Women Helping Women

I am extremely honored to be included in this fabulous list of “Women Helping Women,” located on a new web-site that I hope to be a regular contributer to. Thank you to the most wonderful Ruthie Ackerman for highlighting so many Women Moving Million donors. ( click here ) The site is Financial Advisors, part of a group of media properties of Source Media.

“Why I am a Male Feminist”

Ok I realize I have been a very lazy blogger of late. Rather then writing about my own thoughts on various topics I link to other people’s writings that move me. In part it is a time issue, but the larger piece is that there are just so many great articles and stories out there worth sharing. Below please find an excerpt from an article by Byron Hurt on “Why I am a male feminist.” The entire article can be found by clicking here.

“Like most guys, I had bought into the stereotype that all feminists were white, lesbian, unattractive male bashers who hated all men. But after reading the work of these black feminists, I realized that this was far from the truth. After digging into their work, I came to really respect the intelligence, courage and honesty of these women.

Feminists did not hate men. In fact, they loved men. But just as my father had silenced my mother during their arguments to avoid hearing her gripes, men silenced feminists by belittling them in order to dodge hearing the truth about who we are.

I learned that feminists offered an important critique about a male-dominated society that routinely, and globally, treated women like second-class citizens. They spoke the truth, and even though I was a man, their truth spoke to me. Through feminism, I developed a language that helped me better articulate things that I had experienced growing up as a male.

Feminist writings about patriarchy, racism, capitalism and structural sexism resonated with me because I had witnessed firsthand the kind of male dominance they challenged. I saw it as a child in my home and perpetuated it as an adult. Their analysis of male culture and male behavior helped me put my father’s patriarchy into a much larger social context, and also helped me understand myself better.

I decided that I loved feminists and embraced feminism. Not only does feminism give woman a voice, but it also clears the way for men to free themselves from the stranglehold of traditional masculinity. When we hurt the women in our lives, we hurt ourselves, and we hurt our community, too. “

I want to thank Mr. Hurt on writing such a brave and powerful article. He gets it. He gets that feminism is not a women win and men lose thing. Feminism is about creating a better world for all. When men and women more equally share in power and decision making, when they make an effort to more fully understand each other, when we work to bring out the full potential in each other, then we will have a more just, equitable and peaceful world. This is what it is about!!!!! Men have much to gain in this new paradigm and I hope and pray that more men gain this perspective and claim their feminist voice.

Have a wonderful Sunday. We are off to church where I will pray for this future.

Widows in Afghanistan

This is why I care so much about working for women and girls around the world.

After more than 30 years of fighting, Afghanistan has one of the highest percentages (6-8%) of widows in the world. Although the Afghan government doesn’t have an accurate total for widows in the country due to the lack of a recent census, some officials estimate the number to be upwards of 2 million. By extrapolating from other demographic data, it’s thought that the average age of an Afghan widow is about 35, that 90% of widows have children to shelter and feed, and that 94% are unable to read or write.

In Afghanistan’s patriarchal society, the death of a husband not only diminishes a woman’s economic security, but also removes her social protections, putting her at the lowest level of society. As a result, the most pressing issues for most widows are making a living and finding some measure of social protection. To survive and provide for their children, many Afghan widows find menial work weaving carpets, working in tailor shops, begging on the streets, or becoming prostitutes.

In response to this crisis, numerous international volunteer groups, churches, and other non-governmental organizations, as well as ISAF teams of female military personnel are working in Afghan villages to equip widows with the life skills they require to survive. The goals of such programs are generally tow-fold: the first is to teach widows how to live independently and earn a living wage without relying on government handouts and terrorist provided security which subjects them to human rights abuses; and second to demonstrate that ISAF forces are indeed in their country to protect them and help them rebuild their shattered country so that they can provide a future for their children. “