womens rights

In Kabul, Widows and Orphans Move Up

Photo courtesy Kathy Kelly.

Zainab, Umalbanin, Ali, Kathy, and Martha going up the mountainside. Photo courtesy Kathy Kelly.

Kabul —Yesterday, four young Afghan Peace Volunteer members, Zainab, Umalbanin, Abdulhai, and Ali, guided Martha and me along narrow, primitive roads and crumbling stairs, ascending a mountain slope on the outskirts of Kabul. The icy, rutted roads twisted and turned. I asked if we could pause as my heart was hammering and I needed to catch my breath. Looking down, we saw a breathtaking view of Kabul. Above us, women in bright clothing were navigating the treacherous roads with heavy water containers on their heads or shoulders. I marveled at their strength and tenacity. “Yes, they make this trip every morning,” Umalbanin said, as she helped me regain my balance after I had slipped on the ice.  

About 10 minutes later, we arrived at the home of Khoreb, a widow who helped us realize why so many widows and orphans live in the highest ranges of the mountain.  Landlords rent one-room homes at the cheapest rates when they are at this isolating height; many of the homes are poorly constructed and have no pipes for running water. This means the occupants, most often women, must fetch water from the bottom of the hill each and every morning. A year ago, piped water began to reach some of the homes, but that only meant the landlords charged higher rent, so women had to move higher up the mountain for housing they can afford. It only made their daily water-carrying longer and more arduous.


10 Gifts You Should Get Your Daughter This Christmas

Photo: Mother and daughter shopping, © michaeljung / Shutterstock.com

Photo: Mother and daughter shopping, © michaeljung / Shutterstock.com

The first part of 2012 was rough for the ladies. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C.

Any response? Any backlash? Oh right, the election. In the 113th Congress, there will be 20 women in the Senate. When I was a teenager, I read Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate. That book is obsolete, and it makes me so happy. Though, I hate that we have to count how many women are in leadership (go to 2:35), we are making strides. It should just be so ingrained in our minds that we shouldn’t have to describe them as “the third woman CEO,” but just “CEO.”

In 2013, the entire congressional delegation from New Hampshire will be women. Their governor will be a woman. It’s awesome. So maybe the last quarter of 2012 (and beyond) will be a glorious time to be a woman. But what does the last quarter of the year really mean? CHRISTMAS!! 

Last year, I wrote a blog post called, “The Top 10 Worst Toys to Give Your Daughter This Christmas.” Not to brag or anything, but it was pretty awesome (in the worst way possible). But you know what? It’s time to give a shout out to the toys that are positive for girls. Let’s lift up some good examples. Let’s never be surprised that a girl says “I want to be an astronaut” or “I want to be president.” And that dream can start with a toy. But let’s face it, it’s hard to find toys that are geared towards girls without stereotyping, or just a boy’s toy that’s painted pink.

So, here it is — the Top 10 Gifts You Should Get Your Daughter This Christmas.

It’s Easy to Forget Privilege When It’s Always Been Yours

Underwood Archives/Getty Images

Three unidentified women make history by becoming the first of their sex to vote in an election. Underwood Archives/Getty Images

I’m tired of reading blogs from my White Christian brothers about why they are choosing to vote. There. I said it.

I’m all for being a part of the democratic process, but it seems a bit odd to me that so many of these bloggers are coming from a position of power and privilege they themselves have always had. It seems a bit arrogant to choose something that was always theirs.

The way I see it, they had better vote. The vote of the White male is what finally allowed people like me – a woman, an immigrant, a non-native English speaker – to have the right to vote. I didn’t have a voice. I didn’t matter. Neither did my ancestors, who immigrated here under quota systems developed by people in power for the benefit of the country and the powers-that-be.

And there still are people who have no voice, who have no right to vote, but they are directly impacted by the politicians, referenda, judges, and local officials as well as the “agendas and policies.” As a Christian who is new to the process, its a privilege and responsibility I don’t take lightly because it isn’t a given. I’m not American born. We are not post-racial America, and the fact of the matter is the church isn’t either. We are working on it, but we aren’t there.

Did you know that in 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act denying citizenship and voting rights to Chinese Americans? Yup, they could build the railroads but they can’t vote.

Do Atheists Have a Sexual Harassment Problem?

Sexual Harassment definition image, Todd Taulman / Shutterstock.com

Sexual Harassment definition image, Todd Taulman / Shutterstock.com

Nontheists — both male and female — have shared stories of unwanted sexual attention at nontheist gatherings, including propositions for sex and unwelcome touching. Chatter has ranged from calls for more women to attend nontheist events to personal attacks on prominent female skeptics for discussing harassment. Meanwhile, two more skeptic/feminist bloggers announced they will not attend TAM.

The debate has had two major impacts — a call for cooler tempers and the immediate implementation of sexual harassment policies by all of the major nontheist organizations, both national and regional.

No one is suggesting that all nontheist events are unsafe for women. But the controversy has members of the nontheist community, which prides itself on its embrace of rational thinking, asking whether they have a sexual harassment problem. And if so, what should be done?