Jan 29, 2012

Davos 2012: Women as the Way Forward

Imagine if half the world's population were to reach its full potential. How would this advance progress on economic, societal and political issues?

The following debated the above question at one of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting events:

  • Michelle Bachelet, Undersecretary-General, United Nations Women (UN Women), New York
  • Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook, USA; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012; Young Global Leader
  • Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop; Chair, The Elders, South Africa
  • Talal Al Zain, Chief Executive Officer, Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, Bahrain; Global Agenda Council on Private Capital

Some of the more interesting comments I picked up:

"We won't make it without the women" Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu

How can we create greater equality? By including women in the workforce.

"Women have the ability to generate better performance and profit in institutions" 
"We need the whole population to push forward the global economy, not just half of it"
"The Fortune 500 - the 25 companies which are 'female friendly' have reported higher performance" Talal Al Zain

Watch the debate here: http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2012?idvideo=99977

Attitudes in both developed and developing world need to change. For example, t-shirts sold in Jamboree which say "Smart like daddy, pretty like mummy" hinder the progress that women are making to reach the top. Often, the more successful a woman is, the less she is liked. Sheryl Sandberg

Women spend 90% of their income on their children whereas men spend only 30-40% therefore giving women economic control can only result in better outcomes for the whole society. Michelle Bachelet

As Warren Buffet said: "I succeeded because I only had to compete with half of the population"

To conclude: "to achieve gender parity, it can't be a bad thing, can it?" Desmond M. Tutu


Project Unbreakable

In the UK around 21% of girls and 11% of boys experience some form of child sexual abuse. 23% of women and 3% of men experience sexual assault as an adult. 5% of women and 0.4% of men experience rape. 

The majority of these people struggle to find a voice to speak out about this type of abuse and therefore suffer in silence, something they should not have to do after having suffered so much.

That's why Project Unbreakable, which uses photography to help heal those who were sexually abused by asking them to write a quote from their attacker on a poster and photographing them holding the poster is so important. 

For the hundreds of thousands of people who have been sexually abused to be able to explain what their perpetrator said to them in justification of the sexual abuse is a way to take their anger and sadness out and in some way, to move on from their horrific experience.

Here are some examples of posters created:


Jan 19, 2012

Hungry Much?

Top 5 Facts about Hunger you NEED to know (from WFP website)

This is depressing.......

1Approximately 925 million people in the world do not eat enough to be healthy. That means that one in every seven people on Earth goes to bed hungry each night. (Source: FAO News Release, 2012)

2. A third of all deaths in children under the age of five in developing countries are linked to undernutrition. (Source: UNICEF Report on Child Nutrition, 2006)

3. By 2050, climate change and erratic weather patterns will have pushed another 24 million children into hunger. Almost half of these children will live in sub-Saharan Africa. (Source: Climate Change and Hunger: Responding to the Challenge, WFP, 2009)

4.  It costs just US $0.25 per day to provide a child with all of the vitamins and nutrients he or she needs to grow up healthy. (Source: WFP, 2011)

5. Hunger is the single biggest solvable problem facing the world today. Here are eight effective strategies for fighting hunger.

BUT.........there are always solutions.............

5 Examples Of Effective Food Aid

1. Nourishing mothers means healthy babies
Providing the right sorts of nutritious food to women when they are pregnant or breast-feeding ensures their children get the nutrients they need to develop healthy minds and bodies.

2. School meals help kids learn

Providing free meals for children in school means they get the food they need to concentrate on their lessons. It also means they stay in school and get an education, which will help them escape poverty and hunger.

3. Training gives women livelihoods

By giving poor women food rations in return for attending training courses in gardening, bee-keeping or other skills helps give them a means to support themselves and their families in the years ahead

4. Vouchers enable urban hungry to eat
When there is food in the markets, but poor people simply can’t afford it, then food vouchers can help ensure vulnerable families get the food they need. They also help support the local economy.

5. Supporting farmers strengthens communities

Giving training and support to smallholder farmers, helping them to connect better to markets, helps communities develop resilient food production systems that will be able to resist occasional shocks.


Smash that Glass Ceiling

It's no secret that women struggle to reach that top position - whether in government, in huge corporations, in NGOs etc.

SO, how are we going to break that glass ceiling? We have a few options:
*don't have children, dedicate our lives to our jobs
*manipulate, bitch and sleep our way to the top
*enforce quotas
*start a new company and be our own boss
*be braver and demand what's rightfully ours - a chance to get to the top without giving up the rest of lives

The first two are simply depressing and undermine our power and strength as women - we shouldn't have to give up having children (unless we want to) nor should we use our sexuality to get our own way. Simple reason - men don't have to so why should we?

The third is a contentious issue because if you enforce quotas you're in effect 'positively discriminating' which isn't always a good thing. However, it has proven very successful in a number of countries - Rwanda, Iceland, South Africa, Norway. Rwanda actually has 56.3% of women in parliament - so much for being a 'developing' country - there's a lot we could learn from it in terms of gender representation in government.

The fourth is attractive to entrepreneurs, women with innovative ideas, something new, something different but it's risky and financially unstable so it's not as easy it sounds.

The fifth is achievable but women need more support in the workplace, particularly from their male colleagues. This is argued by Boardwalk - 'ambition does not hold women back from Board positions but confidence and perceived lack of support is a problem. Women have skills that are valuable to Boards but because they are not packaged in a readily accessible manner this creates barriers to appointments. On the other side perhaps boards lack the creativity to recognise how to tap into the diverse skills held by women.'

Some of the recommendations made by Boardwalk:

  • We need to encourage inter disciplinary mentoring schemes involving highly visible women supporting women in other sectors.
  • Invest in Board diversity initiatives with a focus on board ready training and behavioural change  for Boardroom culture.
  • More awareness and knowledge share on across sectors of how successful companies utilise performance assessment tools to assess the!impact of Board diversity.

For all those who have reached this invisible glass ceiling, help others to do the same. For those who are striving to reach it, Punch Hard!


Why Soya Sauce is SO wonderful

Because you can add it to everything, well I can...
Because it's slightly exotic and not just butter
Because it doesn't taste like hard grains of salt
Because it just blends in so well with wasabi and ginger
Because without soya sauce my palate would be miserable

Love Soya Sauce, Love Food


Sex tips from the 19th Century

As a liberal feminist I believe sex is such a fundamental part of any relationship and you must work to keep your sex life 'alive' as much as you can. Recently, there was an article in the Guardian about 'Sex and the over 60s' and people interviewed testified that having a healthy sex life at an older age meant that they were healthier and that their relationships were healthier. 

It is not my place to judge those who wish to please their husbands/wives and not themselves and it is not my place to rubbish the institution of marriage and what the act of sex can produce but I truly believe that it is a fundamental human right to be allowed to pleasure ourselves in whatever way we choose and not to shy away from being sexual beings.

Here are some of the best quotes from 'Sex Tips - For Husbands and Wives from 1894'. Courtesy of Ruth Smythers - a pastor's wife who believed it was her duty to inform men and women how they should live their sex lives.

"While sex is at best revolting and at worse rather painful....it has to be endured, and has been by women since the beginning of time , and is compensated for by the monogamous home and the children produced through it."

"A good wife should expect to have reduced sexual conducts to once a week by the end of the first year of marriage and to once a month by the end of the fifth year of marriage"

(There won't be a fifth year if you're not having any sex!!)

"Most men are by nature rather perverted, and if given half a chance, would engage in quite a variety of the most revolting practices" 

(I think you'll find that men just enjoy sex . )

"A wise bride will make it the goal never to allow her husband to see her unclothed body, and never allow him to display his unclothed body to her"

(But, how are we supposed to feel comfortable in our skin if we can't get naked in front of the man we love?)

"Sex, when it cannot be prevented, should be practised only in total darkness"

"When he finds her, the wife should lie as still as possible. Bodily motion on her part could be interpreted as sexual excitement by the optimistic husband"

"Many men obtain a major portion of their sexual satisfaction from the peaceful exhaustion immediately after the act is over. Thus the wife must insure that these is no peace in this period for him to enjoy. Otherwise, he might be encouraged to soon try for more"

Extremely useful tips for any married couple right there... I'm sure you'll have a loving, long lasting, children producing, wonderful marriage.