Wednesday, 28 November 2012

ARTICLE: A look at gender violence in NZ

Amnesty International has a good blog called 'Human Writes', and the most recent post was a look at domestic violence again women in New Zealand:

I have lived in New Zealand for just over a year, and I do have to say that there are a lot of news items, both nationally and locally, on violence again women and children in the the home.

When I lived in Nelson, there was a weekly write up in the local newspaper of the arrests that had taken place that week. There were clearly two distinct categories in these arrests - drinking in public places, and 'domestic violence against women'......and there were at least 3 of these latter arrests every week in Nelson alone!

I agree with the writer of the article above that culture, and 'family' can not be used as an excuse to hide violence in the home. Domestic violence is NEVER appropriate, no matter where or who you come from.

Please read the Amnesty International blog entry, and comment.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The start of a long investigation : China's missing women

A global issue that I am keen to investigate thoroughly in this blog is the case of China's 'missing women'. It is predicted than by 2025, there will be 20 million more men than women in China. This is due to several different reasons, not just the one-child policy, which I will be researching at length with the help of this book:

I will be visiting this issue many times, but just to start off with;

I was reading a 'Viewpoint' article on the BBC website on Chinese women, in particular economic migrants who move from the countryside to the cities to work. These women work in shops and factories to earn considerable more money than they would tilling the fields. However, most are unable to take their children with them, and the kids are left behind to be looked after by their grandmothers. These children grow up expecting very little contact or affection from their parents.

It is a very interesting article, looking at the lives of Chinese women who were once described by Chairman Mao as 'holding up half of the sky'. Please read it if you get a chance, and start to consider what would happen in a China, or indeed a whole world, where there are millions more men than women.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

NEWS: Female voters swing the American election

So I can breath a sign of relief that Obama is still the US president. But look at these interesting figures from the BBC website ( on female voters:

"Men and women split between the candidates: overall, 55% of women voted for Mr Obama, 44% for Mr Romney. For men, 52% voted for Mr Romney and 45% for Mr Obama.

However, there was a division between married and unmarried women: 53% of married women voted for the Republican candidate, while Mr Obama won unmarried women two-to-one: 67% to 31%."

Could this be because unmarried women don't have rich husbands to fall back on, so have to think more carefully about their futures? And could it be that women, both married and unmarried, don't like the idea of being dictated to about what they can or cannot do with their own bodies?

I just know that I wouldn't trust anyone who was planning to outlaw contraception and abortion. I'm just glad that the American women who are in the same 'sub-category' as me - 'unmarried women' - seem to have their heads screwed on. 

They may have just saved the world from nuclear war.

Friday, 2 November 2012

15 year old girl murdered by parents for 'looking at boys' - A look at 'honour killings'

A 15 year old Pakistani girl has died by being doused with acid and beaten by her parents for 'looking at boys on motorbikes'. The girl died after her parents failed to call for help.
The full article on BBC Urdu about the court case can be found here:

This is another example of ‘honour killings’, when male family members take it on themselves to punish, and sometimes kill female family members for ‘dishonouring’ the family. Here is what Amnesty International has to say about honour killings:

"In some societies, women are often looked upon as representatives of the honor of the family. When women are suspected of extra-marital sexual relations, even if in the case of rape, they can be subjected to the cruelest forms of indignity and violence, often by their own fathers or brothers. Women who are raped and are unable to provide explicit evidence, are sometimes accused of zina, or the crime of unlawful sexual relations, the punishment for which is often death by public stoning...
...Assuming an accused woman's guilt, male family members believe that they have no other means of undoing a perceived infringement of "honor" other than to kill the woman."

Acid burning seems to be used prolifically when punishing women. Women who turn down a suitor, or do not get on with their new in-laws run the risk of having their faces or bodies covered in acid. This can cause blindness, and horrendous third-degree burns over the body.

I am horrified by the sheer number of women who are murdered in this way! According to the BBC article, 943 women were murdered in honour killings in 2011 alone. I’m trying to find out if this is for the world, or just Pakistan. Either way, it is a sickeningly high number.

So are the culprits being punished? The Amnesty International website says:

“Governments do little to prevent the sale of acid to the public or to punish those who use it to kill and maim.”

After doing a very quick google of the issue, I came across another recent incident where 5 women in Pakistan were thought that have been killed for clapping their hands to men dancing at a wedding. View the video here of the incident:

So what are we going to do about this? I am going to write to Amnesty and ask them if there are any current campaigns or petitions lobbying politicians to pay more attention and to do something about acid attacks and honour killings. I will also do my own research into petitions and campaigns and post any findings on this blog. If you come across any campaigns or petitions that are specific for this issue PLEASE post a comment below.

As so eloquently put by the Amnesty website:

Violence against women is a violation of human rights that cannot be justified by any political, religious, or cultural claim.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Bad Body Double

This is my first entry on the blog that is not an article, or piece of news that I am citing, but instead just an observation that I have made in my daily life with regards to women.

I was working at the shop today, and overheard two of my (female) colleagues saying to each other "Oh wow, she looks amazing! What a great photo! She's stunning!" whilst looking at photographs on the computer. Naturally I was intrigued as to which celebrity they were checking out online - perhaps a photo on the red carpet of a beautiful, but skinny Hollywood gal, or maybe a outdoorsy-hiker-skydiver-cycling superwoman scaling a vertical cliff.

To my surprise, they were looking at this:

.........The New Zealand Women's Body Building Championship..................

I know that bodybuilding is a BIG thing in the USA, and I know it is quite popular here too, but I can never quite get my head around why this is considered 'beautiful'. Can someone help me out? Opinions?

It's not specifically body building for women that I'm uncomfortable about, but the whole idea. Am I missing something about this art form? Does this depict female empowerment?

When I talked to my colleagues about it, they were extremely enthusiastic about the beauty of it, and indeed one of them used to be a bodybuilder. What struck me as an even nastier fact about the 'sport' is how thin the women are expected to get. I heard the weights "50" and "52" kilograms, mentioned. That is much lighter than me!

On the other hand, I very much doubt that any women are FORCED to do bodybuilding, so they are doing it out of their own choice completely. But am I alone in feeling that this type of body distortion (male AND female!) does not encourage us normal people to have a sensible body image?

And what is with the TERRIBLE fake tan?

For some more wonderful images of women bodybuilders, there is a Google Image search click here

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

NEWS: 14 year old Pakistani blogger and campaigner for girl's rights shot by Taliban

Malala Yousafzai

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai first came to public attention in 2009 when she wrote a BBC diary about life under the Taliban. Now recovering from surgery after being shot by the militants, the campaigner for girls' rights is in the spotlight again.

Read the full article here:

Saturday, 13 October 2012

VIDEO: Australian PM strikes back

My father sent me this video. Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the Australian Labor Party, strikes out at the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, accusing him of being sexist and misogynistic. 

The Speaker of the Australian Parliament has recently been suspended for sending sexist text messages about female MPs, and Tony Abbott is trying to use this occurrence to demonstrate that the PM is unfit to does that add up?

Honestly, I know very little about the Australian parliament, but I think this deserves some research and followup. Julia Gillard is the first female Prime Minister in Australia and now runs a coalition government with the Green Party. Tony Abbott runs a coalition opposition of the Liberal and National (Conservative) Parties.

I say, good on Julia Gillard for fighting back. I wish I could ad lib as well as her!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

NEWS: Funding for Women's peacemaking roles


A former US ambassador has announced a multimillion-dollar pledge to support a UN resolution calling for women to be included in decision-making positions at all levels of peacemaking and peacebuilding.
Swanee Hunt, a lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, said the Institute for Inclusive Security, which she chairs, would provide $2m (£1.2m) each year to advance women's participation in peace efforts, as called for in the 2000 UN resolution.
Hunt said roadmaps to accelerate women's role in peacemaking have been adopted by the US and 37 other countries but there was not enough progress.
"When it comes to the value of women's strong participation in securing lasting, just peace, there's no longer a debate," Hunt said. "Instead, there's a need for meaningful action." Hunt announced the pledges during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York which ended on Tuesday.
The new funding will be used to deploy experts to work with government officials, legislators and civic leaders on issues including strategic planning and adding women to negotiating teams.
It will assist watchdog groups to track governments and hold them accountable. Initiatives to bring women into decision-making involving war and peace will also be assessed. Fewer than one in 40 signatories of peace agreements since 1992 have been female, says a Unifem report.
- - - - - - - - - - - 
Good to see that the UN is finally paying attention to its pledge that it made 12 years ago! But how far will $2million actually go? When I worked in London, my team alone has a budget of £6million to look after underachieving schools JUST in London. Maybe that budget was excessive, but $2million for the entire peacemaking agenda across he world seems pretty minusule...

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

1000 Women And A Dream

Hi there.

I have created this blog for a rather specific reason. I have no intention of writing about ‘everyday life’ in an incoherent, non-related stream of posts. Instead, I intend to use this blog as an observation record.

I have noticed over the last couple of years how the role of women in our society has been changing. Yes, we have had the sexual revolution, we have ‘equal’ employment rights and we can chose how many children we have, or not. But it has struck me recently how the idea of a modern, first-world woman has been morphed into this contradictory, confusing, twisted, sick and unrealistic role. I would like to use this blog to work out some of these issues, and come to some kind of conclusion. I will attempt to explain what is happening in the media, politics and society that causes these mixed messages of ‘what makes us women?’

I have no intention of using this blog to shout stereotypical feminist diatribes, but instead would like to highlight articles, books, films, discussion or just thoughts that I have that I feel may contribute to this explanation.

Another reason for creating this blog is quite a selfish one – I intend to study International Relations at postgraduate level in the near(ish) future, and I’m planning to study with a focus on population, fertility and family planning. I am interested in investigating the links between women’s rights, motherhood, poverty, population controls, gender skews and global warming. This blog will give me the freedom and space to explore some of these issues (hopefully with some useful input and feedback from any readers) before I start thinking about putting together a Masters dissertation, or a PhD.

So all-in-all, welcome to the blog and I hope you keep reading. Feel free to suggest books, articles, films or anything really that will provoke a productive discussion!