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A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Malalai Joya

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Malalai Joya

Women In The News

Women In The News

Local Inspiration: Detroit

Local Inspiration: Detroit

Moms In The News: Your Opinion

Moms In The News: Your Opinion

A Message From The Creator

“People who fail focus on what they will have to go through; people who succeed focus on what it will feel like at the end.”
― Tony Robbins

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Malalai Joya

Emine Saner

The Guardian March 7, 2011

Article History

Malalai Joya

Afghan politician and human rights campaigner who has shown phenomenal courage

To watch a 2003 video of Malalai Joya, then in her early 20s, making a speech is to witness phenomenal courage and the power of speaking out. Joya, now 32, was an elected delegate to the Loya Jirga (an assembly to debate the proposed Afghan constitution) when she stood up and publicly criticised the room full of men. “Why would you allow criminals to be present? Warlords responsible for our country’s situation . . . The most anti-women people in the society who brought our country to this state and they intend to do the same again.”

Delegates shouted “prostitute” at her, and the guards were ordered to throw her out. Later, a mob gathered where she was staying, threatening to rape and murder her. This moment sealed her reputation as “the bravest woman in Afghanistan“.

Joya was just four days old when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Her mother took her 10 children first to refugee camps in Iran, then Pakistan; her father stayed to fight. In the camps, Joya learned to read and began to teach other women, including her illiterate mother. A charity called the Organisation of Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities smuggled Joya – then 16 – back to Afghanistan to set up a secret school for girls. “Every time a new girl joined the class, it was a triumph,” she said.

In the aftermath of 9/11, and the American invasion of Afghanistan, the vacuum left by the fall of the Taliban was filled by warlords. Determined to challenge the authority these men had over the country, Joya decided to stand for election, speaking out against these fundamentalist “warlords”, a word few dared say in public. Despite threats from these powerful men, there was also a huge swell of support for Joya, a rare politician, ordinary Afghans felt, who wasn’t afraid to speak the truth. She won a landslide victory when she ran for parliament in 2005, the youngest person to be elected, only to be kicked out after she compared the house to a “stable or zoo” in a TV interview.

Joya is married, but doesn’t see her husband often and has not named him publicly for fear that he will be murdered; she has survived several assassination attempts. In an interview with the New Statesman she said: [] in January, : “The US replaced the barbaric Taliban with the brutal Northern Alliance. This act betrayed human rights. The situation for women is as catastrophic today as it was before. In most provinces, women’s lives are hell. Forced marriages, child brides and domestic violence are very common. Self-immolations are at a peak.”

She lives in a series of safe houses run by supporters, travels with bodyguards, wears a burqa and does not attend public meetingsliving in fear for her life. “My parents chose my first name after Malalai of Maiwand,” she said in an interview in 2009 to promote her memoir, Raising My Voice. “She was a young woman who, in 1880, went to the front line of the second Anglo-Afghan war to tend the wounded. When the fighters were close to collapse, she picked up the Afghan flag and led the men into battle herself. She was struck down – but the British suffered a landmark defeat, and, in the end, they were driven out.”

Women In The News

Meryl Streep

Christina Wilkie

christina.wilkie@huffingtonpost.com

National Women’s History Museum Makes Changes After HuffPost Investigation

WASHINGTON — The National Women’s History Museum has made changes to its governance and is sharpening its mission after a Huffington Post investigation“brought focus to some issues,” the museum’s CEO said.

“Board members are keenly aware of the challenges we have in front of us,” said museum President and CEO Joan Bradley Wages. “We need to grow the organization. We need to make some changes.”

Wages sat down with HuffPost reporters soon after a meeting of the museum’s board members earlier this month, the first board meeting since the two-month HuffPost investigation, published in April, revealed a pattern of mismanagement and lack of accountability at the 16-year-old organization. The problems ranged from inadequate educational programs to potential conflicts of interests among board members and appear to have hindered the organization’s efforts to build a museum on the National Mall to honor women’s contributions to American history.

The HuffPost story raised troubling questions for the museum’s donors and for elected officials, some of whom pulled back support for the project.

Wages confirmed that “a couple” of fundraising events had “not worked out” since the story ran. She said plans were under way for other events in Washington and additional cities but gave no details. She also said legislation in Congress to allow the museum to buy or lease a spot on the National Mall is “still not in a stage to talk about.”

The museum has had “no indication” that Meryl Streep, the Oscar-winning actress who has been its most visible and important supporter, intends to withdraw financial support, Wages said. At the time of HuffPost’s initial report, Streep had given $400,000 of a five-year, $1 million pledge.

Streep, who voiced concerns about museum management in an interview with HuffPost and a letter to the board, sat in as an observer at the recent board meeting, held across the street from the White House. Asked for her impressions of what she heard, Streep emailed that she planned to “process my thoughts over time, and won’t, honestly, have anything to say for publication til I see how it all shakes out.” She referred all questions to Wages.

According to the museum CEO, the board adopted four major changes. HuffPost described these to Ken Berger, president of the nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator, and asked him to comment.

1. Carey Shuart (below), a Houston philanthropist and board member, has been named interim chair following a change in the museum’s by-laws. Wages had been chair as well as president and CEO, an arrangement she acknowledged was not in keeping with corporate governance best practices.

“Hallelujah, praise the Lord,” Wages said of stepping down as chair, although she added that it was common for a “startup” to combine the top jobs. The National Women’s History Museum was founded in 1996.

HuffPost was not able to contact Shuart directly. Museum spokeswoman Jan DuPlain said in an email, “She would like time, and we want to give her time to meet with the museum staff and members of the Board, as well as orient herself in her new position before she begins speaking on behalf of the museum.”

It is unclear how long Shuart will serve. Wages said the museum hopes to find a “higher profile” chair with “high wealth potential” to take over within the next year. But she noted the museum has been looking for such a person for three to four years without much luck.

Berger cautioned that Wages’ description of a future board chair “sounds more like a person to help generate revenues from the wealthy rather than [someone focused on] re-engineering the structure to improve accountability and transparency.”

2. Ann Stone, whose status as a museum vendor, the museum’s largest in-kind donor and a founding board member was raised as an apparent conflict of interest in HuffPost’s investigation, is “no longer a paid consultant,” Wages said.

“The contract that we had with Ann Stone was transparent to the board and was competitive with other companies, but in order to eliminate any perception of a conflict of interest, Ann Stone has resigned that contract,” Wages said.

However, Wages said that Stone (no relation to the co-author of this article) will continue to provide direct mail services through her outside firms “for free for a period of time.” Wages called the arrangement “a very generous offer.” Stone will also remain on the museum’s board.

Two of Stone’s firms, the Stone Group and Capstone Lists, have been paid at least $194,000 by the museum since 2005. Stone’s business partner for the past 30 years, Lora Lynn Jones, also maintains contracts with the museum through her own direct mail brokerage, Total Direct Response.

Jones and Stone previously reported donating an eye-popping number of in-kind volunteer hours to the museum. In 2010, Stone listed 1,717 hours of such work — nearly 43 weeks’ worth, at 40 hours per week — and valued her donation at $201,450.

“As far as my and Lora Lynn Jones’ continuing volunteer work for NWHM,” Stone wrote in an email, “we will help them as needed since it is a cause in which we believe.”

Berger said the change in Stone’s contribution “is fine” as long as auditors make sure her contributions generally are “estimated at fair market value.”

3. A new mission statement is in the works. HuffPost’s reporting revealed that the museum lacked a clear mission, and the board agreed it was time, as Wages put it, to “revisit” what the museum wants to be.

Berger suggested the board should also “commit to developing a strategic and business plan that links a clear mission statement to goals and targets to achieve it, as well as thinking through how it will get paid for.”

4. Kristen Gwinn-Becker, a Chicago-based technology consultant for historians and archivists, has been hired to help “upgrade” the museum’s online exhibits and education programs and work with its recently formed scholars advisory committee.

HuffPost’s investigation found deep skepticism among historians about the academic seriousness of the National Women’s History Museum. Gwinn-Becker, the founder and CEO of HistoryIT, has a Ph.D. in U.S. history from George Washington University and has written a biography of Nobel Peace Prize winner Emily Greene Balch.

In an interview with HuffPost, Gwinn-Becker described herself as a “humanities scholar meets technology geek.” Her prior experience has focused on developing interactive history websites, including an online compilation of U.S. women who ran for political office prior to suffrage in 1920. This is Gwinn-Becker’s first contract with a museum.

The National Women’s History Museum has also brought on a volunteer coordinator.

Overall, Berger dubbed the changes “baby steps,” adding that “what they need is to take some ‘dramatic steps.'”

Wages made clear the museum is trying to regain its footing. It has signed on additional celebrity spokeswomen, including Geena Davis and Kate Walsh, and on Tuesday plans to release the first in a series of public service announcements to promote the museum. Based on the theme “Don’t Tell Me I Can’t,” they are directed by filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke, best known for the blockbuster “Twilight,” and narrated by actress Alfre Woodard.

The meeting with HuffPost reporters is part of the new beginning, Wages said. Previously, she and the museum’s high-profile Washington lawyer Lanny Davis had vehemently and publicly disputed HuffPost’s findings. But just Wages and DuPlain came to the latest meeting.

“It took some time for us to, I mean, we felt like we were being attacked, and so it took some time for us to take a step back, take a deep breath,” Wages said when asked about the museum’s about-face. “In hindsight, maybe it could have been done differently. That’s why we’re trying to start over,” she said.

Wages said the National Women’s History Museum’s new mission statement would likely be completed later this summer, and it will focus on three words: education, inspire and research.

Local Inspiration: Detroit

By Olga Bonfiglio

Huffington Post

 

 

 

 

These are the times to grow our souls. Each of us is called upon to embrace the conviction that despite the powers and principalities bent on commodifying all our human relationships, we have the power within us to create the world anew.”

— Grace Lee Boggs
The Next American Revolution

The world needs changing and if anyone is going to do it, it will be women.

That was the clarion call to 125 women who gathered at the UAW Human Resources Center in Detroit last weekend for the second annual “Women Creating Caring Communities All Over the World!”

The day-long event was sponsored by the UAW and community leaders of the Detroit metropolitan area to honor and celebrate women from all walks of life. They also discussed how to create unified communities working toward a common vision.

Philosopher, author and lifelong activist Grace Lee Boggs encouraged the women to re-imagine education, work and the things they do to care for each other and their families.

“All over the planet more and more people are thinking beyond making a living to making a life, a life that respects Earth and one another,” she said. “This is the next American revolution.”

All too often, however, women defer to men for leadership. Boggs admitted that she, too, fell into this trap during her 40-year marriage to fellow activist James Boggs. She then decided to “struggle with him publicly,” not in an antagonistic way but to make progress for a cause, which included the labor, civil rights and urban gardens movements in Detroit.

“We need to learn to struggle among ourselves and not just to an external enemy,” said Boggs. “We need to understand that what women do matters, but that we must start with ourselves [to make a difference in the world].”

Cindy Estrada, vice president of the International Union of the UAW, talked about today’s two emerging visions of the world.

One vision is an all-consuming fear and anger where we believe that in order to have more, others have to have less, she said. The other vision is one of hope and transformation — and change starts with individuals who don’t sit back and wait for change to happen. She pointed out how Detroiters have been doing this.

Last spring they saved the Catherine Ferguson Academy, a school that educates pregnant girls and teenage mothers. It was on the emergency financial manager’s chopping block for a system-wide deficit reduction plan until protests and national media attention kept it open.

Detroit’s vacant lands have been transformed into beautiful and bountiful urban gardens, some of which have become commercial enterprises as well as a source for fresh produce to residents who have no immediate access to grocery stores.

City libraries were closing and grassroots leaders responded by creating “outside libraries” where people can rent books 24/7.

“We have to give each other kind of hope that trumps fear and anger when we don’t feel we have that much to give,” said Estrada. “We have to depend on each other.”

Building communities of compassion is difficult in a society that values individualism, said Boggs, because it sees others as adversaries and competitors.

“We have to turn from confrontation to conversation — and women are the ones that have to do it,” she said, which takes courage and the ability not to become discouraged.

“You have to make a way out of no way,” said Boggs.

Rana Elmir, communications director for the ACLU, told how she changed from being a meek and mild daughter of Lebanese immigrant parents and found her way into journalism and becoming an advocate for social justice. She had covered the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society, which took place in Tunisia, and met women who courageously stood up to government intimidation and censorship.

“The key is trial and error and the resolve not to be afraid to fail,” she said. “We must learn from [our mistakes], and be stronger and smarter to do better the next time. No one is without hope or power.”

Participants and speakers expressed concern about women taking on political roles.

“We have to keep trying to take the fear out of policymaking and the legislative process,” said Elmir, who noted that there are only four women out of 28 senators in the Michigan Senate and 27 women out of 110 in the State House.

“Women are quite capable of taking on these jobs,” she said.

Rep. Rashida H. Tlaib of the 12th District (Detroit), the only legislator in attendance at the conference, admitted that she struggled with the decision to seek political office and sought out seven different people to encourage her.

“It’s like we are looking for permission,” she said. “We have to promote each other and push each other into leadership positions — and then support them when they’re there.”

Tlaib, who has been called “the Conscience” of the State House, argues that “women have a different perspective and know how it looks on the ground.”

One audience member referred participants to the White House Project, which aims to “ignite the leadership of women in business and politics.” It focuses on women age 21-35 to “activate the ambition, creativity, and skills necessary for innovative and effective leadership.”

“Our voice will not be heard unless we step up and speak up,” said Monique Baker, who announced she is running for Wayne County Commission.

The Rev. Sandra Simmons closed the general assembly by explaining how women can create communities of compassion: (1) look at who we are and what we have to offer; (2) assess the community’s needs; (3) take on a manifesto of love; and (4) move ourselves to action.

“Sacrifice is involved to make radical change,” she said. “It takes sacrifice to do the work of healing, which involves gaining understanding, coming to agreement, doing things together. Sacrifice is the cornerstone of compassion. You have to meet your sister where she is, but you don’t have to agree on everything to love each other.”

A community of compassion occurs when we enter a new space, claim it, drop the boundaries and know that having walked into that space, we change it by opening the possibilities of doing anything, she said. This also means that we have the courage to admit mistakes, apologize to others and ourselves.

“A community of compassion is a place of refuge where we are purposed to create together and make resources available to help others have a life of dignity.”

After lunch and a few creative expression presentations, participants attended one of five workshops for action including:

  • How to Build a Community of Compassion
  • Time Banking
  • Education to Stop Foreclosures
  • Embrace a School
  • Creating Peace & Safe Communities

Conference leaders proudly said more women would have attended the event but many were involved in organizing efforts for “Detroit 99 Percent Spring,” a continuation of the Occupy Detroit movement. The issues they are addressing are home foreclosures, poverty, unemployment and unfair tax policies that favor the wealthy.

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