26 March 2013

Latino and Women Farmers and Ranchers Have Until May 1st to File A Claim


Earlier this month Latino USA reported that "in 2000, about 1400 Latino ranchers and farmers sued the US Department of Agriculture for denying them loans based on their ethnicity." Women, like Rosemary Love, were discriminated against on the basis of sex.

While the USDA has announced a claim process, Latino and women farmers are not a class action, thus they must file a claim in order to obtain financial compensation in the form of cash or loan forgiveness. 

Details as to how to file a claim can be found on the USDA's website. The DEADLINE has been extended to May 1, 2013. 

Photo credit: Colorlines

11 March 2013

Damsel turned Hero

A quick post to point y'all to this awesome video of Pauline saving Mario in Donkey Kong:



After you enjoy it, check out Anita Sarkeesia's latest video "Damsel in Distress: Part 1 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games." 

08 March 2013

Feminist Foreign Service


During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, I was offered an interview with Carla Koppell, USAID Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. As a student of feminism within the federal government, I jumped at the chance. As an activist who has seen first-hand what US policy can do to individual women, I jumped at the chance. Due to technical failures on my part, I won’t be posting this as an interview, but rather as a blog post about what I learned from Koppell about USAID and their role in advancing women’s empowerment around the world. And due to my unbelievably hectic life, this post took all this time to write up!

According to its website, USAID is the USA's humanitarian arm by working to protect human rights, strengthen democracy and assist in recovering from conflict, just to name a few of their goals. The Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment area is, well, focused on women's well-being.

Koppell told me that over the last year, USAID has completely revitalized the architecture around issues related to women's priorities and needs. There is a complete set of new policies and strategies on counter-trafficking (pdf), women peace and security (pdf), and combating and preventing child marriage (pdf).USAID was taking the opportunity during 16 Days to raise awareness, not just of the issues they work on, but to have more people realize what USAID is working on.

One of the issues I came out of my trip with the Nobel Women's Initiative was the lack of communication between the various governments and the people in the community. In Honduras I attended some meetings with government officials, both Honduran and from the USA. When the issues the women of Honduras were communicating to us, the government officials would dismiss them. Once someone claimed to have never heard any complaints! This is why I wanted to know if the USAID worked in the community at all. Koppell says they do work with the women themselves. And then addressed my second concern, that of imperialism. She responded by saying that gander-based violence is seen as human rights violations, which are codified in international conventions and treaties. Thus they are shared values in the international community and not just US values being imposed onto other societies.
“This isn’t about our values, but this is about making the voices of Afghan women, women within their societies heard. So they can define the appropriate space and the rights they want to assert in their society.” - Koppell 
Koppell added that in many of these countries around the world, the polling shows that men and women believe women should have public roles and access to public education. The other voices, the more conservative voices are just the louder voices in the public discourse.

As someone who is often asked to mentor young women in terms of their feminist career paths, I asked her why a women's studies major should look to the federal government and specifically USAID. Koppell responded by underscoring, what she believes, is the great work that USAID does on behalf of girls and women around the world.

Putting my feminist activist hat on, what I saw in Mexico and Central America (and I was only there for 11 days!) did not convince me that an agency like USAID can really impact women's lives. And putting on my feminist scholar hat, I want to investigate this further. Is USAID too small to do any real good? Is it too hampered by US politics to do what it should/want to do? There are clearly flaws in the design, but where are they coming from? Where are their victories and how did they accomplish them?

I went into this interview with a lot of questions, came out with some left unanswered and some new ones to ask. I know there is a role for US-based feminists to play in empowering women around the world, what the role looks like is one that I am still trying to sketch out. 

05 March 2013

Dawn Clark Netsch Dies at 86

The grand dame of Illinois politics has died. Dawn Clark Netsch was 86. I had the honor of meeting her on several occasions, usually at fundraisers and luncheons, and each time I would introduce myself to her, she was always gracious. Sometimes I wouldn't say anything, just stand back and watch her as she greeted fans, old friends in her friendly way. For me, she still has one of the best political ads ever -- the straight shooter. Sadly, I couldn't find it in a quick YouTube search, so let me describe it. When she ran for Governor of Illinois in 1994, she ended an ad with her playing pool and making a great shot while someone said "Dawn Clark Netsch, a straight shooter." You can see her holding a cue stick in the photo as she claimed victory after the Democratic primary.  Somehow I'm sure the ad will find its way to the internets today.

I did find that the Chicago History Museum has a 9-part oral history series on her.



She was an inspiration and while I didn't know her personally, I feel a great loss today. Especially as I am headed to a fancy luncheon where a lot of Chicago's power women will be in attendance. It's an event where the chances would had been high Dawn would have appeared. In a state filled with politicians who have broken so many promises and fallen from their pedestals, Dawn would always get a standing ovation anytime she was pointed out in a crowd.

Thanks, Dawn Clark Netsch. May we all serve as graciously as you did.

Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces


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