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!