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I’m a man and I’m a feminist. But I will admit that when my wife (my then girlfriend) first told me she was a feminist, I rolled my eyes and thought, “OK here we go!” As a reaction, it wasn’t malicious, neither was it misogynistic. But it was dismissive, and it was certainly deeply ignorant. Ignorance is the operative word here. Because, at the time, my idea of feminism was mostly pre-conceived and – surprise surprise therefore – largely wrong. For me the word feminist only conjured up images of cantankerous women burning bras and hating on men. To be honest, I felt quite threatened by feminism.

But let’s define feminism.

feminism [femuh-niz-uhm] noun 1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

What about feminist?

feminist [femuh-nist] adjective 1. advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

So feminism is the doctrine for equal rights for women, and a feminist is someone who advocates that doctrine. Nothing scary about that.

photo credit: Flickr, Jay Morrison

The thing is, deep in my heart I knew the burning bras and the cantankerous hating parts of my definition were probably an exaggeration, or at least an exiguous minority. So that left me with just the women part. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a sympathizer for gender equality. So what was my problem then? The answer is simple: the fear of otherness. Or to put it more soberly, prejudice. I felt threatened by that which was unknown to me and by that which was different to me. This is the heart of all prejudices.

There was something else curious about this, though. Why did I only envisage women when I thought about feminism? Probably because the only people I saw, read, or heard about in the media who had anything to do with feminism were all women. Feminism was a movement for women run predominantly by women. No wonder, then, feminism seemed so other to me; it was other.

And herein, I believe, lies one of the great barriers to gender equality: there are not enough men advocating feminism. If feminism is about gender equality, then both genders must fight for it. Otherwise how is it equal? Because, men, you can’t say you believe in gender equality if you’re letting women do all the work.

I’m convinced that feminism will continue to be misunderstood, and therefore dismissed by many, unless more men stand up and count themselves as feminists. Because if feminism remains a movement for women by women, then the inescapable laws of prejudice will mean that men will always fear it.

Lessons to be learnt from this (especially for men) :

1. Feminism is simply about gender equality

2. Own up to your prejudices

3. Become a feminist; advocate women’s rights

You can advocate women’s rights in the simplest of ways. Giving to our Give2Girls campaign, which seeks to empower disadvantaged women the world over, is one method. Help us reach our goal of $20,000 donated. Be a feminist here.

 

Well known is the fact that the vast majority of the water you “drink” comes from what you eat. The amount of water it takes to produce food, however, is less well known.

Today is UN’s World Water Day. On Tuesday we prefaced this event by posting an infographic about water wastage. This year the UN are highlighting this problem as connected not just to the amount of water we are frittering away down our drains, but to the kinds of food we are consuming.

Here’s why: for example, to produce one potato requires 25 liters of water. On the other hand, to produce a hamburger requires a swimmy 2400 liters of water. A little shy of one hundred times the amount. This means the production of food relies overwhelmingly on the consumption of water. Indeed:

90% of water consumption is used to produce today’s food.

Put another way, food = water. That means wasted food = wasted water. And when it’s calculated that 1/3 of the world’s food production goes to waste, the situation becomes alarmingly critical.

With the world’s mushrooming population and fresh water already in scant supply, to ignore this issue is folly. Worse, it’s tragic. This is a serious ethical problem as the people it unjustly devastates are those in developing countries.

The UN have set out some simple guidelines for the privileged, like you and I, to follow in order to reduce this appalling waste, and therefore to leave greater supplies for those whose lives depend on it:

  • Choose a healthier, sustainable diet – food of better quality with less water
  • Consume less water-intensive products
  • Reduce your food wastage

At Jolkona we support a Clean Water project for women in Kenya. The project provides essential tools for building water construction systems. The aim is to help bring clean water and a sustainable water system to communities, as well as to empower local women to participate in income-generating activities. The project is also featured in our Give2Girls campaign. So far we have reached $13,000. Help us achieve our goal of $15,000 before the end of this Women’s History Month and donate to this project here.The world is thirsty because we are hungry. Quench that thirst. Impact here.

Spread the news and bring awareness to others: –

– Share this post with the people you know

– Tweet using the #WorldWaterDay hashtag

– Follow us on Facebook

For more information and resources about World Water Day go to the UN’s website here.

The Give2Girls campaign has been fully matched and we have raised an incredible figure just shy of $13,000! But although the matching part of the campaign is over, the campaign isn’t! We still have 10 days remaining for Women’s History Month and our goal is to reach $15,000. And with UN’s World Water Day coming up this Thursday, March 22nd, we wanted to highlight our Give2Girls Clean Water project run by MADRE.

Your donation provides essential tools for building water construction systems for women in Kenya. In doing so, you help bring clean water and a sustainable water system to the community, as well as empowering local women to participate in income-generating activities.

Give to the Clean Water project here, provide a community with the source of life, and help us reach our campaign goal.

Know your facts on water? Here’s an excellent infographic about why we must stop wasting water. Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.


Infographic by Seametrics, a manufacturer of water flow meters that measure and conserve water.

Give to the Clean Water project here. Empower women, Give2Girls.

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Report on Girls’ Education in India

Note from the Editor: this report is written by Daljit Singh, Jolkona Office Manager intern, a graduate in political science from the University of Washington.

photo credit: Flickr, Simon Tucker Photographs

Education is a basic human right that should be exercised fully in all nations, but for many girls in India, attending school is not an option. A girl’s education is an essential starting point in establishing equality everywhere. Despite the Indian Constitution guaranteeing equality before the law and non-discrimination on the basis of sex, India remains a patriarchal society. Male inheritance and property ownership, early marriage, dowry, honor crimes, lack girls’ education, witch hunting, violence against women, and trafficking are all serious issues in the country. There are schools, but most girls do not attend, often because of religious reasons or cultural pressures.

A study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau states that three out five girls receives primary education versus three out four boys. There should not be differences in the numbers of such a basic, universal human right. The law of the land makes it clear that both boys and girls have an equal opportunity to attend school from the age of six through fourteen, and that primary education is a fundamental right (Indian Constitution, Art 21). If the constitution does not make it clear enough, there is also an article in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defining that education is a universal human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 26). Girls are not receiving equal access to primary education in rural India and therefore are not achieving equality.

In this report, I want to focus on rural India and will examine the main reasons why girls have been kept away from receiving a complete primary education.

Limited access to laws and rights

The laws governing education in India are remarkably similar to the laws of western nations.  These laws are accessible to the citizens of India, but many of the citizens are unsure of how to properly live them out and where to go with complaints. Complaints usually fall on deaf ears and the citizen is told that there is equal access but that they are not fully utilizing it. It is a catch-22 situation.

In addition to national laws, there are also international laws that also govern these states. These laws, however, are harder to access for the average citizen. The citizens are only able to access these laws through local NGOs. However, the NGOs are not usually located in rural India. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has a clear article outlining that the access to education is a basic human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 26). These declarations should give more power to the government to provide access to education to all children.

Education is the crux

The impact of education on girls is extraordinary. Education sustains human values. It forms the foundation for learning and critical thinking. Education also provides skills for girls to become more self-reliant and provides them with more opportunities. Thinking into the future, education also provides them with the knowledge to manage health problems. A girl understanding her own body can make the difference between an unwanted pregnancy and an illegal abortion. Having the knowledge beforehand is crucial to saving and protecting lives.

Education does impact human development, as mentioned, along with economic development but the greatest impact is on democracy. Education is the only way a girl can be an informed citizen, leading the way for her to having her voice heard in society.  Education also provides a better overall quality of life. Research has shown the life expectancy rises by as two years for every one percent increase literacy (U.S. Census Bureau 1998). When women have a voice there can be changes made to existing laws changing the future for young girls.

photo credit: Flickr, karathepirate

4 reasons why girls are pulled out of school

The first reason why girls are pulled out of school is because of family responsibilities. Girls provide free labor at home for the family. Home is also where they learn to be a better housewife. Many girls are kept at home because it is a better payoff than going to school. Having the girl attend school is not valuable to the whole family. This problem is lucidly evident in India, even in urban areas, but more prevalent with poorer families. Girls can be found doing everything from farm work to household chores.

The family plays a central role in a girl’s life and shaping her future. Respect is given to elders in all situations and no decision can be made without consulting an elder. This often leads to the practice of arranged marriages. The decision is entirely up to the family and the girl often does not even see her future husband until the day of the wedding. Compared to American norms, individuals growing up in India are much more dependent on their families, especially parents.

The second reason why girls are kept from receiving a primary education is because they are pulled out early to protect family honor. This also can affect the dowry when the girl is married. The boy’s side of the family can raise the dowry if they suspect she has been in school with boys during puberty. The practice of dowry is illegal, but laws are not always implemented. If the dowry cannot be paid, the bride runs the risk of being ruined, or worse, being killed. Honor killings are prevalent among the poor.

The third reason for inequality during primary education is because girls can’t attend school due to inadequate facilities. Schools are unable to provide safe and sanitary facilities for young girls to attend, and with the population increasing at a rapid speed the priority for new facilities is given to boys. In many cases, though, this is exacerbated by basic infrastructural problems: roads, running water, and electricity are often scarce.

The fourth reason girls are kept from school is because of the shortage of female teachers. The problem can be solved, but it starts with first educating girls so they can aspire to be teachers. The government, however, does not see this as a problem and continues to deny that there is gender inequality within the education sector. There have been efforts, as listed earlier, by the government to enroll more girls but this has not been for the nation of India, but rather for international recognition and numbers.

The Solution

All of these contribute to the issue of unequal access to education for girls along with many more issues. These four issues have many underlying issues that contribute to the overall problem. And to solve this issue we can look to three conclusions: NGOs and nonprofits, and the government’s response.

First, NGOs and nonprofits can offer the most helpful solution to this problem because of grassroots movements across rural India. Many of the past efforts have come from reviewing previous reports. NGOs and nonprofits work at a local scale where a difference can made, whereas the government has worked on a larger scale with less success.

Second, the government’s response can help the whole process of providing primary schools for girls. The Indian government has recognized the problem has been slow to act on the issue. As mentioned earlier, education is not a priority for the government right now; rather the government is focused on the economy. Without girls being involved in the future economy, the government is taking a risk and putting the issue off for another generation.

Be a part of the solution. Jolkona is focused on providing mentorship and training to young social entrepreneurs who seek to create solutions that address things like education and women empowerment through a social accelerator program called Jolkona Catalyst. Join us in supporting the next generation of leaders by volunteering or by making a donation to the Jolkona Catalyst program.

Your gift will allow Jolkona to expand the Catalyst program to other parts of the world. This program has had a significant impact on the young leaders we have already invited. You can help us achieve our mission of accelerating positive social change by empowering even more young social entrepreneurs around the world. Let’s turn small acts into big impacts!

 

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Note from the Editor: this post was written by office manager intern and mayor of Jolkona HQ on Foursquare, Daljit Singh.

On Monday afternoon I had the opportunity to volunteer at Global Washingtons How Girls Can Save the World event. Thanks to a generous donation from Microsoft all 500+ guests were able to attend without any cost. The afternoon had two speakers, Geena Davis of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and Chris Grumm of Chris Grumm Consulting Group; as well as a moderator, former CEO of the Women’s Funding Network and moderator, Andrea Taylor of Microsoft.

The talks were a fascinating confluence of women in media and women in economics, portraying where these worlds intersect and, although vastly diverse, how they are at times inter-dependable. Extremely memorable was Geena Davis’s constant emphasizing of the word feminist. She stressed that we were not be afraid of it as all it means is to believe in equal rights for women.

The event was incredibly engaging and a number of questions were asked at the end. It was refreshing to see young girls (maybe 12 or 13 years old) asking such difficult but pertinent questions. One girl, who was in middle school, asked how she could engage in conversation with her friends about women empowerment and hyper-sexualization. This question and many others were enlighteningly answered by both Geena and Chris.

Some quotes from the evening:

Chris Grumm: “We need system change to help women/girls. Celebrate all success but be five steps ahead.”
Chris Grumm: “The difference between the women of the Global South and the Global North – women in the North are already empowered and the women of the South need more help with empowerment and business opportunities.”

Geena Davis: “Female characters in G-rated movies wear the same revealing clothes as female characters in R-rated movies.”
Geena Davis: “We’re due for a resurgence of the women’s movement!”

Eye-opening statistics that were mentioned:

  • 80% of the media consumed worldwide comes from the United States. This is the message we’re exporting.
  • If we add women to media at the rate of the last 20 years, it will take 700 years to meet parity. 500 years for congress.
  • Teenage girls’ #1 ambition is “reality TV star”.
  • There is typically 1 woman for every 3 males in TV/movies/media.
  • Research shows the more hours of TV a girl watches, the fewer options she imagines for her life.

Follow #girlssavetheworld on Twitter and you can take a look at the conversation we all had. Tom Paulson at KPLU also wrote a excellent summary of the evening on his blog, Humanosphere.

With our current matching campaign, Give to Girls (#Give2Girls) we can all make a difference and help empower the next generation of women leaders.

Empower women the world over here.

 

The loss of life is brutal. The estimates are catastrophic. Every year 365,000 women die of pregnancy related complications. Every year 3,200,000 infants die from mostly preventable conditions. Every year 20,000,000 unsafe abortions are performed, virtually all because of unwanted pregnancies. 20 million. It is horrifying. This can be changed. Take a few moments to look at this infographic. Click to enlarge it. Enlarge the parameters of your understanding. Engender change below.

Here are four projects featured in our Give2Girls campaign which are right now changing the lives of mothers and infants the globe over:

  • iLeap tackles postpartum depression for women in Japan. Make a difference here.
  • MADRE nourishes the needs of rape victims in Haiti Displacement Camps. Support the women of Haiti here.
  • Himalayan Healthcare runs essential family planning clinics for women in Nepal. Keep a clinic open here.
  • Calcutta Kids ensures healthy children by protecting vulnerable mothers in India. Protect these mothers here.

There is still time to double your difference with our matching campaign. Go to our campaign page for more information.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share the love with your friends.

Tweet using the #give2girls hashtag.

Image credit: http://susanpolgar.blogspot.com

Women have been ethically and emotionally suppressed throughout history. But even today, women make up 70% of those who are living in poverty. This is likely due to women’s shrinking employment rates over the years. 66% of illiterate adults are women as well. Tony Cade Bambara said, “revolution begins with the self, in the self.” Empowerment can fuel an entire community when one person decides that what they have to say is important. Amidst such inequality and lack of resources, women continue to transcend difficulties with grace,attitude, and determination. It is notwonder why March 8 is a day dedicated to lighting your revolution of the self. Join Jolkona and I in celebrating the power of the human voice and what we are capable of:International Women’s Day is here!

International Women’s Day began as a social and political event designed to bring greater awareness of the need for women to have equal rights among men. Over decades of monumental change, the meaning behind this day has grown into so much more than just a governmental responsibility: each person who celebrates brings a unique aspect to what International Women’s Day truly means.

International Women’s Day Australina recorded thousand of people’s reactions and ideas about what this day means to them. Here is one such voice:

International Women’s Day is now, of course, a day of celebration. A day when women can get together, celebrate being women– all [that] they’ve come through with a reminder of how much further there still is to go. I know that International Women’s Day didn’t start that way, it started as part of an industrial struggle[;] while there’s still a lot of struggling to be done I think there should be a strong emphasis on celebration.

Here at Jolkona, we believe that recognizing today is vital for the advancement of women, and for celebrating the power women have brought and will continue to bring to our planet.

With CRAVE and women@google by our side, the Give2Girls campaign is our revolution to generating dynamic awareness and change within global communities. We are providing girls and women on every inch of planet Earth with a chance to grow confident, grow strong, and grow wise. No matter which Give2Girls project excites you, we will match your donation made on the site up to $500 per person until our $6,000 match runs out! Find your favorite project to give to on the Give2Girls campaign page.

Did we mention you will receive proofs for both of the donations? Share your story with family and friends when we update you with how your generous impact has transformed a woman’s life.

We would like to thank our very own volunteer Zanoon Nissar for spear-heading the campaign this year and raising our matching fund! Check out her video to learn why she believes in this campaign:

RSVP for our virtual event and help tell your friends about the Give2Girls campaign.

Get a Give2Girls gift card for a friend.

Follow us and share our updates on Facebook.

Tweet using the #give2girls hashtag.


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Don’t invest in women and 150 million people could starve. FACT. This infographic illustrates perfectly just one of the myriad reasons why we must invest in women. Be it on our own heads if we don’t. Let’s not allow it to get to that point; Give2Girls.

Give women farmers in Sudan the resources, the education, and the chance  to be more productive here or provide sustainable bio-intensive farm training for women in Kenya to help them improve their yields  here.  Or look for our other projects with the Give2Girls logo

to see how you can empower the women of tomorrow by giving to the girls of today. Donate to any of these and we will match your donation up to $500!

Go to our campaign page to find out more.

Tell your friends about the Give2Girls campaign.

Follow us and share our updates on Facebook.

Tweet using the #give2girls hashtag.


 

How’s your knowledge of women’s history? Honestly. I’ll be the first to hold my hand up and say mine is a little patchy. Well, if you’re anything like me, then this month of March is your chance to change that. March is Women’s History Month – a world-wide movement that looks back and celebrates the tenacious achievements of women in our history, with a mind to looking forward and increasing awareness of the great distance that is yet to be traveled to achieve gender equality.

Introducing the Give2Girls matching campaign

To celebrate and participate in Women’s History Month, we’re proud to be launching our second Give2Girls matching campaign, running for the whole of March – starting today! We’re dedicating thirty one days to improving the lives of thousands of women and girls around the globe. Like last year, we’re partnering with the indefatigable CRAVE, a networking organization committed to connecting and promoting women entrepreneurs.

How will the campaign work?

Give to any of our 20+ projects related to women or girls, and we will match your donation, dollar for dollar, up to $500 per donor! Even better than that, though, we will double your proof. So donate $40 to educate one girl in Afghanistan for ten months, and we’ll send you the proof for how two girls have been educated. The campaign is being matched up to a total of $6,000.

Why this campaign?

Here are just some of the reasons:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The total global population of girls ages 10 to 24 – already the largest in history – is expected to peak in the next decade.
  • One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.
  • Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Compared with women ages 20 to 24, girls ages 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die from childbirth, and girls 15 to 19 are up to twice as likely, worldwide.
  • Approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.
  • Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls.

(statistics taken from girleffect.org)

For too long women have been over-looked. Their worth within society, communities, and families has been woefully neglected. And the true absurdity of this is that the roles they play within these spheres are of paramount importance. But we’re not here to bemoan the past; we’re here to change the future. So let’s do that.

What can I do?

1. Educate yourself. Give a bit of your time to learning about the past and women’s history. You can start here at womenshistorymonth.org. Then, learn about the present. The sites are numerous, but here are a couple we like: girleffect.org and the UN’s womenwatch.

2. Spread the word. Share what you learn and share our campaign with your friends, families and social networks. Tweet using the hashtag #give2girls.

3. Change the future. Support the Give2Girls campaign and invest in the women of tomorrow by giving to the girls of today!

Empower women and girls the world over here.

 

GET INVOLVED!