Happy International Women’s Day!

FlowersTo be honest, I hadn’t heard of this International Women’s Day until a college trip to Italy, where women traditionally receive yellow mimosa flowers. Not only was it nice to get flowers out of nowhere, I was delighted to learn that there was a day to celebrate women beyond Mother’s Day, since I felt that there were so many other amazing accomplishments made by women in addition to motherhood.

SamataRadio was started to highlight such accomplishments. So far, we’ve talked to students and scholars advocating for reproductive rights and drafting international laws. Future interviews will include researchers designing science training programs in for women in the Middle East.

The point of these interviews is to amplify the voices of women making an impact in their fields and to record the challenges of their work, the achievements they’ve made and the decision-making processes they’ve gone through to get to where they are now.

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Amplifying voices of women is an important step in achieving gender equality. Check out the World Bank’s Voice and Agency, written by Jeni Klugman of the Harvard Kennedy School, for more practical steps for empowering women globally.

Also, look forward to more shows coming out monthly, and send us comments, ideas and suggestions at samataradio@gmail.com.

 

 

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In our culture.

These are the nine that were killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, on June 17th, 2015.

These are the nine that were killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, on June 17th, 2015.

It’s been hard to figure out the words to describe the events here in the US over the past few weeks. Even after the birth of Black Lives Matter initiative earlier this year, cops are assaulting young black girls and pulling guns on the boys that want to help her at pool parties; an individual is putting on blackface to impersonate and co-opt black womanhood; and, in a state where the Confederate flag still waves high, a white man killed 6 black women and 3 black men in a church because blacks were supposedly “raping our women and taking over the country.”

Gender-based violence manifests in so many ways as dictated by culture. And for the US, racism is its culture.

On a personal note, I wanted to share a few memories:

In the 5th grade, I was invited to a pool party of an elementary school friend. Being one of the three other black children, I was aware of how other pool-goers saw me. When my dad picked me up, he mentioned that he was not allowed to go to that pool as a child, as it was a white-only pool then.

I got rid of my hair relaxer a few years ago, less because of wanting a naturally curly hair style, but more because I didn’t want to pay money for hair treatment that didn’t suit my wallet or my image. At a dance club, a young black girl with relaxed hair emerges through the crowd to hold my hands and tell me that I was brave — to look as I naturally do. It saddened me that embracing one’s own black womanhood can bring fear and insecurity. It upsets me even more so now that the process is treated so flippantly by others.

On family road trips, we frequently would pass through South Carolina. Every time we stopped at a gas station, Confederate flags flew on the backs of trucks filling up with gas and in the store windows. In July 1999, the NAACP called for a boycott of the state because of its insistence in flying the flag over the state capitol. It was not a problem for us to take pit stops before and after entering the states, so we never needed to step foot in South Carolina. But still, that flag flew on the Georgia and North Carolina sides of the border, alike.

My grandmother belonged to an AME church that was centered in downtown Decatur, GA, and was relocated to my neighborhood as Decatur gentrified. The church, like all churches, formed a beautiful community. It’s men’s club, the women’s circle, the choir, and other church ministries- all of which formed a safe space for members and newcomers alike. I remember going there on an Easter and seeing my grandmother rock side-to-side to the music, smiling.

No memory like that can be violated.

At Brooklyn Pride

20150613 Brooklyn PrideThis weekend, a cities around the US held their own LGBTQ+ Pride Parades. As a scientist and public health enthusiast, I love to walk by the community outreach and health center booths to see the flyers, kits, and condoms they pass out. The number of services and resources these centers provide to support healthy relationships are amazing and inspiring.

For example, the City of New York Department of Health had fliers about PrEP, a HIV preventative medication, its function, conditions for use, and resources the city has for support. The Center for Anti-Violence Education distributed self-defense tips and resources for LGBTQ+ youth with a list of rights and responsibilities: “I have the right…to be treated with respect and as an equal.”

We at Samata will take the time to get to know some of these organizations, their mission, and the communities they serve. Check out our podcasts on Soundcloud and Stitcher!

Tufts University $100k New Ventures Competition

        This spring, Samata was chosen as a finalist in the Tufts University $100K New Ventures Competition! It has been an amazing learning and growth experience for our small team. We accomplished much with support from advisers and friends – from developing a business plan, to networking with other entrepreneurs, and giving a pitch to impact-oriented investors. While we didn’t win a cash award, the feedback we received from judges and audience members was uniformly warm and encouraging.
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         One story in particular stands out: A lovely woman from Poland not only voted for us for the audience choice segment of the competition, but also actively campaigned for votes on our behalf! Others from around the world, including India and Nigeria, told us that our approach could make a difference in shifting attitudes towards gender relations in their home countries. Knowing that our mission resonates with so many people from diverse backgrounds has been both energizing and exciting as we move forward.
    Our competitors were amazing and most were well beyond the conceptual stage and actually generating revenue and implementing their solutions to daunting global issues. The second place winner has a distribution network that provides solar technology to remote areas of Nicaragua. The first place winner provides free tablets loaded with educational content to children in developing countries. Competing with such worthy and innovative business models continues to push us to work harder.

Happy Women’s Day

Happy Women’s Day!

We here at Samata honor women not just one day of the year but every. single. day. More than 35% of women yearly experience gender based violence. Please join our network and lift your voice!

Take a minute to cruise over to our spotlights this week. And check back in the coming months for detailed reports on these issues.

Spotlight on:

Female Genital Cutting

Female Acid Attack Survivors