Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Senator Boxer speaks at LA FMF

On Monday, June 29th, US Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) spoke at the Feminist Majority Foundation in Los Angeles. Senator Boxer addressed FMF interns and staff as well as the Women’s Political Committee (WPC).

One of the strongest voices in the Senate for women’s right to choose, Barbara Boxer has been supported by the WPC and Peg Yorkin, Chair of FMF's Board of Directors, since her election to the House of Representatives in 1982. She is now serving her third term as a US Senator and is running for re-election in 2010.

With a sense of humor regarding her grandson’s observation of her hair remaining blond while her husband’s gets grayer, she also dove into more serious issues such as the environment, women’s international rights, and her upcoming election.

She emphasized the importance of campaign contributions in her upcoming election, in which former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina has said she might run.

She also addressed the FMF and Ms interns in attendance, who numbered over 20. “To the interns,” she said, “you couldn’t be at a better place. What you will learn here [at FMF is] that you can be anything you set your mind to… I am very glad you’re here, learning self respect and self confidence.”

She stated that maturity is reached when you are not afraid to do what is right, such as contradicting someone who says something wrong or unjust. That, she says, makes you a leader.

She was optimistic about the future, though she did allude to the inequality still present in our society, such as the gender wage gap. “We’re still not earning what we should,” she said in reference to women.

She also acknowledged that women have made strides, such as the recent passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Act.

She pointed out the need for women to participate more in the political process. “We are a majority. When women vote, women win, and I believe families win.”

-Kimberly Young, Choices Campus Leadership Intern-

Celebrating Our Foremothers: Jane Jacobs

If you haven't already noticed from some of my other posts, I love cities. However, the highly male-dominated field of urban planning is a lonely place for a woman. Jane Jacobs is an exception to this rule and a true leader in the urbanist movement (and an inspiration to me). Her attitude towards combating urban issues like poverty, crime and racism have greatly influenced how I see the problems faced by people who live in cities.
Jane Jacobs is an American-born Canadian urbanist, writer and activist. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1916. She studied at Columbia University's School of General Studies where she took courses in a wide range of topics including geology, zoology, law, political science, and economics.

In the 1950's and 60's, Jacobs really claimed her own vision as an urbanist. During this time she was instrumental in organizing grass-roots efforts in New York City to block Urban Renewal projects that would have destroyed local neighborhoods. One famous campaign Jacobs fought was in opposition to another famous urbanist, Robert Moses, and his building of the Lower Manhattan Expressway that have would divided local neighborhoods, which she was successful in stopping.

Jacobs is best known for her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in response to US urban renewal policies of the 1950s. Unlike the mentality of the time to simply bulldoze and demolish crippling cities and neighborhoods, Jacobs advocated the end of zoning laws, which would help to create dense, mixed-use neighborhoods resulting in diverse and vibrant urban community. She went on to pen 6 more books including The Economy of Cities and Dark Age Ahead.

In 1968, Jacobs moved to Toronto where she quickly became a leading figure in her new city and helped stop the proposed Spadina Expressway. She was selected to be an officer of the Order of Canada in 1996 for her achievements in writings on urbanism. Additionally, the Community and Urban Sociology section of the American Sociological Association awarded her its Outstanding Lifetime Contribution award in 2002.

In 2006, Jacobs died at the age of 89. Although this very influential woman is gone, her ideas of how cities and neighborhoods should operate lives one. Through her work, she kept the citizens of the communities and neighborhoods she worked with at the center of everything she did.

Jacobs was an urbanist who cared about the communities, not just the big business cities. The principles she followed in her urban activism are some that I hope that I can also adopt in my role as an urban activist. Jacobs' philosophy on urban living affected the way I live my life to be a more aware and active member of my urban community. I participate in community activities like festivals and clean-ups, read my community newsletter and take a move active voice in discussing issues like infrastructure and schools than I ever did before.

Jane Jacobs is a real inspiration to women who want to find a voice in their urban communities and care about their neighbors and the cultural fabric of where they live.

This is an Awareness Test

I generally don't like to give websites like this more traffic than they deserve, but this is just too good not to pass along: http://www.guysforlife.org/. Watch the video (now - do it!) and then come back and read the rest of this post.

Ok got it??

So just one question - did you see the moonwalking bear?

This group - Guys for Life - thinks that the moonwalking bear "hidden" in the video is similar to the 650,000 men in the US who encourage impregnated loved ones to get an abortion. Their website says of these men, "No one is looking for them either - and like the moonwalking bear - they're weaving their way in and out of society in plain view, yet no-one sees them." Makes sense right? Right..

Just for the sake of argument - and mostly just to continue a completely absurd analogy - let's consider this example of the basketball passes and the moonwalking bear. I propose that if this scenario is really going to be applied to the fight for reproductive rights, it would look a little more like the following: anti-choicers are trying everything they can imagine to distract you - i.e. counting the number of passes the white team makes. But all the while, the real need for reproductive freedom is there staring us in the face - or in this case, it's moonwalking in a bear costume across a stage. So let's not let these schemes fool us - we have to remain vigilant for the moonwalking bear!

Newsday Tuesday: June 30 Edition

This week was definitely a sad week in the world of entertainment. On Tuesday, we lost TV personality and Tonight Show announcer Ed McMahon, 86, to bone cancer and pneumonia.

The following Thursday, both actress Farrah Fawcett, 62, and "King of Pop" Micheal Jackson, 50, passed away. Fawcett was battling anal cancer and known best for her role in the 1970s TV show Charlie's Angels. Jackson, who's death is still under investigation, is the pop phenomenon who has sold more albums than any other artist, including his biggest hit "Thriller," and has had a career that has spanned over 4 decades.

Then last Sunday, Billy Mays, 50, was found dead in his home, apparently due to a heart condition. Mays's claim to fame is as spokesperson for such products as "OxiClean," "Orange-Glo," and other household products. All of these people will be very missed and their impact on the entertainment community will not be forgotten.

Back to the world of feminism, a lot has been going on. So lets get a quick recap of the highlights for the week.

Education
Last Tuesday, on the 37th anniversary of Title IX, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that millions of dollars in grants will be awarded to improve girls' proficiency in math and science.

Neera Desai, PhD, a pioneer of women's studies in India, died of cancer at age 84 this week. Dr. Desai founded India's first women's studies program, the Research Center for Women's Studies at SNDT Women's University in Mumbai.

National
Vice President Joe Biden announced the appointment of Lynn Rosenthal as the first ever White House Advisor on Violence Against Women last Friday (which our president, Ellie Smeal, was in attendance of). Vice President Biden is a strong advocate for fighting domestic violence, as he co-authored the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The US Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the strip-search of 13-year old student Savana Redding at her Arizona public school was unconstitutional. Redding was accused of bringing ibuprofen to school, which is banned under the school's drug policy. The school's principal sent her to the nurse's office, where she was stripped down to her bra and underpants. The Court ruled that Redding's Fourth Amendment rights had been violated.

On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee urging passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. The bill, which passed in the House in April, would allow for "federal prosecution of violence undertaken because of the actual or perceived gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity of any person."

States
Virginia - A 2008 court decision which declared unconstitutional a Virginia ban on a specific abortion procedure was overturned Thursday in a split 6 to 5 decision.

Arizona - The Arizona State Senate on Thursday passed a restrictive anti-choice bill that requires minors to receive notarized parental consent prior to an abortion.

Africa
A lawsuit is being filed against the Namibian government as at least fifteen HIV-positive women were forcibly sterilized. The International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS has documented cases that indicate that the women were coerced into signing documents consenting to their sterilization.

Following a failed prison break where 20 women were brutally raped in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) late Sunday, it is apparent that rape is being used as a weapon of war more and more in the Congo. Since the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began in 1998, tens of thousands of women and girls have been raped in sexual violence widely viewed to be a war tactic

Iran
Women are starting to play a major role in the public uprising after the Irani elections several weeks ago. Several U.S. reporters are arguing that women's increased role in politics is making women more of a major factor in the current political arena. This is also causing the needs and interests of women to become more and more important on the political agenda.

Media
L'Oreal was found guilty this week of racial discrimination in hiring by France's highest court. The suit claimed that L'Oreal employees were told to look for "BBR" women – a common euphemism used to describe white French people of white French descent. The company has been fined €30,000 and is required to pay an additional €30,000 to SOS Racisme, an anti-racism group who helped to bring the suit. Read more about this in a past blog post.

FemNews: Susan B. Anthony

Happy Tuesday, everyone! And a happy 4th of July, in case I don't get to say it later! As you've probably noticed, this week Choices Campus blog is celebrating the foremothers of our country. Well, you can't really talk about women's history without talking about Susan B. Anthony. Anthony was a major force in the women's suffrage movement, and so we decided to honor her this week with a rap of sorts. Enjoy and take some time this week to celebrate the women who worked tirelessly to make a difference in the world!

Air New Zealand's "Bare Essentials of Safety"


During this economic crisis, airlines are scrambling for funds, if not going out of business entirely. Air New Zealand has taken a new approach to attract customers, as well as making those customers watch the pre-flight safety videos. The 45 second "nothing to hide" advertisement shown on TV, as well as the almost Four minute "bare essentials" in flight safety video offer a twist on typical airline videos; all of the staff members are naked, except that they are painted as wearing uniforms!

At first glance, it just seems as if the flight stewards and stewardesses are wearing tight clothing, but the neckties and scarves that move when they talk are a dead giveaway. The ad and safety video are both filmed with tasteful modesty, and don't hold a flame to recent PETA ads (I can't even put a link here because they are too disgusting) in terms of mal-treatment of women, or men, for that matter. The actors are real flight stewards/stewardesses, and are as energetic as they come.

According to the New York Times, the advertisement is the most viewed YouTube clip to come out of New Zealand. Apparently "The commercial, 'Nothing to Hide,' has been viewed nearly two million times on YouTube— the most-viewed clip ever to come out of New Zealand, Steve Bayliss, the airline’s marketing manager, said by telephone Monday."

We all know that sex sells, and this measure at least gets more people to watch the safety videos, so do you see this campaign as problematic? It doesn't objectify women more than it objectifies men, and if anything there is more footage of male flight attendants, captains, and baggage carriers, than women flight attendants. It is also filmed in such a way that no genitals are shown, thus is it wrong to advertise in such a manner? Is the recent publicity via YouTube uncalled for?

Celebration of Our Foremothers in the Arts: Frida Kahlo

When I think who I consider to be my foremothers, I have to take into consideration women in the arts. Frida Kahlo, although born in Mexico, greatly influenced US art and culture. She brought women into surrealism (although not a self proclaimed surrealist) with her collection of over 200 oil paintings, all the while suffering great physical pain. In many ways, Frida was one of the artists that helped me to realize that feminism can be seen in all media, including painting. And through this connection, my interest in feminism expanded.

Frida Kahlo was born in 1907 in Mexico City, and at age six she was diagnosed with polio. I
n 1922 she entered the most prestigious school in Mexico, Preparatoria (National Preparatory School), which had just begun to admit girls. In 1925 she was in a near fatal bus accident in Mexico which left her with serious injuries that she dealt with for the rest of her life. This incident led her to paint her first self portrait in 1926.

After having her first solo exhibition in 1953, she was involved in prestigious group shows in the U.S. at the Museum of Modern Art, the Boston Institute of Contemporary Arts, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Although associated with some of the most famous male surrealist like Picasso and Kandinsky, Kahlo did not want to be labeled and did not like being categorized with these men. "They thought I was a Surrealist," she said, "but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality."

Frida Kahlo's paintings chart the events of her life through her eyes. Women's artwork began to be seen in a different light and was forever changed. No woman before her had depicted the darkness, pain, and suffering that Kahlo painted. Frida showed women's experiences through disablement, rejection, miscarriage, suffering, Mexican-ness, Jewishness, homosexuality, revolution, and devotion. Kahlo showed the United States and the world that women can paint more than flowers and place settings, she showed the female experience as thicker and darker. Her technique is all her own. Her figures are personal, and exhibit how she saw herself. They are not realistic, they are imaginative and that is what makes them unique.

Kahlo died in her sleep in 1954. There was suspicion of suicide but nothing was ever proven. She was a communist, controversial, and unapologetic. Frida Kahlo's last journal entry said, 'I hope the end is joyful - and I hope never to come back - Frida.'

Keeping Violence Away from Clinics

We have a sex offender registry that limits where offenders can live and work in order to prevent further violence and protect those who may be in potentially harmed by the offender. Jacob Appel, on the Huffington Post, argues that a similar system should be applied to those who have conspired to or have commited abortion clinic violence.

Appel argues this not out of personal politics, but out of common sense. He says, "Much as we do not permit convicted pedophiles to teach kindergarten or convicted hijackers to board airplanes, common sense dictates that individuals who have been imprisoned for plotting violence against abortion clinics should never again be permitted anywhere near such facilities."

This registry, Appel believes, would hopefully decrease clinic violence since a lot of violence is by multiple offenders, like Scott Roeder. Appel also believes that an abortion violence registry would facilitate a calmer, more rational discussion about abortion in our country.

Shocking: AMA Finds Abstinence-Only INEFFECTIVE

The American Medical Association's Council on Science and Public Health has released a review of reports on sex education from the past 10 years, and the findings are that abstinence-only sex ed is ineffective. (gasp!)

Stuart Gitlow, MD said that the review found that abstinence-only programs resulted in "no delay of initiating sexual activity, no reduction in the number of sexual partners and no increase in abstinence."


In fact, the rise of abstinence-only during the Bush years may have contributed to a rise in teenage parenthood. Centers for Disease Control statistics show that "the birth rate among teens age 15 to 19 rose to 41.9 per 1,000 live births in 2006 from 40.5 in 2005." This may seem like an insignificant change, but it becomes more worrisome when you consider that the rate "had been declining for the previous 14 years."


The
Washington Post reports that John Santelli of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health conducted a study to determine why the teen birth rate has risen. His team determined that sexual activity is not on the rise among teens--but there has been a small decrease in contraceptive use.

There is hope that these statistics will change along with a changed attitude toward sex education brought about by Obama's administration. In his budget request to Congress, President Obama proposed replacing abstinence-only programs with a Teen Pregnancy Initiative. As one can guess from the name, this is a sex-ed program focused on preventing teen pregnancy--and while proponents of comprehensive sex-ed are relieved that this will be a giant step away from abstinence-only, they are concerned that the focus on pregnancy will detract from information on disease prevention and exclude LGBT issues.
RH Reality Check writes that the Initiative "only repeats past mistakes and the vague direction given by the Administration leaves the program vulnerable to changes in the balance of power in Congress."

Looks like the new brand of sex ed might not quite earn the title of comprehensive. I wonder if the Obama administration is providing only "vague direction" in an attempt to bypass conservative opposition. I think it's time, though, for Congress to realize that a great majority of the public supports comprehensive sex ed. Maybe we need a new public survey to prove this--the last one conducted (that I can find with a quick Google search) was a 2006 study by the University of Pennsylvania that found 82% of adults support it. I'm guessing that percentage has only gone up in the last 3 years, as reports such as the AMA's are constantly showing the ineffectiveness of abstinence only. (If you want to help get this message through to Congress, check out FMF's campaign to stop federal funding of abstinence-only and to expose fake clinics!)

On a related note, the Washington Post is reporting on a program to prevent teen pregnancy
that has been around for years but is just now making headlines. College Bound Sisters, at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, is a program for teen girls that pays each a dollar for every day she doesn't get pregnant. Participants have to attend weekly meetings, where a curriculum including both abstinence and contraception is taught. The program is small, with a max of 24 girls at a time, and only girls with older sisters who became teen mothers are eligible.

I have mixed feelings about this. Reports say some girls have completed the program with $3,000 saved for college, which is great. But monetary rewards (bribes?) for good behavior are a bit iffy--the goal should be to instill in someone the desire to do well for their own wellbeing, not for an external incentive. This program (and Obama's Teen Pregnancy initiative) concern me a bit with their focus on women's sexuality.

It's certainly important to recognize that teen girls are often face greater consequences, in the form of pregnancy, when they have unprotected sex. But programs that focus on educating girls risk giving the impression that boys are free from the responsibility to practice healthy behavior. If a program pays girls not to get pregnant, why not have a program that pays boys to not get girls pregnant? Sounds strange, right?


Photo credit: zazzle.com

Celebrating Our Foremothers: Kate Chopin

When I try to think back to the start of my involvement in feminism, ages ago that it was, I think that it had something to do with reading Kate Chopin's The Awakening in 10th grade. I have memories of a sort of revelation occuring. I'm not sure if the sky opened up, or if there were choirs of sweet feminists singing, but it certainly is my first memory of reading something that really got me thinking about what women's role was in society and how that pressure affects women's lives.

Now, the 4th of July is in a few days, and instead of celebrating George Washington and the "forefathers" of our country, I'd like to celebrate a woman that ignited a desire in me to fight back against what I think is unfair and wrong.

Kate Chopin, born in St. Louis in 1850, spent most of her life in Louisiana and that culture informed most of her work. Chopin's earlier work was well-recieved, but The Awakening, though beloved by myself and countless other feminists, essentially destroyed her career. Chopin shocked the "respectable" world with her "vulgar" story of a woman who broke out of her loveless and sad marriage to pursue her own desires. She died in 1904, and her work regained popularity after her death.

So, in honor of a wonderful woman writer who dared to write about topics that were considered inappropriate at the time, let's all dust of our copies of The Awakening, or the collected stories of Chopin in my case, and take some time to celebrate someone who sparked a feminist fire in at least one women.

Celebrating Our Foremothers: Martha Ballard

Have you ever heard of Martha Ballard? Since we are making more of an effort to celebrate our foremothers here at FMF, I think it is fitting to celebrate the contributions of this 18th century midwife. Ballard acted as a midwife to the very small town of Hollowell, Maine, from the late 18th century into the early 19th century. You may be thinking, “Emily… A midwife? There have been midwives since there have been babies! What made her so special…”

Ballard is special in that she offers us a peek into the world of an 18th century midwife through her meticulous diary entries. In fact, her diary entries have been turned into the book A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. The literate Ballard kept notes of each delivery that she performed for a span of 27 years. She wrote entries about the grueling commutes, and the perils of difficult deliveries. Can you imagine a crossing a near-frozen river in the middle of the night to deliver a baby? She also writes of the evolution of society and religion, various epidemics that claim lives in her town, and so much more...

In the back of her diary, she kept thorough notes about payments received and promised, as families would provide Ballard with a payment according to their means. She was a well-respected member of her town, and she delivered children to wealthy and poor families alike. Still unimpressed? In 814 recorded deliveries (and an estimated unrecorded 200 before she began the diary), Ballard lost only five mothers and 20 babies; it would not be until WWII that a delivery was any safer than Ballard had performed about a century-and-a-half earlier. I highly recommend picking up a copy of A Midwife’s Tale, as it totally changed my perception of midwifery, and it offers really interesting insights into the world of one woman who, knowing that no one else would tell her story, decided to do it herself.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact campusteam@feminist.org!

Celebrating Independent Women this Independence Day

As we make our way through the week and ever-closer to the 4th of July, the FMF campus team wants to take some time to reflect on key players in our nation's history - or herstory as the case may be.

Every year, we hear the same old stories of the "great men" who wrestled tyranny to the ground with their bare hands and brutish strength...and taa-daaa, here we are in all our perfected masculine glory! Buuuuuut maybe just maybe, there might have been a few important women along the way, too. (Ya think?)

So, throughout the next few days, keep an eye out for entries on some of the amazing women who have strengthened the United States. Hopefully you'll learn something new about our amazing foremothers - and feel free to email us (campusteam@feminist.org) if we've not yet written about your favorite heroine in our nation's herstory!

Who knows, maybe after 233 years of patriotism, we can finally, proudly proclaim some matriotism this 4th.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The New (and improved) Disney Movies

How may of us love being whisked away to the magical world of Disney? Whether we are merrily skipping around Disneyland or simply watching Beauty & The Beast, none of us can deny the happiness that Disney can instill.

However, I’ve noticed that many of their popular films depict women as the “damsel in distress.” Snow White, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty show young women who need the help of a man in order to achieve their dreams. Interestingly, all of these movies are older than some of the more feminist movies Disney has released recently. Yes, feminist movies!

In Pocahontas, we are shown a Native American woman who shows the beauty of nature to John Smith. She is not depicted as a helpless girl who needs a man; rather she is an individual who chooses to be with John Smith. I think this is a very positive movie for young girls to see, but it is not my favorite.

There are critiques of Pocahontas, and most are regarding the portrayal of Native Americans. There is a song "savages" that is played during the film, which speaks for itself. Along with this, the tribe to which Pocahontas belongs to captures John Smith and is shown to be brutal and unforgiving. Clearly, there is some room to improve.

My favorite feminist Disney movie is none other than Mulan.

Mulan has to be the best movie in that it speaks to what we, as feminists, want to see in a children's film. In Mulan, a young Chinese woman is faced with a difficult situation; at the time the movie is set, women were not allowed to join the Chinese military. However, she feels it is her responsibility to protect her family and fight for her country. Thus, she disguises herself as a man and proves to be stronger than her male counterparts. Eventually she is able to defeat the enemy Huns and show all of China that a woman can also be a warrior.

Doesn't this send a better message than Snow White? I think it is crucial that young women are watching movies that inspire them rather than motivate them to find their "Prince Charming."

Although Pocahontas and Mulan are great movies that show women as real women, it is only a small feat for Disney. I think they need to continue making movies such as these, and never revert back to the days of Cinderella or Snow White. Female characters that display confidence and a willingness to lead will help to positively effect the younger generation and ensure a happily ever after.

International Stage Making Breakthroughs for Women


Though many of us are a little bummed out with the loss of one of the world's greatest entertainers and a true global humanitarian, MJ's legacy in advocating for change in this world is not in vain. How so you might ask? Well lets take a look at some recent breakthroughs for women in the world:

Last week, Marrakech, one of Morocco's biggest cities and largest tourist sites, elected its first female mayor, Fatima Zahra Mansouri. She out polled incumbent Mayor Omar Jazouli 54 to 35 votes in the municipal council. This makes newly-elected Mayor Mansouri the second woman in the country's history to take up a mayorial seat. The 33-year-old lawyer representing the Party of Authenticity & Modernity (PAM) is looking forward to the challenge of leading one of Morocco's greatest cities and we applaud her strength and courage. ROCK ON MAYOR MANSOURI!!! Thanks for paving the way for women in the world!

Next up, in Uganda, the government is currently making plans to reintroduce and promote the usage of female condoms as a critical tool for HIV/AIDS prevention this coming fall. Two US-based organizations, Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) and Global Campaign for Microbicides (GCM) met with some of Kampala's local leaders for "advocacy training targeted at donors and national government to ensure successful reintroduction of female condoms" in the country. Of the participants and those leading the training were Mr. Benard Mujuni of the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, members of the Health Development Partnership Group and UNFPA, and the Ministry of Health.

In 2000, female condoms were first introduced into the country but was unsuccessful in sustaining support for distribution, education, and accessibility. Now governmental officials and local leaders are committing themselves to finding new solutions in promoting acceptibility and usage of female condoms and other methods of prevention. Two snaps and a fist bump for the Ugandan government placing reproductive health and women's rights in the center of their HIV/AIDS prevention efforts!

See, the world can get better...and it will get better--one person at a time.

Peace.

Hate Crimes after Stonewall

Yesterday marked the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a series of protests commonly considered to be the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States. In the early morning of June 28, 1969, police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York. Raids of this nature were typical of the homophobic climate at this time. Protests formed outside the bar as Stonewall patrons and passersby fought back against police brutality. Thirteen protesters were arrested.

The police aggression that sparked the riots at Stonewall was, by all accounts, a type of hate crime. And while this type of violence against the queer community is no longer officially endorsed by federal or state officials, it still exists today. In 2008, nearly 1,500 hate-motivated crimes were committed against queer-identified individuals or organizations. Unfortunately, physical violence is a very real threat for members of the queer community.

Of course, some progress has been made in the realm of civil rights for LGBTQ individuals: same-sex marriage has been legalized in 5 states, many states allow same-sex adoption, and there has been a growth in the representation of queer individuals in the media. But with the threat of physical violence still looming over our heads, it's difficult to be comforted by these achievements.

“Gayby” Boomers Are Coming Out

No. They are not coming out like that. (Well, I am sure some of them are, but not because they have queer parents…) Forty-years-ago, in the wake of the Stonewall Riots, there emerged a more adamant, more cohesive queer community than the United States had ever seen. This would become the starting block for the modern gay rights movement. Same-sex couples started claiming their rights after the riots, and for many couples, this meant the right to have a family.

Forty-years-later, the children of Stonewall are speaking out about their experiences as children of queer parents. There was a heartening story on CNN this past weekend about a conservative man who was raised by lesbian mothers, and although most of his politics are conservative, he totally supports same-sex marriage and other same-sex rights. He, like many other children of same-sex parents, is a free-thinking and open-minded individual.

Opponents of same-sex families claim that these children are more likely to be sexually confused, but I have to say that I believe that children in homophobic households are much more likely to be “sexually confused.” Some of the children of same-sex couples admit that they hesitated to invite friends over when they were younger, but this was less of a concern as they grew older. Now adults, many are speaking out in favor of same-sex rights, and some are even writing memoirs.

Society can finally quit speculating as to how children of same-sex couples will develop, as the children (now adults) are ready to speak for themselves. As the nation quietly anticipates the verdict, I must say that I believe that most people will find their stories shocking… Shockingly normal.

Feel free to contact campusteam@feminist.org with any questions or concerns!

Hold the Criticism

Without having any personal experience, I'm going to have to say that it's pretty tough being a mother. Of course, it's probably rewarding most of the time, but it's got to be difficult. Judith Warner, a best-selling author, has a weekly blog for the New York Times called Domestic Disturbances, and her most recent piece was about the criticism mothers recieve.

In this candid piece, Warner recounts numerous stories of stressed mothers trying to deal with stubborn children and balancing their lives. Everyone seems critical of mothers without knowing what is going on in their lives, and almost everyone seems to have an opinion about childrearing.

As Warner mentions, mothers are concerned with being the best role-model and parent possible, and have a lot of pressure put on them by society to fufill that role. Society tells women that they can "have it all" and chides parents who struggle with their kids with shows like Nanny 911 and other "parental emergency" shows that capitalize on the horrors of poor parenting skills. Mothers are real women who have a variety of roles, stresses, and emotions. So, the next time you see a woman struggling with her kid, don't judge, don't scold her, and don't patronize.


Friday, June 26, 2009

FemNews: Ecofeminism Edition

This edition of FemNews features a discussion of ecofeminism. What is it? Why is it important? And what you can do to help! Have a wonderful Friday, our fellow feminists! We hope you enjoy the video and if you have any topics you'd really like to see us cover, email esaliares@feminist.org.


New York Billionaire Destroying Community in Peru


Last week at the Green-Pink Western Regional Training, co-sponsored by the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, and the Feminist Majority Foundation, we learned about the underlying connections between environmental conservation and the strengthening of women’s global rights and health. Today’s New York Times article called “In the Andes, a Toxic Site Also Provides a Livelihood” demonstrates a real life example of this connection.

Ira Rennert is a New York billionaire who owns Renco, an industrial empire that invests in foreign companies. Renco owns the smelting company Doe Run Peru in La Oroya, a town of 35,000 embedded in the Peruvian Andes which has been named one of the world’s 10 worst polluted places by the Blacksmith Institute, a non-profit that studies toxic sites around the world. According to a study in 2005, 97% of the children in La Oroya have toxic levels of lead in their blood as a result of the emissions coming from Doe Run Peru’s smokestacks.

Although Renco is under international pressure to clean the contamination it is producing, the company claims that they cannot do so due to financial difficulties (probably a lie considering the company attempted to buy out Saab this month). In fact, Doe Run Peru has threatened to close rather than take care of the contamination. Terminating operations of Doe Run Peru may improve the health of the people of La Oroya in the long run, but it would also result in the loss of over 3,000 jobs which would destroy the livelihood of the men, women, and children of the already destitute town who depend on Doe Run Peru as a source of income.

The presence of companies like Doe Run Peru as a result of irresponsible foreign investment puts women and children between a rock and a hard place. Thousands of women depend on Doe Run Peru to feed their children and support their families; however, they cannot afford the health care necessary to treat symptoms of lead poisoning. These women are currently living without any job security and on the other hand with the destructive consequences of pollution. Renco and other American investors have the responsibility to maintain environmental and health standards to conserve the environment and the rights of their workers.

Rosa Amaro, a Peruvian woman quoted in the article said “What I still fail to understand is why we are exposed to the risks of American investment, but not to the environmental protections enjoyed by the citizens of the United States.” In so many cases, women and children are the groups that will suffer most as a result of this destructive and irresponsible spending on the part of New York male billionaires such as Ira Rennert.

Appearances are Not Always What They Seem

Violence against women, especially violence that occurs in their own homes, is a serious issue that many may try to pass off as unimportant or not a huge problem, but it is. FMF and other organizations have been working for decades to try to raise awareness of violence against women, but there is still a long ways to go in drastically reducing the amount of violence women experience every day.

Amnesty International, in an effort to raise awareness, has began a bus stop campaign in Germany to raise awareness about domestic violence. The ad uses an eye-tracking camera. It shows a happy couple when looked at, but changes to the man attacking the woman when the person looks away. The poster poignantly says, "It happens when nobody is watching."

By raising awareness of just how prevalent violence is against women, we can hopefully make people realize that it is a problem. Women do not report violence for a number of reasons, and we, as a society, need to encourage them to report. No one wants to believe that women are abused and assaulted in their own homes, but they are and we can only work to combat this violence if people are aware of the problem. Kudos to Amnest International for creating such a powerful ad and for working to raise awareness.

Witchcraft: Still Happening in 2009

Many of us associate witches with Halloween, the occasional monty python skit, or even witch doctors, but it is shocking to hear that people still believe that witches exist! BBC reported on a village called Kisii in Kenya, where those deemed to be witches are actually burned at the stake by the community at large, with support of the local police. Witchcraft is commonplace there, and in many other communities throughout Africa and parts of Asia.

One member of the Kisii community was quoted by BBC, and said, " 'In other communities, there are witches all round but in Kisii we have come up with a new method, we want to kill these people using our own hands.' " REALLY.

Naturally men are in the minority of witches, but are stigmatized for being relatives of other witches.

In 2008, a Nigerian man was arrested for killing 110 child "witches," who had been abandoned by their parents who also believed the children to be witches. The murderer had explained that he had killed the witches, not the children, creating a disconnect between a human life, and one of a "witch." The children are often used as scapegoats to explain links to poverty or pain that adults experience.

I can't honestly say that much is happening on the international level to put an end to witchcraft, as there are seemingly bigger fish to fry than stopping a superstition, although this is an issue that we need to publicize and put a stop to!

Dealing with the Aftermath of Maternal Mortality

One of the biggest issues facing women globally is maternal mortality. The New York Times has had a three part series on death in Tanzania, and has focused on maternal morality. Their first piece was about death in childbirth, and the second was about the high rates of unsafe abortions in the country. Their final piece is about the thousands of children who are orphaned and how one orphanage is trying to help these children.

According to the article, very little is known about orphan care and how poor nations are dealing with the large numbers of children whose mothers die in childbirth or due to botched abortions. Fathers cannot provide the nourishment an infant needs, and so the baby is often sent off to orphanages.

In the majority of orphanages, children can wait for years for someone to come and adopt them, which does not provide them with the emotional stability and care that is provided by a family. Research has shown that children who do not recieve enough physical touching or care form attachment problems.

In the orphanage in Berega, they want to do more than just provide their children with physical nourishment, so the children are cared for by teenage girls until they are old enough to be sent to their families. While this orphanage offers a solution for helping the millions of children who are motherless and stuggling to survive, there needs to be more work done to prevent maternal mortality.

The issue of maternal mortality is not only devastating to the women and families in the developing world, but it also undermines other international development efforts.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pornified Media: Megan Fox and Transformers

After watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I was disappointed by the movie’s quality. Not just because of the shoddy plot, but also because of the further pornification of mainstream media. That’s right; I’m talking about the sexed up lady protagonist Mikaela Banes, played by Megan Fox.



Her introduction: a sexual shot of her buttocks while draped over a motorcycle, leading up to with a generous shot of cleavage running for her life. If she wasn’t flaunting her body to please the male audience, she was desperate for Sam to say he loved her. Great message to send to women and girls everywhere, Michael Bay: that our purpose in life is to have men want us, and be sexy even in the face of danger.




What is really upsetting is how all of this is becoming normalized. Whenever someone watches a movie or a television show, almost always there is a woman flaunting her sexuality, whether directly or indirectly. This is both harmful to a woman’s self esteem and encourages gender violence.




Yes, action films have always been targeted for the gratification of men. Yes, the women characters are often there for fanservice for the protagonists and the primarily male audience. But we are in the twenty-first century. We should be at a period of our time where the main qualities a woman brings to the big screen isn’t her sensuous lips, jaw-dropping body, or a constant desire for sex.



While I will always be a fan of Transformers, I cannot condone what Michael Bay did. He not only destroyed a great pop cultural icon, but he further reinforced negative images of women in the media.

FMF Interns: in Solidarity with the Women of Iran

On Tuesday, June 23, summer interns stood in solidarity with the protesters of Iran in one of the largest Los Angeles demonstrations since the election results in Iran. This demonstration continues to take place near UCLA.

Sidewalks are filled with flags, signs and people wearing green (a symbol of peace and the signature campaign color of Mir Hossein Mousavi). Hundreds of individuals, many of them Persian, crowded the intersection, chanting both in Farsi and English. Drivers honked and gave peace signs in solidarity.
Above: FMF and Ms. Interns, Marianna Nash, Eva McKend, Jenna Leahy and Anita Lederer (left to right).

Feminist Majority Interns showed their support for Iranian women by holding signs which stated, “We stand in solidarity with the women of Iran.” One woman in particular has become a hero to us and the world. Her name is Neda Agha Soltan. Militiaman shot her in the chest during a protest on June 20, a murder which was caught on tape and posted internationally on the internet. She has become a symbol for this fight for freedom.

By now, most have seen the powerful images of Iranian women fighting for their ideals alongside men; their presence has become an integral part of Iranian protests. Nayereh Tohidi, chair of the Gender and Women’s Studies department at California State University, Northridge observed, "Women have become primary agents of change in Iran.”

In a country where the laws of divorce, polygamy, custody, inheritance, and crime are grotesquely biased toward men, women still have far to go in a quest for freedom. Sixty-three percent of college students in Iran are women, yet it is almost impossible for women to access public sector jobs. Therefore, as one demonstration sign said, the current Iranian protests are “not about an election, but a revolution.”

Since 2006, the women’s movement in Iran has been building with demonstrations and international petitions. The One Million Signatures Campaign was created in order to bring attention to women’s discrimination in Iran and to petition Iranian Parliament to revise their current gender-biased laws. The Campaign uses face-to-face and international campaigning to demand reforms in divorce, marriage, polygamy and guardianship. Since the beginning of the campaign, many women have protested in the streets, as they are now.

JOIN THE ONE MILLION SIGNATURES CAMPAIGN NOW!

One Iranian protester declared, "I see lots of girls and women in these demonstrations. They are all angry, ready to explode, scream out and let the world hear their voice.” Mavis Leno, chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Afghan Women and Girls Campaign, alluded to this passion on Larry King Live on Monday, June 22. In the name of freedom, Iranian women are pushing their headscarves back, allowing their faces, anger and fervor to be seen.

Women are taking an active role in the streets of Tehran to demand equality. Their perseverance and bravery continue to inspire us across an ocean. It was an honor to demonstrate in solidarity with them.

STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE WOMEN OF IRAN. SIGN THE ONE MILLION SIGNATURES CAMPAIGN NOW.

Download Mavis Leno’s Appearance on Larry King Live for free with itunes:

"Bleu, Blanc, & Rouge” All Over

The cosmetic company L'Oreal was found guilty of racial discrimination by the The French High Court for its all-white recruitment policy for its Garnier shampoo sales teams. Earlier this year, L'Oreal was accused of whitening Beyonce Knowles' skin in an advertisement for the company's make-up line.
A fax sent out by a division (called Districom) of the recruitment agency Adecco that hired the models for the campaign read that the model should be BBR — “bleu, blanc, rouge” — which are the colors of the the French flag. This term is commonly used in the French modeling world as code for white French people born to white French parents, which would in effect exclude anyone of an ethnic minorities.

L'Oreal's defense in this case was that Garnier wanted to exclude ethnic minorities because consumers would be less likely to buy its shampoo from ethnic models in French shops.

The Paris Appeal Court fined both L'Oreal and Adecco £25,500 (or about $40,649) and ordered them to pay the same again to SOS Racisme, an anti-racist campaign group in France, who have been fighting the case for three years.

I am glad that people are starting to look at how companies market products, especially to women, in a new, more critically-aware way. I remember in 2006 when Italy banned models with a body mass index of less than 18 in response to their concern about the "too-thin" models that it was sending down the runways. Unfortunately, it took the death of Ana Carolina Reston, a Brazilian model, to get the attention of designers and people in the fashion world to take note.

As consumers and citizens, we have the power to fight back against big companies who think that they can do whatever they want at the expense of whoever might get in their way. I applaud groups like SOS Racisme and the French government's action to not stand for such blatant discrimination. This case sends the message to other companies considering committing such overt acts of discrimination for business gains, that consumers do not find this acceptable.

When I see products or companies that market in a discriminatory way, I use my power as a consumer to not buy their products and to tell my friends about the way that a certain company markets. Consumerism has significant influence over big businesses and is a powerful way to make a statement.

If you see acts of discrimination in marketing, let these companies know that as a consumer, you will not support such companies who discriminate against anyone. This can be done through taking your business somewhere else, writing a letter directly to the company, or even just tell your friends about it.

A fellow FMF intern posted a similar article on discriminatory ad campaigns about Burger King. Check out her post to get more information about standing up against businesses that tote discriminatory messages.

FDA Approves Generic Plan B



On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first generic version of Plan B, the emergency contraceptive. The generic is only available by prescription for women ages 17 and under. The generic will be called Next Choice.

OK now stay with me here:

In 1999 Plan B was available by prescription only for women of all ages. Then in 2006, Plan B became available without a prescription for women 18 and older (17 and under still need a prescription). Check out a Timeline

To clarify: While Plan B became available to women 18 and older without a prescription, it is behind the counter as opposed to over the counter. This means that certain places may not stock Plan B or you pharmacist may refuse to sell it to you. Feministing has a good explanation of this vast difference.

Duramed holds marketing exclusivity for the nonprescription of Plan B until August 24, 2009. Which means that until August 24, if you are 18 and older, you cannot buy a generic form of Plan B in nonprescription form.

However the approval of a generic is HUGE news! Generic prescriptions tend to be much cheaper, making the ‘morning after’ pill more accessible to all women. And around August 24th, we can expect Next Choice to be available without a prescription for women 18 and older.

This is one step towards making emergency contraceptive available over the counter to women of all ages!

Supreme Court Rules in Strip Search Case

The Supreme Court ruled in an 8-1 decision today that the strip search of a 13-year old girl by public school officials was unconstitutional. In the majority opinion, Justice Souter affirmed the circuit court's decision that the girl's Fourth Amendment rights had been violated (see pdf of majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions here).

The 13-year old student, Savana Redding, was accused by a fellow classmate of having several tablets of ibuprofin, an over-the-counter drug banned from school property. After getting the tip from the fellow classmate, vice principal Kerry Wilson searched Redding's backpack and pockets, and then sent her to the nurse where she was required to strip down to her bra and underpants. At no point during or immediately following the search was Redding permitted to call her mother.

While acknowledging that Redding's Fourth Amendment rights were violated, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision to hold vice principal Wilson accountable for the strip search. Souter and six other justices ruled that Wilson and other school officials were immune from legal punishment because past court rulings have been unclear regarding the amount of power that administrators have over students.

Justices Stevens and Ginsburg concurred that Redding's Fourth Amendment rights had been violated by the search, but disagreed with the court's ruling on Wilson's immunity. In her opinion, Justice Ginsburg wrote of Wilson's actions that "abuse of authority of that order should not be shielded by official immunity... Wilson's treatment of Redding was abusive and it was not reasonable for him to believe that the law permitted it."

While it is a victory that the court acknowledged Redding's constitutional rights in this case, it is a shame that no one is being held accountable for the undoubtedly traumatic experience that she endured. The court must clarify its position on students' vs. school officials' rights to ensure that what happened to Savana Redding does not happen again.

Rally Alert: Health Care Reform

As the Obama administration sets its sights on health care reform, organizations are gearing up for the push to ensure (ha) that women will receive adequate support from any new plans that are formulated.

At this very moment the Health Care Can't Wait '09 Rally is going on in Upper Senate Park. It started at 11:30 a.m. today, but activist activity will continue until 5 p.m. From 1 to 4 p.m., attendees can visit members of Congress or go to town hall meetings to discuss reform. Health Care for America Now organized the event, which is expected to draw over a thousand people from grassroots organizations, labor unions, and faith groups. Click the link for more details and to learn more about gender equality in health care reform!

Cairo Karate Kids!

As a former karate student, I realize that learning self defense is important, especially for young girls and women. Sexual harassment is a universal dilemma, women leave their houses with a different awareness than men. It's unfortunate but true.

In Egypt, Eighty-three percent of Egyptians and 98% of foreigners in a survey of 1,010 women last year said they were insulted or groped on Cairo streets.

The women in Egypt have decided to take their protection into their own hands by fighting back against the cat calling, grabbing, and unwanted attention. A few Egyptian girls in the working-class district of Embaba practice karate at the youth center, even though it cannot afford mats. Karate student Nada Gamal Saad says, "No one is going to touch me when I can hit them real hard."

Getting these young girls in a predominantly male sport like karate is a huge leap in the right direction. Even in the U.S. there is a divide between "feminine" and "masculine" sports. When I was taking karate in elementary and middle school, my sister and I were two of just a few girls in the class. Encouraging karate only helps to illustrate that girls can be aggressive, rough, tough, and physical just like the boys.

Even our commander in chief has taken initiative to help Egypt become more progressive and safer for women. On June 4th during his speech in Cairo, President Obama said, “I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons,” he said. “I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles, but it should be their choice."

March to the Beat of your Own Drum--this summer in DC!

  • WOMEN
  • Empowerment
  • Expression
  • …Drumming
Combine the above elements in this summer’s the Young Women’s Drumming Empowerment Project's 8-week workshop beginning on July 8th. The workshop is called the Summer Enrichment Program and strives to increase participants' confidence, creativity, and expression.

Participants of this workshop won’t just be sitting around beating a conga, though. The rigorous
schedule includes meditation, yoga, team-building, and healthy snacks/lunches provided by Whole Foods.

The conclusion of the workshop will feature a concert for the public in mid-September, showcasing the participants' hard work while celebrating their raw creativity.

Apply Now!

Jacqueline Sun Joins the FMF Campus Team!

The FMF family is THRILLED(!!!) to announce that Jacqueline Sun will join the Campus Team as a National Campus Organizer in our Los Angeles office!

Jacqueline graduated with honors from the University of California, Los Angeles where she received her B.A. in Sociology and Psychology. At UCLA, Jacqueline was an Alumni Scholar and a volunteer at the LGBT Resource Center. She was also the club president and captain of the Women’s Club Volleyball team at UCLA.

As a publicity intern at Ms. magazine, Jacqueline helped promote many programs at FMF, including the Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics and extensive work on the No on 4 & 8 campaign during the 2008 election.

Welcome, Jacqueline!!

Burger King? More Like Burger Bigot...

I debated over calling any attention to this ad just because I did not want it getting any extra airtime on my account... but then I figured that our audience would be so appalled by it that it would not do anything positive for Burger King.

Anyway, the ad speaks for itself, and I for one am absolutely appalled by the fact that Burger King's marketing department is comprised entirely of sexist idiots. This woman looks like she walked straight out of Stepford and into this ad. What is most alarming to me is the fact that she does not look happy or excited at all; in fact, she looks scared...

I can picture the meeting wherein the BK bigots decided to use this ad. "Hm... maybe endorsing rape is the best way to sell more BK value meals..." This makes me sick.

The BK motto is "Have it your way." I do not know about you, but this is certainly not the way I want to be marketed to... (And this is not the first sexist ad that the company has used. Just Google it.) So join me in a letter-writing campaign to BK. Tell them that this is not "your way," and then take your business elsewhere. This ad did succeed in blowing my mind away, and it took my desire to ever eat at Burger King again with it...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Green-Pink Conference Day 2: Takin' it to the streets!

On June 20th, the West Coast FMF interns and other feminist and environmental activists attending the Green-Pink Western Regional Training traveled to Planned Parenthood Los Angeles' beautiful headquarters for a day of action and action planning! Co-sponsored by the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Sierra Club, and Planned Parenthood LA, the training was an opportunity for people to see women's rights, reproductive health, and environmental activits find common ground and develop a plan of action.

On Saturday, we started out thinking about how to get public attention for our concerns through community organizing and advocacy. Through the session, Community Organizing 101, we learned about the important tactics in effective organizing. We then put our knowledge into action distributing literature on Planned Parenthood's services around South-Central Los Angeles, and raising awareness of the low-/no-cost health services available to the community.

A common misconception is that Planned Parenthood only provides birth control, but the reality is that PP provides testing for STIs, HPV screenings, counseling, gynecological exams, cancer screenings, and more, for both women and men. Planned Parenthood is an integral part of low-income communities.

With the help of all the FMF interns and other conference attendees, we distributed 3300 door hangers advertising the free and low-cost services, in just 2 hours! Planned Parenthood now expects to see a rise in calls and appointments.

After the community action, the conference concluded with a section on advocacy. We learned how easy it is for someone to take a stand on an issue they care about: calling their Senator or Congressperson, circulating a petition, and even visiting your Senator or Congressperson in their field office! Yes, that is right - you can go and have your voice heard! Literally!

We then developed our personal goals and plans of action for when we get back to campus. Julia, another FMF intern and I, developed a plan to tackle welfare reform!

I urge you to speak up for the global issues you feel passionately about. Visit your representatives, launch an activist group, and develop your plan of action. Consider taking action on FMF's Afghan Women's Health Initiative, to reduce maternal mortality in Afghanistan, or FMF's Global Reproductive Rights and Health Campaign, to ensure that women around the world have access to the vital reproductive health services they want and need.

-Anita Lederer, FMF Campus Intern

Day One of the Green-Pink Regional Training Conference Inspires Activism

Last Friday, FMF and Ms. interns, along with about 20 feminist and environmental activists from across the Western states, participated in the Green-Pink Regional Leadership Training conference on Reproductive Rights and Health and the Environment, co-sponsored by FMF, the Sierra Club, and Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. The fusion of these three powerful groups resulted in a conference that was both informative and inspirational.

The first day of the conference served as an opportunity for FMF and the Sierra Club to explore the ways in which the issues of environmental responsibility and women's empowerment are inter-related, through info sessions as well as fun activities. In particular, the Global Reproductive Health and the Environment session outlined the connection between women's empowerment and ability to access and afford family planning, and environmental issues as they relate to overconsumption and population growth.

One issue that really sparked our interest was the impact that access to clean water (or lack thereof), has on women. We also learned some startling facts about the fate of women in Afghanistan. 1 in 6 Afghan women will die during childbirth and many more will suffer from obstetric fistula, which is an easily repaired medical condition, and results due to lack of access to medical care and skilled attendance during childbirth.

To give you a glimpse of some more of the shocking statistics and issues we discussed, consider the facts that:

- 200 million women around the world want to access family planning services, don't have them.
- Education is the single most important factor in determining how many children a woman will have.
- In democratic societies around the world, women only comprise 18% of parliamentary seats.


The list of depressing realities went on and on, but by examining these truths and injustices we were able to see that women's empowerment - through education, household bargaining power, political power, equal wages, employment opportunities, equal access to health care and nutrition, ability to access family planning despite financial or sociological barriers, and equal representation under the law - is absolutely crucial to changing the fate of the world!

After hearing about the reality of the problems facing women and the environment, we were all eager to discuss some solutions. The West Coast FMF interns took the stage as we presented our research on the United Nation's Milennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were agreed upon by 189 nations in 2000 to develop efforts to combat poverty, hunger, discrimination and more. They truly consider issues of gender and the environment in all of their approaches. Unfortunatley, in our research, we discovered that while some progress has been made, more must be done to ensure that the lives of women have dramatically improved by 2015.

Throughout the day we also came across the fact that the U.S., the richest nation in the world, has consistently fallen behind on its promise to commit, at the bare minimum, .7% of its Gross National Income to international family planning funding. We must urge the U.S. to uphold its promises to the women of the world!

Cassie Gardener of the Sierra Club encouraged us to host a Green-Pink Party. This event raises awareness of the inter-relations of women's empowerment and environmental issues while raising $300 to pay for the life-saving surgery for a woman with obstetric fistula.

To conclude the day, Allie McDonald, FMF National Campus Organizer, and Cassie discussed how we can form effective campus organizations to address these issues. This was an opportunity for those who've been involved with campus activism to share helpful advice and ideas, and for those who want to launch a new group to learn the tricks of the trade.

Overall, day one of the conference was an excellent opportunity to discuss important issues with fellow social justice activists. In addition to learning more about these problems, we were inspired to implement solutions on our campuses and communities.

-Danae Garfield, FMF Campus Intern & Hastings College student
Photo: FMF interns Bonarene Wakam and Mary Kwan make their way through the "Barriers to Family Planning" obstacle course.