30 December 2012

Sunday is the day when #GirlsDecide: Halimah

Halimah's* journey takes us to Indonesia and through the difficulties of taking an informed decision about a pregnancy when your culture and your family might not be entirely with you.

And how comprehensive sexuality education could change the entire picture...

28 December 2012

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Babies (2010)


Oh, yes, we so are doing the cheesiest, the sweetest New Year's feature. And it's better than Disney. No, seriously... we suggest you watch Babies (2010, Thomas Balmès).

It is a feature documentary showing the first year of life for four little people in four places in the world: Japan, Mongolia, Namibia and USA.
Not to suggest that you should or should not have babies in 2013 or in any other year, but to pay attention to how socially constructed our ideas of upbringing, of care, of socialization, security, hygiene and so on are. How at the same time different and very alike we are.

And to send some unconditional love

And don't be afraid of watching in original version with no subtitles as they just speak baby.

22 December 2012

Sunday is the day when #GirlsDecide: Ayla

Here you have second of #GirlsDecide short films on the issues around their sexuality young women face and the work IPPF does day by day to reach the most vulnerable.

This one takes us to Syria and deals with gender based violence, human trafficking, forced sex work... a lot very not-Christmas-like-at-all crimes that keep affecting women around the world. Even one is too many, and unfortunately there are many more that have to survive through it.

It's a dramatization based on a real story.

21 December 2012

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Hysteria (2011)


Our offer for the pre-Christmas weekend is just as light-spirited and historical enough to send you right down to Wikipedia to investigate hysteria, vibrators and female orgasm.

Yes, we go with a recent comedy-romance take on the Victorian oppression of female sexuality and suggest you watch Hysteria (2011, Tania Wexler*). Throw in some daughter rebellion, some charity work in a pre-welfare state Britain, people questioning the existence of germs and female orgasm and here you have the prefect Holiday movie for a sexual rights activist.

You'll be ready (and annoyed enough, of course) to go on with the serious stuff afterwards, we promise. Or to stay home and get a not all that rosy book on suffrage movement, just to maintain the equilibrium.  

* Finally, a female director, yippy!

16 December 2012

Sunday is the day when #GirlsDecide: Valeria

Seems incredible but we still haven't shared here the official #GirlsDecide videos. This is one of six shot movies on girls, sexuality, bodily autonomy and youth friendly services across all IPPF regions.

It's a dramatization of a real story of Valeria* looking for support and a youth friendly specialist.

14 December 2012

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Whole New Thing (2005)


This week's feature is the sweetest coming of age story. Whole New Thing (2005, Amnon Buchbinder) tells the shock of somebody body and sex positive, somebody who has received a comprehensive sexuality education and is not constrained by rigid gender roles suddenly clashing with the real world. And dealing with it.

You get a love story, a closeted gay thriller, a rite of passage... all of it, covered with Canadian snow and a cute hippie vibe. You'll laugh and cry. We promise.

09 December 2012

WSYA Power 2 Women: the African Women Power Network / Mary

As you should know by now, I ♥ Being a Girl received one of the 2012 World Summit Youth Awards. The award showcases the best ICT solutions made by young people that moves us closer to achieving the MDGs. Ours is - obviously - in the category Power to Women.
As we are far from being the only ones doing things around gender via the internets and such, here you have some more:    

Name: Mary Olushoga, the African Women Power Network / @Africwomenpower 

I enjoy meeting people, traveling to new places, and watching performance art. 

I am a small business advocate and founder of www.awpnetwork.com an enterprise given honorable distinction at the 2012 World Summit Youth Award (WSYA). I am the first-ever GOOD Maker/Oxfam America International Women’s Day Challenge Winner, a Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) Associate, and an Oxfam America Sisters on the Planet Ambassador.

I hold a bachelor's degree from Union College in Schenectady, New York and a master's of science degree from Baruch College. She also served as a Public Policy Fellow at the University at Albany, Center for Women in Government and Civil Society and most recently participated in the Sub-Saharan African Women In Public Service Fall Institute.

The awpnetwork.com is a small business blog that provides business education content and showcases the work of African women and youth entrepreneurs. We tell their entrepreneurial stories, discuss the business challenges, and successes of African women and youth entrepreneurs. As a start-up organization, I am proud to say that we have engaged over 150 African small business women and youth entrepreneurs through our online trainings and webinars. Participants signed in from Lagos, Abuja, and throughout the United States.
The webinar topics were selected based on small business trends, and included conversations regarding (1) how to use mobile technology to start, expand, and move business ideas forward (2) how to use marketing, branding, and PR tools to start, grow, and expand business ideas (3) how to build one's personal development brand - based on feedback, participants found these topics very useful.
The AWP Network will continue to provide small business support services to help African women and youth entrepreneurs be better positioned for success.

The big picture goal of my organization is to promote a positive image of Africa. The AWP network began with a tweet in 2011. I started simply by tweeting out business related information about news or sources of funding. To date, I have over 500 followers. It began with the idea to provide business related content to African entrepreneurs anywhere in the world, with a particular focus, on women and youths. Not long after I started, I was invited to speak on BBC about the fuel subsidy strike in Nigeria and since then, things have really taken off – in a good way. With the exposure, I felt something was right. I began to think about how to expand beyond twitter, so I started a wordpress blog that would feature and profile African women and youth entrepreneurs – both in the U.S. and throughout the continent. It has been a very exciting year.

The whole idea of AWP began after working in the small business industry for a number of years. I saw how business support services could really help entrepreneurs grow and expand. I know that Africa has a different set of challenges than the United States, but I think that free and available business support services would help the small business industry. African women have always been entrepreneurial, so I am not promoting anything new. I think that supporting them can help many to grow and expand quickly, which in turn will enable them to hire and create jobs for the millions of unemployed.

The world would be a better place if everybody would:
  - Watch A Beautiful Mind (2001), American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics.
  - Listen to Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
  - Read awpnetwork.com interviews and visit our website.
  - Travel around the world more often (the more you see, the clearer your vision becomes)

I try as much as possible to live in the present. I am presently living my dreams so I don't think much about the future but before I am 80 - I would like to start a company, sell it, and make money. At 80, I would like to be home with my husband, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Also, travel occasionally.

07 December 2012

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Fur (2006)



Let's talk about artistic potential. Let's talk autonomy. Let's talk expression. Let's talk about Diane Arbus (1923-1971).

This weeks #inspirationalmovie is a speculation, a poem about how it might take just few steps to go from being an obedient and apparently perfect homemaker to becoming a world renowned artist (not that there's anything wrong with being a homemaker but it just might not be the optimal full-time work choice if you happen to have the vocation of an artist).

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006, Steven Shainberg) is exactly that, an imaginary portrait, a fantasy, a meditation about the impulses that may help release one's creative potential. And challenges that one may face while opening the box of creativity.
Beautifully shot (oh, the colors of this feature!) and with a healthy dose of suspense (yes, threading the unknown but promising grounds of the new can get scary), a very inspirational movie indeed.

Also, take a look at her ground-breaking work here.

06 December 2012

Bodies: Coming Out!


If you would treat your friends as you treat your body,
you wouldn't have any left. 

The radical idea to come out about your body, letting everybody know that you know it's there, that you acknowledge it and that you will live with it. Just let that idea explode in your mind!

And, although both videos featured are about fatness, this coming out can be about any feature that you might have felt like keeping in closet, hoping nobody sees it. Let it out, love and embrace it!

Yes, that is hard. Yes, we have been brainwashed since forever. But try babysteps: 1, 2.

Both videos were found via It Gets Fatter!

02 December 2012

Every Day is a World AIDS Day

Commemorating the fact that it was yesterday when HIV/AIDS was all over news and is not there today while for millions and millions of people every day is an HIV/AIDS day, Eszter reminds us of the nature of the virus and of the pandemic:

"1st December is the international awareness day of one of the most dispiteous diseases, the AIDS since 1988. This infection is caused by a virus, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which enters into the DNA of the cells of the immune system, there reproduces and makes the immune system helpless against pathogen agents. In the long run due to the failure of the immune system fatal opportunistic infections causes death in the infected persons. The ways of transmission are sexual transmission, using intravenous drugs with common needles, nowadays rarely but blood transfusion means a risk factor as well and children can be infected during pregnancy, labour and delivery, and breast feeding.

Recent studies say that if HIV carriers’ babies are fed only with breast-milk the risk of getting infected is up to zero percent. Though if these babies need to get additional nutrition, the risk grows up to 20%. If an HIV positive woman wishes to have a baby it is not impossible, it needs only correct planning: delivering with caesarean operation and clearing up if the mother has enough breast-milk to feed the baby or not.

Time to time humankind has to face diseases which are considered to be fatal. It is enough if we remember Black Death which rated incurable to 1894. Before the immunization era plague killed one-third, almost half of the European population. Our hope is that researchers will be able to develop the immunization of HIV soon. The signs are encouraging.

Till then the numbers of the infected persons are sadly growing. Nowadays 34 million people live with HIV. In 2011 2,5 million people were newly infected (330.000 of them are children), and 1,7 million died by reason of AIDS.
The aim of the World AIDS Day is to raise awareness on prevention (to stop the spreading of the virus) and to educate people about the ways of transmission. Every people are apprehensive of the Unknown, this is why the most important challenge is to improve knowledge to reduce stigmatization. The Getting to Zero campaign begun last year and this will be the theme of the World AIDS Days to 2015.  

Getting to Zero is double-meaning motto: reduce both the new infections and the discrimination to zero. And IPPF has introduced a very important campaign in 2010, called Criminalize Hate, Not HIV with a special site HIV and the Law.

In 2010 I had the possibility to join a meeting where HIV positive people could share their experiences. This meeting was closed; these people were very careful and tried to keep their secret very strictly. This was a good place for the newly detected HIV positives to get acquainted with other patients, and to help how to survive the first period after getting the positive result. Even their age and the length of their positive status were diverse: from 18 to 60 years old and for one week positive to 30 years ago positive. For the question “What has changed?” the answer was ambivalent: “Both nothing and everything.”

Nothing, because they are still the same person who they were a day before, but everything, because in the future they would have to take care of themselves and their partner more. If every volunteer tried to call only 10 people’s attention for the prevention we could approach the number of the newly infected peoples to zero. Please take part in an awareness campaign held in your surroundings, start planning the AIDS Candlelight Memorial and help us to reduce the number of the victims."

01 December 2012

Condoms, condoms, CONDOMS!

This is a public service announcement:  Following the educational example of The Golden GirlsI ♥ Being a Girl reminds you that using condoms is the socially and ethically responsible thing to do. So is talking about them, promoting their use and challenging the weird people who would not mention (and/or use) them while having no idea about their sero-status!

+ Going on a condom buying mission is a good way to star your SRHR/feminist activism. Figure out how good are the salespeople in your neighborhood. 
If you find a especially nasty place that make people uncomfortable, go again and again (with your friends to make it a rave-like party) until they do sth about it. Make inquiries about the types of lube they have. Write angry notes in their "Customer suggestions" book. 
Make the access to supplies your little rebellious mission!

30 November 2012

#IPPF60 in numbers



Ever wondered how much does IPPF actually does around the globe? Watch and get educated.
And surprised, and proud.

Happy birthday IPPF!

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Rent (2005)

#inspirational movies 

While marking a World AIDS Day in the calendar again tomorrow, putting your red ribbon on (though we hope you raise HIV/AIDS awareness all the other days of the year too) and going to do some activism...

We suggest you combine the useful with the entertaining and turn to Rent (2005) for this week's inspiration. This is a screen version of a ground-breaking Broadway musical, adaptation of the Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème, that was the first musical that was explicitly - and in a normalizing way - featuring bisexuality, homosexuality, transsexuality, sex work, the urbane HIV/AIDS crisis, drug use... not your classical fluffy musical!

On the other hand, it's still very scenic, very melodic, very romantic, very musical, really, and, yes, inspirational too.

And reminding that HIV/AIDS is not what it once was provided that you have access to treatment.

28 November 2012

IPPF ♥ for #IPPF60



"IPPF started its journey in 1952, when 8 family planning associations joined together to fight for a cause.
60 years later and the organization is nearly 20 times larger. It works in 172 countries, delivers millions of services all over the world. And drives major changes in global policy.
Together, IPPF’s family makes up the largest sexual and reproductive health and rights organization in the world. None of this would have been achieved without the untiring efforts of IPPF’s staff and volunteers, and our partners in government, civil society and business.
There is so much the Federation can be proud of: it continues to improve the health of millions by contributing to health systems strengthening around the world. It provides services where no government facilities exist, it trains health workers, reacts rapidly in emergency situations and provides expertise that others can learn from."

This is the cake that IPPF Western Hemisphere Region enjoyed!

23 November 2012

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Stealing Beauty (1996)


There are lot of bad news going on lately... Go, Google Savita Halappanavar, Tonio Borg, Malala Yousufzai... Google Operation Pillar of Defense... sometimes it hurts so much to read the news.

So, although there is quite a lot of socially critical and tough movies we have prepared in our "feministing / SRHR" filmlist, this week our offer is that you go soft and kind on yourself. Some self-care, you know.

Stealing Beauty (1996) is a poorly recognized feature Bernardo Bertolucci. A sweet, sensual coming-of-age story set in an eccentric social circle/family and filmed in Tuscany (go, now Google "Tuscany" for a change). Featuring a very young Liv Tyler discovering smaller and bigger pleasures, autonomy and authenticity.

A very nice way to say goodbye to this November-November...


20 November 2012

WSYA Power 2 Women: GotStared.at / Saransh

As you should know by now, I ♥ Being a Girl received one of the 2012 World Summit Youth Awards. The award showcases the best ICT solutions made by young people that moves us closer to achieving the MDGs. Ours is - obviously - in the category Power to Women.

As we are far from being the only ones doing things around gender via the internets and such, here you have some more:   

Saransh Dua, @SaranshDua and GotStared.At

I enjoy spending time with family and friends, reading, and traveling.

GotStared.At has grown a lot as a campaign in terms of the core idea behind the movement. Now it is a movement that aims to create a counter culture amongst the people in our society where respecting the other gender would be considered cool.

Over history it has been realized that certain trends tend to catch the fancy of the common man. AIDS awareness, education for the poor, green energies, etc. are examples of causes which, obviously being quite relevant, managed to gain wide spread public support in India when compared to many other pertinent issues as well. We aim to create something similar with the idea of gender as the central theme.

For too long the idea of gender debates, discussions have been a talk amongst the elitist in India. This needs to be converted into a discussion amongst the masses and we aim to do just that. We are all about simplification of complex issues which the public tend to shy away from discussing simply because of the jargon used in the messages sent to the public or the fact that in the age of twitter and face book people tend to be drawn more towards graphic driven content. We create posters and other visualizations portraying complex issues in the common mans parlance. The result of this is that rather than people tuning into what maybe a few experts have to say, to tune into what their community has to say and engage with them on the online platforms provided by us.

The idea behind #itsnotherfault came out at a time when most of the public in India was extremely hassled over the widespread assumptions that the girls who were getting molested on the street of India were the ones who were asking for it. This meant that the short clothes and bar hopping lifestyles were causing a rise in the “testosterone” levels of the Indian male and the poor guys had no option but to sexually harass the women as she was apparently “asking for it”.

So the site GotStared.At was initially developed by Dhruv as a place to come in and post what they were wearing while they were harassed. This led to a tremendous amount of virality as it was tackling a very pertinent issue of victim bashing as described above.
People from all over the world started posting pictures of the clothes that they were wearing when harassed and the flow of entries still hasn’t stopped as everyday there is more proof of the fact that no matter where you are, the only thing that will cause the harassment is the perpetrator and his intentions and nothing else.

The world would be a better place if everybody would:
  - See something new every week.
  - Listen to The Beatles, Pink Floyd and the list goes on...
  - Read The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Poor Economics, Think, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid.
  - Try being genuine and humane.

Before I'm 80, I'd like to... travel the world.

19 November 2012

Let the bodies be!

Yes, somehow we have ended up speaking about the Dove campaigns again...

Stumbled across a post in BBC News called Five photos that sparked body image debates. Fair enough. The message? The usual one. Do what you want people will never like actual bodies. The bodies not being allowed to be what they actually are - vehicles. Very diverse vehicles if you look for differences. And very similar vehicles if you compare them to anything else. Facts of life.

They have to be about something else. Like, sexualization of the pregnant. Or being too fat, too thin, too short, too hairy... blah, blah, blah.

Mind that the only male among the 5 cases reviewed is a person with disability that took the Body for Life challenge and ended up with a body many people did not believed to be real.

All the women featured have suffered media-storms of not being perfect enough (as they say, "only decades earlier maternity dresses tended to sport large bows at the neck to direct attention away from the baby bump - and the mother's femininity"; no the naked pregnant famous lady photos were not normal before 1991).

It's about being too real. Too exposed. Too vulnerable.

And, yes, the story is about media and fashion industry as those are cases of outrages about people with public female bodies. As Demi Moore. As Lizzie Miller. As Isabelle Caro. And not yet touching the question how that spirit of body-watch, that constant scrutiny affects all of us.

While it's perfectly fine to take pictures while you are pregnant. While we are happy about every model that have some body fat (although it's unclear why they are specially marked as +models). And while anorexia might certainly be a dangerous and very painful thing to deal with.

...it is not OK to police bodies.

18 November 2012

IPPF ♥ - YSAFE SC - Thomas

Name: Thomas Goyvaerts, member of the YSAFE Steering Committee.

I enjoy taking challenges, traveling and going out with friends.

I became aware by being active in the social circuit since I was 15. Every opportunity or challenge I faced helped me grow and helped me get more aware about all kinds of social topics that were now to me. For example, right now I'm doing an internship with male sex workers, something I recently learned about and immediately wanted to know some more.

I joined my IPPF Member Association, Sensoa, because to me it was one step up in the whole social staircase; I tend to travel a lot between organizations so to learn and grow even more.

The world would be a better place if everybody would:
   - See a starry midnight sky in the mountains to make you feel small, the view from a high mountaintop to make you feel big and the look of love in that one special person's eyes just so you really know how special you are. If you can do this and be happy with yourself, you can face any storm.
  - Listen Everybody's free to wear sunscreen by Baz Luhrman.
  - Read the stuff you wrote when you were young; love letters, diaries, school reports, cards, letters... So you can see how you've grown, see what possibilities you had but didn't know about and realize that you still have so many possibilities right now that you don't know about.
  - Try many new directions, and if they don't turn out to be like you wanted then at least you made one step in the right direction.

Before I'm 80 I want to have traveled a lot, I want to be able to say that I found true love (even if I lost it by then) & I want to be proud of who I am and stick by it for the rest of my life.

16 November 2012

Poetry time: For the Men Who Still Don't Get It

Sunday Afternoon on White Crest Beach (1984) by Carol Diehl

"What if all women were bigger and stronger than you?
And thought they were smarter?
What if women were the ones who started wars?
What if too many of your friends had been raped by women wielding giant dildos and no K-Y Jelly?
What if the state trooper who pulled you over on the New Jersey Turnpike was a woman and carried a gun?
What if the ability to menstruate was the prerequisite for most high-paying jobs?
What if your attractiveness to women depended on the size of your penis?
What if every time women saw you they'd hoot and make jerking motions with their hands?
What if women were always making jokes about how ugly penises are and how bad sperm tastes?
What if you had to explain what's wrong with your car to big sweaty women with greasy hands who stared at your crotch in a garage where you are surrounded by posters of naked men with hard-ons?
What if men's magazines featured cover photos of 14-year-old boys with socks tucked into the front of their jeans and articles like: "How to tell if your wife is unfaithful" or "What your doctor won't tell you about your prostate" or "The truth about impotence"?
What if the doctor who examined your prostate was a woman and called you "Honey"?
What if You had to inhale your boss's stale cigar breath as she insisted that sleeping with her was part of the job?
What if You couldn't get away because the company dress code required you wear shoes designed to keep you from running?
And what if after all that women still wanted you to love them?"
For the Men Who Still Don't Get It by Carol Diehl (1, 2)

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Kinsey (2004)

A shout-out to our dedication to comprehensive sexuality education, here we go with a feature film about Alfred Kinsey (1894-1956), the entomologist turned sexologist that opened eyes in USA regarding what people do with their sexualities and the great diversity that exists in human sexual behavior (yes, even in places where sex is claimed to be sinful and desire - always heterosexual!).

Kinsey (2004, Bill Condon) establishes a link between personal struggles and what becomes a vocation to a man who changed his scientific interest from gall wasps to human sexual behavior in the USA of 1940's and 1950's. 

A reminder that the work of an activist / expert / researcher might not be all that rosy, especially if it's something new, even revolutionary that she is doing.
And that - despite oppositions and people afraid to stand with you - it is worth to follow what you (and the Scientific Method) find to be the right thing to do!

14 November 2012

Right to Education: Bibliophilia!


Following up with the Malala initiative, here we have girls reading in Spain and in Slovakia.

And some of this seems to be a clear dedication to Naomi Wolf's Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood (or a Secret History of Female Desire) (1998).

Keep reading!

11 November 2012

Inspirational (short) movie: Gordita (2009)

"GORDITA is an HD short film about a young, plus size Latina who reconnects with her lost confidence through the help of a cassette tape she recorded as a sassy, booty-shakin’ teen in 1994.
We all have moments of self doubt and depression, but sometimes remembering who we were before the pressures of adulthood consumed us helps us get out of our funk and realize our full potential."
Here we are back to talking about bodies and how to inhabit them. This time, a short and very moving gem that brings together the intersectionalities of body expectations and race, culture, class. 

More info here.

10 November 2012

Right to Eduaction: Malala


We have been talking about education and books before but this is different.

Suddenly EVERYBODY is concerned about the fact that so many girls in the world are out of school. Aha, much more girls than boys. And you know, if both Madonna and the UN Secretary General are talking about the same issue at the same time, it's important.

And the reason is a girl. Malala Yousufzai (and bunch of Talibans but they are the really-really bad guys in the story) is the reason. And so is her resilience.

We are celebrating her and all the activists fighting for access to education. And we are doing this by joining the #girlwithabook initiative.

Intimate bibliophile portraits of you and some books can be a part of the movement for Universal Access to Education.
Get your camera and your favorite book... 3, 2, 1, say "Malala"! 

Source: @Half

09 November 2012

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Dirty Dancing (1987)

Yes, you are allowed to be surprised. Dirty Dancing (1987, Emile Ardolino) might seem to be the close-to-last movie when it comes to empowerment if you haven't really stopped to think about it. Yes, it is about the very sexist dancing industry that teaches you how to bend your wrists in a feminine way. And, yes, it is the all over good-girl-falling-for-the-bad-guy story. Sort of.

But then again, it is a story of a young woman breaking away from the taught perfection of being the ideal daughter and decides to grow up. By doing things. By daring. By challenging her parents and other authority figures. By dancing. By learning to live with her body. By having sex with a man she wants to and doing it on her own terms. That is a whole lot of things.

Also, there are subplots of class conflicts, on the importance of intergenerational communication, on the importance of the access to safe and legal abortion, on how complex (and counterproductive) is to - contrary to what Baby does - to try to use sex and virginities as means to maintain somebody's attention/affection...

+ The soundtrack is really cute. Go, download it from the internets!

And if it's not enough for you, read a whole essay on the topic by Melissa McEwan in the Guardian: Dirty Dancing, Feminist Masterpiece.

Now, think again while we dance away.


04 November 2012

WSYA Power 2 Women: React & Change / Renato

As you should know by now, I ♥ Being a Girl received one of the 2012 World Summit Youth Awards. The award showcases the best ICT solutions made by young people that moves us closer to achieving the MDGs. Ours is - obviously - in the category Power to Women.
As we are far from being the only ones doing things around gender via the internets and such, here you have some more:   

Name: Renato Dornelas, @renato0dornelas
React and Change, @React_n_Change

I enjoy traveling, photographing, and talking.

I am the Head of International Affairs of React & Change. Basically, it is an online-driven, youth-led, non-profit organization committed to activating youth to combat gender inequality and its derivates, such as bullying, unemployment, violence against women, racism and poverty by educating and empowering youth through social entrepreneurship, leadership skills and advocacy.

We hold a diverse of events across the country, gathering young leaders, social entrepreneurs and community activists from all 26 states of Brazil for high-level trainings, free of any costs, in order to share best practices, educate about and learn how to end and approach gender inequality effectively.

I began to work with React & Change because of a desire to take action against domestic violence statutes in Brazil that had forced a member of my family to remain in an abusive relationship for five years because domestic violence is considered a "private" rather than state matter, and thus not grounds for divorce. This personal tragedy empowered me and helped me to discover how I can make an impact on the world.

Our website and social media work as main tools to spread the information from the forums for people who could not attend the event, as well as it works as an interactive platform for young people to share ideas and discuss gender-based issues.

The world would be a better place if everybody would:
- see Oklahoma! (1955, 1999), it's lovely,
- listen Change the Sheets by Kathleen Edwards,
- read =DLe Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,
- practice Taekwondo!

I only have short-term plans, but before 80 I'd like to speak at least 6 different languages and have visited all my friends around the world!

02 November 2012

WSYA Power 2 Women: Moraba / Mxolisi

As you should know by now, I ♥ Being a Girl received one of the 2012 World Summit Youth Awards. The award showcases the best ICT solutions made by young people that moves us closer to achieving the MDGs. Ours is - obviously - in the category Power to Women.
As we are far from being the only ones doing things around gender via the internets and such, here you have some more:   

Name: Mxolisi Xaba, Moraba, @afroesgames

I enjoy football, contemplative and introspective conversations, and being in the field taking social messages to youth challenging them to interrogate the choices they make for themselves.

Moraba came around because there was a need to begin to address young boys who were inheriting and receiving false messages and definitions around how to relate to their female counterparts. We were conscious that, although we wanted to address young boys with our intervention, we also did not want to make it exclusive to them because the most important attribute of our application is the fact that girls have a space in what is incorrectly considered a a male domain (gaming) to challenge these misconceptions through game play around issues of equality, forms of abuse, expectations in relationships, consequences of abuse, rights and responsibilities of persons. What we subsequently found after users engaged Moraba was that Moraba provided a platform for youth to engage each other on issues and questions they had regarding their gender roles. 

Moraba Gender Game from Phil G on Vimeo.
You can download the game here!

Listening to the music of Basement Jaxx vs Metropole Orkest, Buena Vista Social Club and Ladysmith Black Mamabazo would make the world a better place.
So would reading the Bible, selected speeches of Marcus Garvey and a Biography of Yourself.
And watching the movie I don't ... a movement (1, 2) by Thuli Thabethe and Nonkuleko Ndlovu.
Trying to say nothing (keeping quiet, you know) for a week would do, too.

Before I'm 80 I would like to forgive those who have hurt me and be forgiven by those I have hurt.

Body image, again... (the topic that never gets old in Patriarchy)

Since very young age...

Surrounding us everywhere...

Affecting all of us, all the time... unless we rebel against it!

Although these are Dove ads and a submission for the Dove Fund, the conversation on bodies and how we inhabit them is relevant. Refuse to chip into the "I hate myself so much" bla-bla!

Think about the relationship you have with your body.
Read about it*! Get inspired!  
Organize a Tea Party and talk about it. 
Eat cake and love every bite of it! 

* Some reading matter on bodies (there's a gazillion out there, happy reading!):

01 November 2012

The double shift: Are women made of cast-iron?

"As they passed the rows of houses they saw through the open doors that men were sweeping and dusting and washing dishes, while the women sat around in groups, gossiping and laughing.

'What has happened?' the Scarecrow asked a sad-looking man with a bushy beard, who wore an apron and was wheeling a baby carriage along the sidewalk.

'Why, we've had a revolution, your Majesty -- as you ought to know very well,' replied the man; 'and since you went away the women have been running things to suit themselves. I'm glad you have decided to come back and restore order, for doing housework and minding the children is wearing out the strength of every man in the Emerald City.'

'Hm!' said the Scarecrow, thoughtfully. 'If it is such hard work as you say, how did the women manage it so easily?'

I really do not know,' replied the man, with a deep sigh. 'Perhaps the women are made of cast-iron." 

29 October 2012

World Summit Youth Award for I ♥ Being a Girl!

As announced earlier and much earlier on our Twitters, I ♥ Being a Girl just received one of the World Summit Youth Awards 2012 in the category Power to Women.

This video explains the award and showcases all the amazingness:

All this took us to Montréal to meet other people and show what we've got...


 +  I ♥ Being a Girl even managed a media mention, yes! Thank you, Montréal Gazette.

26 October 2012

I ♥ Being a Girl people, meet the press: Luīze ♥ Being a Girl

We're going back to our roots, both I ♥ Being a Girl and IPPF wise, and exploring our own experiences. And you deserve to meet the people behind, anyways.
So, here it goes!


Name: Luīze Ratniece, @_uize

Things I enjoy doing:
  - Reading feminist literature and blogs,
  - Cooking (vegan), or just eating some awesome nom-noms somebody else has made,
  - Jotting down ideas while sitting in a coffee-shop or library (yes, much love for libraries).

My major breakthrough that switched my interest towards gender issues and opened my eyes literally overnight when I was 13 on 14 were two German books (by a weird coincidence): Ute Ehrhardt's Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go Even Farther and Sabine Werz's Best Friends, Best Enemies (the translations being my Latvian to English translations of titles I knew them by). These were fun popular books for somebody not really introduced to any feminist consciousness yet. Nevertheless, they raised the basic awareness about the existing gender norms, barriers, inequalities and told me that I am allowed to ignore what people expect from me as from a girl if I please so. And that's what I've been trying to do since that.

The world would be a better place if everyone would:
  - Watch the movie Shortbus (2006), challenging the heteronormativity and filling the world with sex positivity.
  - Listen some old jazz. Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Blossom Dearie, Nina Simone, Eartha Kitt can improve everybody and everything. Especially if you take the very dependent and misogynist lyrics with a pinch of salt.
  - Read two novels by Douglas Coupland, Generation X (1991) and Generation A (2009) to understand how weird the world was before internet and how much weirder it's getting.

Before I'm 80, I want to earn a PhD (a senior teaching position would be cool, too), speak decent French and take a bath full of yoghurt.

I ♥ Being a Girl people, meet the press: Magnhild ♥ Being a Girl

We're going back to our roots, both I ♥ Being a Girl and IPPF wise, and exploring our own experiences. And you deserve to meet the people behind, anyways.
So, here it goes!

Name: Magnhild Bogseth (aka Mag, Maga, Aymara, Misa, Mags or M), @maggsis

Things I enjoy doing:
  - Learning languages by talking to people at the street,
  - Debating world problems with smart people who can provoke and produce new ideas and visions,
  - Getting to know the world through traveling, eating new food and reading books

I became aware of the importance of comprehensive and reality based sexual education when I as an exchange student in high school received sexual education as a cartoon show, where the girl ended up with going to hell because she had sex with her boyfriend after drinking a beer.

The world would be a better place if everyone would:
  - Watch the movie Pay it Forward (2000) and actually do it in real life. And watch Milk (2008), and Pippi Longstocking (1969), of course!
  - Listen to Everybody’s Free by Quindon Tarver and follow his advice.
  - Read the biography of Martin Luther King and get inspired.

Before I’m 80 I want to speak at least 6 languages, be relatively good at surfing and have made the wonderful persons I have in my life happy in one way or another.

23 October 2012

Ensuring SRHR = an asset, again

 An another take on the issue of girls and development, mentioning I ♥ Being a Girl:
"There is consensus that girls are central to development. Yet, girls continue to bear the brunt of poverty and ill-health, including maternal mortality, unsafe abortion and HIV. Issues relating to girls’ sexuality and their sexual and reproductive rights remain largely neglected.
According to the World Health Organization, some 16 million girls between 15 and 19 and two million girls under the age of 15 give birth each year. For them, complications of pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death. Approximately 82 million girls in developing countries will be married before their 18th birthday. This will disrupt their education, even though women with more years of schooling have better maternal health, fewer and healthier children and greater economic opportunities. Biologically, girls’ health can be more vulnerable than men’s. Of particular concern are the dramatic increases in HIV infection among young women, who now make up 60% of the 15 to 24 year olds living with HIV. Girls are also exposed to various forms of violence from harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation and the growing problem of sex trafficking to early and forced marriage.
Disparities in the way girls and boys are raised and treated are at the root of poor sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and development challenges. For boys, adolescence can mean new freedoms and greater participation in community life. Girls, however, may face the opposite: restrictions in their access to choices, education, services and support. Traditional gender roles give girls little say about their own hopes and dreams. Yet we know it is possible to take effective practical action that enables girls to tackle gender inequality and ill-health and to fulfill their potential.
The Girls Decide initiative and the project I ♥ Being a Girl are a step toward this. Girls Decide aims to ensure that girls have access, as a human right imperative, to life-saving SRH services and information. I ♥ Being a Girl, recently winner of a World Summit Youth Award, promotes a positive approach to the sexuality of young women through online tools.
IPPF/WHR also invests in services and programs targeting girls. CIES, our local partner in Bolivia, offers medical, psychological, and social care, while ensuring confidential and quality SRH services to young people. In 2011, over 101,270 consultations were undertaken. Sustained leadership is required to ensure that girls are recognised rights-holders. Policymakers can help transform lives of girls by supporting evidence-based research that reflect realities of girls’ sexual and reproductive lives; investing in youth-friendly services and programs; guaranteeing access to comprehensive sexuality education; and creating supportive legal and policy frameworks and social norms. The benefits of investing in girls are transformational – for their own lives and for their families, communities, and countries.
Empowering girls so they can make healthy choices not only boosts economic growth, but are also essential to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Let’s give them greater choice and control over decisions that affect their sexual and reproductive lives and help break the cycle of poverty and inequality for the next generation. "
Investing in Girls is Essential to Ending Global Poverty 
Fiona Salter & Elena D’Urzo*

* Fiona Salter is the press officer at IPPF Central Office. Elena D’Urzo is the Advocacy Officer at IPPF European Network. Originally published by Girls' Rights Gazette. Article found in the blog of IPPF WHR.

22 October 2012

Educating girls is smart, for girls

Education is good for girls. Full stop. Now repeat it again and again. While standing on a chair or any other elevated object, preferably.

Because, as much as we love Girl Effect or any other efforts promoting empowerment of girls and women, at least some of the feminine mystique around investing in girls has to go. Education for girls is good not because they give all their money back to their family afterwards while boys with the same education will not. The very fact that the boys would not support their families equally is profoundly alarming, and a clear sign of structural disadvantage for girls.

So, education for girls for girls' sake we say. 

21 October 2012

World Summit Youth Award for I ♥ Being a Girl, take 1

The surprise-surprise (unless you follow YSAFE Twitter, which you should) is that I ♥ Being a Girl visits Montréal these days to RECEIVE A WORLD SUMMIT YOUTH AWARD for advancing MDGs via IT thingies aka this blog in the category Power 2 Women!

So, we are thrilled and amazed, and amused, and slightly terrified (the invitation says "bussiness formal" and we have just stupid flowers and rubber shoes).
Nevertheless, we'll overcome that anxiety by overdressing while staying excited and treat it like a big I ♥ Being a Girl Tea Party of Digital Solutions and inspirations.

We'll keep you posted!

17 October 2012

I ♥ Being a Girl: Make your day brighter while feministing around

...and an 8 year old wills how you how!

Via A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World and Guerrilla Feminism comes the inspirational moment of the day:
 "This is how Stella Ehrhart, age 8, decides what to wear for school.
She opens her closet. She opens her book, “100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century.” And she opens her mind.
The Dundee Elementary School third-grader comes to school dressed as a different historical figure or character — Every. Single. Day. And she's done that since the second day of second grade, when this all started.
The budding actress with a social conscience came to school on the first day last year dressed like any other 7-year-old girl, in the outfit her grandpa had bought her: a Love T-shirt and leggings. The following day she was dressed as author Laura Ingalls Wilder.
From that point on, Stella decided that what she would wear to school would represent who she was trying to be. With no repeats, at least through second grade." (More here!)
So, while the geopolitical or whatever else importance of some of these women might be disputable, they are still powerful symbols, it's still so awesome + thrilling is the fact that she does that in a very DIY way, no posh pre-made costumes. And the fact that the school and her classmates are completely OK with it. You go, Stella!

That's her as:

 Elvis Costello (well, she does an "Old Turtle from a children's book by the same name" and her school principal, too)

11 October 2012

International Day of the Girl Child

On the 11 October 2012 the United Nations and the world celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. This year´s activities focus on ending child marriag.
¨Child marriage denies a girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk to be a victim of violence and abuse, jeopardizes her health and therefore constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and the development of healthy communities.¨

Child Marriage is an ultimate robbery in a girl´s life.

The IHBG project aims to see generations of young girls filled with dreams and hopes, able to learn and chose their path, able to make decisions, take changes and fully enjoy life.Girls who aspire!

That is why today we asked girls about their childhood dreams.

And what did you want to become when you were a child?

Speciall thanks for our lovely participants: Priyanka, Chen, Kaitlin, Silvia, Paola, Mirela, Pilar, Julia, Anna, Laura, Eva, Judith, Christina, Anna, Georgina, Carol and Christina 

New! I [heart] Being a Girl Short Film 2012


We have spent all summer guarding this as our most precious (oh, the Precious!) secret. Below you can find a short video of what has become I ♥ Being a Girl perspective. 

We have dedicated some time (more than 2 years) talking about what are the phenomena of the socialization of girls that we actually enjoy. Be it Spice Girls as role models, frilly dresses, shopping, silly movies... It's OK. We have been taught that these are some of the things girls enjoy, we have tried them and found them to be enjoyable. Our first short film was dedicated to this (and you can still watch it here).

This video is different. It is still based on testimonies and everyday experiences of how it is to be a girl. Just that this one goes one step further than the previous one as we speak about autonomy, authentic choices and that journey when you discover what are the things / activities / people that touch your most inner being. And makes you happy.

Happy International Day of the Girl Child,

31 August 2012

IAC'12 I [Heart] Being a Girl session (THGS12) presentations

Finally, here are the presentations from the session we had at the International AIDS Conference.

As Jessie says in her report:
"Tea Parties are casual safe spaces for girls where anyone who is a feminist can come met up and speak up about their frustrations but also share their hopes for the future. The social pressures put on girls are often hypocritical, including how media portrays women as sexy and sex figures, but young women are condemned for expressing themselves sexually or wearing revealing clothes, or they’re expected to be working professionals taking care of themselves (even with a considerable stagnant pay gap), but once you have a family, you are “supposed” to become domestic and support your husband. Gender is a social construct that does not have to follow your biology. Your gender and how you express yourself should not be dictated by societal norms that are often oppressive. In the words of Leynah Gbowee, “It is time for women to stop being politely angry.” There are various forms of resistance to the prejudice of “being a girl” and support for young women looking to make a difference all over the world. In some rural parts, girls learn how to make reusable menstrual pads so that they can continually go to school, and have their privacy. We should have open discussions about questioning gender stereotyping and combat prejudice social norms, like the pay gap. Places like the Philippines are extremely strict when it comes to reproductive health especially for  women, and the results are harrowing; there are half a million unsafe abortions a year and cervical cancer is one of the top killers in the country. When women and more girls have a stronger and unified voice in civil society, they can start to change those societal norms."

(Yes, the videos are not really there. The first one is the movie from the 2012 AIDS Conference that you can find here. And the second one is a surprise coming... for now we can say that it was made with a lot of help from all our beloved people in HERA, and that it's amazing!)

(And, yes, obviously, this is the example of the simple fact that talking about and exploring sexualities, pleasure, taboos, barriers... well, you know, the empowerment stuff can be positive and can be - at the same time - very local and very universal indeed. Thank you so much, Shubha, for sharing this experience with us!)