Hear Us, Stand With Us

rapeFrom The Hub: “In 2008, political violence erupted throughout Zimbabwe as a result of highly contested national elections. Between May and July alone, local organizations estimate that state-sanctioned groups abducted, raped, tortured, and beat over 2,000 women and girls due to their political affiliations.”

From BNet: “More needs to be done to deal with an epidemic of rape in the world’s conflict zones and to help victimized women, Doctors Without Borders  said Thursday, reporting that its staffers alone treat an average of 35 cases every day.” This report was filed in 2007 and the numbers have clearly risen since then…

Among all the crises in the world, the rape of our mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives is a crime that should shame All men…

Zimbabwe is one country, the problem is global; but, you can help in Zimbabwe by signing this petition

A Video From Witness – One Very Strong Woman Tells Us About Her Rapes

Spiritual Quote:

“The Bahá’í International Community welcomes the opportunity to speak to agenda item 11 [Consideration of contemporary trends in and new challenges to the full realization of all human rights of women and men, including those of persons belonging to vulnerable groups] at this historic World Conference. We hope that comprehensive consideration of the human rights of women will continue at all future gatherings for the advancement of human rights, and we support the resolution adopted by the Commission on the Status of Women at its 1993 session urging that women’s rights and concerns be considered under all substantive items of the provisional agenda for the World Conference on Human Rights.

“The persistence and growth of violence directed against women, both personal and institutional, is largely attributable to the traditional exclusion of women from processes of development and decision-making. A profound adjustment in humanity’s collective outlook is needed, guided by the consideration of universal values and spiritual principles. Legislation is needed which lends practical expression to the equality of the sexes by dealing with the particular injustices which women face.

“Domestic violence is a fact of life for many women throughout the world, regardless of race, class, or educational background. In many societies traditional beliefs that women are a burden make them easy targets of anger. In other situations, men’s frustration is vented on women and children when economies shrink and collapse. In all parts of the world, violence against women persists because it goes unpunished.”
Bahá’í International Community Statement to the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights; Vienna, Austria 14-25 June 1993

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Women, Rights, and Water

women_waterWomen are important.

Rights are important.

Water is important.

So, why are so many women so challenged when it comes to getting water? (to see some fascinating yet chilling visual evidence, click on “image credit” at the top of this post)

From OneWorld.Net: “Women and girls in developing countries bear significant economic, physical, and health burdens to provide water for their families on a daily basis — ‘this is the forgotten glass ceiling’, write sustainable water experts John Sauer and Andra Tamburro.”

The article goes on to say:

“Women in poor communities across Asia, Africa, and South America typically walk an average of 3 miles a day to fetch water for their households, often from contaminated sources such as rivers, unprotected springs, and shallow wells…The time this takes could be spent instead on income-generating activities, education, and caring for the family. Moreover, the quality of water that women in developing nations must bring home puts people at risk of deadly diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and amoebic dysentery, diarrheal diseases that kill more children under five than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.”

Why is this happening?

What can be done about it?

How will worsening climate change affect the situation?

Some of the answers can be found at OneWorld.Net’s Water and Sanitation guide.

The intro to the guide states:

“The achievement of providing 1.6 billion people with access to safe drinking water since 1990 is potentially jeopardised by the absence of matching investment in sanitation. The lack of hygienic facilities experienced by 2.5 billion people is a fundamental cause of disease which leads to 1.5 million deaths of children each year. Climate change uncertainties cast a menacing shadow over the efforts of developing countries to honour their citizens’ rights to safe water and sanitation.”

It continues with these topics (along with many links to further information):

Millennium Development Goals and Water and Sanitation
The Sanitation Deficit
The Benefits of Water and Sanitation
The Right to Water and Sanitation
Water and Sanitation in Global Politics
Local Governance of Water and Sanitation
Water is a Finite Resource
Climate Change and Water

Like most of the problems afflicting humanity, nothing significant will happen to rectify the situation until the people in-charge and the people affected attain some measure of Unity

Spiritual Quote:

“Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and society they are a very important element. As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 133

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What Will You Rebel For ?

bita haidarianIf three times is a charm, what’s four times?

A done deal?

I’ve posted about Bita Haidarian and her upcoming film, Finding Bibi, three times so far (check out the links for two trailers of the film !):

For this fourth post, since the Movement that’s evolving around the film is reaching a peak of excitement, I’ll publish the latest press release:

Finding Bibi
Austin, TX
New York, NY
www.FindingBibi.com
Founded by Bita Haidarian in 2009
Contact: Todd Brogan (todd@findingbibi.com), Head of Creative Expansion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 30, 2009

FILMMAKER’S FANS MAKE THEIR VOICES HEARD

Voters to Decide New Organization’s First Project

Iranian-American documentary filmmaker Bita Haidarian, whose work has been described as “the best hope for film and politics in Australia,” launched a groundbreaking organization in March, and her democratic approach is already bearing fruit.

More than 200 fans voted in round one to decide the organization’s first-ever project. The three winning submissions vary widely, though all share the stories of women striving for empowerment. One idea suggests providing cameras to individuals participating in empowerment programs, which they would use to create short films on topics of their choice. Another idea proposes that Finding Bibi organize “hijab flashmobs” as a show of solidarity with women discriminated against for wearing head coverings. The final proposal would have Finding Bibi recruiting young women and girls to become journalists, reporting on the status of women in their region and having those reports carried on major networks.

Haidarian and her volunteer staff closed the site to new submissions and reviewed the top three ideas. This morning, they submitted the proposals (with notes added) to fans for one last round of voting. The polls will close in two weeks, at which point Haidarian will announce the winning project and her plans for making it a reality. Fans can vote by visiting FindingBibi.com and clicking ‘Discuss’.

The project contest and the organization were announced in March, both rooted in the spirit of Haidarian’s upcoming film Finding Bibi, which follows her on a journey of self discovery and in search of a “great female story.” Haidarian, the daughter of Baha’i religious refugees from Iran, gave her fans a deciding voice in the new initiative from the start. Fans submitted 20 ideas using the ranking site Slinkset, similar to applications used in social bookmarking sites like Digg. They were then able to vote for or against each other’s ideas.

“We are inspired by so many of the ideas that were submitted, and we’re especially pleased with those that won the first round,” said Haidarian. “We’re hoping for more votes in the final round, and looking forward to input from an even more diverse crowd.” The website, FindingBibi.com, also features updates on the film and its most recent trailer, as well as regular blog posts on the constantly innovating organization. The film is slated for completion late this year.

### If you would like more information about Finding Bibi the film or organization, please direct all questions to Todd Brogan at todd@findingbibi.com.

Spiritual Quote:

“That men and women differ from one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable fact of nature and makes possible their complementary roles in certain areas of the life of society; but it is significant that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated that in this Dispensation ‘Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced’.”
The Universal House of Justice, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 7

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The Girl Effect, Revisited . . .

image credit

Both images (the same person) are from National Geographic. The one on the left taken in 1984, the right in 2002, in Afghanistan.

The woman was interviewed in 2002. Here’s an excerpt:

Had she ever felt safe?

“No. But life under the Taliban was better. At least there was peace and order.”

Had she ever seen the photograph of herself as a girl?

“No.”

She can write her name, but cannot read. She harbors the hope of education for her children. “I want my daughters to have skills,” she said. “I wanted to finish school but could not. I was sorry when I had to leave.”

Education, it is said, is the light in the eye. There is no such light for her. It is possibly too late for her 13-year-old daughter as well, Sharbat Gula said. The two younger daughters still have a chance.

This is a story repeated far too often in our world but there is strong reason for hope!

One among many reasons for hope is a site called The Girl Effect and I can’t urge you strongly enough to click that link and at least watch the really awesome video !

Here is a PDF file of their Fact Sheet and here’s an excerpt from that Fact Sheet:

The Ripple Effect

• When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

• An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.

• Research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers.

• When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.

Population Trends
• Today, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world.

Girls Count !

Here are two videos from their site:

Spiritual Quotes:
“The world of humanity has two wings — one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 288<

“As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 133

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Why Can’t The “Experts” Fix The Economy ?

economic_meltdownDid a quick search of Google News for the words “economic meltdown ” and this story jumped out at me:

Women must be included in solving global economic meltdown, UN says
UN News Centre – Feb 6, 2009
“Governments must give women a key role in making decisions aimed at resolving the current global economic crisis…”

A link at the bottom of that article led to:

Women hold key to breaking out of global food crisis “Not only do women suffer the most from global problems, such as the current crisis arising from the surge in food prices, but they can also contribute the most to its solutions, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said…”

Together, these articles seem to point toward a solution to multiple global crises  that’s being avoided: Bottom-up and woman-centric

I did a search on the word “Davos “, where a privileged group of mostly males recently admitted their inability to see a solution for the global crisis, and I found an op-ed that also pointed toward women:
From the New York Times: Mistresses of the Universe “Banks around the world desperately want bailouts of billions of dollars, but they also have another need they’re unaware of: women, women and women.”

I’ll leave it to the people with more stamina than I have to work out the details necessary to achieve gender equality in the arena of dealing with global crises…

What I can and will do is to consider women, consult with women, and work with women; and, while doing that, stay as open as possible to learning more about sensitivity, intuition, and compassion.

There are Great Problems that have infected our human family and even with Great Solutions being applied we will still see much more unrest and possibly even Great Revolutions before Peace and Tranquility become the Norm:

Spiritual Quotes:

“Regarding the economic prejudice, it is apparent that whenever the ties between nations become strengthened and the exchange of commodities accelerated, and any economic principle is established in one country, it will ultimately affect the other countries and universal benefits will result. Then why this prejudice?”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 288

“Bahá’u’lláh set forth principles of guidance and teaching for economic readjustment. Regulations were revealed by Him which insure the welfare of the commonwealth. As the rich man enjoys his life surrounded by ease and luxuries, so the poor man must likewise have a home and be provided with sustenance and comforts commensurate with his needs. This readjustment of the social economic is of the greatest importance inasmuch as it insures the stability of the world of humanity; and until it is effected, happiness and prosperity are impossible.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 240

“The rich will enjoy the privilege of this new economic condition as well as the poor, for owing to certain provisions and restrictions they will not be able to accumulate so much as to be burdened by its management, while the poor will be relieved from the stress of want and misery. The rich will enjoy his palace, and the poor will have his comfortable cottage.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 132

“Strive, therefore, to create love in the hearts in order that they may become glowing and radiant. When that love is shining, it will permeate other hearts even as this electric light illumines its surroundings. When the love of God is established, everything else will be realized. This is the true foundation of all economics. Reflect upon it. Endeavor to become the cause of the attraction of souls rather than to enforce minds. Manifest true economics to the people. Show what love is, what kindness is, what true severance is and generosity. This is the important thing for you to do. Act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh…. Now is the time for you to live in accordance with His words. Let your deeds be the real translation of their meaning. Economic questions will not attract hearts. The love of God alone will attract them. Economic questions are most interesting; but the power which moves, controls and attracts the hearts of men is the love of God.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 239

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Unity >>> Peace

peace

Jim and Melissa at the café:

M: They should just continue bombing the hell out of them…

J: And that’s going to solve things?

M: It gets rid of the terrorists.

J: It’s also getting rid of innocent people.

M: There’s no other way to stop them.

J: What if you had a son and he was in Gaza and the bombs were falling on him?

M: I’d never let a son of mine be  in a situation like that.

J: So, there’s a beginning to a solution that doesn’t need violence—women taking charge and using love to fight war.

M: Hmmm… Never thought of it that way…

~~~~~~~~~

Just a story? Seem like a weak argument? Still think the bombs are the solution?

Try spending some time on Sixty Years, Sixty Voices, a site that chronicles the experience of 30 Palestinian and 30 Israeli women who’ve been involved in the conflicts and hold the conviction that focused female action can  stem the tide of violence…
 
“The foundations for lasting peace in the Middle East are embedded in the voices of these Israeli and Palestinian women. They know war and they know peace, they know weakness and strength and they know the human heart. In a torn land they find a common ground built out of wisdom, experience, and because they have walked the walk. Here they stand and speak out, if we listen there is hope.” – MARIANE PEARL

Just one of the many videos from the site:

Spiritual Quote :

“The highest of created beings fighting to obtain the lowest form of matter, earth! Land belongs not to one people, but to all people. This earth is not man’s home, but his tomb. It is for their tombs these men are fighting. There is nothing so horrible in this world as the tomb, the abode of the decaying bodies of men.

“However great the conqueror, however many countries he may reduce to slavery, he is unable to retain any part of these devastated lands but one tiny portion—his tomb! If more land is required for the improvement of the condition of the people, for the spread of civilization (for the substitution of just laws for brutal customs) — surely it would be possible to acquire peaceably the necessary extension of territory.

“But war is made for the satisfaction of men’s ambition; for the sake of worldly gain to the few, terrible misery is brought to numberless homes, breaking the hearts of hundreds of men and women!

“How many widows mourn their husbands, how many stories of savage cruelty do we hear! How many little orphaned children are crying for their dead fathers, how many women are weeping for their slain sons!

“There is nothing so heart-breaking and terrible as an outburst of human savagery!

“I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.

“Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness.

“When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands! So may all the savagery of man disappear by the Mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the sincere of soul. Do not think the peace of the world an ideal impossible to attain!

“Nothing is impossible to the Divine Benevolence of God.

“If you desire with all your heart, friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and positive, will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger and stronger, until it reaches the minds of all men.

“Do not despair! Work steadily. Sincerity and love will conquer hate. How many seemingly impossible events are coming to pass in these days! Set your faces steadily towards the Light of the World. Show love to all; ‘Love is the breath of the Holy Spirit in the heart of Man’. Take courage! God never forsakes His children who strive and work and pray! Let your hearts be filled with the strenuous desire that tranquillity and harmony may encircle all this warring world. So will success crown your efforts, and with the universal brotherhood will come the Kingdom of God in peace and goodwill.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 28

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The Truth About Women

oppression_women

Peter and Leon were at the café discussing women:

Peter: “Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.”

Leon: “The second part is completely true, the first is conditional.”

Peter: “Whataya mean conditional?”

Leon: “Well, it’s conditioned on your attitude toward them.”

Peter: “Bullshit… Doesn’t matter what I do, they’re still impossible to live with.”

Leon: “Yet, you do live with them.”

Peter: “What’s your point?”

Leon: “Point? Kinda obvious, eh?”

Peter: “Is this one of your psychological tricks?”

Leon: “No, just the truth—men are born from women, men live with women, men oppress women, and… women continue to bear it all, with a lot more strength then the men have.”

Peter: “More strength?

Leon: “Obviously.”

Peter: “Might be obvious to you but the whole subject confuses the hell out of me…”

Leon: “So, you admit you misunderstand them. Do you realize you also underestimate them?”

Peter: “Misunderstand, maybe; frustrated, for sure; underestimate? I don’t see where you’re headed with all this, I just want a solution.”

Leon: “Solution, Peter? First, you have to practice three powerful virtues: humility—to soften your willfulness; honesty—to inform your conscience; then, Love—to give them a reason to reveal themselves to you.”

Peter: “Dude, you’re outta your mind…”

~~~~~~~~~

Yep, Leon was out of his mind and into his heart . . .

Here are some recent sources of information about how men are treating women:

From Time World: The Best Way to Curb Forced Marriages

From the Washington Post: For Kurdish Girls, a Painful Ancient Ritual

From the Washington Post: A Private Feud Turns Into a National Issue

From Rising Voices: Nari Jibon: End Violence Against Women

From the Guardian, UK: Saudi girl, eight, married off to 58-year-old is denied divorce

From OneWorld.Net: Giving Birth in a Congolese Refugee Tent

From The Bahá’í International Community: Beyond Legal Reforms:Culture and Capacity in the Eradication of Violence Against Women and Girls

From Inter Press Service: Q&A: Failure to Translate Women’s Legal Rights into Action

Spiritual Quote :

“…among the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is the equality of women and men. The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 302

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