writing. I love that her perspective evolved over time - she wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in support of the Civil War because she was an ardent abolitionist. But after seeing the carnage of that war and the Franco-Prussian War, she became a pacifist. I agree with her that people need to come together to figure out how to solve conflicts without resorting to violence. But I am frustrated by the inaccurate history perpetrated by most progressive organizations, from Democracy Now to CODEPINK to WILPF US. To be clear: I have a mountain of respect for all three of those organizations, but I also want to honor history accurately.

Interested in honoring Howe's June 2 Day of Peace?

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
And if you're in LA, join me at the Women's Peace Walk, sponsored by WILPF LA and the Greater LA Chapter of the US Committee for UN Women.

Posted by cj at 6:12 PM | Comments (0)

August 7, 2011

See The Whistleblower

CJ with director LarysaThe Whistleblower is a political thriller starring Rachel Weiscz. It is now playing in LA and NYC, with more cities being rolled out in the coming weeks.

Larysa Kondracki, the director and co-writer of the film spent two years researching the reality of peace-keeping operations in Bosnia before writing the script. Weiscz plays Kathyryn Balkovac, a Nebraskan cop who goes to Bosnia as a Dyncorp employee, part of the international police task force. Like many people, she chose to work overseas because of the high pay without taxes.

C.J. met director Larysa Kondracki at a special screening of The Whistleblower on Wednesday, August 3.

The first time I saw the film, I was overwhelmed with horror. It was more difficult to watch than any film on a battlefield, because the war in this movie takes place on the bodies of enslaved women. Years ago, I heard that there were more slaves in the world today than at any point in human history. I thought that was hyperbole until the cold truth was dramatized for me.

Even more shocking is that the drama is true.

Everything that is portrayed in the film actually happened. It did not necessarily happen to those characters, but it happened. The sadness and the tragedy is that not enough was done. --Madeleine Rees, former Head of Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Ms. Rees is portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave in the film. Though it may be unclear from simply watching the drama, she was instrumental in shining light on the situation in Bosnia. So much so that she was pushed out of the UN and filed a discrimination lawsuit. While Rees was able to find employment after leaving the UN (she is currently the Secretary General of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom), Balkovac is struggling to find meaningful employment, though she did publish a memoir of her experience.

Join the WILPF campaign to challenge the idea that immunity equals impunity.

Rees explains how human rights has framed her work and what she's doing now to challenge the idea that immunity equals impunity:

Posted by cj at 5:00 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2011

Clarifying My Core Political Principles

I shared this video on Facebook and started an extremely long discussion.

Since the conversation included people across the political spectrum, I laid out my core political beliefs as a starting place:

I know corporations / business have one reason for existing: to create profit. They do not support human or environmental needs - they make money for their shareholders. When corporations were first invented, they had to prove that they were supporting the welfare of the nation/colony/state they were incoporated in, but no more.

The gap between the rich and the poor, in the US and globally, is larger than it has ever been. There is no real middle class in the US. Fairness in taxation means that the people who profit the most should pay the most. Otherwise, government will end up imposing more sales taxes, which affect the poor far more than the rich. The Bush tax cuts were unpaid for and unsustainable. Reagonomics DID NOT WORK. And it did not create a magical, growing, healthy economy. It simply exacerbated the gap between the rich and the poor.

Individuals create governments to increase their own freedom. Government protects citizens by imposing regulations on business, enacting laws that protect people, animals, and the environment. Civil society and government institutions are the only pathways to a more just world.

I am not willing to sacrifice my freedom to the whim of corporations. The problem in DC is the corporatacracy. Government paychecks are red herrings - contractors make far more than any govt employee. The problem is politicians rely on Big Money and Big Business to get elected and re-elected. Until we have public financing in our elections, it will remain difficult for the majority of the people to have their opinions heard and enacted by government.

The majority of the people isn't the same as the decisions made in individual races in a midterm election. Too many people are turned off by politics in this country. Even the president isn't chosen by a simple majority vote - giving people in Omaha a larger voice in national politics than people in LA.

Government job bills are the only things that truly get us out of a recession - it was the Works Progress Administration that finally got people back to work after the Great Depression. And yes, it was also the military industrial economy. We're addicted to war. It's the largest form of welfare in this country - the military, or a military contractor, exists in every single Congressional district in this country. Can't say that about any other federal program.

The world I want to see has a culture of peace and human security as its core principles, rather than this culture of war and humans being disposable. Those great corporations refuse to hire people who have been unemployed 2+ years - are you really willing to sacrifice millions of Americans for a political ideology?

In addition to ending US wars, we need to slash the military budget and spend more on creating jobs and social services. By the way - it doesn't matter how much intelligence POTUS, SecDef, or SecState have: the bottom line is that if your primary form of diplomacy is depleted uranium bombs, your country will never be at peace. Terrorism cannot be defeated with terrorism. Only skillful diplomacy, robust international institutions, pathways to peace and economic prosperity will make us truly safe.

Posted by cj at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2011

Felicity Hill on WILPF, the CSW, and the need for hope, humor, and horror

Felicity Hill, former WILPF UN Office Director spoke recently in NYC during the Commission on the Status of Women. I particularly agree with her recommendation that we keep hope, humor, and horror in mind when developing strategies for changing the world.

She also mentions a book written by WILPFers called Listen to Women for a Change, which is available on the PeaceWomen website as a PDF.

Posted by cj at 7:24 PM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2011

The Long March Towards Freedom

I'm a member of an organization that has freedom in its title. Some activists say we should avoid using the rhetoric of freedom, because it has been co-opted by the right. Honey, there's a big difference between libertarian fantasies and the power to act or think without externally imposed restraint.

Emily Greene Balch on choosing a name for the women's peace movement:

freedom, the basic condition of human personality and growth, could not be maintained EXCEPT UNDER PEACE. That, too, was in their minds in making "peace and freedom" their objective. -1935 pamphlet, republished in Fall 2008 Peace and Freedom (pdf)
And so, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom was born.

Watching the news coverage of the protests in Egypt, reporting biases become more flagrant. There's the people who worry about the Egyptian state's support of Israel. There's the people who remind us that Egypt has been a strong supporter of the US over the past 30 years. There's the people who tell you ad nauseam details of looting, and warn that every day of protest brings the possibility of chaos closer. And then there's the people who actually report what Egyptians are saying.

Let's get this straight: Anderson Cooper was wrong when he said Egyptians hold conflicting views of America. Egyptians like US citizens. They like the way we live here in the US. They dislike our government's support of the Mubarak dictatorship. They dislike our government's occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. They dislike the US government's one-sided approach to peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. There is no conflict in these views: Egyptian people like US people. Egyptian people dislike US Empire.

A week ago, Egyptians began their long march towards freedom. They've lived under a military dictatorship for 30 years. Anxious lefties in the US keep wondering when Egypt will happen here. And they're fools. In our rush to see each other as brothers and sisters, some of us forget the depth of our privilege. We have freedom of assembly. We have freedom of speech. We have freedom of religion. Crazy people aren't bombing our churches on Christmas Eve. One guy hasn't been president for 30 years. The government hasn't been propped up by a billion dollars in foreign military aid. When we protest, the police may protect private property, but they don't hurl tear gas at us.

So why aren't more people angry that the US faces the widest income gap since the Great Depression? Because we can max out credit cards, and numb ourselves with entertainment. Because acts of people-powered protest here compete for coverage with a blimp.

I'm grateful to Common Cause for organizing the Uncloak the Kochs rally.

As someone in the media said today, will we walk like an Egyptian?

Let us stand tall in support of democracy for the most populous Arab country. Let us throw off the shackles of fear and say firmly: We trust the Egyptian people to use democracy to create peace and prosperity on their own terms. We welcome the possibility that more Arab citizens could choose freedom in the coming months. We trust that the US and any other democracy in the world will be safer with democratic neighbors than if those states were dictatorships or un-democratic monarchies. And we will be inspired by our Egyptian sisters and brothers. We will continue their long march towards freedom in our own country.

Because we know this isn't a military dictatorship. But we also know the American culture has cancer. Corporate personhood has created a cancer in our body politic, in our economic system, and in our culture. And we are determined to fight that cancer. To create the change we wish to see in the world. To create nonviolent paradigm shifts, to create the social upheaval needed in the US to continue the long march towards freedom.

Posted by cj at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2011

Uncloak the Kochs: Eyewitness Account of the Rally

As an unknown blogger, I find it interesting to watch well-known bloggers treated as members of the media, with everything from priority seating at a panel discussion to multiple quotes in mainstream press.

I also find it interesting that the entire day in Rancho Mirage was created for consciousness raising. Here's one of my tweets from today:

[from @socialupheaval] Feels lacking a real plan beyond today Answers to what action to take lacking @ #UncloakKoch panel

Here's the response I got:

[from @CommonCause] @socialupheaval there is a plan; as @VanJones68 says, 1st step is lifting consciousness. That's today. Tmrw we go forward together.
Actually, what Van Jones said was that he was caught off guard being given the microphone to answer the question what action steps are next for the event. He said he didn't plan the event, Common Cause did, but if he had to answer the question, we should connect with our neighbors and increase awareness of the issues.

See here's the thing: 1,000 people show up in Rancho Mirage. Most of them traveled long distances to get to the rally. Did they not know why they were traveling out of their way for a rally?

We who spent 4+ hours traveling to and fro on Common Cause buses; we who were told we are the leaders we are waiting for - we were looking for concrete action we could take to implement the values expressed by the panelists and rally speakers. We could have formed action groups: meeting up with people from our local areas to develop plans. If Common Cause had a plan for grassroots, cross-organization movement building, their staffers who rode the buses with us could have engaged us in that vision, and helped us find a way to contribute to those clear local steps forward. Instead, we're told to enjoy our consciousness raising.

To be clear: I've been involved in progressive activism for 20 years. I still get a thrill from gathering with like-minded activists. I love that I came on a bus to the desert and met up with two different Wellesley sisters (who don't know each other). I was truly inspired by Van Jones.

But, I'm still wondering: what's next? Where do we go from here?

Posted by cj at 9:05 PM | Comments (1)

July 18, 2010

Digital Activism, Digital Diplomacy, Digital Chasms

I just finished readin the amazing NYT article, "Digital Diplomacy," by Jesse Lichtenstein. This article is important, not just because it shows the frontier of digital statecraft, but because it proves the importance of integrating social media into policy activism.

Perhaps this point is obvious to you. If you want to influence policy, you need to engage in debate on the interwebs, not just in face-to-face meetings with diplomats or in coalition meetings with like-minded organizations.

Lichtenstein does a great job of showing how State isn't fully equipped to handle the type of engagement created by Jared Cohen and Alec Ross. While she's quick to point out the ways digital media can enhance grassroots activism, and get the USG's positions out to the masses, she overlooks a key problem: like governments, most NGOs are not equipped to handle digital activism. If you've been involved in an organization that allows social media policy and practice to be handled solely by interns, then you understand what I mean.

I'm not trying to disparage interns. Indeed, they are essential to most nonprofits. But we've got to figure out a way to integrate these new communication channels into the lifeblood of our organizations.

I'm looking forward to working with others to fill the digital chasm that exists in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. If you've got ideas, please let me know. Because we're leaders in international peace and justice movement; and we provide the best reporting on gender and conflict and disarmament at the UN. But our social media strategy is in its infancy and our membership organization lacks a unified approached to digital activism.

Posted by cj at 7:21 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2010

The Sad State of Sunday Morning Round Tables

Ingredients of a successful round table: fill with 4 parts older white men, 1 part older white woman. Any one part can be exchanged with one of the following: younger white man, woman of color, man of color. No more than one part of the following can be included in the mix: person of color, person under 50. You may include two people under 50, if all other people on the panel look over 60.

I don't know why I'm still surprised every Sunday when there is absolutely no space allowed for a liberal voice, let alone an activist voice on ABC or NBC. The "Tea Party" is claimed as a legitimate, logical part of the political landscape, but goodness help you if you believe society has an obligation to support its individual members.

Nevermind that none of these shows have said a single word about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference currently underway in NYC.

But let's spend all of our time talking about Elana Kagan.

Check out the photos on the Meet The Press site. Since it was the first program I watched today, it forced me to recognize the lack of diversity in these shows.

Jake Tapper is still the moderator on This Week. It is painful to watch the conservatives talk beyond him, always taking up more than half the time when a "two position" discussion is "moderated." Sadly, Senator Patrick Leahy is truly getting older and may be too slow when speaking responses to be truly effective in today's fast-paced media. Senator Jeff Sessions not only bogarted the air-time, he also appeared more coherent and comprehensive in his answers. Leahy meandered his way into calling the b.s. of Sessions' rants. I can't wait until August, when Cristianne Amanpour become the moderator.

I have to admit it - I usually hate listening to Katty Kay on The Chris Matthews Show. On today's show, I respect what she's said. Sad that it's an all-white panel discussing the racist Arizona law. Did you know there is only one person of color on the Matthew Meter? Perhaps you did. Or perhaps you gave up on the mainstream media long ago. I find it important to keep up with the official spin on how the world turns.

Posted by cj at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2010

More Female Ambassadors in DC: More Women Leaders or Less Power for Diplomacy?

In today's Washington Post The article 'Hillary effect' cited for increase in female ambassadors to U.S., by Mary Jordan was published in today's Washington Post and highlighted in Slateist Morning Edition.

It's good to know that there are now 25 female ambassadors posted in DC (out of 182 accredited ambassadors, they represent 13.7% of all ambassadors to the US). The rise has been credited to the string of female US Secretaries of State (Albright, Rice, Clinton).

Some female ambassadors refuse to acknowledge that they might bring a different perspective to the art of diplomacy. Carolina Barco from Colombia simply wants to push free trade, though she admits being female gets her noticed. Former SecState Albright rejects the notion of women focusing on "soft issues," stating: ""They are often the hardest issues: poverty, discrimination, education and health."

I was happy to learn that Bahrain's ambassador since 2008 is Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, the first Jewish ambassador from an Arab state.

Nevertheless, I was deeply troubled by the question posed by Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association:

Johnson said the rise in female diplomats coincides with what she sees as a shift in investment away from diplomacy and toward defense. "Is the relative feminization of diplomacy indicative of its decline as a center of power and influence?" she wonders.
Indeed, one need look no further than Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to realize that world leaders erroneously believe human security can be developed through instruments of war.

I too welcome increases in the number of women engaged in diplomacy. But we should always remember that it's not enough for us to have more seats at the table. As global citizens, we must demand that conflict resolution begin and end with nonviolent negotiations. We must explain to our fellow citizens and elected leaders that the vast majority of money spent on the military is wasted, leading to less human security, not more. And we must promote democratic institutions: from the town hall meetings to the US Congress to the United Nations as the proper arenas for conflict resolution.

Posted by cj at 6:23 AM | Comments (0)

December 3, 2009

US to Escalate Destabilization of Afghanistan


Tuesday night was a turning point in the Obama presidency. All weekend, details of his "plan" leaked out in the political media. So I had plenty of advanced warning that like many foolish presidents before him, Obama thinks he can save the world by occupying it with the US military. So many people are so hopeful for the leadership he supposedly offers. Sure, he's said some pretty rhetoric about nuclear disarmament. But what does any of that talk - or his Nobel Peace Prize mean when the man does not recognize that Human Beings Live in Afghanistan. He talked about the Taliban and al Qaeda, but never about poverty or corruption, war lords or illegitimate presidents. And then he had the gall to end his speech hoping that we all join in unity, like we did after 9-11.

Let's be clear about something: if you have to rely on pandering to the fears created by the horrific terrorist attack on US soil in 2001 to unify your audience, then you've failed to make a persuasive argument.

Yet, he did. And there are so many people who think he's right. I'll admit something: eight years ago, I thought the US military would be useful to bring women out of the shadows of Afghanistan and create space for all people of the country to create a real nation. How foolish I was. And how foolish the US political elite continues to be.

Obama's Afghanistan strategy relies on everything that is wrong with international relations. IR focuses on Power: you must be a war lord, terrorist, state leader, or corporation to be meaningful in a discussion based on "realist" theory. The men who created this paradigm thought so highly of their beliefs that anyone daring to oppose them were derided as "idealists."

I'm tired of these standards of discourse. Poverty, political corruption, and social instability have never been resolved by military occupation. Flooding Afghanistan with English speaking US soldiers and US-paid mercenaries serves one purpose: it props up the corrupt, illegitimate Karzai government and gives carte blanche to warlords wielding power in the name of fighting terror.

I accepted the reality of international relations seven years ago, when I made the decision to stop pursuing a career in the foreign service. The paradigm shifts needed to create real human security are so massive: non-violent social upheaval is simply the only way to make it happen. And I can't help move the world towards needed paradigm shifts from a job serving the US Empire.

Tuesday's speech depressed me. It's depressing not just because the most recent Nobel Peace Prize winner fundamentally does not understand how to create global peace. It's depressing because to explain the faults in his reasoning requires a level of sophistication in political discourse that simply does not exist in the US mainstream media. The only place I've heard a bit of common sense on the topic was Josef Joffe, a German publisher/editor on "To The Point" explaining that Europeans, after experiencing two horrific wars on their soil in the 20th century, think diplomacy is the best way to solve international disputes and create nation states.

Remember, Europeans did not find these beliefs by sitting in ivory towers, thinking up ways to rule the world. The true horror of war, the disgusting indiscriminate nature of aerial bombings and painfully slow path to reconstruction taught them the simple truth: War Is Never The Answer. Period. Full Stop.

You may call me an idealist, but I believe I am the true realist. I have seen the core of human nature, I have seen the destruction of war and I say firmly: the US military is not a liberating force. The US fails to live up to UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which mandates women's equal participation in conflict resolution. Fighting terrorists through mercenaries, the US military, and corrupt warlords does not create human security for US citizens or Afghans.

The US Government has chosen the path to further destabilization of Afghanistan.

At this crucial moment in world history, will you silently ascent to the senseless deaths of more US soldiers and Afghans? Or will you take a stand for real justice?

Things to do:

  1. Sign the Code Pink petition against Endless Occupation.
  2. Join Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. We work tirelessly to challenge and change the root causes of war and injustice at the local, national, and international level.
  3. Explain your opposition to the hopeless military escalation to your friends, family, and co-workers.
  4. Chastise mainstream media for excluding articulate anti-war voices from their political talk shows. Ask how balanced a panel is when no one on it rejects the paradigm of IR realism.
  5. Find a way to create peace in your own life so that your anger doesn't consume you: depression, though a logical response to this endless war, only poisons you.

Posted by cj at 9:21 PM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2009

WILPF Communications and Fundraising Update

This week, I completed the International Communications Committee Report for the International Board meeting.

I also began receiving donations towards my participation in the January, 2010 WILPF IB Meeting, for which I am eternally grateful. To date, I have received $390 towards the trip from individuals. (Some of these donations came through PayPal, which charges a fee for its service, so the net donation amount is $382.13.)

I'm also pleased to report that I was awarded a Kay Camp Travel Grant. I wasn't informed what the amount of the grant will be, though I hope it was for $600 (the maximum available).

My current fundraising goal is $1,217.87.

My next goals: summarize the last WILPF LA bulletin into a one-page explanation of WILPF, for distribution at an upcoming Southern California Regional Conference of Organizations meetings.

After that, I'll begin working on a document to explain what communications strategy is and why it is vital to effectively distributing WILPF's messages.

Posted by cj at 3:37 PM | Comments (1)

October 26, 2009

In a time of economic uncertainty, I want you to help me go to India

I need your financial support to travel to India. Here's why:

I have been an active WILPF member for 10 years. I served two terms on the national board. I am a life member, having paid $500 for the privilege of having a membership that never expires. Currently, I am the convener of the international WILPF Communications Committee, which makes me a member of the International Board. I am also active on the Los Angeles branch board. I am raising money to attend the next WILPF International Board meeting.

In the recent past, I was the editor of the US Section E-Newsletter. (2008 through May, 2009. Several of my early pieces were not gathered on the E-News Archive Page.)

Why should you care? Because WILPF is vital to the future of peace and justice in the world. Because the institution is at a crossroads, in desperate need of forward movement that builds on the incredible analytical work of its founders.

Four years ago, I switched careers and became a direct marketer. While my professional career limits the amount of time I can commit to WILPF, it also enhances the skill set I bring to the organization. I now have the ability to create a communication strategy around the programmatic work of my sister WILPFers.

Like many WILPFers, I can articulate our perspectives on the world verbally and in prose. The reason I believe my participation in this meeting is vital is because I am also an integrated marketing professional. I am the translator WILPF needs: I can articulate our complicated, diplomatic language into simple English. The simplification of our message is vital in a world full of conscientious people who are overwhelmed by their personal daily struggles and deluged with the chatter of other issue advocacy organizations.

I need to raise $1,500 in the next 3 weeks to make this happen. Can you help? No amount is too small.

Did you know the only American women to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize won for their work with Women's International League for Peace and Freedom? (Jane Addams and Emily Greene Balch.)

WILPF is not just the oldest women's peace organization.
We're also at the forefront of international cooperation. WILPF was intimately involved in the negotiations that created UN Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, and 1888.
We also work to create a critical mass of political will for nuclear disarmament.

WILPFers work to create peace from the ground up. Our national sections choose foci that are important for their locale. In the US, our members work in local branches and national committees to challenge the status quo. We believe in human rights, dismantling the military industrial complex, and protecting the environment. We believe women's equal participation in all levels of society, including politics, is vital to the future of the world. We founded the first wave of feminism, and we'll keep riding its waves until the strength of our convictions has permanently altered the political landscape.

Does it sound like we have too many issues? That's because separation is a modern fallacy: society is inter-connected. The radiation leaked by nuclear power plants and nuclear warheads has the same effect: increasing the rates of cancer (particularly thyroid cancer). The list goes on. WILPFers before me said it best:

It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.

Donate to my travel fund, so that I can help build WILPF's visibility, expand its membership base, and secure its financial foundation.

I have applied for funds from the Kay Camp Travel Fund, administered by the Jane Addams Peace Association (JAPA is WILPF's 501(c)3 sister organization). I am also seeking assistance from my local branch. Maximum award from the Kay Camp fund is $600 and the total budget for this trip (visa, flight, conference registration) is currently $2,200. Amount will fluctuate every day until I secure the visa and purchase the airfare.

Posted by cj at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2009

Women Deserve Political Power, Not Just Micro-Loans

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn provided the cover story for a recent NY Times Magazine issue. The article is titled "Why Women's Rights Are the Cause of Our Time."

To be honest, I found it frustrating to read about women's burgeoning economic prospects with scant contemplation of our political and social rights.

In a letter to the editor, WILPF member Robin Lloyd pointed out that women's rights are guaranteed under international law: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and, UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Yet, no one is crying out for the implementation of these laws. In October, 2008, the UN Working Group on Women, Peace & Security addressed the Security Council and reminded them of the following statistics: Since 2000, women averaged 7% of negotiators in five major UN peace processes. Fewer than 3% of the signatories in 14 peace talks were women. Read the statement in its entirety. (pdf)

At what point will the mainstream columnists start demanding the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and 1820? At what point will they recognize that not including women in conflict resolution is a major cause of instability in Iraq and Afghanistan? It's no shock that capitalism works or that most women will spend more money on family needs than booze. What is frustrating is people focusing solely on economic empowerment and staying absolutely silent on the need for women's equal involvement in the political sphere.

The magazine also made me wonder about Western prescriptions for development vs. home-grown solutions.

Should we be developing a universal blueprint for increasing women's involvement in conflict resolution, politics in general, and economics? Should we be spending more time learning from the women on the ground in conflict areas / developing countries? What's the best way to do both (push for universal human rights / implementation of UN resolutions and learn from / support women on the ground?)

I look forward to developing answers to these questions with my sister WILPFers. We've got sections around the world. Our founding mothers were determined to bring women's voices into the halls of power. And we'll continue to do so. Want to help? Donate to WILPF today.

Want to get even more involved? Become a WILPF member (all genders invited).

Posted by cj at 9:31 PM | Comments (0)

June 7, 2009

I'll be a Post-Feminist in the Post-Patriarchy

I don't know why I torture myself on Sundays. I've dedicated this entire weekend to self preservation, but lately I've been starting my Sundays with some mild torture.

See, on Sundays I clean (up to a week's worth of) dishes, chop vegetables, and make myself breakfast. I listen to / watch the Sunday morning talk shows while doing this. And thus remind myself of how far from the mainstream my views are.

It seems like every female pundit on the planet firmly believes she lives in a post-feminist world. They laud Michelle Obama as the poster girl for post-feminist femininity. I often wonder what alternative reality this mindless hypocrites live in. Why must they disparage the evolution of women's place in public society by denouncing all demands for equality? Why do they accept the right-wing definition of "feminism"? Why do so many intelligent people define feminism as the movement of middle-class white women to assert their ability to go to work?

Let's be clear: feminism did not start with The Feminine Mystique. Further, acknowledging your right to be a girly housewife does not make me a post-feminist. Believing that society has already achieved gender equality is the most myopic, Eurocentric statement a Westerner can make. Pray tell, how does rape as a weapon of war fit into your post-feminist construct? What about the lack of affordable child care? Or how about the fact that most US'ians can't decide to allow one parent to stay home with the kids because there is no middle class left in this country and two incomes are mandatory to survive?

Look, I fully acknowledge that I am a lucky woman who lives in an extraordinary time. My professional opportunities are not hampered by my gender (though as a thyroid cancer survivor, my need for adequate health care does limit career paths).

But there is so much more to be done. Binary gender does not adequately explain the human condition. Physical anatomy cannot be used to assign gender identities. Around the world, women are not equal. They suffer a disproportionate burden in conflict regions. Western countries daily violate United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which mandates women's equal involvement in conflict and post-conflict resolution. Want to know why Iraq and Afghanistan are more screwed up now than 7 years ago? A major reason is that the US government and its coalition of the willing blindly ignored the women of those countries as necessary, influential, and important partners in peace building.

Stop telling me that wearing makeup on a daily basis and getting excited about going on dates with my boyfriend make me a post-feminist. Stop telling the American people we live in a gender-neutral society. Stop defining feminism as bra-burning, man-hating lesbians.

Until women hold 50% of elected offices, until every workplace is family friendly, until women are equal participants in conflict resolution, until rape and sexual violence cease to exist, feminism will continue. The movement for gender equality will not die simply because it is an uncomfortable notion to the mainstream American punditry.

I will be a post-feminist in the post-patriarchy.

Posted by cj at 4:40 PM | Comments (1)

May 24, 2008

Dagmar Barnouw, denouncer of the hierarchy of suffering, died

I was powerfully moved by the LAT obituary of Dagmar Barnouw, a USC professor who passed away on May 14. She had a stroke in April and never regained consciousness.

In her most recent book, "War in the Empty Air: Victims, Perpetrators, and Postwar Germans" (2005), Barnouw examined Germans' failure to acknowledge and mourn their war dead and the devastation German citizens suffered in Allied air raids.

After the war, ordinary Germans were viewed collectively as perpetrators of the Holocaust and responsible for World War II. Silenced by this presumed guilt, even German war remembrances maintained an exclusive focus on Jewish victims of the Nazi regime, to the detriment of historical reality, she wrote.

[Amazon link added.]

I'm fascinated to learn of an intellectual who wrote passionately about the need to understand post-WWII in totality, rather than only through the lens of the Holocaust. It is a real shame that so many Americans, especially Jewish Americans, are indoctrinated to believe that Jewish suffering is somehow worse than the suffering that occurs throughout the world on a daily basis. That genocide was over 60 years ago and many genocides have occurred and are being perpetuated since then. Yet, somehow the refrain "never forget" is allowed to continue as an excuse for apartheid in Israel and starvation in Palestine.

Let me be clear: the Holocaust was a tragedy of incredible proportions. I have no doubt that we lost untold generations of brilliant people. I acknowledge that it was the most significant event for the Jewish people in the 20th century. However nothing - not the Holocaust or the pogroms of Russia that forced my family to flee to the U.S. or any other aspect of Jewish history - makes me or my people the world's most suffering ethnicity. Indeed, I believe this past suffering has been used to justify a horrific amount of racism and discrimination and colonial exploitation in Israel and Palestine.

I do not understand how my religion, which has so many threads of peaceful nonviolent resistance in its history, and my people, who have been on the forefront of the movements for social change, have become so entrenched in bigotry and discrimination. I fear that writing these words makes me a larger target for political reprisal. My friends joke that they don't want to stand too close to me walking down a street - fearing an assassin will be off-target and shoot them instead. (I actually found this to be the strangest aspect of my trip to NYC; my friends who do not participate in social activism seem to believe my influence and notoriety is any larger than the few people who occasionally read this blog.)

But this post was not supposed to be about me, rather about Dagmar Barnouw, whose books I must search out and read.

Read about her life from USC, including her enduring marriage to a man who fell in love with her at first sight.

I hope to have the courage to speak and write as passionately as Dagmar, even if it makes many people uncomfortable.

Posted by cj at 1:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 6, 2008

Gender: Harder to Forget Than Ethnicity

Let me be clear: if one must make a hierarchy of inequality, white privilege affords me greater access into the halls of power than being a woman diminishes. Nevertheless, as a woman, my voice is less powerful than my male counterpart, particularly when advocating for peace and justice. How often are women dismissed as having "motherly inclinations" towards peace, incapable of understanding the harsh necessity of war? How often must our national leaders who happen to be female castrate themselves on the decks of warships to assure a foolish electorate that they are man enough to command an army?

Nicholas Kristof has a powerful Op-Ed in today's NYT, "Our Racist, Sexist Selves," that reminds us of the power of genitals. I speak plainly because this truth is so often denied in both the mainstream media and popular culture: Women Are Not Equal. The Women's Movement Cannot Be Dead. There Is Much That Still Needs to Be Done to Create Gender Equality. Los Derechos de Las Mujeres Son Los Derechos de Humanidad.

The Call for Social Upheaval
Until the nonviolent political and social upheaval that accepts female sexuality alongside female political, business, and cultural acumen is accomplished;

Until we start talking about the real ethnic differences that divide us, and the common humanity that unites us;

Until free-trade capitalism's reliance on extreme economic disparity is confronted;

Until democratic dialog inspires as much participation as American Idol voting,

the Movements for Change must continue.

Posted by cj at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

December 31, 2007

Social Upheaval in 2008

A lot has happened in the world in 2007. I didn't keep up with the news in the past year the way I did in previous years - you can read about some of what I was up to on angelheaded hipster, my other blog. I even forgot that Time named "You" person of the year.

The mainstream media has been focused on the 08 presidential race horse race since at least January 07. More air time was spent on Sunday morning talk shows discussing candidates' relative viability in Iowa and New Hampshire than was spent discussing the substantial policy positions that differentiate them. Scariest statistic learned from this over-flow of information: only 5.7% of eligible voters participate in the 2004 Iowa caucuses. Tell me again why Angelenos live in too big of a city to have our votes count equally with those in rural states.

Elections haven't been going well around the world - among corruption charges, Kenya's elections are bloodier than normal (yes, sadly, violence is a regular aspect of national elections there). They aren't going well in Pakistan either, where Benazir Bhutto lost her life attempting to bring democracy back to a country plagued by military dictatorship buttressed by US foreign aid. Many in the US think democracy is duking it out with socialism in Venezuela, but personally I think the story is more complicated than that.

I'm looking forward to a New Year when people's movements for change encourage more people to get involved in social change. I look forward to more people believing they can make a difference - when more people delve deeply into the issues that intertwine us all, make their voices heard, and start building the nonviolent movements for change that will create the social upheaval needed to build a more just, peaceful world.

I believe we will be the change we wish to see in 2008. I believe together we will change the world. I believe 2008 will be more peaceful and just. I look forward to the New Year.

Want to support women's advocacy for peace & justice both in the US and throughout the world? Then give a tax deductible contribution to the Jane Addams Peace Association.

To join the world's oldest women's peace organization, click here.

Posted by cj at 8:19 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2007

Activism in Perspective

In the last month, two extremely important women in my life died. One had lived a full life, the other was taken well before her time.

I don't pretend to have all the answers. My belief in the Women's International League and its members is based on my observations of the peace, justice, and women's movements in historical perspective. It is difficult for me to hold firmly to that long-term view while dealing with the immediate realities of grief and mourning.

I hope as we move forward in our struggles for peace & justice we remember our individual and institutional fallibility. Though we are not perfect, we are all striving towards the same basic goal: a world at peace where all human needs are met equitably. I hope we will continue to work together to achieve those goals, by constructively supporting each other's work. I fear that our institutional progress may be undermined by our current financial crisis and eagerness to lay blame on particular individuals.

I look forward to helping the WILPF increase its presence within the movements for peace & justice and expanding its membership. I apologize if my last post seemed unnecessarily negative - sometimes, I deal with my frustrations publicly. Usually, I try to maintain a veil between my personal angst and public persona. I hope my sister WILPFers can forgive my transgression and we can work together to create the WILPF needed to create peace & justice in the world.

Posted by cj at 1:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 3, 2007

Feminist Leadership Conferences across the Country

The Feminist Majority Foundation is sponsoring leadership conferences across the country.

"Feminists of all ages are welcome to attend these events." I'm not sure what you're supposed to do if you're a womanist, but in any event, it's worth checking out.

Posted by cj at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2007

Support the UN Human Rights Council

It is a shame that the UN Human Rights Council has been unable to take strong stances on more issues in the world. I am not an expert on UN reform, so I cannot speak to what is holding it back from completely denouncing the genocide in Darfur. I do know that the US government looks like morons for trying to cut off funding to the organization. The US Congress claims that the council is bias against Israel - biased because it has denounced Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine and Israel's illegal war on Lebanon. It is a testamount to the Israel Lobby (both Jewish and Gentile), that cutting off funding to the Council has bipartisan support in the US.

Please tell your Congressional representatives that the only way to further human rights is to support the international organization created to enforce them. Human Rights for All People - not just those who look like us.

AP article by Justin Bergman
Washington Times article by Betsy Pitsik

HRC opened its 6th session on Monday

Posted by cj at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2007

Live from Santa Cruz, Bolivia

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom's 29th Triennial Congress just began. First, there were introductions. Keynote Speaker, Paola Pena just began speaking. She is a historian and a defender of women's rights.

Women have to give the light...and we have to commit ourselves to this fight...We have a big movement...It's not casual to have this movement. This movement has realized how international cooperation, activist women and men, the world is starting to have challenges...just because of the economic policies that are trying to divide us. ..The World Women's March.. women have said that it is time to ask those who are placing economic restrictions..the challenges for women are poverty and violence...That's why the different movements are questioning. Another movement at the international level are the cry of those who are being excluded. Why are the budgets more geared to military, to arms? Why spend more on that when have millions and millions who are suffering?

We have the example of the Social Forum held recently in Sao Paolo, Brazil to show us the way take on the capitalists who take and take without giving anything in return. ...We believe that Latin America has emerged with many answers, with many challenges, but it's not easy. We have to see that the fights that we have experienced that it is time for women, basically i say this because of experience, that women have to be more open to the world. Many of our problems are between ourselves. And that's when people take over our economic resources, who give orders, who we have to fight with. If we see the context at the international level and at the Latin American level, we have advances that are important to pick up.

At this time, Latin America has presidents with other points of view. We have Nicaragua, Venezula, Bolivia.. to a certain extent the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador are also picking up the feeling of Latin American change. But we cannot stop mentioning the historical fight of the people of Cuba...

I believe that experiences have to be picked up...We have to come together based on the national symbols, like the cantuta?...and that's where we go to see the context of what our representative said. We're going through a very exciting moment but also a moment of contrasts. Bolivia, to understand what it is happening - the Bolivian crisis that we're going through will be a historical moment in the future. The crisis that we're going through has to do with economic, social, political interests. Because Bolivia is a very rich country. Many of you who have come here have to ask why is there such poverty in Bolivia? Because it is such a rich country - full of gas, water, ....However, the errors are built by men and women and those who have the economic power. The world already knows who decides upon our life and continue to do so are those who have the money, the economic power. The result is misery, that is mistakenly called the "feminization of poverty." Do you think women are so stupid that they cannot have the answers?

...Women, sisters, and brothers, throughout the world I believe we show the path. In Bolivia, women have played a very important role. That's where we can see that in Bolivia and throughout the world, the relationship between men and women is much better. And who shows the face is the women.

Ask yourself, is Bolivia having a challenge - between departments, between individuals, between classes....We are not building islands. Bolivia has a context. We have rich departments with natural resources such as gas, oil. Evidently this will define the obtaining of more funds. On the other hand, the vision of the country is to give everyone the chance.

When we talk about peace and freedom - we want a better world, a just world. Bolivia wants more equality, we want to share with those who have more and who have less.

..We wanted to have a country where geography was the same, where resources was the same. But we have diversity. We have more resources in some departments, but that doesn't mean we'll be divided.

..Today it seems that we have a challenge. Bolivian men and women voted for a change - we did not vote for the person himself, we voted for a change. ...Not long ago, Bolivians did not know how to work with budgets, we have knowledge that we have to pick up.

I do not support any political party.

...Bolivia is working towards a new constitution....we believe it is time to make some changes. On the other hand, we can see that as never before the policies with the current government show us that there are resources coming in. Something that we did not know about before. That type of resources that come because of gas and oil sales....We are now getting that money - Bolivia had never seen a 5 year old child receiving support for the educational process. We believe this is very directly related to the Millenium Goals that tell us by 2015 we will eradicate poverty...It is nice to pick up these recommendations given by the United Naitons...Here in Boliva, we believe that we have found some surprises. That the country was receiving some income and that income was taken by a few individuals. We working to redistribute that money....

Women have more representation and more participation..

Bolivia is a country of many different cultures. That's why we say it is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic countries. We not only speak Quecha and Mayari (?) How can we reach all these people who speak different languages? In recent years, social movements have increased. And we believe that indigenous people's lives have improved....We have to learn from them. ...We have to learn from their innate connection to indigenous people around the world. ..

...This is the struggle between the guidelines of the economy of this country. And finally, it's the fight of different fronts to take advantages of the resouces because of the availability and that's why we want to recognize that yes, it is possible to suffer, to wait. But it is also possible for peace and freedom. We are able to make our limitations our potentialities. It is very easy to mention - it is easy to say "Bolivia will have a confrontation." We think that Bolivia has not been divided. Bolivia is struggling, but that's very good because the struggling will reaffirm. We'll see where we're making mistakes. The error is to rebuild. It is easy to criticize. It is easy to destroy....Bolivia is a unitied country. However, when the economic interests are divided, that is where there will be struggle. We are fighting the free trade treaty.

I know my time is almost over. But I'd like to thank the people who came to have a dialogue, to have a discussion. We as Bolivians do not want to receive gifts; we want to build solidarity; we want to have peace and freedom.....Thank you friends.

Posted by cj at 6:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2007

Don't Let More Girls Die Trying to Learn to Read

If you listened to the the current US administration, you'd think Afghanistan is a great place to live if you're female. You'd think the Taliban is a thing of the past and that safety and stability has been flung out over the nation. You'd be sorely mistaken.

How'd you like to be the target of random acts of violence because you dared to be female and a student? How'd you like to watch as thugs murder your sister as you are leaving school with her?

Welcome to the new Afghanistan. Where there's money for roads, but not for schools. Where to decide to learn means accepting the very real possibility that you've made yourself a target.

"Education in Afghanistan: A harrowing choice," by Barry Bearak in today's International Herald Tribune.

Shir Agha, whose neice was murdered on the steps of her school, said the following:

"We have a saying that if you go to school, you can find yourself, and if you can find yourself, you can find God," he said proudly. "But for a child to attend school, there must be security. Who supplies that security?"
Where indeed. Perhaps instead of trying to build a client state in Iraq, the US military should be transferred to Afghanistan where there is real need for some plain and simple security...

article found via UN Wire

Posted by cj at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2007

Death, Harrassment, & Possible Peace

UN officials would like to remind you that there is a genocide in Darfur. It's getting worse, not better. All those Nicolas Kristof columns haven't saved very many people from murder, rape, and pillaging on the basis of ethnicity. So read another article on the genocide, by Reuters / AP via Intl Herald Tribune. Or go to Save Darfur to get active on the issue.

If you're Nigerian and female, you must be willing to be raped to get a college diploma. Read the horrific details in "Lecturers Prey on Nigerian Women, Girls," by Katharine Houreld of the AP in WaPo. To stand up for a woman's right to education without forced rape, join Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

SecState and SecGen UN are trying to renew peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Or at least that's what they're telling the press. But, see, they continue the lie that there's equity between Israel and the Palestinians. That somehow, a stateless people, whose elected leaders are barred from the negotiations should be held to the same standards as occupiers who continue to appropriate land, water, and other resources. Instead of pressuring Israel to get the hell out of the West Bank and to allow Gaza to trade with its Egyptian neighbors, the US entourage continues the facade that the most useful thing for Israel to do is talk through the US to all Palestinian representatives and pretend to be open to Saudia Arabia's 2002 peace plan (that called for Israel to fully withdraw from the West Bank, not expand its illegal settlements). Read the watered down version of this news from Reuters. To voice your opposition to the status quo US policy on the Middle East, join WILPF's campaign - Women Challenge US Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East.

Posted by cj at 7:53 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2007

Inside Israel: Voices of Israeli WILPFers

Two remarkable women from WILPF Israel came to Los Angeles this weekend to speak. Jewish Israeli Daphne Banai works through Machsom Watch . Palestinian Israeli Taghrid Shbita is a human rights lawyer. They worked together in WILPF and through an organization that brings together Arab & Jewish children in Israel.

Some notes from today's lecture:
20% of the Israeli population is Palestinian, 150,000 people. Taghrid spoke about her personal knowledge of the troubles of a Jewish, democratic state. Her husband's town, Tehra, was forced to relocate, some allowed to stay in Israel, some not. He moved to her town, Tira, where they met and created a family. Tehra's building stood vacant until 1952 when all of the houses were destroyed. No one lives there, and no one is allowed to rebuild.

Because Israel is first a Jewish state, there are laws to enforce the Jewish majority. For example, the Law of Return, which gives immediate citizenship to any Jew from anywhere in the world. While people who grew up on the land are denied citizenship and often denied entry as tourists. She believes that a democracy cannot exist where one ethnic group is granted more rights than any other ethnic group.

For example, Taghrid spoke about how military service is mandatory for Israeli citizens. But the government doesn't want Palestinian Israelis in the army, nor do Palestinians want to serve. When Taghrid's 19-year old daughter applied for a clerk position at a boutique, she was told military service was a pre-requisite for the job. What is the connection between selling clothes and "defending" the State? Perhaps that both acts serve to defend the continued separation of ethnicities within the population.

Daphne used a Powerpoint presentation to show her work with Machsom Watch. This group of 400 Jewish Israeli women go to checkpoints within the West Bank to observe human rights abuses and to advocate on behalf ot he Palestinians. Their purpose is to de-escalate the tensions, report observations to Israelis and the world, and protest the fact that checkpoints exist deep inside the Occupied Terrirtories. 85% of the checkpoints are within the West Bank, while the rest are passages between Israel and the West Bank.

None of the crossing can be accessed by car. There are blockages forcing every person to get out of their car - from dirt mounds to cement cubes to gates to trenches. Time lost travelling through checkpoints cost sick people their lives. The UN reports that in 2001, 61 women gave birth at checkpoints and 36 were stillborn births.

Since 1967, Israel has not issued a single building permit in the Occupied Territories, therefore most houses are illegal. There are standing demolition orders for all structures built after 1967, therefore if a Jewish Israeli settlement wants to expand, it can simply go and demolish houses without prior warning. The army also takes over Palestinian homes for 3 months at a time, leaving the families to live in sheds on their property or with friends / family. When the army vacates a house, it is often trashed.

In addition to the permanent checkpoints, there are hundreds of temporary checkpoints.

Daphne feels it is a world of supremacy, of apartheid. She believes the forced army services changes the children of Israel. It increases the violence and disregard for the weak within Israel. Often, after completing their army service, the young people escape to remote corners of the world or to drug abuse.

Both Taghrid and Daphne believe that US citizens must pressure the US government to stop supporting the occupation. They offer no easy cures for the problem, only the hope that working together, we can affect real change in this horrific situation. Both believe in a two-state solution and dismiss the reasons given by the Israeli & US governments for not negotiating with the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

We can start creating this change in US policy by working together to formulate an alternative, feminist policy on Israel / Palestine. The US Section campaign "Women Challenge US Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East," is close to releasing a tool-kit to help our branches start feminist round tables to examine current US policy and develop an alternative approach.

Posted by cj at 6:17 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2006

Jeannette Rankin on Film

Do you know who Jeannette Rankin was? She was the first woman elected to Congress, a life-long pacifist, and a person who voted against both world wars. Her life was magical, her story is empowering. WILPF US Board Member Jeanmarie Simpson wrote and starred in the play "A Single Woman" about Rankin's life. Simpson and WILPF Life Member Cameron Crain have brought the story to the big screen - a film based on the play is now in post-production.

Unlike "Blood Diamonds," Simpson did not have to alter the facts to create a moving drama. The story is compelling because at every turn, Rankin held her ground and lived by her pacifist beliefs. We must listen to her story, even if we disagree. There is nothing weak-willed about a principled pacifist. And the path Rankin promoted is filled with strong actions. The path of diplomacy and political dialogue is a path we Americans have strayed far from. By embracing Rankin & the film, we are embracing the hope for a better future.

Posted by cj at 9:47 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2006

Women Being Left Behind in LA County

I just wrote a post for the Courage Campaign based on a report from the United Way on how women, especially single mothers, struggle to stay afloat in LA.

Go read it. It includes a link to the transcript of the Larry King show I was on.

Posted by cj at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2006

Show Solidarity with Israeli Activists: Sign Petition to Stop the Siege on Gaza

WILPF Israel, along with others in the Coalition of Women for Peace, called for a month of action to Stop the Siege! Stop the War! As part of this month of education and action, they have created an online petition. Here is the text:

To the Israeli government and world leaders:

GAZA: Stop the Siege! Stop the War!

The situation in Gaza has reached emergency levels - inadequate water, electricity, and medicine; widespread hunger, poverty, and unemployment; schools and other services rendered inoperative; constant bombardments and attacks by the Israeli military.

This humanitarian catastrophe is man-made: It was brought on by the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip by Israel and the sanctions imposed by the international community on Palestine, made worse by repeated IDF attacks. If this situation continues, we will see spreading disease, malnutrition, and more violence. Under these conditions, negotiations - the only way to reach peace between both peoples - also become an impossibility.

We call upon Israeli leaders to end the siege of and war on Gaza. We call upon world leaders to end the political and economic sanctions of Palestine.

The siege and sanctions are sowing chaos and death in Gaza. They must come to an end.

[your name]

Sign the petition through this link.

Here's the comment I left with my signature:

As the Program Chair of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, US Section (WILPF US), and an American Jew, I urge you to stop the seige. Endless occupation, land appropriation, and killing makes both Israel and Palestine unsafe. Israel's security depends on an independent Palestine. US security depends on making our foreign policy more just and being more open to criticizing Israeli government actions.

Learn more about this month of action, culminating on December 2 at the website.

Learn more about the WILPF US campaign, Women Challenge US Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East (WCUSP) at our website.

cross-posted from the WILPF US blog.

Posted by cj at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2006

Time to Move to Australia: Support for Health Trumps Religious / Misogynist Worldview

Australia legalized the abortion pill RU486 this year. It also legalized therapeutic cloning.

Apparently, not all former British colonies are stuck in a religious rut.

More deets: "Memo from Australia: Where Politics and Personal Lives Seem Not to Intersect," by Raymond Bonner in today's NYT

Posted by cj at 7:41 PM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2006

Vera Drake Would Be Prosecuted in Nicaragua Today

My favorite movie of recent times, and perhaps of all time, is "Vera Drake." Written and directed by Mike Leigh, starring Imelda Staunton, it spins a poignant tale about a "Wife. Mother. Criminal."

Unfortunately, while British and American audiences can view the movie as a well-crafted tale of times long gone, around the world women's access to reproductive health is faltering. Often, US taxpayer money helps fund the lack of resources - the "global gag rule" on even mentioning the word abortion and receiving US aid.

And now, in Nicaragua, even women who might die without an abortion cannot legally get one. The politics of corrupt, power hungry men is at fault. President-elect Daniel Ortega sold out half of his constituency when he made a deal with Conservatives to support the new law. Ortega narrowly eked out a win in the recent presidential elections with 38% of the vote. Now, every person in Nicaragua will suffer. Because when you deny access to health services to one person, you affect the health of all people. The bill was signed into law last Friday.

More deets - "Nicaragua Eliminates Last Exception to Strict Anti-Abortion Law," by James C. McKinley Jr., in today's NYT

Posted by cj at 6:06 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2006

Were You Dressing Sexy? The Global War On Women

Between the US Senate passing that crappy law "for parental rights" that denies women access to health services based on whether or not they're willing to forfeit their individual right to health service to the great moralistic cause of family unity, and the following article from Peru, it is time to take a stand.

Violence Against Women is a Human Problem. All people must denounce this violence and must work to end it.

If you think someone deserves to be raped based on their choice of clothing, do you also believe someone deserves to be beaten up for wearing a t-shirt that supports a racist regime? Freedom of expression must bend all ways - further, one person's "sexy" is another person's work clothes. Nothing a woman says or does can justify assaulting her. Period. End of discussion.

And now a word from Peru..."Some 51 percent of women in Lima and 69 percent of women in the southern Andean city of Cuzco said they have been victims of sexual or physical violence[.]" These numbers are shocking to me, especially since I recall the missives that went off on the beauty of those cities from a friend last summer. Turns out, those cities offer much for male foreigners in the way of natural wonders, and little in the way of safety for their own population.

Just as disturbing is the fact that doctors refuse to acknowledge rape when they detect it in medical exams, because they don't want to be bothered by the lengthy (2+ years) court process to follow. Instead of doing no harm, Peruvian doctors are perpetuating violence by their refusal to stand up to the system.

The despair and hopelessness of poverty and underemployment is blamed for Peru's surge in violence. Yet, other poverty-stricken countries do not suffer from this catastrophe. I believe the confluence of Cultural (machismo attitudes), Legal (actually asking the "were you dressed sexy?" question in a court of law), Political (before President-elect Garcia spoke up, were was the political will to change the situation?), and Economic forces that have led to this crisis. The question is: will the world sit by and let it continue? Unfortunately, I think the answer is yes. The "global community" has such a short attention span and such difficulty dealing with more than one issue / region at a time, that there's no way for this important article to receive the attention it deserves.

"Peru Confronts Escalating Violence Against Women," by Isabel Ordonez in Reuters via Yahoo News

found via Feminist Peace Network

Posted by cj at 7:16 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2006

What Category is Feminist?

Best of the Web Blog Directory lists this blog under Society / Politics / Anarchism / Anarchists. Problem is, I am not an anarchist.*

Under politics, there is no feminist heading. Instead, it is listed under Society / Issues / Feminism.

The other Society / Issues categories are:
Abortion, Conspiracy, Immigration, Iraq_War, Peace, and Terrorism. FYI, there's only one blog listed under peace. Unclear why WILPF's blog isn't there.

But seriously, what's up with this artificial barrier between politics and feminists? It serves as a further barrier to hearing the feminist political perspective. I am not primarily a liberal, conservative, green, moderate, socialist, or anarchist. I am a feminist peace activist - that is my home of political action. I'm not some random issue that can be cast aside during serious debates. I dunno. Maybe I'm reading too much into this. But I'm really sick of this "putting Baby in the corner" view of feminism. I also believe the patriarchal choice of sub-categories for politics works to further silence under-represented populations.

*I did send BOTW a message about the category they placed me in. But I'm not satisfied with the possibility of having this blog moved out of the Politics category and into an amorphous Issues category. If anything, angelheaded hipster, is more appropriate in a general feminist cultural category, not this blog.

Posted by cj at 9:37 AM | Comments (0)

April 4, 2006

Murder and Disappearance on Holocaust Scale

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch legislator who made a film with Theo van Gogh which led to his murder (and has left her with 24-hour body guards), wrote a commentary today in the Christian Science Monitor on Women and gendercide. At times I find her too simplistically dismissive of cultural differences; but I agree with her core point: women must organize around the globe and demand our equal human rights. We in the West cannot take our situation for granted - we must work to increase access to education, healthcare, and jobs for our sisters elsewhere. United, we are a force to be reckoned with. Divided, we are silenced and dismissed.

One United Nations estimate says that between 113 million and 200 million women around the world are "missing." Every year, between 1.5 million and 3 million women and girls lose their lives as a result of gender-based violence or neglect. As the Economist, which reported on the policy paper, put it last November, "Every two to four years the world looks away from a victim count on the scale of Hitler's Holocaust." How could this possibly be true?
As a Jewish woman, I'm a bit sick of listening to people rotely saying, "never again," when I know many genocides have occurred and are occurring today that are just as horrifying as the Holocaust. But as an American woman, too often I forget the importance of focusing on women's rights and women's access to power because everything "seems so equal" here. There is a lower percentage of women in the US Congress than there are women in the Pakistani Congress. And Pakistan can't even keep its religious fanatics from teaching hate and terrorism in their schools. So I know that we've still got significant work to do both domestically and on a global scale.

Everyone needs to pay attention to this, not just women.
The first thing you can do is join the oldest international women's peace organization, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
And listen to women for a change - not just on Mother's Day or International Women's Day; but every day.
Recognize that a feminist future is the only sustainable future. Every political policy, every social policy, every cultural policy must include a gender perspective and must include equal input from women.

Posted by cj at 10:40 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2006

Women on the Move

1325 PeaceWomen E-News, issue #75, was issued today.

Shockingly, the UN continues to talk gender equity, but not implement it.

WILPF, along with the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Women’s Environment Development Organization, and the NGO Committee on the Status of Women issued an open letter on Women and UN Reform.

The Conference on Disarmament started on March 16. Reaching Critical Will, a project of International WILPF, produces a weekly report on the CD.

WILPFers participated in many local marches over the weekend, demanding that we end this senseless war on Iraq and bring our troops home. They also insisted on including the demand that Israel cease its occupation of Palestine in anti-war rallies.

Are you on Friendster? or MySpace? If so, join WILPF's new group! I named in Women's International League for Peace and Freedom on both sites.

Must Read: "The Israel Lobby," by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in the London Review of Books.

Posted by cj at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2006

Members of the Tribe: Damn Good Breeders

My health has gone steadily downhill this week, culminating in a strep throat diagnosis today. And when I get sick, I tend to not pay as much attention to Hard News. One story really stuck out to me: "Study finds why Jewish mothers are so important," by Maggie Fox of Reuters via Yahoo News

Turns out 40% of Ashkenazi Jews (the ones y'all stereotype as All Jews Everywhere and some fools think I don't fulfill the stereotypes b/c I'm not a neurotic Jewish American Princess), descended from four women. Makes you wonder if that has something to do with the four foremothers my Bible praises (along with three forefathers; we too were polygamous once).

Priceless quote:

What the study also shows, Behar said, is that Jewish mothers are highly valued for a good reason. "This I could tell you even without the paper," he said.

Posted by cj at 9:42 PM | Comments (0)

November 8, 2005

Afghan Poet Nadia Anjuman Beaten to Death

Prominent poet Nadia Anjuman was beaten to death by her husband and her mother is suspected of having a role in her death.

"The United Nations condemned the killing Tuesday as symptom of continuing violence against Afghan women four years after the fall of the Taliban."

More info from the AP via Yahoo News.

News found via Feminist Peace Network.

Posted by cj at 7:00 PM | Comments (1)

August 27, 2005

Even Men Get It: There is No Democracy Without Women's Rights

The listserv of the Feminist Peace Network sent me to Derrick Z. Jackson's op-ed in the Boston Globe, "What are women fighting for?"

There's nothing new in the editorial. It did let me know about an American woman, Fern Holland, who got killed with two co-workers for helping write the draft Iraqi constitution.

It also points out the lie that Shrub loves to tell - that the constitution guarantees minority rights and women's rights. Which, just to be clear, are two different things. Point of fact, there are more women in Iraq than men (primarily because of decades of war).

Today's Papers
reports that Sunni legislators have rejected the draft bogus constitution, so the only way to get the religious-laden, rights-withdrawing piece of crap into law is a national referendum, which could be negated by 3 provinces voting down the crap by a 2/3 margin.

Posted by cj at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2005

This Just In: No Reason To Promote Women's Rights

I watched part of Meet the Press yesterday, but switched back to This Week in time to (a)miss the interesting bits on TW and (b)miss the atrocious response of former Middle East specialist for the CIA, Reuel Marc Gerecht on MTP.

I was pointed to this Meet the Press minute by the Feminist Peace Network listserv:

MR. GREGORY: Fast forward to this morning. Gentlemen, we put this on the screen from The New York Times. "[American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay] Khalilzad had backed language [in the constitution] that would have given clerics sole authority in settling marriage and family disputes. That gave rise to concerns that women's rights, as they are annunciated in Iraq's existing laws, could be curtailed. ... [The] arrangement, coupled with the expansive language for Islam, prompted accusations from [a Kurdish leader] that the Americans were helping in the formation of an Islamic state." [...]

MR. GERECHT: Actually, I'm not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women's social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there's no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it's important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they're there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective.

This was the last exchange of the program and apparently there was no time to follow up on this horrific, neanderthal understanding of human rights. Apparently, the gains made by all waves of feminism are not necessary to creating a true democracy in 2005. When, oh when, will we vote out these ridiculous thugs in suits?

Full transcript: "Transcript for August 21: Trent Lott, Russ Feingold, Larry Diamond and Reuel Marc Gerecht," NBC News

Posted by cj at 10:01 AM | Comments (1)

August 10, 2005

WILPF Update

My latest entry on the Leadership Institute and the beginning of the U.S. Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom's Triennial Congress is available at

Posted by cj at 7:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 9, 2005

Blogging from the WILPF Leadership Institute

Greetings, blogosphere -

I'm blogging from San Francisco State University, site of the WILPF Leadership Institute for young women and women new to peace activism. Our training will conclude tomorrow afternoon, in time to join our fellow WILPFers at our Triennial U.S. WILPF Congress, from Wednesday evening through Sunday morning.

Our Leadership Institute started off with a bang and we're moving along nicely. We took time to introduce ourselves (an important beginning often forgotten at many political gatherings), discussed sexism, heterosexism, patriarchy, and diversity in the afternoon. After dinner, we saw a slide show on the history of WILPF, which was graciously provided by the Boston WILPF branch.

It was really great to present the slide show. I distinctly remembering watching it in 1999 at my first WILPF event - a Boston branch retreat - and thinking how amazing it is to be involved in an organization that has been an integral part of the peace and social justice movement for the last ninety years. I look forward to sharing WILPF's history and future via this blog and other forms of contact.

For now, I'm exhausted and off to bed.

cross-posted from U.S. WILPF Membership Blog

Posted by cj at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2005

Rape as Legal Retribution

First, I must admit that this comment on an opinion piece has nothing to do with the author of the opinion piece. I do not know much about Salmon Rushdie, except that a price was put on his head for some of the books he's written that were critical of aspects of Islam. So, putting him aside, I urge everyone to read his article, "India and Pakistan's Code of Dishonor," in the NYT.

It is amazing to me that world leaders pretend to take women's rights seriously and then turn a blind eye to systemic rape. It is amazing to me that the world does not cry out against rape as a war crime and rape as a terrible "religious" right. I wish people who spend their energy trying to deny people rights in the US - like those who oppose gay marriage and a woman's right to choose how to use her own body - would stop their madness and focus on the fact that women are second-class citizens in a vast swath of the world; that in places like Pakistan and India, women can be punished for being raped.

[Pakistan] is the same government, led by President Pervez Musharraf, that confiscated Mukhtar Mai's passport because it feared she would go abroad and say things that would bring Pakistan into disrepute; and it is the same government that has allied with the West in the war on terrorism, but seems quite prepared to allow a war of sexual terror to be waged against its female citizens.
Hyperlink to my post on the case added (obviously).

I hope one day, the United States government will uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1325 as resolutely as it uses other SCRs to prop up its illegal gulag in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And I hope one day people everywhere recognize women's equality, regardless of tribal and religious heritage.

Posted by cj at 3:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

Rape Victim Illegally Arrested in Pakistan

Nikolas Kristof, the amazing NYT columnist, reports today that Mukhtaran Bibi was arrested and sent to an undisclosed location without access to her lawyer in Pakistan. Her crime is accepting a speaking engagement in the United States. Last year, a tribal council ruled that her brother allegedly committed a crime by having sex with a woman of a higher caste. The punishment meted out was Mukhtaran being gang-raped and having to walk home almost naked, passing a crowd of 300 people. With the help of an Islamic leader, she testified against the disgusting filth and six were convicted.

In conjunction with her house arrest, her attackers were released from prison. Then, she was arrested and taken to an undisclosed location, unable to speak to anyone.

From "Raped, Kidnapped and Silenced," by Nicholas Kristof:

"This is all because they think they have the support of the U.S. and can get away with murder," Ms. Jahangir [Bibi's lawyer] said. Indeed, on Friday, just as all this was happening, President Bush received Pakistan's foreign minister in the White House and praised President Musharraf's "bold leadership."

So, Mr. Bush, how about asking Mr. Musharraf to focus on finding Osama, instead of kidnapping rape victims who speak out? And invite Ms. Mukhtaran to the Oval Office - to show that Americans stand not only with generals who seize power, but also with ordinary people of extraordinary courage.

From the NYT editorial "With Friends Like This...":
Being allies with Pakistan should go beyond just selling F-16 fighter jets to General Musharraf in the hope that he will one day get serious about finding Osama bin Laden and stop allowing recruiters for the Taliban to operate in Pakistan. It should also include pressing Pakistan to adopt minimum standards of human rights.

Posted by cj at 5:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 4, 2005

Kuwaiti Parliament Blocks Women's Participation in City Council Elections

Let's be clear on what recently happened in Kuwait: a bunch of men, fearing the loss of their political jobs, voted to deny women the right to vote in city council elections and blamed their backwards thinking on religious beliefs. From "Lawmakers Block Women From Voting in Kuwait," by Hassan Fatah in today's NYT:

While the city council holds little political significance, winning the right for women to run for office there was seen as a first step in gaining the right to run for Parliament.
Another interesting quirk of Kuwaiti law is that police officers and military personnel cannot vote. Imagine if the entire military industrial complex in the US were denied participation in the political process. That is, imagine if the United States was no longer governed by politicians who get a large amount of campaign contributions from military contractors and their employees. Would that change our budget priorities? As my fellow WILPFers said in 1979 (and copyrighted) - It will be a great day when schools have all the money they need and the military has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.

Posted by cj at 1:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Women Beware! Traditional Hospital Procedure During Labor Is Harmful

From "Procedure On Women In Labor Adds Risk: Study Urges Halt To Episiotomies," by Rob Stein in today's WaPo:

One of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States -- an incision many pregnant women receive to reduce the risk of tissue tears during delivery -- has no benefits and actually causes more complications, according to the most comprehensive analysis to evaluate the practice. ...

An episiotomy is an incision that doctors make in the perineum -- the skin between the opening of the vagina and anus. The idea is that the incision will make delivery of a child easier and that a deliberate surgical incision will heal more quickly and with fewer complications than tears that occur spontaneously, minimizing the risk of sexual problems and other complications, such as incontinence. Because the procedure has been in widespread use since the 1930s, it has been subject to careful evaluation only fairly recently.

So here's the deal: there's no reason to allow a doctor to tear up your body before you give birth. The article doesn't mention it, but just as a public service announcement, let me add this: vaginal birth is safer than Caesarean section. One is totally natural and the other is surgery where someone cuts up your body. (And yes, there's actual medical science behind this statement. Here's a Google search on risks of Caesarean section.)

Posted by cj at 1:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 28, 2005

Women's Rights Activist and Iraqi Legislator Lamia Abed Khadouri Sakri Killed

According to Juan Cole, Lamia Abed Khadouri Sakri was a women's rights activist in addition to being a member of the Iraqi National Assembly. The Washington Post fails to mention the relevance of her gender in their coverage of her assassination. Instead, she's described as a political activist and member of a secular political bloc.

I don't have any more information on Ms. Sakri's political work, other than this graph from WaPo:

Sakri, the slain lawmaker, belonged to Saddam Hussein's ruling Baath Party before resigning in the mid-1970s and going into exile, colleagues said. After U.S. forces toppled Hussein in early 2003, she returned as part of Allawi's coterie.
I believe the fact that the first member of parliament to be killed was female is significant and look forward to reading about increased security measures for all members of the Iraqi government, not just those who can afford to personally pay for it.

Further reading:
"Iraqi Legislator Slain, Underscoring Danger," by Ellen Knickmeyer

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March 30, 2005

Title IX Strengthened by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a whistleblower who faces retaliation for pointing out Title IX inequaties can file a federal lawsuit to rectify the situation. The majority ruled that without enforcement, Title IX is worthless and whistleblowers - regardless of gender - provide the teeth behind the law.

More information from WaPo:
"High Court Supports Title IX Protection: Law Now Covers Whistle-Blowers," by Charles Lane

Posted by cj at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2005

Should Pharmacists' Religious Beliefs Obstruct Access to Medication?

WaPo fronts an article by Rob Stein, "Pharmacists' Rights at Front of New Debate: Because of Beliefs, Some Refuse To Fill Birth Control Prescriptions." Apparently, across the country some pharmacists have decided that their personal religious beliefs have declared birth control a form of abortion, and therefore refuse to dispense it. Some even refuse to transfer the prescription to a pharmacy that will fulfill its obligations.

Here's the thing: I don't go to a faith healer for my medical problems. I expect my medical services to be delivered by people who leave their personal beliefs at the door when they serve me. That's why I dislike going to religious hospitals and why its difficult for me to be unbiased about this issue. As a woman, I abhor the notion that anyone has the right to deny me my reproductive rights.

I experienced the need for the morning after pill when I was unemployed and uninsured. Thankfully, I was living in LA at the time and was able to find a pharmacist in my area who would give me a prescription (thanks to the more women-friendly laws of California, you can get the morning after pill there without a prescription). The pharmacist provided me with plenty of information on the drug. I couldn't imagine needing that medication and being denied by a judgmental pharmacist.

Furthermore, denying birth control is a slap in the face to all women. I can't tell you how amazing it is to have less severe menstrual cramps and less bleeding - two amazing aspects of being on birth control. Those effects have nothing to do with whether or not I'm sexually active. I can't believe people believe they have the right to place their moral judgments on my body and my access to legal medication.

I am saddened by the state of this country. The US Government is not only denying access to reproductive care around the world, we're being denied basic access within our country.

Posted by cj at 12:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 14, 2005

Include Women in Peace-Making 365 Days A Year

Yolanda Chavez Leyva wrote an opinion article today in the Miami Herald pointing out both how women and girls "bear the brunt of armed conflict" and that they should be intricately involved in conflict resolution. Although she fails to recognize first wave feminist peace organizations (like Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, which is celebrating its 90th birthday this year), Chavez Leyva does a good job highlighting work of some of our younger, sister organizations.

Posted by cj at 5:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2005

NGO Statement on Inclusion of Women In Nuclear Disarmament Work

This message is from Susi Snyder, Secretary General of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom:

Dear WILPF members and friends,

For more than 20 years, WILPF has worked with the NGO Working Group on Peace in Geneva to organize a seminar around International Women's Day. The theme of this year's seminar was "Women Say No to Nuclear Weapons". Speakers included- Ms. Ingrid Eide of No to Atomic Weapons in Norway, Ambassador Volker Heinsberg of Germany, Ms. Ann Pollack with the Canadian Mission, Dr. Jack Steinberger 1988 Nobel Laureate in Physics and Ms. Jean Kimani of the Kenyan Mission.

This seminar generates a statement, which is then presented in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). The CD is the world's sole multilateral treaty negotiating body. The Reaching Critical Will project of WILPF monitors the CD, and you can find more information here:

This year, instead of the Director General of the CD reading the statement, it was read by Tim Caughley of New Zealand in his capacity as rotating President of the Conference. After reading the statement, he addressed the CD in his national capacity, and said he hoped that the NGOs would be able to deliver the statement themselves in the near future. Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany also took the floor to support this sentiment.

Here is the statement:

Distinguished Delegates,

Since 1984, a group of Geneva-based NGOs, together with members of the NGO Working Group on Peace have held a seminar to mark International Women's Day – 8 March – in tribute to the tireless work done by women around the world for the achievement of justice, peace and security. We again use this opportunity to engage the public and governments to look holistically at issues of peace and security, and to recognize the centuries' old demand of women for nations to totally and universally disarm.

Women mobilize support for disarmament and peace. In the last century alone, educational and petition campaigns, such as the more than nine million signatures collected and sent to the 1926 disarmament conference in Geneva, or the one initiated in 1959 by the European Movement of Women Against Nuclear Armament, have rallied wide public support for general and nuclear disarmament. The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom along with many other organizations refused to accept the cold war barriers and worked to break them down through East - West dialogues and many other shared events to end the arms race and build peaceful cooperation. Women demonstrated against the build-up of multilateral nuclear forces in Europe, as they did, for example at the NATO conference in the Netherlands in 1964. In the 1960s, 100,000 women in 110 American communities left their homes and offices in a national "strike" for a nuclear test ban, sparked by Boston physicians' documentation of the presence of Strontium-90, a by-product of nuclear tests, in the teeth of children across the U.S. and beyond. Millions of women and men rallied in the cities of Europe and marched across borders to mark their opposition to the deployment of nuclear missiles and radiological weapons. We all remember how the women of Greenham Common left their homes to dedicate themselves to peace as men have often left their homes to fight wars.

Let us be clear: we do not assert that women are "by nature" more peaceful than men. Women are socialized to be the caretakers and nurturers of their families and communities; yet in countries the world over - from the developed to developing nations - many men assume the role of "protectors" and "defenders" and often seek to maintain this role through the possession of weapons, while women in their nurturing role often encourage this step towards "manhood". We recognize that women are also actors in conflict - women take up arms, engage in conflict and even perpetuate it. It is not enough for us to bring a few more women into security discussions and negotiations; just as men differ vastly in their perceptions of issues of importance, just one participant in negotiations cannot represent women in all their diversities.

Furthermore, increased dialogue with and participation of NGOs in all disarmament efforts will facilitate a much broader, more comprehensive understanding of security, one that can form the basis of a windfall of new security agreements and treaties. The stalemate in moving disarmament forward must be broken now.

Women have developed an expanded expertise on these issues over the years and are eager, along with many other members of civil society and non-governmental organizations, to work with you and your ministries at the Capitols to move forward. In 1997, a Model Nuclear Weapons Convention was submitted to the General Assembly by Costa Rica stating that the model sets forth "the legal, technical and political issues that should be considered in order to obtain an actual nuclear weapons convention."

South Africa submitted a Working Paper to this body in 2002, outlining some suggestions and food for thought on a Fissile Materials Treaty. The time is ripe to negotiate this treaty now in order to address the problems of nuclear proliferation. Large sectors of world civil Society stand at the ready to do whatever they can to assist in these negotiations - you in the CD have the power to open your doors to us; Paragraph 41 of the rules of procedure recognizes that the Conference may decide to invite specialized agencies, the IAEA and other organs of the UN system to provide information We are prepared to accept your invitation, and look forward to receiving it.

This body has struggled for eight long years to move forward. It will not be able to make substantive breakthroughs as long as governments continue to equate security with armaments. We have not seen an increase in global security that matches the global increases in military spending; rather, we have seen increased proliferation of weapons, increased threats from non-state actors, and decreased human security.

Our focus during this year's seminar was on nuclear weapons, on the role that these ecocidal, suicidal and genocidal weapons play in a world struggling to recognize and move towards a holistic perception of security - one that includes environmental protection, protection of all actors effected by all phases of conflict, and that integrates and understands the reasons that make people pick up arms in order to disarm.

In a large part, the NGOs that monitor your discussions here, the NGOs that will flock to New York to monitor and bring public attention to the NPT Review Conference, the NGOs that have organized massive demonstrations in opposition to nuclear weapons, the NGOs that have brought organized pressure on governments to negotiate the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty - many of these NGOs comprise women, whose dedication to the abolition of nuclear weapons is based on their unique, understanding of the evil of these weapons.

While we laud the CD's decision taken last year that codifies the basic rules of engagement with disarmament NGOs, we urge you to review NGO participation and access to all international disarmament fora, and to understand, as Croatia has, "the growing beneficial role that civil society plays in the field of disarmament... (which) may give additional impetus to initiatives to break the deadlock and finally move the multilateral disarmament agenda forward." We urge you to heed the advice of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who called for "more organized and sustained dialogue with the NGO community", recognizing that more effective engagement with NGOs increases the likelihood that United Nations decisions will be better understood and supported by a broad and diverse public.

The culture of militarism that has gained ground the world over is pushing the cornerstone of the disarmament regime, the nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, toward a dangerous precipice. We are all aware of the significant backsliding from key advancements made at the 2000 Review Conference, and know that drastic measures are needed in order to arrest this development.

The Conference on Disarmament has a unique opportunity to do so at the forthcoming 7TH NPT Review Conference, addressing the concerns and priorities of all States parties, and working to strengthen both the non-proliferation and the disarmament obligations of the Treaty. If the CD is able to adopt a program of work and start substantive discussions on nuclear disarmament, a fissile materials treaty, the prevention of an arms race in outer space, and/or other items on the proposed agenda, you will be endowing the Review Conference with a much needed head-start on its own work. No other body, no other diplomats, have the opportunity that you do to influence a positive start at the Review, to erode the paralysis that blocked the Preparatory Committee.

Time is growing short, in the next few months, all actors within the international disarmament community must do everything they can to use this Conference as a tool for ensuring the human security of all peoples, everywhere.

Posted by cj at 12:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interesting Commentary on Shrub's War on Women's Rights

Via the Feminist Peace Network, I found "Dark Ages, Reprise How the Bush Administration is fighting a battle against the women of the world, and winning" by Katherine Brengle in Dissident Voice.

Although the article doesn't mention the USG's recent attempt to add anti-abortion language to the Beijing +10 declaration, and it is a bit more strident in tone than I would personally write, it includes tons of fascinating information. Apparently, I've been totally clueless for awhile now because I had no idea scientists had created a female sex-drive enhancer, Intrinsa, and that the FDA immediately rejected it. Nor did I know the Supreme Court refused to overturn the Alabama law that bans the sale or distribution of sex toys.

Posted by cj at 10:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 8, 2005

Happy International Women's Day!

Of course, we should all remember how important women are everyday of the year. Gender issues need to be at the forefront of all of our work - from understanding development needs, to the cessation of war, to the composition of legislatures, to the identity of national leaders. In honor of all of the strong women past and present who have helped make the world a better place, please join me in celebrating International Women's Day.

The US Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom is celebrating the day by announcing our campaigns for the next three year cycle, Women Challenge U.S. Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East and Save the Water. Information available here.

Press release: With clarion calls and worldwide events, UN marks International Women's Day

Background information on International Women's Day. (pdf)

UN's International Women's Day website.

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March 5, 2005

The World United Against the USG: Victory for Women's Human Rights!!!

The Commission on the Status of Women Unequivocally Reaffirms the Beijing Platform for Action Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), News Alert, 4 March 2005


Earlier today, the United States failed to break solid international consensus supporting reaffirmation of the Beijing Platform for Action, and withdrew its controversial proposed amendment to the Draft Declaration of the Beijing +10 proceedings currently taking place in New York. The US language sought to "reaffirm that the Beijing Platform and the outcome of the 23rd Special Session of the General Assembly (Beijing +5) "do not create new international human rights and do not include the right to abortion." The US decision to withdraw its anti-human rights amendment marks a significant victory in support of women's human rights worldwide.

Although the US delegation did not have the public support of any Member State, they had refused to join the consensus that had formed in support of the Draft as it had been issued by the Bureau of the Commission on the Status of Women. In a remarkable show of solidarity, countries across all regions have resisted US pressure to break consensus, and have stood together in support of the full range of women's human rights as laid out in the Beijing Platform.

The Declaration, which reaffirms the Beijing Platform and the Beijing +5 outcome document, was adopted at 5pm this afternoon at the Commission on the Status of Women.

Press Release found at PeaceWomen
Full Coverage of Beijing +10 at PeaceWomen

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March 2, 2005

Beijing +10 Update from PeaceWomen E-News

From PeaceWomen E-News, Issue #55, March 1, 2005:

POLITICAL DECLARATION: Outcome Document of Beijing +10
As of 1 March 2005, the US government has not withdrawn a major amendment they introduced on 24 February 2005 to the draft text of the political declaration, prepared by the Bureau of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

If the US government withdraws their amendment, there is an expectation that it will deliver an explanation of position, as it has in previous Beijing +10 regional reviews.

The US' proposed amendment is in bold:
"Reaffirm the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women and the outcome of the 23rd Special Session of the GA." [while reaffirming that they do not create any new international human rights, and that they do not include the right to abortion.]

All other members of the Commission on the Status of Women have publicly maintained their support for the Bureau's draft declaration.* Some of the most out-spoken governmental critics of the US amendment, include the governments of the European Union, Canada and New Zealand. As New Zealand stated in its intervention on 1 March 2005:

"We are not here to re-litigate or reinterpret Beijing. We are here to reaffirm it, to pledge our renewed commitment to its implementation and to support each other to do that.

New Zealand will not accept an outcome declaration that contains anything less than a clear, unambiguous and unqualified reaffirmation of Beijing. We are not interested in negotiating any qualifications to the reaffirmation contained in the draft prepared by the bureau.

New Zealand calls on all states to reaffirm the Beijing Platform for Action without equivocation. The international community has laboured too long over language in human rights treaties, declarations and resolutions. It is time to take action, and Beijing provides with us with the right platform for doing so."
(Statement by the Honorable Ruth Dyson, New Zealand Minister of Women's Affairs)

* The draft declaration does include minor amendments, which have been accepted by consensus.

Viva New Zealand!!!!

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February 3, 2005

Apparently, I was at a Different Conference

Here is an article on Women's eNews re the YWTF Conference. Apparently, I attended a different conference. Read this fabulous excerpt:

The task force attendees were asked to develop issue statements about nine topics of concern to women ages 19 to 39. Besides feminism, these included media representations of women and women's body image; sexual and reproductive freedom; and access to education and career opportunities. Attendees say the issues differ somewhat from the agenda of feminists in the 1970s. While older feminists were concerned about discrimination in the workplace and securing abortion rights, attendees tackled issues such as the number of women featured in the media, violence against women and eating disorders.

The attendees recognize that the issues that mattered to women in their 50s and 60s aren't the same as for them. While reproductive rights meant abortion rights in the 1960s, today it means birth control that's not covered by insurance companies even while Viagra is.

"For them, it was laws and bills," Stein said, referring to older feminists. "For us, it's implementation and everyday life."

Several conference attendees said they paid their own way to the conference because they wanted to think about topics affecting all women.

Does that make attendees who didn't pay their own way less committed to these frickin topics?!?! I thought it just meant we're POORER.

I'm not trying to be catty - I'm just really frustrated. I know people who reject the label "feminist" because their understanding of the issues is beyond the white, middle-class paradigm implied by that term. Why should I spend time baby-sitting people who aren't willing to stand up for equal rights, but are able to say "Yay! I'm a Young Woman!" ?!? I suppose I should just stop trying. After all, I can't even get access to the Issue Statements Email Group b/c it was placed on Microsoft's evil system.

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February 2, 2005

One More YWTF Comment

There is one aspect of the YWTF Conference that I'm really proud of - the issue statement created by the Economic Justice issue group. I was a participant in the group and I'm glad we were able to keep such strong language, despite the fact that one of our members was staunchly anti-union.

Economic Justice

In the context of globalization, the Younger Women’s Task Force identifies the following important international and domestic economic issues:

We recognize that all forms of discrimination and inequality in the work place impact our ability to be full economic participants and the general economic health of society.

We recognize these work/life balance issues are important to parents, nontraditional families, and individuals: supporting all care giving, mandating living wages, re-defining success, honoring life outside work and the place of work in life, and expanding economic literacy and participation.

Within the domain of economic justice, we recognize that healthcare should be a universal right for all individuals, regardless of life choices, family status, or group membership. With a general wellness focus throughout the life cycle, including but not limited to coverage for mental health, contraceptives, and maternal/paternal support.

We recognize the need for encouraging women to raise their voices by voting and taking leadership positions ranging from grassroots organizations, to corporate leadership, and domestic and international policy making.

We demand a societal shift to reflect these priorities.

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January 31, 2005

Initial Reactions to the Younger Women's Task Force Meeting

The National Coalition of Women's Organizations is sponsoring a task force to "provide a collective voice for the younger generation..." to "ensure that NCWO's policy work is intergenerational in focus, that there is continuous dialogue between generations, and that a new generation of NCWO leadership is developed."

What is NCWO? It's a DC bureaucracy created to be a political voice for women's groups across the country. The US Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom is a member organization and I am a member of WILPF. I found out about their YWTF conference through a fellow WILPF member and WILPFers provide the money necessary for me to register and travel to the conference. (YWTF also gave me a partial travel stipend.)

I fear that many of the DC organizers of YWTF dislike me or think I dislike them. I say this because one of the things I was told to do at the conference was to always speak my mind (it was a prerequisite for some of my funding). So, I kept asking process questions and refused to back down on my policy positions. I think people took my criticism personally and I have to admit that at times I got frustrated and may have made a personal attack or two. (In particular, I regret telling a group of individuals that clearly none of them were transgender, so how do they think they can speak for the transgender community.)

Personally, I was offended by some of the things that happened this weekend. First, the address of the event wasn't clearly stated on the materials we received prior to the conference. I stayed with friends b/c we were asked to do that to cut back on hotel costs. I showed up at George Washington University and spent 45 minutes in the snow and cold searching for the meeting location. When my phone calls to the organizers were finally returned and I got to the meeting location, I was immediately asked to fill out forms instead of being allowed to take off my coat and get a cup of coffee.

Next I was offended by being asked to state what I do for a living. Perhaps this just sounds like normal introductory material to you. The majority of the people in the room were either students or worked for nonprofits. I felt like there was a bias against people who work in for-profit environments. I also think my job title has nothing to do with my activism. Finally, the introductions upset me because it appeared all of the conference participants were either working towards a college degree or already had one. That doesn't create a very diverse younger women's movement. Furthermore, when I attended an inter-generational dinner I was told by an older woman that I would never be taken seriously as a glorified secretary. (I explained that I am currently working in a position basically as a glorified secretary because I spent about a year trying to get a paid position at a nonprofit and was unsuccessful in my job search. I also told her that I do my activism in a volunteer capacity as a member of the national board of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. All of my experience was devalued by this women who thinks I will never get anywhere being myself.)

I realized something this weekend. I have been an activist for 15 years. I have been a leader of activist organizations and planning conferences for 15 years. I am not an individual who can simply be grateful for the opportunity to meet other people. My understanding of the issues - both structurally and philosophically - is too deep for me to simply sit and be a good follower in any organization.

I don't think I like the bureaucracy they're creating with YWTF. Nevertheless, I'm excited about the opportunity to meet other younger activists. I've already made some great connections and I'm sure I'll continue to communicate with particular participants in the YWTF Conference whether or not I continue with YWTF.

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January 26, 2005

Female Candidates on Provincial Level in Iraq

Today's Boston Globe features an article by Thanassis Cambanis titled "Iraq's female candidates raise voices before vote." It's all well and good that the US-written constitution mandates that 1/3 of candidates be female (not clear why it's only 1/3), but the reality is that the majority of the female candidates are fighting each other for provincial offices, leaving national power to males in their parties. This is not exactly the same as having gender equity. Nor do I believe it is an accurate implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

In other Iraq news, the USG spent $92 million on a GOTV for Iraqi expatriates and only 10% of eligible voters in the US and 25% worldwide registered. What a great return on investment. Full deets from Paul Richter, Alissa Rubin, Maggie Farley, Jean Pasco, and Elise Castelli at the LAT. The article has an extremely different tone from the "we're so grateful to vote!!" stories I recently heard on Morning Edition on NPR.

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January 19, 2005

Boy, Am I Glad I Didn't Go To Harvard

The President of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, thinks that women are innately dumber than men in science and math and that genetics is the reason for less women tenured profs than men. Right.

Here's an account of the conference where he made the remarks.

Here's an update on the storm that continues in the aftermath of the leopard showing his spots.

Apparently, Summers hasn't bothered to look around much. He thinks women can't handle 80-hour work weeks, nor do we have the brains for math or science. Let's see. I was in AP Calculus AB in the 11th grade. I took AP Biology in the 10th grade and AP Chemistry in the 11th grade. Last time I checked, I'm still female.

The reality is that women are just as good at math and science as men. But we're taught to hate it. We're taught that we'll never be good at it. And teachers teach those courses towards the way boys learn rather than the way girls learn: i.e., lots of tests and very little class discussion. Don't beieve me? Ask The Boy - my male friend in Beantown who spent a year as an exchange student at Wellesley to experience how science courses are taught differently in all-female classes as opposed to at co-ed colleges. Oh yeah, and did I mention the high acceptance rates into med school from my piddly lil women's college? ARRRG.

I can't tell you how much Summers' opinion upsets me. It's not just that idiots believe this crap. It's that idiots in positions of power believe that women have some innate disadvantage to men. Give me a frickin break!!! Yes, y'all are made physically stronger than us. That has absolutely nothing to do with our respective brain power. Summers reminds me of the morons at the turn of the century who used "science" to explain ethnic and racial discrimination.

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January 18, 2005

Subservience Rules in MoDo's Dating Game

Morgaine Swan, my fellow contributing editor at P!, posted a response to this Maureen Dowd column in the NYT.

MoDo (Maureen Dowd) opines that men want spouses to take care of them and worship them, so they tend to marry non-threatening, subservient women (like their personal assistants). Women are also attracted to this idea because we fall for movies like "Spanglish" and "Love Actually."

Here's one of the worst (and last) graphs MoDo penned:

So was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax? The more women achieve, the less desirable they are? Women want to be in a relationship with guys they can seriously talk to - unfortunately, a lot of those guys want to be in relationships with women they don't have to talk to.
For those in the cheap seats, let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. There will always be narcissistic a-holes in the world who surround themselves with servants instead of partners. Those of us who live in the real world (with bills, student loans, and credit card debt) know that having a life partner is much more rewarding than having a maid.

One last point: never refer to the feminist movement as if it were dead. The feminist movement began way before MoDo's friends burned their bras in the 70s and will remain strong long after she stops getting paid for her tired dribble.

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January 10, 2005

UN Peacekeepers Exploited Congolese Girls and Women

In horrific news abroad, UN Peacekeepers continue to exploit Congolese girls and women, using girls as young as thirteen as prostitutes. From the AP via USAT:

United Nations peacekeepers in Congo sexually exploited women and girls, some as young as 13, a U.N. watchdog office said Friday in a new confirmation that efforts to curb abuses by U.N. troops are not working.

Peacekeepers regularly had sex with Congolese women and girls, usually in exchange for food or small sums of money, investigators from the world body's Office of Internal Oversight Services found.

"We have had and continue to have a serious problem of sexual exploitation and abuse," William Lacy Swing, the United Nations' special representative to Congo, said at a news conference.

Emphasis added.

Part of the problem is that the UN has no authority over peacekeepers: they are only subject to the laws of their own countries. This is disgusting and the world should not continue to accept these atrocities.

The Congo is a dangerous place - genocide perpetrators from Rwanda continue to ravage part of the country. The Congolese should be able to see UN Peacekeepers as shelters from the storm of violence. The situation is completely unacceptable.

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December 22, 2004

Good News from Chile

Check this out: Two women are the top candidates in the race to be the next president of Chile. And only 36% of women in Chile work outside the home. (Don't be fooled by the article; just because you're not paid to work doesn't mean you don't work.) Right. So, in Chile, two women not tied to a former president are the most likely people to become the next president. YAY!

"Chile Women Break Political Mold," by Danna Harman in the Christian Science Monitor

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December 16, 2004

Remember the Women and Children of Darfur

I've posted a lot about the women of Darfur who are being systematically raped by janjaweed militia and sometimes cast out by their villages because of the rape or subsequent pregnancy. The BBC has another article about the horrific state of society in Darfur, where villagers curse children and mothers suckle babies with dry breasts (both generations suffer from malnutrition on the verge of starvation).

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December 6, 2004

US Needs to Send More Aid to Africa

In a biting and brief commentary, Yale medical student Kohar Jones indicts the US for not providing enough money to combat AIDS in Africa. Instead, mothers are forced to prostitute themselves - making them vulnerable to being infected with HIV - to earn the money needed to feed their children.

Read "The Power to Say No to AIDS" in WaPo.

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