“Like A girl”?

“Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes’. They will say, ‘women don’t have what it takes.” – Clare Boothe Luce


 

For as long as I could remember, being a girl came with double standards. I was urged to reach for the stars, push for greatness and be the best that I could be. Yet, being ‘like a girl’ was one of the biggest insults that you could say to any kid on the playground.

images (3)

The fact that little girls believe that “like a girl” is an insult is disheartening.  The phrase has lowered the confidence of many girls and continues to humiliate them.

Always and director Lauren Greenfield have teamed up to create an inspiring campaign that show how a simple phase can have a significant and long-lasting impact on girls and women. They have created a movement that will redefine the phase “like a girl” into a positive affirmation.

As Always says, “We’re kicking off an epic battle to make sure that girls everywhere keep their confidence throughout puberty and beyond, and making a start by showing them that doing it #LikeAGirl is an awesome thing.”

Every single girl has the ability to push the standards and boundaries that society has placed around them. Education needs to start now to remove the double standards and the negative cogitation around the phrase ‘Like a girl”.

I urge you all to take a stand and show young girls everywhere that #LikeAGirl should never be used as an insult. I urge you to let young girls know that they are special, strong, talented and amazing. And that they should never be ashamed of being themselves.

I am a student, a blogger, a development practitioner, an activists, an explorer. And I do all of this #LikeAGirl #Always

 

Advertisements

Strutting To Make A Statement

There is something powerful about being a part of something that is bigger than yourself. Being part of a moment in time where a group of strangers can come together for one unified cause. To be part of a social movement that is more than just a political protest but rather provide a hope that positive change is upon us.

Thanks to a couple of amazing women at the Women Center, the University of Waterloo held the first ever SlutWalk in the KW region just a few mere hours ago. I remember in the beginning of the winter term, one of my friends Erin (an executive of the Women Center) came into my room and told me all about her exciting new conquest at the Women Center to bring forth the SlutWalk to the University of Waterloo. I was amazed that it hadn’t had been brought forth sooner but I couldn’t have been prouder of the work that Erin among her fellow comrades did to accomplish this.

Up until a few hours ago,I had never participated in a SlutWalk let alone any rally or protest before. I remember hearing about the SlutWalk a few years back when I was in high school. I didn’t really know much about it other than it was a walk in protest to a comment made by some police officer where women could wear literally anything (or nothing) they wanted. As an ignorant teenager, I associated the Slutwalk as something that was very scandalous that only crazy people took part of. The whole concept of women walking around with literally nothing on didn’t make any sense to me, and I was just confused and baffled by the idea. However, fast forward to present day and through meeting some amazing people such as Erin and some of my fellow Indevours, I have learned the true meaning and now understand the main ideas behind the SlutWalk.

The SlutWalk is a monumental transnational movement of a march that is held to protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance and a call to end rape culture. The first ever SlutWalk was held on  April 3rd 2011 in Toronto, Ontario and since then these marches have symbolized a unified statement about sexual assault and victims’ rights and to demand respect for all. This all started after Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police Force officer, made a public statement on January 24th, 2011 reiterating the Force’s views on sexual assault as “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.Since the initial walk in Toronto, the SlutWalk has become more than a political protest but also about freedom of expression.

So without really knowing much about the SlutWalk, I did some research and then it dawned on me, what does one wear to a Slut-walk? One of my friends suggested that I wear a scandalous outfit that was sexy and revealed it all. Another agreed and suggested I go naked.  I knew that some participants were going to be shirtless or wearing tight short clothing. And I didn’t want to stand out like a sore thumb if I didn’t conform to that. But then it hit me, I was no different than many other ignorant men and women who believed that the true underlying reason behind many sexual assault cases was because of how promiscuous a woman dressed. What I wore to a simple march let alone what I wear every day or when I go out with friends should not define me or label me as a “Slut”.

 

Many can argue that the SlutWalk is just a march that lacks the substance and drive to be a monumental movement. But I see it differently. I see it as something that is about to achieve its tipping point effect to break stereotypes and change the way modern society views violence against women. I mean looking back to when the walk first took place in 2011 and seeing it grow into something bigger is powerful. To see the effects that it has by raising awareness and generating discussion on the issues surrounding rape culture, victim blaming and slut shaming. It shows the power that a group of individuals can have to create change.The walk breaks the norms and perceptions that society has on how a “Slut” should look, act and dress. Hearing and seeing stories of rape victims who participated in the walk wear the clothes that they were raped in shows that rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter what you wear, what your gender is or orientation. Rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone and perpetrators could be people close and dear to your heart. The SlutWalk brings light on the issue that how you dress and present yourself is not the cause for being assaulted it is just an excuse that the system and society think. Women are blamed and taught to apologize for provoking, taunting and teasing men. They are just asking for it by wearing seductive clothing and walking home alone at night. Victim blaming and slut shaming is a very real thing that is overlooked by society.

We focus on saving our world and protecting our planet but what about saving and protecting the lives of hundreds and thousands sexually assault victims. We need to start teaching men and women of all ages, race, and orientation that no one is ever asking to be raped or sexually assaulted. No means no. Everyone deserve to live a life without fear.

Abused Goddess

enhanced-buzz-13226-1378408862-44  The other day while scrolling through my tumblr, I stumbled upon an image of what appeared to be a recreated classic oil painting of a Hindu goddess. Over my life, I have seen many images of Hindu goddesses. But this particular image struck me the most. The subtle swollen lip, cuts and bruises drew me in and captivated me. Never have I seen anything like this; for an agency to have the balls to recreate a female religious figure in such way. To show the stark contrast of female figures in religion and myth to the reality of female lives in India and other parts of South Asia. To be honest, I never really thought about this contradiction until seeing the Abused Goddesses Campaign.

enhanced-buzz-13711-1378409731-28

The campaign was created by an ad agency named Taproot who were commissioned by Save the Children to design a campaign for its Save Our Sisters Anti-Trafficking campaign. Abused Goddesses are recreated classic oil paintings of Hindu goddesses; Saraswati, Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth), and Durga (Goddess of Strength and invincibility). The twist of these images are that the models show subtle signs of physical abuse through black eyes, swollen lips, and/or cuts.These images showcase the growing issue and program facing Indian women, violence and safety. As the caption notes in the campaign;

enhanced-buzz-28255-1378409218-4

Pray that we never see this day. Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.

In a 2011 Reuter report, India was named the 4th most dangerous country in the world for women to safely live in.  According to Save Our Sisters, over 100 million Indians, predominately women and children are said to be involved in trafficking. Last year alone, over 224, 270 crimes against women were reported in the country. That goes without saying many cases went unreported.

Many things can be said about the effectiveness of this campaign. The simplicity of the design clearly draws in viewers to understand the intended message. But to use female religious figures to show this message is ballsy. Being a Hindu, it’s easy to see that Hindu gods are worshipped significantly. Gods and goddesses are everything to Hindus.  Like many other religions, gods and goddesses provide people with a sense of hope in times of need and desperation. People spend hundreds of dollars on priests, ceremonies, and on traditions to please the gods and goddesses. Do something wrong and you will anger a god and all hell will break loose. So with people worshipping the ground for female religious figures, it raises the question, why can’t normal average women be given the same treatment?

The contradiction between how female goddesses are treated versus regular females is crazy. I know that there are many different factors that play into this, class system in particular. But, it doesn’t surprise me that Indian society is ignoring all the signs of abuse in front of them. The rights and freedom of women and children has been hindered for centuries. I know it will be hard to break traditional systems but it must be done. How can someone have a life where they are forced into marrying a man at the age of 8 or younger? How can someone have a life where they have no other option but to sell their body to pay the debt that their family has? How can someone turn a blind eye on the bruises and scars that are left on the arms, face and body of women and children?

I understand that my western beliefs cannot be imposed on their traditions and I understand that culture and tradition are in need. But traditional beliefs have allowed people to mask their ability to see what is right or wrong. Individuals should be treated equally. Why you ask?

Well first, why should you question this? Why should people be marginalized and treated differently based on class, culture, gender, race? Putting women lower than female religious figures is silly. If these goddesses were real, they would absolutely put these perpetrators to shame. But to answer this seemly obvious question;

It is our inherent human duty to respect and treat others how we want to be treated.

Women and children should be treated like goddesses. They are the future and deserve the right to have a life full of opportunities and happiness. I am grateful for the work that Save the Children has done and will continue to do. Campaigns like Save Our Sister and Abused Goddesses are needed to break barriers, to question the norms and generate discussion. Those who fail to see the importance of controversial campaigns such as this, fail to realize the impact it has on a global scale. I can guarantee that this campaign has sparked conversation between this contradiction.

And with that, I wonder if this has sparked something in you. Has this made you question anything?

#HappyDay

Last night, while watching Glee with one of my students I finally heard Pharrell William’s song Happy for the first time.  Of course, the cast of Glee brought a unique spin to the  catchy, upbeat and uplifting song, but I was in love.  Fast forward 12 hours later, Happy was on repeat for hours. Not because it is a great song but  of all the great submissions in celebration of the second annual International Day of Happiness.

Mr. Pharrell Williams and the United Nations Foundations teamed up together for the second annual International Day of Happiness.  In 2012, the General Assembly of the United Nations recognized the relevance and importance of happiness and well being as universal goals and aspiration in the lives of human beings around the world. The 2014 campaign was launched by Pharrel’s new website, 24 Hours of Happiness, where visitors can share their own moments of happiness by uploading videos to YouTube and Instagram to spread the message of #HappyDay. Throughout the day, Pharrell encouraged his fans to donate to the CN’s Central Emergency Response Fund and played his favourite submissions live throughout the day. Each hour, a new video from a different time zone appeared. Countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Japan, South Africa, England, and many more participated in this unique event. Below is a combination of a few of those videos that spread the message of happiness and joy.  I recommend that you watch parts of the video, it will guarantee a smile.

The concept of spreading happiness and music just makes me happy. It is evident that music brings people together. It is freeing, brings hope, sunshine, love and overall happiness. I believe that happiness is the key to life. You could be the richest person in the world but without being truly happy with yourself and your surroundings then what is the point? Happiness could mean many different things to people. It could be the bite out of a freshly baked cookie,or getting greeted at the door by your little big pup. Happiness could be dancing around with a bunch of friends. I thought that the project was well market, that Pharrell was chosen to be highlighted in this campaign. Mr. Williams is an internationally acclaimed musician who has impacted the world in a positive way. His website, 24 Hours of Happiness, was successful in further spreading the message of #HappyDay. Utilizing social media outlets also helps spread the message of happiness while strategically urging fans to donate money to the Crisis Relief Fund.  It is important to note that crisis relief, as a band aid can still provide happiness and hope to many children, women, and young families. Aid relief is also happiness to those negatively impacted by natural disaster or unexpected events.

As #HappyDay is slowly coming to a close, it is important to note and remember that every single human being deserves to be happy. To be given the opportunity to  love life and their surrounding environments. Music brings people together and it is something that shouldn’t be forgotten. Happiness means many different things to many people but it is important to remember to find your happiness, whatever it may be.

And with that I ask you, what makes you happy?