The Women's Empowerment Series Elevates Voices Regarding Feminism, Women Veterans And Millennials

 

            THE WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT SERIES * BLOG POSTS
  
      Thoughts on 21 C
entury Feminism by Dr. Marilyn Tinari 
March is Women’s History Month and it provides an excellent opportunity for conversations with our girls – daughters, family members, students, mentees- starting with why a month specifically designated for “women’s” history. As with Black History Month in February, the need for time periods set aside to recognize specific groups speaks volumes about whose stories and struggles are excluded in our larger national and global narratives. When our girls fully understand that history is fact filtered through the perspective and experience of those empowered with the voice and means to record it, they can appreciate that much of what they learn and accept as the full story is, in fact, his-story.
I encourage you to bring “Her-story” to your daughters, sharing the stories of truly powerful women whose achievements were not on the stage of conquest and conflict, as is so much of our recorded history, but to advance common human needs and rights. You might start with those women who have made their marks in a girl’s area of interest, such as Rachel Carson and Dian Fossey in conservation or Audre Lordes and Zora Neale Hurston in literature. Online resources are plentiful but most important are the follow up conversations with girls about the traits these women model.
The Women's Empowerment Series elevates VOICES regarding feminism, women Veterans and Millennials. Of course, our ultimate goal is to empower girls and young women to develop their voices and to have the skills and confidence to take action. Girls find that empowerment in the Girls’ Empowerment Zone summer and school year programs.
Join us for GEZ and immerse your daughter in the empowering experiences that allow her to write her own story and to make history!

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Sun-Salutation: Unleash Your Spirit In Order to Soar! Namaste, Lisa Dent

As I awoke this morning to greet the sun, I’m always in awe of its beauty, its timing and its grace. I start to go through my Yoga poses and concentrate on my breath and as the sun beams down on my limbs….I quietly say, thank you God for this experience.

Today I’m incorporating a more challenging Yoga pose and yes, for me it is quite difficult but I know when I release “being afraid," breathe through it and practice it, I will eventually master it. So, I’m challenging myself to release, breathe and experience the discomfort….so I can soar! How often in our history have women done just that?
The achievements of women didn’t occur in a bubble. Our accomplishments are noteworthy because of the women before us. They paved the way by going through horrific and uncomfortable circumstances and situations, breathing through it (planning the change), releasing the fear of spirit and soaring (executing the plan of change and sharing the journey). I think of the Founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA); National Organization of Women (NOW); National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and National Black Feminism Organization (NBFO) just to site a few. I encourage you to learn more about these organizations’ Founders and the impact of their contributions on today’s woman and girl.

So I encourage you not to live just in your comfort zone, you’re too phenomenal for that! FYI: August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified after 100 years of work that included resolving internal disagreements/struggles, getting out of their comfort zone regarding race and uniting all women. It was finally guaranteed that, all American women, like men, deserved all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship regardless of the color of their skin. Amazing things occur when women work together.

As I breathe through this challenging Yoga pose, I stumble as I don’t quite have the balance required yet. I am not deterred because I know through practice, I will get it, be ready for the next challenging pose and open to sharing my PATH.

I leave you with one of my favorite poems and Poet... Maya Angelou below and I encourage you to….Unleash your Spirit in order to Soar!

Phenomenal Woman

BY MAYA ANGELOU

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size But when I start to tell them, They think I’m telling lies. I say, It’s in the reach of my arms, The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman Phenomenal.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room, Just as cool as you please, And to a man, The fellows stand or Fall down on their knees Then they swarm around me, A hive of honey bees. I say, It’s the fire in my eyes, And the flash of my teeth, The swing in my waist, And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman, Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered, What they see in me. They try so much But they can’t touch My inner mystery.When I try to show them, They say they still can’t see. I say, It’s in the arch of my back, The sun of my smile, The ride of my breasts, The grace of my style.
I’m a woman, Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand Just why my head’s not bowed. I don’t shout or jump about Or have to talk real loud. When you see me passing, It ought to make you proud. I say, It’s in the click of my heels, The bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
 
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Feminism at the start of the 21st Century by Dr. Marilyn Tinari
You might think that, given the rise of women in nearly every facet of society – political, corporate, educational- that activist feminism is outdated and unnecessary but consider the following:
• In 2012 only 18% of Congress were women, ranking the U.S. at 78th globally in women’s participation in government.
 
• Women compose about half of the U.S. workforce and earn more undergraduate and graduate degrees than men, but still earn about 23% less.
 
• It is estimated that the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions may be between 20% and 25% over the course of a college career. Less than 5% of completed or attempted rapes against college women were reported to law enforcement.
 
• Globally, customs persist that allow and encourage the murder and brutalizing of girls and women with impunity. “Honor” killings are considered justified and female circumcision continues in large numbers especially in many African countries, despite a 2012 United Nations resolution banning the practice.
 
Clearly, women have yet to achieve equality or parity with men. While the traditional activism of our suffragette great- grandmothers is still an effective model, the complexities of the 21st century require a deeper, broader view. Discrimination, violence and the exclusion of women in their self-determination are essentially human rights violations. Jimmy Carter in his powerful book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power, (2014), states it eloquently:
There is a system of discrimination, extending far beyond any small
region to the entire globe; it touches every nation… this system is based on
the presumption that men and boys are superior to women and girls…Many
men disagree but remain quiet in order to enjoy the benefits of their
dominant status…The world’s discrimination and violence against women and girls is the most serious, pervasive and ignored (emphasis added) violation of human rights. (excerpt from the introduction).
 
Please join us in our 21st century activism and support our work on behalf of women and girls both locally and globally.

  

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The Importance of Taking Responsibility to be an Informed Vote by Anabella Lazare

I think it may be time to acknowledge that nobody really knows that much about politics, especially young people. Finally, I said it. Besides the boring videos and surface knowledge about the governmental systems we are taught in high school, there’s no real unbiased way to learn about politics. You turn on the TV, you converse with family and friends, and still it seems like nobody really knows what they’re talking about, especially when it comes to opinions that stray from their own. There is a huge emphasis on doing your part and voting for President, but no explanation of the other – possibly more important – elections that are also going on. So how can we stay educated?

The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to take responsibility for educating yourself. See an article about Donald Trump? Read the whole thing. Then, go on a different news source site and read another article about the same story. As a communications major, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the truth gets skewed in all media outlets, so do your research! Go beyond the surface of mainstream media. Sure, pay attention to the major ones like CNN and Fox, but maybe read that quirky little article you saw on Facebook that comes from a no-name source. It might actually provide some insight you had never considered before, and create a more versatile view of politics and politicians.

Speaking of politicians… Let’s be clear that ALL politicians play the game of persuasion. At this point, politics is a game (another issue that I won’t get into) and all the players are looking for the most fans in any way they can. All politicians lie, and they all say what they think people to hear. They all make promises that can’t be upheld in office, and more people would understand this if they understood the governmental systems in place in the U.S. Voting just for the President isn’t really enough. Do some research on the election dates in your county, and vote for Mayor, Governor, House Representative and Senator… all of it! Only voting for President is like going to breakfast and only drinking coffee. Yeah you’ll feel all hyped up and excited, like you’re doing the right thing by only drinking that black, steaming cup of day-starting magic (because coffee really is magical), but the buzz of the coffee will wear off and you’ll still be hungry, tired and yearning and slightly confused why your mood flipped so suddenly. Once the glow of the coffee is gone, we realize how important it was to have eaten a full meal. The same goes for politics. It’s important to pay attention to every level of government, and how you can vote in each election if you want to really have your voice be heard. Learn all you possibly can about politics if you hold a passion in the issues facing our country today, because only drinking coffee (voting for president) is not enough to really make a long lasting difference.

The bottom line is, it’s our duty to vote and educate ourselves! Nobody is going to form our opinions for us, and nobody is going to tell us exactly how the governmental systems work if we don’t try and inform ourselves first. There are so many elections that are just as important as voting for President that a lot of people don’t know about. By being ill informed, we fail to evoke the change we want in our Government today. We all have the right to learn and vote, let’s take advantage of that!
 
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International Advocacy for Women & Girls: Sex Trafficking in Jamaica 
                                  by Annabella Lazare
  This week, while on spring break, I have spent my time on the sunny island of  Jamaica exploring their culture, and the connotations of tourism in their  country. We did not stay in an all-inclusive resort, which keeps tourists  guarded from the realities of the island, and using the land for their relaxation.  We were in the depths of Jamaica; staying in the city of Kingston, exploring  the most poverty stricken parts of the country, and learning about the issues  of sex trafficking that plague the country and its young women.
 
 Sex trafficking is a huge part of the country, and even more so a direct  outcome of the poverty in specific areas. Gender equality is lacking in the  country, which also contributes to the issues of sex trafficking. Sunday night,  we went to a play that depicted the true story of a 14-year-old girl who was  being paid by her uncle to have sex with him. She became pregnant, and  threatened to tell his wife if he did not help her financially. He ended up killing  her, turning himself in, and spending the rest of his life in jail. When we were  watching the play, a serious, disturbing play, the Jamaican audience spent the  majority of the time laughing. Laughing at the little girl sleeping with the man,  laughing at her being pregnant, laughing at her being killed. It took me by  surprise, to say the least. I was angry, and confused why the people of this  country found such a terrible story so humorous. In this sense, I had put my  American point of view and expectations onto the audience without trying to  fully understand the logic behind the laughter.
 
 In a country so deeply woven with gender inequalities, sex work, and poverty,  the topic of adolescence sex work is one that not many talk about, but many  are involved with in some way or another. Whether it is their sister, daughter,  husbands, wives, or they themselves, most Jamaicans have a personal  connection to the horror that is sex trafficking. When this type of pain is so  apart of the culture, without little being done to help the issue due to the lack  of gender equality structures, and efforts to eliminate poverty, laughter is  easier than crying. Laughing helps to mask the pain, and prevent the  tears. In the Jamaican culture, using laughter to mask true feelings of  sadness is a common tactic. Once this is understood, it becomes less  surprising that the audience gave that response during the play. With poverty  comes disparity, and this disparity meshed with gender inequality, more often  than not, leads to adolescence sex work.
 
 In the spirit of International Women’s Day, the Caribbean, specifically  Jamaican culture, had me thinking about how much of my opinions of their  culture are dependent on my own views of right and wrong in American  society, specifically my rights as a woman. Being critical and questioning  another culture is important, but what is more important is listening to the  women belonging to the opposite culture and their concerns. When tourists  come to the Caribbean, they are not looking to learn about the harsh realities  of the culture or listen to the voices of its citizens; they come to be carefree  and be surrounded by Jamaicans who portray the stereotypical Jamaican  mentality of being ‘worry free’. Rather than viewing our culture as superior, we  should be critical of our own cultures gender equality, and listen to the varying  issues that its citizens want resolution for. In Jamaica, adolescent sex work  fueled by gender inequality and poverty is one of those things. To truly  advocate for helping the people of places like the Caribbean, a critical  engagement in the culture is necessary, requiring an understanding of the  needs of the people inhabiting those spaces, and working actively to  eliminate your role in those issues so we can fight for the rights of women  Internationally, as a united front.

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                 Millennials & Female Empowerment by Anabella Lazare

Sitting down with a group of Millenials, there is a passion that cannot be avoided. Observing my peers listening to their concerns about the issues facing them and their futures, it is clear we are fed up with not being listened to. We are angry. We are sick of being treated like we cannot make decisions, and I can feel it. We so often get distracted by others opinions of us, what we feel like we should spend our time doing, or how many likes we receive on an Instagram picture. The media feeds us images of what we should care about, and unrealistic expectations of what we should look like, leaving us with an unobtainable image of beauty. This all instills insecurities in us, and keeps us occupied from truly thinking about things more important to our well being than physical appearance.

In my gender studies class, I listen to my classmates voice their opinions on various issues, and I can’t help but think how driven and accepting we are of one another’s stories and passions. We are one of the most open-minded generations to date – and at our core – millenials truly strive for equality. While we may get distracted at times, we know a world with equal opportunities is a world we want to live in. For young women specifically, we mustn’t give up the fight that our grandmothers and mothers put up for so many years. Our fight for equality is not over, and we can’t let outside distractions stray us from our mission. We are all tremendously, beautifully different, and that is our power. This is why we must do our part and vote. There will be no other way to invoke change for our generation unless we become educated, and vote in every election we possibly can. Once we can start uplifting one another, we can uplift our entire culture to become more accepting and promoting of self-love. We have the passion. It’s time to bring our voices together as one, and vote for a government that will listen. The time to be heard is now.

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Posted by Megan Cassar on 15-Mar-2016 at 17:53:50 EST
Subject: Denying Society's Expectations

It is important for girls that are coming of age to know that they are good enough just the way they are. The way to do that is through positive messages of self-love, courage, truth and growth. Being taught these values at a young age will help the feeling of empowerment to manifest into womanhood. <br><br>We need to teach our girls about positive body images and deny society's expectations of what women and girls "should" look like. It feels like many people want to ignore this issue or act as though it doesn't exist. I constantly see magazine covers with impossibly skinny women and these women are who young girls look up too. It is important to explain to young girls that barbie measurements are impossible and you don't need to wear make up to feel beautiful.