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September 29 2011

Brazil: Blogging Carnival in Defense of Abortion

The Brazilian blog Blogueiras Feministas (Feminist Bloggers) has selected [pt] a series of posts about the women's right to abortion following a blogging carnival that took place on September 28.

Greece: “Europe, come be in my shoes, before judging me”

Global Voices in Greek translator Margie Lazou posts an open and unvarnished account of her daily struggles as a single mother in crisis-ridden Greece on her personal blog: “All those people out there in Europe, please, come live here, be in my shoes for some time before judging me.”

September 28 2011

Cuba: 14 on Trial for Girl's Death

“It seems that we’re destined to remain in the dark about yet another case that we’ve only found out about through foreign newspapers and independent bloggers”: Rosa Martinez, writing at Havana Times, doesn't understand the authorities' silence on the death of a Cuban minor.

Cuba: Female Prisoner on Hunger Strike

Pedazos de La Isla uploads a video showing “what happened on Saturday, September 24th, to Sara Marta Fonseca Quevedo and other dissidents who were peacefully protesting”, while Uncommon Sense notes that Fonseca has since begun a hunger strike.

September 27 2011

Caribbean: Bloggers Saddened by Wangari Mathai's Death

Bloggers from Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas mourn the death of “The great African (Kenyan) environmentalist…and the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize, Wangari Maathai”.

September 26 2011

Cuba: “Damas” Targeted Again

The Ladies in White were once more targeted this weekend for their “planned march to a church to honor Our Lady of Charity on her feast day” - bloggers have a lot to say here, here, here, here and here.

September 25 2011

Saudi Arabia: Women Allowed to Join Shura Council

Saudi women, who cannot drive in their own country, will be granted the right to become members in their country's 150-member consultative or Shura council, an advisory body which has limited powers in government and legislation.

Iman AlQhatani breaks the news following an announcement made by Saudi monarch King Abdulla bin Abdulaziz.

@ImaQh: Women will be granted the right to be a member in the shoura council from next year #kingshora #saudi

The development, which takes effect beginning next year, was welcomed with joy by netizens.

Waheeb Aldakel shares this photograph of Saudi women congratulating themselves after being given the go ahead to join the Shura Council in their country

Waheeb Aldakel shares this photograph of Saudi women greeting each other outside the Shura Council.

‎#KingShora‏ صوره معبره من قلب الحدث ‎
@waheeeb: This is a telling photograph from the heart of the event

Yazeed Al Mogren responds:

قرار الملك : صفعه في وجه كل من كان جسده في السعودية وعقله في تورا بورا . ‎#KingShora
@Yazeed143: The King's decision is a slap in the face for everyone whose body was in Saudi Arabia and whose brain was in Tora Bora

Saudi Mai Al Shareef pledges:

والله ما اكون مي بنت محمد ان ما وصلت للشورى و اخذت حقي و حق امي و بنات بلدي بنفسي
@Maialshareef: I swear by God that I am not Mai, daughter of Mohammed, if I don't get to the Shura Council, and claim the rights taken form my mother and daughters of my country by myself

The decision was also met with criticism towards Saudi Arabia's policies towards women, and men for that matter.

Saudi Ahmed Al Omran laments:

@ahmed: Shoura Council is still unelected, and municipal councils are powerless, but women participation is an important progress. #Saudi #KingShora

Lou-kay quips:

@lou_kay: I really fail to admire a right that is taken away, and then repackaged back as a gift.. #KingShora #SaudiArabia

And Palestinian Yousef Munayyer adds:

@YousefMunayyer: So Saudi Arabia finally made it to the beginning to last century?

It is indeed big victory to Saudi women but the question on many netizen's minds remains:

@Zeinobia: Congratulations to the Saudi women for the vote right but who will drive them to electoral committees

September 24 2011

Update on Global Voices Mentorship: Meet the Activists

For over a month, ten Global Voices bloggers have been working with activists from ten different countries as mentors of members of the new Blogger Swarm of Activista, the youth network of international development organization ActionAid. The mentorship focusses on blogging, networking and online capacity building.

A group photo of the Blogger Swarm

Members of the Activista Blogger Swarm (pictured here) are each working with a Global Voices mentor

In a previous post we introduced all the participants, and now we would like to invite you to find out more about the activists involved, via the Activista Youtube channel. Here's Kodili, from Uganda, sharing why she became an activist, her motivations and her expectations of the Blogger Swarm project:

Follow the Swarm!

The Blogger Swarm aims to put youth at the forefront of the discussion about food and climate justice, the issues on which the activists involved are focusing their individual work and research.

With the help of Global Voices mentors they are working on their blogging skills while getting more comfortable with using digital tools for collaborative work and online networking. Here is a list of some of their latest blog posts:

To stay updated subscribe to the Blogger Swarm blog or follow our mentors and mentees list on Twitter.

Thanks for supporting this initiative!

Global: Interview on NATO's Evolution

We Magazine's Ulrike Reinhard interviews NATO's Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Dr. Stefanie Babst on video about the “we” in their work, and how NATO has evolved over time as an organization - touching on globalization, gender equality, multi-national defense spending, political leadership and communication.

September 23 2011

Cuba: “Damas” March Tomorrow

Uncommon Sense will have his eye on Cuba tomorrow as “the Damas De Blanco ('Ladies In White)…participate in a march and other ceremonies commemorating Our Lady of Mercy, the patroness of prisoners, a fitting celebration for a group committed to advocating for the release of Cuban political prisoners.”

September 22 2011

Cuba: Image of a Free Woman

Rebeca Monzo examines the new image of the Cuban woman, saying: “In official spheres they speak of the revolutionary woman, mother, comrade, worker, housewife. But what’s certain is that, more and more, our women suffer transformations that are detrimental to their appearance and self-esteem.”

Cuba: Officers Sentenced

Crossing the Barbed Wire blogs about three officials of the National Revolutionary Police who will be serving prison terms “presumptively [for] overrul[ing] charges (in exchange for gifts) against a truck driver who ran over a woman on a public road more than a year ago.”

September 21 2011

Cuba: Interview with “Habanastation” Actress

Havana Times interviews Claudia Alvariño, the actress “who plays an important supporting role in the recently released Cuban film ‘Habanastation'.”

Global: Reflections on Peace Day 2011

Every year since 1982, people all around the world join forces on September 21, the International Day of Peace, to show their own commitment to worldwide peace and to work in cooperation for this goal. Events around the world range in scale from private gatherings to public concerts, and online initiatives.

Among these, there is The SunFlower Post, a new project where young females from different parts of the world write local news from a gender perspective. Their bloggers have chosen worldwide peace as the theme of the month, as the Editor in Chief, and Global Voices author, Andrea Arzaba explains:

Our bloggers will be writing about different issues towards Peace with a gender and local perspective. Do not miss this opportunity to learn about their countries. Let’s create a space for multicultural discussions and understanding.

Kicking off the series from Mexico, Andrea Arzaba comments on the last yearly governance report speech given by the president, and his focus on the future. She advocates that for a country to achieve future peace, it is necessary to focus on the actions of now:

Calderon focused on the drug war problems and situation that has grown during his presidency, as well as the economical crisis that Mexico faces. He focused on insecurity, on the moment of confusion and sadness that people are living today. He focused on “a better tomorrow”. But … what about today?

I felt he did not gave importance on his actions for achieving peace, which is crucial at this moments of uncertainty. I believe his intentions are good – trying to defeat drug-dealing crimes, but we need to pay attention on the roots of the problem.

Educated children and values are crucial to achieve peace. When we have young people involved in the drug war this is because they did not have a proper education, they did not have enough opportunities to do something else and earn money in a different way. They are inside this cycle, one that will not let you get out easily.


Photo by Flickr user jm (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From China, Amily Yang points out that traditional Chinese wisdom like Dao and Zen can be recipes to achieve inner-peace. Paradoxically, reflecting on a recent high-speed train crash that killed more than 35 passengers, she laments that this wisdom is barely present in the fast-paced China of today. She challenges her fellow Chinese to slow down in order to find inner peace:

The high-speed train was supposed to be a gift for the nation, yet officers were getting commands to fasten the project. One example is that a driver only spent 10 days learning – and normally it would take him about 3 or 4 months in training.

EVERYTHING is fast in China. Students hurry to find a job and get promotion, workers hurry to make more products, women hurry to find a husband and get married, officers hurry to make the GDP number shining and good for their promotion. We are moving towards a better society, for we think we are moving faster and developing.

Yes, developing is the key word, especially when an economy is emerging. That is the only focus today for the country.

“Please my China, slow down and wait for the people to follow up, do not focus too much on just hurrying up.” is a popular phrase, widely spread.

We have peace now, with no war or conflict in the country.

We have peace now, so that the State focuses on developing our economy.

But how about inner peace? Could the State somehow slow down a little bit, to catch up with what the citizens really need, as family values, as food security, as trust among the nation, as no corruption. Are people allowed to slow down a little bit, to find peace?

That could also be a question for individuals. I dare you slow down, to make a choice among all the good stuff you desire, and find what you really care for? To find your inner peace…

Where Does Peace Begin? This is one of the eternal questions that Natalia Semicheva constantly asks herself. She is from Russia, a country that according to the Global Peace Index 2011 occupies 147th place among 153 peaceful states, this means a high level of violence and crime. She argues that the more aggressive you are, the more you start to understand peace:

Not in the UN resolutions, but in our families. Peace should come from your mother’s hug, from your husband’s kiss, from the first steps of your child. We should start focusing in our relatives and friends, respecting our parents, taking care of our children. Before loving humanity, we should first learn to love each other in our little family world. Only then we could share that inner peace with everybody that we meet in our life.

Islamic Peace

Photo by Flickr user Trey Ratcliff (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Turkey, Neslihan Çiflik wonders about the end of war:

I haven’t been present in any period of war during my life. I’m watching death like watching a movie on TV. My consciousness can’t accept reality. Even I can’t put myself in their place. I can’t think that it could also happen to me.

Unfortunately, there is war with or without guns.

It’s embarrassing to sit safely at home and write a letter of peace.

You know why? Because it sounds terrible that a human is killing some other, more than when someone is killed somewhere, far away. I’m not dying with this dying person. I’m getting dirty with the killer and I’m carrying this disgrace in my skin, in my blood.

Maybe I’m collapsing someone’s safe house, stealing his or her breath and his or her smile in this world. And maybe stealing her children’s smile as well.

I couldn’t believe that I can do or may do all of these. It’s a terrible shame.

This can’t be our aim to be born. My existence can’t give any pain to another person.

According to me that war is unbelievable from these sides. People die of disease or disaster. But this is not a disease, this is not a disaster, this is not faith.

Why do I do this? Our old world needs peace. Human, nations, environment, animals and herbs, and states are tired.

Finally, Anna Zemblicka from Latvia remembers August 23, 1989, the day two million Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians joined hands to form a massive human chain. It was The Baltic Way that Moved the World:

The Baltic Way encouraged democratic movements throughout the Soviet Union and with it, international society payed attention to the Baltic region in a great extent. Within a year and a half, all three Baltic countries formally declared their independence. By September 1991, the world’s governments recognized their independence.

Historians and other experts claim that the Baltic Way “created a precedent that was and hopefully will be, followed by a number of countries all over the world – the triumph of humanity over totalitarianism in a peaceful way”.

The The SunFlower Post will publish more stories throughout the month. Check back at the website or follow the project on Twitter and Facebook to read what bloggers from other countries will add to the peace series.

World Peace Gong

Photo by Fabio Gismondi (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Peace Day is an opportunity for reflections on individual and planetary progress toward peace, and time for “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples”, as the U.N. Resolution that established the International Day of Peace explains.

Mozambique: Sant'Egidio Community Fights Back Against HIV/AIDS

Lack of access to care for HIV positive people has been well documented on the African continent. Many initiatives strive to show that things could improve with collective effort, and among them is the Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition (DREAM) program.

DREAM was created in 2002 by the Sant'Egidio Community in Mozambique, and takes a comprehensive approach to fighting HIV/AIDS. Cristina Cannelli, leader of the Guinea DREAM program, explains the special relationship [it] with the African continent, especially Mozambique:

"Free care here". Image by Sant'Egidio photo service.

"Free care here". Image by Sant'Egidio photo service.

La Comunità di Sant'Egidio è profondamente legata all'Africa, anche perchè la Comunità stessa è una realtà africana. Esistono Comunità di Sant'Egidio in 26 paesi  del continente con più di 20.000 membri africani. Un legame particolare con il Mozambico, dove nel 1992 fu firmata la pace che pose termine ad una terribile guerra civile grazie alla mediazione della Comunità, condusse a scegliere il Mozambico qualeprimo paese in cui lanciare il programma DREAM.

The Sant'Egidio community is deeply linked to Africa, in part because the community itself is anchored on the continent. The community is present in 26 African nations and has more than 20,000 members. A special relationship exists with Mozambique because in 1992, the Sant’Egidio community contributed to the peace treaty agreement that ended the civil war. That's why Mozambique was the first choice for implementing the DREAM program.

Today DREAM is present in Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Guinea (Conakry), Guinea (Bissau), Nigeria, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. The basic philosophy of the program is:

…that DREAM is meant to provide excellent care, diagnosis, as well as top health structure and technology. DREAM offers a customized adaptation of the Western standards by routinely testing for viral load in Africa and introducing Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART)

A DREAM success

The sheer numbers of the DREAM activity throughout the continent are impressive: 150,000 people have been treated of which 25,000 were aged 15 years or younger,  65,000 patients have benefited from anti-retroviral therapy of which 6,000 were children. DREAM also successfully interrupted vertical mother-to-child HIV transmission for 14,000 births from HIV positive mothers.

Since the beginning of the program more than 1,000,000 people have benefited from the DREAM program via health education, water filtration, food supplies, mosquito nets, prevention programmes on television, radio and the workplace.  In total, the DREAM centers have performed 1,300,000 medical consultations, 276,000 viral load tests and 540,000 CD4 tests.

Celebrating the good health of the children at the mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention centers. Image courtesy of the Sant'Egidio community.

Celebrating the good health of the children at the mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention centers. Image courtesy of the Sant'Egidio community.

For such a large organisation to run properly in so many countries with many different spoken languages, qualified personnel is a must, which is why the community has organized 18 workshops throughout the continent for 4,000 health professionals. Mobile teams travel to reach the most isolated patients.

In order to engage the local institutions, DREAM states that:

Many structures are active thanks to the collaboration and agreement between  local health centers and DREAM to reproduce the DREAM program.

However, patients also are actively contributing by committing to actively fight the HIV pandemic by becoming volunteers:

In each and every DREAM centre, medical and paramedical personnel are flanked by local men and women who have decided to commit themselves to working for patients who come to our centres. They decided to do so when their own lives were remarkably transformed after they came in contact with our services.
There are relatively large groups of such people and they constitute an indispensable resource for the success of the programme. Most, but not all, of them are sick. They are our “campaigners”.

September 20 2011

Ukraine: Short Films by Youth for Gender Equality

The average Ukrainian woman is highly educated, yet earns about 30 percent less than the average man in a similar position. She is more likely to become unemployed or not get hired at all because she might get pregnant. Even if she has no children, she is still carrying out the majority of household duties, which prevents her career development. She also has a nearly 50-percent chance of experiencing violence in her home.

While the laws in Ukraine, including in the country’s constitution, establish legal equality between the men and women, closing the gap between the legislation and its implementation is a difficult task. However, traditional attitudes and values are slowly changing, and ordinary citizens as well as women's rights advocates, are playing an important role in this process. In August 2010, for instance, over 1,000 people marched [en] in Ukraine's capital Kyiv to condemn domestic violence, and hundreds of volunteers joined the domestic violence awareness campaign.

A video competition for young Ukranians

From June 17 to September 10, 2011 a group of talented youth submitted [en] their entries to a short film competition about gender called “Gene of Equality”. Participants had to produce 5-minute films in one of two categories: “5 minutes of gender equality” or “5 minutes on domestic violence prevention.” The competition is sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme and the European Union Delegation to Ukraine.

The winners will be selected by a jury, while short films will also be voted on by YouTube users. Already, the online videos have been viewed nearly 50,000 times, and the best will be screened at the short gender film festival scheduled to take place in Kyiv in October 2011.

Below is a selection of films that can be understood by speakers of any language, and you can see more of the films submitted on the YouTube page, GenderTube.

“Violence in the family – a life ripped to pieces” - by “Infinity”

“Change your focus – don’t perceive a woman just as a sex object” - by “Just a kilo”

“And What About Your Family?” - by “Divine Animators”

“Craftsmanship has no gender” - by “NONAME_GROUP”

September 19 2011

Cuba: Talented Singers

Havana Times interviews Cuban singer Evelyn Garcia Marquez “who comes from a family of recognized musicians” and posts an update on the health of popular singer-songwriter Sara Gonzalez, who is recovering from surgery.

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