28 June 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)


This is not a directly inspirational movie. It's one of those that show the dark and eerie side of the traditional femininity. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975, Peter Weir) is a mystery piece with little intention to be empowering.

Nevertheless, being a story on a all-girl boarding school in 1900's Australia where the notion of being lady like in all circumstances reigns (based on a novel by Joan Lindsay), it cannot escape but to portray the restrictive nature of such life. It's a life where taking off your gloves in a hot day is already a rebellion. And taking a walk - a dangerous adventure.

Instead of treating it as a mystery piece, watch it as a metaphor of the female condition, so severe and unfulfilling that disappearing may seem like a good idea.  

21 June 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Babette's Feast (1987)


This is a special treat. Continuing with work of Karen Blixen, this is motion picture is based on her novella with the same name. So here you have a very severe Danish countryside, autonomous decisions to be made and both independence and solidarity to be had. Austerity as life style choice and cooking as a creative, artistic expression. Embraced via informed decision.

While the story touches several rather triggering points when it comes to religious piety vs. bodily and emotional pleasures, it does convey the life lesson regarding the pleasure. Le plaisir c'est bon por la santé. It's good for you! When it's a conscious decision to indulge and you do accept the consequences, of course. Enjoy!

20 June 2013

Momal ♥ Being a Girl

Through contacts made in WSYA and Women Deliver, we are happy to present:

Name: Momal Mushtaq, creator of thevoiceofyouth.com and thefreedomtraveller.com

I enjoy doing anything that would fall under the category of social media, social entrepreneurship and/or social work.

I founded The Voice of Youth (tVoY) in June 2010. It is an award-winning youth network spread across 151 countries of the world. Social media as an alternate form of media has brought the conflict zones of the world into limelight. With the vision of a peaceful society, one of the goals of tVoY is to speak to millions about resolution of conflicts, their nature and root causes. Our focus is on the young people. By sharing their story, we feel they can be a great source of inspiration and encouragement to those who are going through similar situations.

Other than that, I recently launched The Freedom Traveller. I call it "a young Pakistani woman's uprising, her desire to be free and her dream to travel the world." I come from a male-dominated society where girls can't go out alone anywhere – be it the store or the university – everything is dependent on males. Considering this, just being abroad has been 'precious' for me, because that's when I got to experience the true essence of freedom, and you can talk about it, think about it, see it in on television screen but you can't feel it. I have launched The Freedom Traveller to continue my journey as a traveler, redefine the word 'freedom' for women and highlight the work of other inspiring women from around the world. 

The world would be a better place if everybody would:
See The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Listen to TED Talks (I ♥ Being a Girl seconds that, see here)
Read The Five People You Meet in Heaven (2003) by Mitch Albom
Try following their heart.

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

14 June 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)


OK, so this one has to be explained.

So, do we suggest that Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953, Howard Hawks) can be a feminist inspiration? Yes. Is it that obvious? No.

First of all, the title of this musical and feel-good-fun-piece is totally misleading. It's not about gentlemen and what they prefer. This is a feature of what do girls want and how they get it.

Obviously, exaggerated and containing some not that inspirational puns (thinks of the 1950's gender ethos in general), but still it's them - the amazing and beautiful Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe - who move the script. And the solutions of the difficulties (there had to be, because no difficulties = no plot) come from their resourcefulness and intelligence. And their erotic capital, too, yes.

It is just anthropologically how a message of female supremacy emerges in a totally sexist setting. Not that we agree with any gender-based supremacies, but you have to admit the weirdness of the message. So here you have a wrongly wrapped anthem to blondes and brunettes getting what they want, both honestly and with some cunning. And almost never engaging in mutual slut-shaming while doing it, bravo!

Plus, of course the fact the both of them are curvy and believable-bodied. And below you can find an excerpt of some of the objectification of the male body going on in the movie, for a change.

08 June 2013

I ♥ Being a Girl at WD'13: Galia

Galia during European Caucus at WD'13

"I honestly forgot to take more pictures during conference sessions, so basically I only have two and they are hilarious in a way, I think"
Galia from the Ukranian MA of IPPF attended Women Deliver this year and shares some of the impressions and frustrations that such a hectic event causes:
"...I am not sure if my story is of any interest because really, most of my impressions of the conference were getting together after the flight, getting used to a new time zone, and then flying back. It was all so quick that I didn't have much time to realize what was happening. Now that I have this kind of experience I know that during such conferences you need to think and react quickly to new environment, but I wasn't prepared for that at the time of the conference.

During the Conference I got to meet several people from absolutely different parts of the world and hearing their stories was quite interesting and new to me. Hearing about situation of women's health and rights in African countries was something absolutely new to me, too. I saw that during the conference not too much attention was paid to situation we have in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, and that was something I was missing, since I've never wanted to work in African or Asian countries, but wanted to do something good for women in my country which is Ukraine.

I was hoping I could understand what else I could do besides being a volunteer but I haven't received that answer yet. I do know for sure that as a social worker (I am getting my Bachelor's degree in that field in a few weeks) I'll be working and helping women, but haven't figured out how exactly. I did realize that gender discrimination is not that much of a problem in Ukraine - there are problems that are far more serious, like domestic violence or breast cancer. "

07 June 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Labyrinth (1986)


Here, with a summery, Dora-the-Explorer vibe, we suggest you (re)watch Labyrinth (1986, Jim Henson). While the morale of the story of the quest of young and angsty Sarah could be interpreted as - just like in The Wizard of Oz (1939) - teaching her a lesson that the home and the already familiar is the best, we suggest another interpretation. The journey she makes (deciding to go and deal with the crisis on her own, speak of agency right there) reminds her what is that she actually values and how much power and intelligence she has to overcome the cunning and annoyances she meets in the world of Goblin King David Bowie. Which is a good thing.
It's a decent young hero's journey. Just that she happens to be a heroine. So here you go!

Additional quirks of the movie is David Bowie, of course, all kinds of weird and troubled creatures, and the striped baby onesie among others...  

02 June 2013

I ♥ Being a Girl at WD'13: Fungai Machirori

During our time at Women Deliver, we were happy to meet many active and aspirational young women.One of them, and one of Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders, is Fungai Machirori.

Fungai is the Founder and Managing Editor of Her Zimbabwe, a project she started in order to reach grassroots and marginal communities and women through social media. Fungai named the project HerZimbabwe, "Because it is her vision of Zimbabwe, her experience of this nation in the historical, pphysical, spiritual and futuristic."
She started the platform with zero funding, using her skills as a trainer and editor to other young activists who in tern helped her develop the website and its image.

The website provides a rich palette of personal stories, experiences and views on gender roles, inspirational leaders and development, sexuality, relationships, health and growing up and living as young woman in Zimbabwe. The website takes a honest approach to both the challenges that women face (either in Zimbabwe or globally) and the struggle to transform social-media input into real-life results and actions.
"I can’t put a price on a personal story. In my view, it’s the most precious thing that every one of us has; a narrative that defines us. I would like, through Her Zimbabwe, that these narratives be given freely and by women who have the right support systems to help them face whatever societal or cultural backlash they may experience."
You can also read more about Fungai's views and experiences at her personal blog here!

01 June 2013

I ♥ Being a Girl at WD'13: Gehad

In the Youth 2.0: Young People Online session on Tuesday, Maya had the pleasure to share the panel with Gehad El Sayed from Y-PEER who talked about her network's 10 Days of Activism campaign.

We approached Gehad asking for empowerment recipes and tips on how to overcome the difficult moments of activism. She suggested three aspects for successful work:
  1. Wishing to do something unusual (unusually beneficial) for the community as the starting point.
  2. Having full support from your relatives. And in this case it's not about your blood-related family exclusively, although their support is also very appreciated. You need a social safety net that you can rely on.
  3. Trying to find the right approach to the problem, a new way to go forward that hasn't been tried yet.
And for the times when everything seems to be against you, Gehad suggest you keep trying and use the unpleasant, not that successful experience as something to learn from until you find the genuine spirit in which the task becomes bearable. And remember how it could've been so much worse in the first place.