Tag Archives: women

Risk of assault at the border

Article: https://blog.ecu.edu/sites/genderpoliticsculture/wp-admin/post-new.php

Overview: Every year many migrants will attempt to cross the Mexico-American border coming from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala etc. Many face the risk of sexual assault and rape because they are out numbered by men on the journey. Many take this journey because of fear of violence back home. Many women do not report these cases because of fear of deportation.

Questions: Why does this violence against women at the border go unnoticed? Why is this not a bigger recognized issue ?

“Inspiring Women”: Mattel’s Release of New Barbies

Mattel has announce the release of three new Barbies available for purchase as a part of their series “Inspiring Women.” These new dolls are created to look like Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, and Katherine Johnson. The anticipated release of these dolls is beneficial because it continues to recognize the accomplishments of women as well as takes more steps towards positive inclusion in popular culture. As we progress as a society, it is important to maintain diversity and support positive inclusion of minority groups within popular culture. What are your thoughts on these dolls? Do you believe that Mattel has taken the appropriate steps into becoming a more inclusive corporation? How can other corporations that contribute to popular culture also become more inclusive?


LINK to article for more information.

Women shouldering ‘cost and burden’ in China


As we all know, in recent decades China has established itself as a world economic power after it began its transition from a communist model to a capitalist system. These reforms have brought benefits for their population because it has allowed them access to opportunities and freedoms that were restricted in the previous system. However, there has been an important social cost for women who are the ones who have had to assume the burden of moving from a planned economy to a market economy.

In this article, the author Zhang Lijia analyzes how the participation of women in the labor market of the new China has deteriorated. While in the 70s 90% of women of working age were employed, in this decade only 45% of Chinese women have a job. In addition, currently the average salary of women corresponds to only 67% of that of men.

And why does this situation arise? Because with the opening of markets came many private companies which use unscrupulous practices towards female workers in China. So for example many companies refuse to hire women of child bearing age and sometimes if a woman gets pregnant, they fire her. Even in some cases, they force women to write that “in the next ten years I promise I will not have children”. In this way, China went from a state that defended gender equality to a system of open sexism.

I find this analysis interesting because generally when we talk about economic systems and the advantages of capitalism over communist systems we do not think about gender issues and the case of China is a clear example that despite having a successful economic growth this it has not translated into better social conditions for their women.

Agency and Accountability: Promoting Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding -Substantive Blog #2

This semester I’m interested in exploring the role of the women in postconflict societies because after 60 years of conflict, my country –Colombia has started the post-conflict stage but so far it has no been clear what role is playing the women in the reconstruction. In this paper, Goetz and Jenkins(2016) from the framework of agency and accountability provide an analysis about the participation of the women in peacebuilding in three areas: conflict resolution, post-conflict elections and economic reconstruction  and  they make a critical assessment of the role played by the United Nations as facilitators of this process.

The authors  start from the concept of agency developed by Naila Keeber(1999)  who see Agency as “the ability to define one’s goals and act upon them.” In this approach , Agency can be exercised by individuals as well as by collectivities. This perspective in turn connects with the concept of “empowerment,” defined as the process of increasing people’s ability to make choices.  According to the authors, for the excercise of agency it’s necessary two preconditions: one of them are the resources such as  education, health, livelihood security, and physical security among others. The other precondition are the opportunities  for  decision making. In the context of gender-responsive peacebuilding, these are best conceived of as “associational resources,” which improve  the organizational substance of local and national women’s groups, and “agenda-shaping opportunities,” which allow gender-equality advocates to influence norms and institutions. Goetz and Jenkins (p. 214).

There are three scenarios in which the excercise of women’s agency is key: conflict resolution, post conflict elections and economic reconstruction. In relation to conflict resolution Goetz and Jenkins point out that it’s necessary that women  participate actively in peace dialogues and agreements because this  is a way of ensuring that their voices are heard especially in what has to do with the restoration of their rights and that their issues are included in the post-conflict agenda. The authors cite different researches that have shown that in countries where the women have participated in the peace process, the chance of achieving a more durable peace rose. Unfortunately in many countries the women are not perceived as legitimate actors capable of building peace and they have not been included in the negotiations . In Colombia for example, representatives of women were linked to the peace negotiations only two years after having initiated peace talks with the guerrillas.(p.219).

In terms of the post- conflict elections, electoral quotas are essential instruments for achieving international commitments on women’s political representation and used as a measure of women’s empowerment. According to empirical studies cited by Goetz and Jenkins, in post-conflict countries that implemented gender quotas, women held roughly 30 percent of legislative seats while countries without quotas, women on average accounted for just 10 percent of seats. Notwithstanding the importance of women’s participation in the post-conflict legislative agenda, in this case as well as in the participation of peace dialogues in many countries, women continue to be stigmatized as unable to advocate for reforms that would recognize their status.(p.223)

Regarding the economic reconstruction,there is an area in  which the women play a key role in the post-conflict, this is the food security. Most of the agendas post-conflicts emphasize in the necessity to provide to women access to financial resources, to water and to protect their rights of property on land to guarantee their participation in the food production. However, this policies often are not articulated with commercial policy. In consequence there are not adequate regulation of prices and salaries making the participation of women in this area unfruitful. (p.229)

In the generation of the Agency preconditions and its excercise, the presence of international organisms is vital because most of the countries that have  gone through a stage of conflict  do not have institutional capacity strong enough to face the challenges of the post-conflict. In this way, the  Beijing Platform for Action in 1995 and  later different resolutions of the  United Nations Security Council have seek to involve women in conflict prevention, to protect them during and after conflicts, and to secure their full participation in post-conflict reconstruction. However the authors conclude that  the mechanisms to achieve these purposes have largely failed due to the lack of accountability on the part of the international organizations regarding  their intervention as facilitators of peace talks, donor conferences, and as providers of  women’s organizations of  the associational resources needed to an effective participation in the post-conflict agenda.(p.231)

I consider this article very interesting because it shows  how the structure can obstacle the development of the agency. In this case, the lack of accountabilibity  on the part of the institutions (structure) in charge of accompanying the post-conflict process can limit rather than encourage the participation of women in the reconstruction.

In Colombia we have had many experiences of this nature. As an underdeveloped country that has had to deal with conflict and drug trafficking for many years, Colombia has received aid from many international organizations such as UN, USAID, EU, among others and although these institutions develop interesting initiatives especially with the most vulnerable communities, the results of these interventions do not have the expected impact in my opinion for two reasons: first, because most of the time it is still a model of top-down intervention in which the community is rarely taken into account in the formulation of projects and secondly because they lack accountability which means that it is not possible to make an effective measurement and follow-up of projects and initiatives to know if they are really fulfilling their purposes.


Goetz, Anne Marie and Jenkins, Rob (2016) “Agency and Accountability: Promoting Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding”Feminist Economics Vol. 22, No. 1, 211–236


The Feminine leadership in Davos

Last week the World Economic Forum was held in Davos, Switzerland. This Summit that every year calls many of the most important world’s business leaders, economists and  politicians to discuss a specific theme of global interest, has been seen as an elitist and predominantly masculine event due to the low participation of the women. However,  this year the things have started to change and for the first time in the 47-year history of this conference, seven women were selected to lead the discussions that took place in the Forum. The seven women were: FMI director Christine Lagarde; IBM CEO Ginni Rometty; Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway; Sharan Burrow, general-secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, the world’s largest trade union; Fabiola Gianotti, director-general, European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN); Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE, and Chetna Sinha, founder of  the Mann Deshi Bank, which provides microfinance to women in India.

Likewise, although every year the analysis of gender inequality has been present in the agenda of the Forum, this year this topic had special relevance due in large part to this female leadership and to the impulse the movements like MeToo and Times Up.

I think it is a clear demonstration of the   power of the women and the historic moment that the society is living. Logically, changing the male domain is not something that is achieved from one moment to another but start having presence and voice in these scenarios where the most important economic decisions that impact millions of people in the world are discussed and taken is a good start . I also think that it is important that the media give a greater coverage to this type of news that show women’s leadership and empowerment which would also contribute to changing the social imaginary of women as a weaker sex.




-Monica Calderon

I “just” wanted to point this out…

As students — many of whom will be scouring the job market for opportunities in the near future — we are often preoccupied with the written and spoken language that we use; not solely for the numerous research papers, essays and presentations we are responsible for producing over the course of our educational careers, but because we are aware of the value judgments people make about our dialect and our prose.

How many of you have dedicated an immense amount of time to making sure the carefully-crafted letters and e-mails you send to peers, colleagues and future employers are “just right” before pressing send? We check and double check spelling and grammar, we make sure we use tone that’s appropriate for the intended recipient, and we fire away. Whether we speak on the phone or in person, we tend to be more careful about the words we use because unlike written language — which we are typically free to edit until we are satisfied with the final result — there’s no “taking back” spoken words (or the inflection behind them) when you’re trying to quickly convey a message or attempting to prove yourself worthy to someone whose approval matters to you. We think about our word choices — some people even code-switch between the dialect they use naturally versus the dialect they use in a professional setting — and hope that we aren’t coming across in a way that misconstrues our intent or puts us at risk of negative evaluation.

However, have you ever considered that even the subtle, seemingly innocent word choices you make may be stripping your words of their full power?  Ellen Leanse thinks so.  In her latest article — It’s time to stop using ‘just’ in your writing and speaking (published today at Ragan.com and in its original version located at Women2.com) — Leanse charges women with using the word ‘just’ as “a ‘permission’ word.”

“The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a “child” word, to riff Transactional Analysis. As such, it put the conversation partner into the “parent” position, granting them more authority and control. And that “just” didn’t make sense. … I began to notice that “just” wasn’t about being polite. It was a subtle message of subordination, of deference. Sometimes it was self-effacing. Sometimes even duplicitous. As I started really listening, I realized that striking it from a phrase almost always clarified and strengthened the message.”

Upon noticing the prevalence of the word “just” in the e-mails sent by women at her company, Leanse decided to conduct an informal experiment in which observers listened to a six-minute conversation between a man and a woman about their respective business startups — each had three minutes to speak — while the observers tallied the amount of times they each used the word “just.”  The man used it once; the woman used it either five or six times.  As Leanse states, this experiment was “not research: it’s a test that likely merits more inquiry.”  Until a formal experiment is conducted, I urge you to inquire within yourselves.

Look through your e-mails and text messages.  How often have you used the word “just” in an attempt to sound friendlier or non-demanding?  You may be unconsciously asking permission for your thoughts and words to be validated by others, which can diminish the impact behind them.  Ladies: it is time to stop diluting our convictions, our lofty goals, and our grandest plans with the constant use of what otherwise would continue to be considered an innocuous four-letter word in a sea of written and spoken communication.  I “just” thought you should be aware of your own authority and the power it holds when you wield it with confidence.  Laura Redman

Best Tampon Commercial Ever

A commercial for Hello Flo, a home delivery service that provides essentials for your period, may possibly be the best tampon commercial ever.

From the moment that the young woman says “the red badge of courage”, the audience is captivated. As a matter of fact, it is not hard at all to understand why such a commercial would keep the attention of an audience; especially when a society barely hears the positive mention of a vulva or vagina on television. One must assume that hearing such terms would make any individual pay closer attention, even the attention of a woman who has had her period for the past 11 years.

After all, it is only a young women talking about something that naturally occurs to every woman of sufficient age. Yet, the commercial somehow elicits a shock factor to go with a large side order of humor.

Our society continuously adds more and more gore to the average television program that we, as the audience, have lost the surprise of seeing blood. Yet, the surprise of hearing this young woman discuss something so natural still makes one wonder what is wrong with making more and more commercials such as this one.

Put simply, this commercial is amazing because underneath the large blanket of laughs it shows the viewer the need for a new way of thinking.


Eating Disorders Are Not “White Girl” Diseases

“When eating disorders were first being recognized, people seeking treatment were young, white girls, so the belief developed early that nobody else suffers from them,” says Gayle Brooks, vice president and chief clinical officer of the Renfrew Center, the country’s first residential treatment facility for eating disorders. “When that became the core of our understanding, we stopped looking at diversity being an issue. We missed a lot.” – The Dangerous Myth that Only White Women Get Eating Disorders

Many believe that anorexia is a white girl disease. It’s not, and we need to stop believing it. Eating disorders are dangerous and kill more people than any other mental illness. There have traditionally been two categories of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Now there is a third category: EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) – a catchall term for problematic and dangerous eating habits that do not fit the strict confines of bulimia and anorexia (I believe Binge Eating Disorder – BED – has also been recognized more recently as well).

Eating disorders are widespread and do not discriminate. Unfortunately, the outreach programs, the advertisements and awareness campaigns, and even treatment facilities are predominantly white. Some women of color in need of treatment have trouble relating to the very different cultural context of many white women in treatment programs and may not even get to the point of receiving a diagnosis and treatment because of the widespread belief that EDs are most common among white women. Women of color have also been excluded from most of the research on EDs.

These women often receive the catchall diagnosis of EDNOS because they may not be underweight necessarily or obsessed with thinness (for example, among latino women, the guitar shape is considered more desirable). Different cultural expectations and beauty ideals shape the disorder but the result is often the same: an unhealthy and obsessive relationship with food, dieting, exercise, and body image. For many, eating disorders are a source of control in a world where they feel they have no control and may be triggered underlying factors and fed by unrealistic expectations of what women are supposed to look like. There’s still a lot we don’t totally understand about why some women develop EDs and how widespread it really is the main point is that eating disorders are dangerous and need to be treated. We have to start by dispelling the myths that keep so many from getting the help they really need.

– Lindsay

Glorifying Busy

“Students wrote about them as if they were embarking on a fruitful challenge: maxing out the total credits they could take, being involved in every club, not sleeping. They would reap the rewards of A’s today and impressive resumes later, the health of their bodies not even considered. Several months ago, I was doing the exact same thing.” – Chio in Stop the Glorification of Busy

In this article, Chio looks at the university system as a capitalist machine, forcing students to sacrifice their mental and physical health for the sake of their education all while convincing the world that this is normal, healthy, and desirable behavior. This system tends to be harshest on those who need validation, those who are nearly always structurally disadvantaged and inferior: women and people of color. The university system feeds off of our inferiority complexes and impostor syndromes; we overwork ourselves to make up for it and to be twice as good as the competition.

This is something I’ve definitely struggled with in college to the point that when I quit one of my jobs because I couldn’t handle two jobs and keep up my grades, I felt guilty. I felt like I was lazy and just wasn’t working hard enough. Interesting to compare the current American mindset to the Kung who could work only 23 days to produce 100 days of food. What do you guys think?

– Lindsay Cortright

Gender inequality in African American Intellectual Society (pdf attached)

Anna Julia Cooper Public Intellectuals

In this article, Carolyn M Cusick discusses the role of public intellectuals in society. Especially that of Anna Julia Cooper, a young woman born into slavery and recently appointed as teacher at the renowned M Street High School. Cusick focuses on the exclusion black female academics suffered from their male counterparts, even those who acknowledged the need for equality between the sexes. She speaks of Du Bois, whose printed words recognized the need for gender equality, but rarely acknowledged the work of successful and important women contemporaries. This article does a great job exploring the elitist issues tied in the African American Academic/Intellectualism enlightenment.




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