Sexual Harassment is Everywhere

I am so glad the words ‘sexual harassment’ are in every newspaper and article I read right now. I am glad perpetrators are being accused, and I am glad that assaulted women and men are coming forward and shaping a better tomorrow.

Amidst the incredible cultural movement taking place, I decided to dig deeper into the matter by reading Gretchen Carlson’s amazing book, Be Fierce.

Carlson is an author, American television personality and the Chairwoman of the Miss America Board of Directors. In 2016, she filed a lawsuit against Fox News Chief Executive Roger Ailes claiming sexual harassment. After her claims, other women came forward and also accused Ailes of harassment.

Carlson decided to speak up about sexual harassment in the workplace. While writing her book, hundreds of women came up to her and told their own stories – some from 10 years ago. It is unbelievable what some of these women have been through.

In the book you will find examples of women who decided to tell their own stories, as well as ideas about how we can attack this problem from its roots and how we can work together to end it. The book offers legal advice on what to do in case you ever find yourself in this situation and last but not least, it urges readers to remember that if you are a victim you should never, ever, keep it to yourself.

In Mexico, only 40% of cases of sexual harassment in the workplace are reported and it is not even considered an occupational hazard. Any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or offensive work environment must be considered sexual harassment. Let’s be clear about something: harassment in the workplace doesn’t need to involve physical contact. Sexist and intimidating comments also constitute harassment.

Carlson mentions in her book that “being professional in this industry means learning to accept a certain amount of that kind of talk” – referring to inappropriate comments. As I read this line, I froze. Why is it that some men believe they have the power to address women in this manner? Women can be afraid to speak up, and this has got to change. As Carlson says, “sharing your story is the first step and every time a new woman steps forward, a few others see they can too.”

She mentions a man who thanked her for what she is doing for his daughters, and I think this marks a very special and crucial moment. From an early age we must empower our daughters and raise them to be bold, to identify any form of harassment and most importantly, never to feel guilty or oppressed by this kind of behaviour. In her chapter ‘Men Who Defend’, Carlson talks about how many men have reached out to her in admiration of what she is doing and everything she has accomplished. I agree with her: men have to get on board and fight this battle with us, the misconception is that this is a women’s problem rather than a problem concerning us all as society.

We have to raise our voices, not only so that the message that harassment is unacceptable reaches everyone, but also so that it is well received and empowering. As we all know, harassed woman are still not believed when they finally decide to speak up. There is often doubt towards their testimonies, there is often ‘slut shaming’, there are often questions – why was she silent all these years? Why was she wearing that? Why is she such an attention seeker? Why can’t she take a joke?

Sexual harassment is not contained to the entertainment industry; it’s in many industries, many work places, it’s everywhere. We are living in a historic time of unity. Be part of this change and if you’re currently being harassed within your workplace don’t be afraid to seek help, as Carlson advises: keep a copy of every email, photograph or text as evidence of your harassment and speak up. Companies must implement internal procedures so workers know what to do in case of harassment.

To all of you who are or have been in this unfortunate position, I want you to know that you are strong and brave, Hollywood wants you to know that time’s up, and Gretchen Carlson wants you to know that you are fierce.

4 Scottish Authors You Need on Your Bookshelf

There is, and has always been, a wealth of wonderful and unique writing coming out of Scotland. Here are some of my favourite female Scottish writers, both long-loved and newly-discovered:

Ali Smith

One of Scotland’s best-loved writers, Ali Smith is an author, playwright, lecturer and journalist whose novels and short stories have gathered multiple prizes and endless admirers. Born and raised in Inverness, a small city in the north of Scotland, Smith started writing poetry at just 8 years old.

There’s a long list of Smith novels to choose from, but my favourite is Hotel World, a mesmerising and inventive piece of writing in which Smith is beautifully playful with language – often going pages at a time without punctuating the stream-of-consciousness of her narrators.

“Stories can change lives if we’re not careful. They will come in and take the shirts off our backs. Tell the right stories, and we live better lives.”

– Ali Smith, during a radio interview in 2016

Jenni Fagan 

A poet and novelist, Fagan graduated from Greenwich University with the highest possible grade for a creative writing. She was was included in the most recent Granta list of the 20 Best Young British Novelists. In fact, she was the only Scottish writer on that list.

Her debut novel, The Panopticon, tells of Anais Hendricks, a teenage girl in care. Told in a first person Scottish vernacular, the novel pulls on Fagan’s own experience of life – she was looked after by the state for 16 years – without succumbing to the slightest hint of cliche.

The sky is a vast black. Each star up there is just a wee pinhole letting in pure-white light. Imagine if it was all pure-white light on the other side of that sky.

– Jenni Fagan, The Panopticon, 2012

Kirsty Logan 

Kirsty Logan is fiction writer, book reviewer and writing mentor. She lives in Glasgow where, according to her own website, she drinks coffee, listens to true crime podcasts and dreams of the sea.

Try The Gracekeepers, a magical story of a floating circus and two young women in search of a home. Filled with inspiration from Scottish folklore and fairytales, Logan’s lyrical debut made me think of Angela Carter’s writing in the best possible way.

We don’t belong anywhere, because we can belong everywhere.

– Kirsty Logan, The Gracekeepers, 2015

Janice Galloway 

Another of Scotland’s most esteemed female writers, Galloway is the author of several novels, short stories and poetry collections. She has done extensive radio work for the BBC, and is a writer in residence at four Scottish prisons.

Her first novel, The Trick is to Keep Breathing, is widely regarded as a Scottish literary classic. Dealing with depression and trauma, it is bravely written and brutally honest, and manages to be exhilarating at the same time as full to the brim with despair.

“No matter how often I think I can’t stand it anymore, I always do. There is no alternative. I don’t fall, I don’t foam at the mouth, faint, collapse or die. It’s the same for all of us. You can’t get out of the inside of your own head. Something keeps you going. Something always does.”

– Janice Galloway, The Trick is to Keep Breathing, 1989

You can join Girls’ Globe on our global book tour of female authors. Try these writers from Sweden and Latin America…you might just discover your new favourite!

Movies to Make You Feel Bold!

Ever since this year’s International Women’s Day we’ve been celebrating our brilliant Girls’ Globe network – the individuals and organizations committed to making the world a better and more equal place to live.

We asked each of our contributors to share their secrets of feeling BOLD. They told us about books that inspire them, songs that embolden them and quotations that move them. Last up, here is Girls’ Globe’s big, bold movie list. Why not treat yourself to one of these tonight?!

  1. Spotlight, 2015
    The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese.
  2. Queen of Katwe, 2016
    A Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.
  3. Juno, 2007
    Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.
  4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, 2013
    When his job is threatened, Walter embarks on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.
  5. Sarafina, 1992
    South African teenagers fight against apartheid in the Soweto Uprising.
  6. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, 2014
    A documentary that resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971.
  7. Wild, 2014
    A chronicle of one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy, based on the incredible book by Cheryl Strayed.
  8. Le Grand Bleu, 1988

    The rivalry between Enzo and Jacques, two childhood friends and now world-renowned free divers, becomes a beautiful and perilous journey into oneself and the unknown.

  9. Selma, 2014
    A chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.
  10. Brave, 2012
    Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.
  11. Hidden Figures, 2016
    The story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.
  12. Far from the Madding Crowd, 2015
    In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor.
  13. Million Dollar Baby, 2004
    A determined woman works with a hardened boxing trainer to become a professional.
  14. Run Lola Run, 1998
    After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.
  15. Pray the Devil Back to Hell, 2008
    A group of women rise up to peace to Liberia and help bring to power the country’s first female head of state.

    Which movies would make it onto your own list? We’d love for you to share your ‘Movies to Make You Feel Bold’ recommendations with us – please leave a comment or connect with us on FacebookInstagram or Twitter

Cover photo credit: Jeremy Yap

Books to Make You Feel Bold

To mark International Women’s Day 2017 we’ve been celebrating the commitment and courage of the bloggers and organisations in Girls’ Globe’s network.

We asked each of them to share their secrets of feeling BOLD. Here are the top 20 books that Girls’ Globe reads to feel inspired, emboldened and ready to take action!

  1. We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    What does “feminism” mean today? That’s the question
    at the heart of this personal, eloquently-argued essay.

    Book 1

  2. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, Nujood Ali
    Nujood Ali’s father arranged for her to be married to a man three times her age. This book reminds us that hope is a verb.
  3. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
    This innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers through one woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life.
  4. Daring Greatly, Brené Brown
    A powerful new vision that encourages us to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.
  5. Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby
    The most inclusive anthology ever attempted of oral and written literature–in every conceivable genre–by women of African descent the world over.
  6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
    A world of make-believe to delight readers young and old, where the height of adventure is limited only by the depths of imagination.

    Book 6

  7. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
    Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary is an eloquent testament to the human spirit.
  8. Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
    A sharp and funny look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we need to do better.

    Book 5

  9. In a Different Voice, Carol Gilligan
    This book started a revolution. Published decades ago, it made women’s voices heard, in their own right, with their own integrity.
  10. The Start Up of You, Reid Hoffman
    I would recommend this book to every young woman (and man) I know. It discusses how we can be the master of our own destiny, which is emboldening.
  11. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
    First published in 1937 and generally dismissed by reviewers, this novel is now embraced as one of the greatest works of the 20th century.

    Book 2

  12. This Sex Which is Not One, Luce Irigaray
    Irigaray reconsiders the question of female sexuality in light of current discussion of feminist theory and practice.
  13. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
    A true account of a man dying of cancer reminds us of the fragility of life, how important it is to seize every moment and to hold on to the things that matter.
  14. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
    This classic novel of freedom and longing has inspired every generation since its initial publication.

    Book 3

  15. Unbowed, Wangari Maathai
    Winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and single mother of three recounts her extraordinary life as a political activist, feminist, and environmentalist in Kenya.
  16. The Women’s History of the World, Rosalind Miles
    Women’s vital part in the shaping of the world has been consistently undervalued or ignored – this book sets the record straight.
  17. The Blue Sweater, Jacqueline Novogratz
    The story of a woman who left a career in international banking to try to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it.
  18. Just Kids, Patti Smith 
    The legendary American artist’s first book of prose offers an an honest and moving story of youth and friendship.
  19. The Hobbit, J.R. Tolkien
    Recognized as a timeless classic, this much-loved story recounts the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring and a cruel dragon.
  20. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
    An unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

    Book 4

    How many of these books have you read? Which titles would make it onto your own list? We’d love for you to share your ‘Books to Make You Feel Bold’ recommendations with us – please leave a comment or use #BeBoldForChange on FacebookInstagram or Twitter

Youth Voices at PMNCH Partners’ Forum 2014

We have been present at the PMNCH Partners’ Forum 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa this week, where close to 200 youth delegates participated and advocated to include youth priorities in the post-2015 agenda. We had the opportunity to be inspired by their leadership and hear their views and recommendations. .

Gogontlejang Phaladi, Botswana

Mohammed Magdy El Khayat, Egypt

Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, Mexico

1. The global community has made significant progress in saving the lives of women and children. What do you think stands out as a key accomplishment?

2. What are some broader economic, health and social benefits from investing in women’s and children’s health?

3. Remaining gaps can be solved through partnership. Globally, where is political will and commitment for children’s health needed most?

Zanele Mabaso, South Africa

Sumaya Saluja, India

Felogene Anumo, Kenya

Felogene reads the youth recommendations that were put together at the Youth Pre-Forum on June 29th, prior to the PMNCH Partners’ Forum. The recommendations were presented at a Laadership Dialogue with Youth including Dr Margaret Chan (WHO), Kathy Calvin (UN Foundation, Babatunde Osotimehin (UNFPA), Amina Mohammed (UN, Post-2015), and Carole Presern (PMNCH). The whole document can be found here.

Melissa Kubvoruno, Zimbabwe

See all of our video coverage from PMNCH Partners’ Forum 2014 here.

Commit to Deliver for Young Girls & Women in the Post-2015 Agenda

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By: Felogene Anumo, Advocacy Programme Associate. The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), @Felogene on Twitter

The Millennium Development Goals have been the central reference point for global development efforts and have had success in drawing attention to poverty as an urgent global priority. Though the world has made progress towards achieving the MDGs, more can and must be done, especially with regards to addressing the needs of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young women and girls.

The importance of adolescents’ access to SRHR is a key element to the fight against poverty.

About 1.8 billion young people are entering their reproductive years, often without the knowledge, skills and services they need to protect themselves. Among the root causes of current high rates of maternal and newborn mortality are unintended pregnancies — particularly among girls and adolescents. According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 800 women die every day in the process of giving life due to preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Many of these mothers are young girls who have consistently had their rights and dignity violated.

Despite these glaring facts and the harsh reality, most young people still lack the information and resources necessary to make healthy choices, including protection against HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and the development of healthy relationships. The health and social-economic consequences of teenage pregnancy are enormous. Early parenthood is likely to affect educational achievements with significant employment and socio-economic ramifications, while health complications for both teen mother and her unborn child or infant child are very high.

Recommendations

As young women and girls at the 2014 PMNCH Partners’ Forum we recognise that healthy populations, particularly women, children and young people are at the centre of sustainable development and that increasingly, evidence shows that healthy well-being in adolescence shapes the entire life course of individuals.

We therefore, call on all members attending the PMNCH Partners’ forum to within their efforts, reflect the following youth and adolescent priorities in the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

  • Fulfill the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people by ensuring continuing age-appropriate sexuality education, comprehensive access to contraception and safe and legal abortion services by eliminating le legal, social and economic barriers that prevent women and girls from accessing their sexual and reproductive health;
  • Commit to end all forms of violence and particularly to eliminate harmful and unethical practices affecting young women and girls including forced child marriage, girl pledging and female genital cutting;
  • Increase investments in social, political and environmental determinants of young people’s health these include secondary education, youth unemployment, nutrition security, social exclusion, including income inequality, sexual diversity and gender equality.
  • Allow for meaningful youth engagement not only the designing but also the implementation of health programs and policies aimed at improving health outcomes

See more: Third PMNCH Partners’ Forum Youth Pre -Forum Outcome Document

Watch Felogene read the recommendations from the Youth Pre-Forum Outcome Document

Join the conversation using #Commit2Deliver