From leading a revolution against a dictator to eliminating a tampon tax, women are changing the world every day. Here is what we are reading this month at WomenStrong.
“It wasn’t until 2011 that the US started using a female crash-test dummy – although, as we’ll see, just how “female” these dummies are is questionable.”
-Caroline Criado-Perez, in The Guardian
For most of our history, the female perspective has either been ignored, rewritten, or erased. The silencing of half our population has resulted in the so-called “gender data gap,” which has leaked into our understanding of both the past and the present, influencing film, news, media, literature, city planning, economics, and more. The “absent presence” of the women’s perspective is not only harmful; it can become deadly. From working every day in an office with a male-centric temperature setting to the designing of cars aimed to protect the male body, women are experiencing sexism and violence every day, simply by existing in a world built by and for men. It’s time to fill in the gender data gap. It’s time to start designing women in. #womenintech #girlengineer
“Zapatista women—and their stories of courage and dignity—remind us that revolutionary struggles cannot achieve collective liberation for all people without addressing patriarchy.”
-Victoria Law, in BitchMedia
Nothing for us, without us! Women in the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico, fought for a society where they were equally represented. As a result of their experiences, stories, and voices being central to the decision-making in their community, Zapatista women have forever changed their society. For example, the ban on alcohol due to its correlation to high levels of domestic abuse was largely led by these women. These indigenous political leaders, insurgents, health and education promoters, and coordinators of economic cooperatives say this is just the start, and we can’t wait to see what’s next!
“I imagine that many girls whose caretakers told them that they were bold, smart, and strong – that they could be anything they wanted to be – were confused when books limited us to princesses, sisters, and friends.”
-Katy Kreitler, in Everyday Feminism
The lack of female representation in the media is not new. Yet we rarely consider how the youngest of us are being influenced by seemingly innocent books. Books teach children what to like, how to act, how to distinguish right from wrong, and what role to play in life, all of which impact the formation of a child’s gender identity. In 2012, “boys were twice as likely as girls to appear as central characters in children’s books. They were also twice as likely to appear in book titles” (Kreitler). Both girls and boys need to be exposed to stories where the lead is a strong female character, so that children can understand earlier that women and girls can be powerful, too. “Books matter. So check them out before you ‘ahem’ check them out” (Kreitler).
BBC News (Video)
Watch women supporting women in this inspiring video. Worth the watch! “A group of women in Madagascar, who have had life-changing surgery reparative surgery to Female Genital Cutting , are traveling to remote villages to help others who need similar treatment. They’ve become patient ambassadors, using the power of their own stories to persuade others to get free medical help” (BBC News).
The tax on menstrual products “disproportionately affects low-income women… The fact that they’re charged more for an essential sanitary product because of the GST (Goods and Service Tax) is unacceptable.”
-Ann Deslandes, in Ms. Magazine
We celebrate our sisters in Australia for their successful activism against the tampon tax! In June 2018, following 18 years of feminist activism, Australia’s Senate passed the “Axe the Tampon” Tax Bill. The tampon tax, a sales tax on feminine hygiene products, has been widely criticized worldwide for the disproportionate financial burden it places on women and girls. In the US, the tax can rise as high as 10.25 percent (Chicago), with only 11 states opting out of the tax. The tremendous success of Australia’s “Menstrual Avengers” in repealing the tampon tax reminds us that if we just keep on fighting for our rights as tirelessly back home, we, too, just might succeed!
Feminist Majority Foundation
“Girls are subject to a specific clothing requirement that renders them unable to play as freely during recess, requires them to sit in an uncomfortable manner in the classroom… and distracts them from learning. Defendants have offered no evidence of any comparable burden on boys.”
A judge ruled that a North Carolina school’s dress code prohibiting girls from wearing pants is unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection clause. After three students complained that the dress code was “antiquated” and perpetuated “discriminatory stereotypes,” the students, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued their charter school. Join us in celebrating these students’ success as we continue to advocate for a girl’s right to learn, free from restrictions due to her gender!
On April 2, Chicago made history by electing its first openly gay, black female mayor. Lori Lightfoot won by a decisive landslide and will focus her attention on education reform. Ms. Lightfoot expressed the importance of young boys and girls seeing themselves represented in politics, tweeting, “They’re seeing a city where it doesn’t matter what color you are, where it sure doesn’t matter how tall you are, and where it doesn’t matter who you love.” Congratulations to Ms. Lightfoot!
The New York Times
“I could do robotics, too…If I just knew what it was,” she added. “And if my dad allowed.”
-Danna Harman, in the New York Times
In the summer of 2017, five young girls made history when they participated in a competition as the first-ever, all-female Afghan robotics team. After the girls were denied visas to enter the United States for a competition, the international community rallied behind the team and pressured Congress to grant the girls temporary visas. The team has since become an international sensation and has had the opportunity to meet with world leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald J. Trump, as well as famous celebrities like Will.i.am. Back in Afghanistan, though, their everyday lives are a lot less glamorous. Fatemah, one of the girls on the team, shared that whenever they go home to Afghanistan, they must change their behavior, like traveling with a chaperone or hiding their smiles. Furthermore, the newly empowered Taliban, known for their repression of women’s rights, worries the young girls, especially when they think about their future education and aspirations vis-a-vis robotics. Yet, when asked if they would like to live in the United States, most of the girls were adamant about their desire to remain in Afghanistan, their home. They stated that they want the opportunity to continue their education and their dream in their home country, and they hope to inspire other girls to do the same.
“[Some working women are] so oppressed by the regime,” she said. “They can’t afford to protest the government. They’ll lose their jobs, can’t feed their family. So we are protesting for them.”
-Iliana Hagenah, in CBS News
In bringing down Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year dictatorship, “women have been at the forefront of the protests…organizing marches and standing on each others’ shoulders to lead chants calling for his ouster” (Hagenah). Leading the charge, Sudanese women stood bravely against the government in support of change. Just last week, they were tear-gassed by Sudanese security forces while protesting outside a women’s prison. One previously incarcerated protester, Marine Alneel, is proud of her sisters and their momentous accomplishment, stating that, “Women in Sudan were known as warriors, politicians, and pioneers against colonialism” (Hagenah). We celebrate these fierce women’s rights advocates and salute their determination to continue to fight until their country finally sees lasting democratic change!