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Why and How Women can Run for Office

An increasing number of women are running for office, a phenomenon the media has tagged to the “Trump effect.” Well, more the merrier and it couldn’t have happened sooner.

 As we have pointed out before, women remain dramatically underrepresented across every level of government. As per Pew Research data, women comprise just 19.4 percent of the U.S. Congress; well below the 51.4 percent of women in the overall U.S. adult population.

 So, not only is getting involved more important than ever, but now it is evident that apparently political office doesn’t require much in the way of qualifications.

 The general tendency is for women to say, “I do not have much experience, I don’t have the necessary qualifications, I won’t be able to raise funds,” and a lot of other similar excuses. But chances are, if you are a woman with a conscience, you’ve already been vocal on issues, advocating successfully for yourself, and probably for others. This inclination and experience is enough for a viable candidate to run for office.

 Before you decide to take the plunge, you need to be sure about how much time and effort you want to commit. It doesn’t matter whether you’re running for a school board or the Congress, the difference is only in scale.

 Always keep in mind that voters need to be convinced in you as a candidate. It’s all about the money you can raise, the volunteers you can attract and so on. More importantly, do you want to give up your day job or are you set on straddling both your career and elected office? If you are not willing to make some sacrifices, you are not ready enough to run yet.

 According to the 2012 Census data, there are close to 90,000 local and state governing bodies, with over 500,000 elected offices. And barely two percent of Americans ever run for these seats! The positions vary from the local (school board, city council and county commissioner) to state (auditor, treasurer, attorney general, and governor) and federal (representative, senator and even the president).

 You can start your search at runforoffice.org. You just need to type in your location and it throws up a full list of elected seats in your area. Each come with a description, along with information about the next election due, rules for eligibility, application guidelines, dates for filing your candidacy and more.

 Needless to say, it’s critical to review these rules and deadlines thoroughly. People get thrown off ballots for not adhering to these, knowingly or unknowingly. Make sure you’re not one of them.

 Remember that there is never a perfect time or perfect seat. You can choose to start off small with an appointment to a non-paying office that won’t need the time or money needed to run for larger offices.

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3 Amazing Acts of Resistance You Need To Know About

Our world is no stranger to discrimination, bigotry and oppression. But equally prevalent are civil disobedience, willful and outright defiance by marginalized people trying to find liberation.

The raid on Harper’s Ferry, the Boston Tea Party and the Stonewall Riot – all momentous, rebellious occasions in our history, but even these acts of defiance are removed from their cultural and historical contexts and taught as if they are of no relevance in the present.

More alarmingly, other equally momentous actions are completely erased from our history textbooks. Entire generations of freedom fighters, environmental protectors, and anti-imperialist activists are deliberately ignored.

Listed below are 3 historical acts of defiance that are still relevant.

 The San Francisco HEW Sit-In

Very few institutional reforms to address disabled people were in effect before the mid-1900s. More importantly, most of these laws were written by non-disabled people. A major law was the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which “prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability in programs.” Section 504 of the act banned any institution that received federal funds – like hospitals, schools, post offices, and so on – from discriminating against disabled people.

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However, implementation of the act was stalled by three consecutive presidential administrations. Eventually the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD) called for a nationwide protest. In 1977, disabled activists picketed and occupied Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) regional offices nationwide. The HEW occupation in San Francisco lasted 25 days – the longest occupation of a US federal building ever.

In the end, the Secretary signed Section 504 without any changes.

 The Third World Liberation Front

For those who’ve ever taken an ethnic studies class, you have the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) to thank. A coalition of organizations by students of color at San Francisco State University, TWLF protested a number of issues in the longest student strike in US history.

These included disdain of the Eurocentric curriculum, low admission of students of color, lack of faculty of color as well as the ongoing Vietnam War. The SFSU administration refused to negotiate.

The police were called in – and the campus was shut down for a week. But soon, members of the Federation of Teachers began a picket line in support and in just a couple of months over 300 students had been arrested on campus. The strike finally ended when the SFSU administration agreed to many of the demands.

 The ‘Ashes Action’

Folks living with HIV/AIDS have experienced systemic stigmatization being denied housing, healthcare, and even education, often facing extreme homophobia from society at large.

With the federal government doing little to tackle this epidemic, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was formed. In October 1992, ACT UP organized a funeral march in Washington DC, that ended in scattering the ashes of those who had died of HIV/AIDS onto the White House lawn. In a second “Ashes Action” in October 1996, the AIDS Memorial Quilt was spread out across the National Mall.

Soon, the US government was forced to wake up and has since then been praised for “fighting” the AIDS epidemic globally.

 When we forget about these acts of resistance, we’re deprived of revolutionary moments in history that can help aid us in today’s struggles. Hopefully our future generations will not forget all about our diverse and defiant past.

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How you can make yourself heard

There are many ways individuals can make noise. There are lots of ways to speak out – all of them valuable in different ways.

 Online Interaction

The easiest way to speak up is on social media. The impact may be negligible, but it can be a first step toward changing hearts and changing minds. Share links, news items and events on Facebook, Twitter etc. Share them with the folks who are most likely to listen to you – your friends and family.

They may not know much about an issue as much as you do – so they’re more likely to listen and perhaps become eager to learn more. At times, they may disagree with you, discussing your difference of opinion could make them rethink.

Conversation is how change can happen. Use your time online to start one.

 Opening Up

Even more important is for you to talk to your family, friends, and community in real life. If you find yourself involved in a conversation about issues that matter , it’s imperative that you speak your mind. When you hear someone say something offensive, speaking up is an act of protest.

Conversations are through which we can protest in our personal lives. Silence is complicity and speaking up as much as possible, in as many scenarios as possible is where change will ultimately manifest.

 Give Your Opinion or Feedback

Feedback matters - your input is important to the folks who matter. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or write an email to a company or magazine or TV network. Your input is important to those who are producing content. They don’t want unhappy consumers – challenge them to do better.

Signing petitions might seem too easy to be important, but petitions can effect change. Don’t hesitate to sign one. Petition campaigns can shake up media, marketing, and even political decisions.

Engage the System

Another effective way to bring about change is to engage the system – consistently and thoroughly. Chances are that you can reach out to your elected officials on Twitter. Those people in charge of legislation and efforts to shepherd progress.

When it’s election time, you get to choose candidates and positions. Vote for what you believe in, and demand accountability. Vote so that you can engage someone in exchange for your support. Keep in mind that they’re public servants and their job is to serve the community.

You can encourage your friends to get involved and motivate your peers. Urge those who need representation the most to show up.

 Look up organizations in your community who are tackling issues you care about, talk with them on how they plan to take action and bring about change.

 

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3 Ways You Can Make a Difference

The time for resistance and empowerment is now.

 A few months ago, the world shook when the might of the Women’s Marches took to the streets – the largest single day of action in US and in world history. But for some of us, it is not really possible to participate in such movements.

Some of us are juggling too many tasks at work, home and family, some of us don’t possess the emotional or physical capacity while for some of us speaking up comes at great risk.

And that’s okay. Marches are not the only way to fight back. There are lots of ways to further our cause and fight the good struggle that need not involve hitting the streets.

Every movement needs a lot of things, and none of us can possibly do it all. Its up-to us to play a part, and leave the rest to our compatriots. It’s all about finding the activist in us, doing what we can.

Here are a few ways how anyone can make a difference!

 1. Contribute Your Time

The groups doing the work on the ground no doubt need assistance now more than ever – people who can help them manage their offices, phone bank on weekends, organize events and material and so on. Be it a local support body, an abuse/suicide helpline, a food shelter or soup kitchen, there’s always an organization near you doing critical work who needs our help.

So, call up an organization in your community doing work you believe in and schedule some volunteer hours to spend your time there instead.

 2. Letting Money Talk

Try hitting them where it really hurts: their wallets. Boycott bigots and patronize businesses whose values align with yours. Choose to shop local, support feminist, POC and LGBTQIA owned businesses. Making an effort to spend differently may not feel like a meaningful way to effect change. But such decisions can go far toward spreading a message and establishing momentum.

Even if you do not spend much, your financial decisions – giving and shopping consciously – can make a difference. Supporting feminist businesses shows competing organizations that aligning with our values will only benefit them, and that is a considerable impact.

3. Donations

You may not have enough money to be a regular donor to an organization you care about, but you might spare a few dollars when you can. If you may not be able to do much of anything in this aspect, that’s okay too!

You can do even better by donating supplies. And there’s always most common (and the easiest) gesture of goodwill: donating things you don’t need anymore.

Remember;

We all can do something.

We all can do more.

We all can do better.

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3 Fields Women are Advancing In

It’s halfway through 2017 and we are yet to see any concrete progress in the area of equal rights. The number of political leaders and public figures who hold fast to some fairly regressive gender ideas are surprising to say the least. The fight for gender equality is still an ongoing process while gender discrimination has been an issue worldwide. In America, the Equal Rights Amendment is yet to be ratified and the Paycheck Fairness Act continues to fail in the Senate.

 The social norms of a man being the breadwinner while women stay at home to look after the home and children has eroded over time. With ever rising living expenses, it is difficult for men alone to provide for the family.

 We are now seeing men who choose to stay at home with children while private paid family leave policies that include time off for fathers are on the rise. What we are not seeing is women entering fields they normally wouldn’t in older times.

 These traditionally perceived as male-dominated sectors are now seeing a gradual increased presence of women.

 Medical Science

As we have pointed out before, women make a large percentage of advanced students. This is very much of medical scientists and the ratio of females is growing. Though it comes with substantial financial rewards, it is a job that takes years of dedication and practice. Both are character traits that women need to survive in the corporate scene.

Finance

Financial managers handle a wide variety of financial operations such as direct investment, cash management and reporting. Women make up over half of this corporate position and growing. An average financial manager earns well enough to enable them to take home a substantial amount to care for their loved ones.

Trucking

Women are now joining men on the trucking industry’s benefits. This means treading over land and snow in order to get goods delivered to remote locations, in. The estimated number of women in the trucking industry is believed to be 7 or 8%; a substantial portion considering the grueling job, odd hours and endless driving. It is almost impossible to spend quality time with family and physically more taxing on women.

 The debate continues to rage on how the corporate world is adjusting to women becoming an increasingly critical part of the workforce. To ignore the increasing presence of women in almost every field and ensuring equality in the workplace will only be detrimental to an organization. Studies show that forthcoming generations of working women are likely to earn higher salaries in their careers. Women are not just progressing for their own sake, they are contributing immense value to the workforce in traditionally male-dominated industries.

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Together We Can Manifest Change

There’s a call for change to help make the world a better place. Wondering what you can do to contribute and make a difference?
 
It’s a simple phrasing that leads to more complex questions: How to fight misogyny, racism, anti-semitism, sexual-antagonism, anti-immigration, fat-shaming? How to prevent more harm or promote more health, safety, humanity and less hate in the world?
 
Everyone of us has different views, different stories and definitions as also different ideas about how to participate. Change can be brought about with a wide range of people working collaboratively across a wide range of activities rather than imposed through top-down measures.

 One has to embrace all the four spaces – individual, relationship, community and society – to create and sustain long-term social change. As individuals, we have to take action in every one of these areas, in many different ways and places. This makes us part of a larger, more powerful totality – one inclusive of individuals and organizations, which too are comprised of individuals, making an obvious case in point.
 
History tells us that successful social movements rely on various, overlapping actors, working across a broad spectrum of engagement involving people at all levels. Activism has to ingrain itself into every level of society and institutions that humans are part of, be it families, schools, places of worship, city streets or legislatures and courtrooms.
 
Even if the individuals are political, their personal beliefs need not be confined to them alone. That’s the reason why grassroots movements go beyond more than a vital response to moral shock and turn catalysts.
 
Recently, the Women’s March on Jan 21 was the largest, most diverse and organic display of a “better nationalism” that this country has seen in decades. It’s over now, and all of us need to keep moving forward until we fully recognize and include each other, all those who are still experiencing and speaking up about their exclusion. Remember that social change often happens through grassroots movements, but real change has to happen through the system.

Even though the past has seen powerful voices for change, they have been unsuccessful over the history of our nation to propel women, especially the marginalized, into leadership or power.
 
Today, we have a cabinet that is the most white and most male in a quarter century. Political parties and the media powerhouses are steeped in system justification of the status quo and very unlikely to bring about the change that’s the need of the hour.
 
There are as many ways to take action as there are people in the world. That’s why the grassroots movement is vital to change. And each one of us matters. We have to continue our march, alone and together.
 
 

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Sexism in Healthcare: A Still Pervasive Problem

Despite the fact that it is women who make as much as 80% of health treatment decisions in families, they are the ones who themselves get the short end of the stick. In general, medical personnel tend to take women’s suffering less seriously than men’s, spend lesser time treating them, and very often misdiagnose physical pain as being due to emotional causes.

 All this because misogynistic stereotypes are still prevalent in medicine; people tend to view women as emotional and melodramatic as opposed to men who are taken to be more authoritative and sincere.

An NIH study found that on average women have to wait 16 minutes longer than men in emergency rooms to receive pain medication. The study also reports that women experiencing acute pain are up to 25% less likely to receive opioids.

 There are even more troubling facts. Yet another study reveals that men are more likely to be referred to specialty pain clinics by doctors than women. Male patients also receive pain medication more promptly as opposed to female patients who are far more likely to be given sedatives for pain.

The study also notes that women are more likely to be prescribed tranquilizers and antidepressants to deal with pain. All this is evidence that physicians view women’s pain as being result of emotional factors, as opposed to physical ones.

 This blatant sexism is not just infuriating, but deadly to boot.

 So, How To Fight Sexism in Healthcare?

 Convincing medical professionals to take genuine symptoms seriously  is no easy task. Hence it’s not that surprising for many women being reluctant to speak up about their medical concerns. No one would like to be told that they’re imagining pain or overreacting.

 It certainly doesn’t help that for generations women have had chauvinistic societal norms forced on them, casting them to be passive and respectful to authority figures. Consequently they’re that much less likely to stand up to healthcare personnel who tell them that their symptoms are psychosomatic.

 Some effort to correct this mindset and behavior should be made by the patients themselves. Women should feel empowered to voice their opinion while discussing health issues with medical providers.

 However, this goes far beyond women’s behavior. The rampant gender bias at play in healthcare should be tackled. In addition, serious effort needs to be made spread awareness of this issue in the medical field, especially in areas of education and research.

 We women deserve to have our pain taken seriously. We deserve proper examinations, correct diagnosis and proper treatment. We deserve to be treated on the same level as men. It’s now time for healthcare professionals to begin treating us as individual human beings instead of cultural stereotypes.

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Feminist Magazine Editors and Writers Speak Out

Women are often undermined in society — but that gives one the strength to prove how powerful we truly are. We should be proud to be women, able to display our courage, confidence, and strength. Be confident in who we are and love ourselves for what we are capable of. Just being ourselves.

That’s what the following strong women too have to say to us.

"It's OK to fight back — to speak up, to say no, to demand respect."

Melissa Fabello, managing editor of Everyday Feminism.

Women are frequently taught — implicitly by society and explicitly by their guardians — that being a woman is about being quiet, not creating a nuisance, accepting the pain inflicted on us and never making a fuss about it. That being a woman means containing the pain while looking and acting like it doesn’t faze you. But it need not be so. It can be like opening up a whole new world — one where your strength can be found in standing up for yourself.

“How I define and represent myself as a woman is completely up to me, and I should avoid being influenced by those who don't have to walk in my shoes.”

Feminista Jones, social worker, writer and community activist.

We all are inspired by others and learn from them as well — that's the way we grow and form our own identities. However, it's another matter if you allow others to define your womanhood because it will eventually lead to living a life that aims to satisfy others rather than one that empowers you.

"The sooner you understand that you don't have to be everyone's friend, the better off you'll be."

Andi Zeisler, cofounder, and director of Bitch magazine.

Women are typically groomed to being likable rather than achieve their actual goals. This can prevent you from reaching where you would like to be. You default to wanting to make others happy, defuse conflict and go out of your way for people who wouldn’t do the same for you. Once you come to realize that there will be people who don't like you — and trying to change their minds is mostly a waste of your time - you start to behave with a whole new perspective.

"My aunt, Frances Diane Wright taught me how to leave."

Mia McKenzie, founder, and editor-in-chief of Black Girl Dangerous.

Not being afraid to leave — whether a city, a job you don’t love or a bad relationship — opens the door to a lot of things for you in your life. Be willing to go out into the world to search for your own life.

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ACTION NEEDED FOR KENYA...CAN YOU DONATE?

Hello,

It's Linda Rendleman.   CEO and President of Women Like Us foundation.  We've been supporting women's work in Kenya for many years.

Our trip to Kenya is less than a month away.  We have wonderful travelers with big hearts, and have been blessed with donors who have donated

*  200 Sackpacks for the children

*  100 sustainable feminine hygiene kits for teen girls to stay in school,

*  Lap tops

*  Sports equipment,

*  Clean Water Filters

*  Supplies to build a garden

WE NEED ANOTHER VEHICLE TO GET THESE DONATIONS TO THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN.

please donate by clicking here.

WE NEED $3500.  CAN YOU HELP?

WE'LL GIVE YOU A BIG SHOUT OUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

It’s tax deductible and it’s meaningful.

Learn more about our trip to Kenya and the work we've done there...

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5 Ways Moms Teach Us to Be Better Leaders

Not very long ago, being a mother and a working professional were seen as mutually exclusive. Women were expected to hold down the household while their husbands went off to grow their careers, unable to grow beyond the roles of wife and mother. Today women are dominating the workforce, leading global initiatives, and often outshining their male counterparts in a variety of ways. What’s important to remember, however, is that for women who decide to be full-time mothers rather than juggle career and motherhood are just as accomplished.

Women of the 1950s, 1960s, and today were always leaders, even when not in a “traditional” leadership role. Motherhood may be one of the most rewarding, educational, and difficult leadership roles to take on--and for women and men who don’t yet have children, there’s much to learn from them and always more than meets the eye.

Below we share just a few of the ways Moms are the definitive leaders for any generation:

Positive Feedback

When a child is constantly criticized, she/he can become insecure, often resorting to poor behavior because there is no incentive to behave well. Similarly, in a professional setting, employees become apathetic when their bosses only criticize without acknowledging progress. People naturally want to please someone who recognizes the potential in them. Mothers often learn the power of constructive criticism--others should follow in their footsteps.

Fail Forward

When children grow older, mothers give them responsibility and permission to make mistakes. This helps children learn problem solving skills and also that it’s okay to fail. Being able to fail with grace and convert a failed opportunity into a learning experience or a new venture is a critical skill for multiple situations. Where does this skill often begin? In childhood. Thanks, Mom.

Flexibility

Mothers often have to be flexible to accommodate the needs of their children. This includes being flexible with their time, personal priorities, and self-care. How many mothers do you know have braved through a cold (often acquired from their kids) to shuttle their children off to soccer practice, or stay up late helping a daughter or son with their homework? More than we can count.

Multitasking Prowess

Multitasking isn’t necessarily the optimum way to handle looming tasks but sometimes it’s unavoidable. For those of us pursuing new initiatives or roles as activists, employees, friends, and for some others--moms--being able to juggle multiple tasks, thoughts, ideas, and “to-do” lists can be critical to moving the needle for a cause or project. Mothers become #1 Multitaskers. Single mothers, especially those with multiple children, become adept at multitasking out of necessity; they are admirable leaders everyone should look up to.

Empathy

The second a child is born, an entire life changes. Personal needs become secondary to the needs of children. Empathy is one of the most important qualities for today--especially in the contentious climate that we live in. The more of us that can become empathetic in the way mothers must with their children, the more attuned we can be to the needs of one another, and the world at large. The best leaders are empathetic leaders, the greatest initiatives are borne from the minds of the most kind among us.

There is so much that non-mothers can learn from mothers--both full-time mothers and mothers juggling career pursuits. Everyday--not just on Mother’s Day--we should pay homage to the mothers among us, who are setting the precedent for strong leadership.

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Is Feminism still alive? Read an excerpt from my new book...

Here is an excerpt from our newest Women Like Us Book, WOMEN LIKE US.  TOGETHER...CHANGING THE WORLD.  Click on the title to learn more and purchase the book.
Linda Rendleman

Is Feminism Dead? 


I consider myself a feminist. I’m for women’s rights, women’s development, women’s advancement in the workplace, and the equality of women! And I think we’re still fighting for it.

When I was in college 30 years ago there was lots of talk about feminism. There were the bra-burning days, the demonstrations to get us out of the kitchen and into the workforce, the fight for equal pay, the development of birth control pills, and even the idea of “free” sex.


So where is feminism today? I was reminded recently that women still earn about 75 percent of men’s pay, according to the Women’s Funding Alliance. I occasionally catch a conversation with some seemingly enlightened male friends who are impressed when a man raises his children on his own. Yet, rarely does the conversation include the same sense of awe when referring to a woman who has raised children on her own.

I think somewhere along the way we stopped being militant. And, I think that’s a good thing. Militancy can be destructive. But, I also think we can’t forget the cause.

Younger women, those in their 20s and 30s, have always known a world with the acceptance of feminist ideas in it. Their mothers, women like me, perhaps like you, brought the tenets of feminism to them as part of their core values and upbringing. And then there are the young men—young men like my son, who would never believe that any woman should wash his clothes, cook his meals or cater to him. His natural tendencies are for an equal partnership and a relationship of equality and mutual respect with all women.

Many of us have raised our sons with these same core values and they are out in society contributing to a more equal and just world for both sexes. But it seems like we’ve stopped.

I know it can be argued that the statistics reflecting differences in pay between men and women are still skewed. No one knows exactly what the real difference in pay is, and some argue there is none. But, if indeed we are enlightened and have moved forward enough that this is not an issue, why did the case of Lilly Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company recently appear before the Supreme Court? It was yet another cry for equal pay for women. It is evident that many women still don’t earn an equal wage.

This topic of feminism goes so far beyond the issue of a paycheck. In the majority of homes of working couples, the female is still mainly responsible for childcare and domestic chores. Issues such as paternity leaves are still odd concepts on many corporate fronts. Old assumptions of female responsibility still remain.

Yes, we’ve made some strides. We have some laws to protect us. But, many of the same issues of thirty years ago are still out there in the workplace, at home and in our relationships.

You can accept the discrepancies you see, or you can speak out against them. We owe it to our sisters, our daughters, and our daughters’ daughters, our sons and the men in our lives, to continue the journey. We need to continue the education, the awareness, the values that bring the important contributions of our femaleness into the awareness and appreciation of our society.

And then we got comfortable.  Little girls whose mothers fought for equality grew up and slid more easily into understanding the choices they could have in their lives.  Little girls whose mothers came to understand their own rights in the world, were given those rights as if they were always there.  Little girls of that time period, now as adult women, never question their own rights to have a credit card, have their own checking account, sit at a bar and order a cocktail, run their own companies, make their own living and stand up and speak out for their own needs.

And the women’s movement helped us realize that if it doesn’t work…we have the right to fix it.  We don’t have to stay in abusive marriages.  We don’t have to pick motherhood over a career.  We don’t have to work all day and clean up, fix up, take care of the family and the home when we aren’t at the office. Not everyone’s happiness is on our shoulders.

Our expectations in our relationships are changing.  We expect partnerships in our marriages.  We expect to have choices in careers, lovers and how we spend our time.  It’s our own time.  We don’t need to put ourselves last any more.  We put ourselves right up front and in turn, teach our daughters and our sons and the universe that human rights include women’s rights.

Where Women Were Before the Early 1970s:

Women couldn’t get birth control if they were unmarried until 1972.

Women couldn’t serve on a jury until 1973.

Women couldn’t get an abortion until 1973.

Women couldn’t get credit cards in their name until 1973.

Women couldn’t sue for sexual harassment until 1977.

Women couldn’t keep their job while pregnant until 1987.

Women couldn’t refuse to have sex with their spouse until 1993.

Women couldn’t pay a man’s rate for insurance until 2010.

Women still aren’t paid the same as their male counterparts

Fact:

A woman ran for President of the United States for the first time in history.  2016

 

 

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Five Ways to Kickstart a Charitable Venture

Do you have a charitable passion you want to commit to? Below are a few reasons to start such a venture and steps you can take to get started.

Seek out sponsor(s) who can support your cause and effectively provide you with seed capital to start and operate your organization.

Most companies allocate funds to certain causes and are also interested in aligning themselves with causes that can help their brand and raise their profile in the community. Utilise this selling point when talking to prospective sponsors. Do your homework and find out the history of past alignments of companies you are looking into.

The key to your venture’s success is the knowledge of how to raise funds effectively and how to structure your expenses.

You will have to pitch your cause to the marketing departments of companies who have already made provisions in their budgets for charitable causes. Put a proposal together as to how you can benefit the community and in the bargain create awareness for the sponsors, compelling them to collaborate with you in this endeavor. Get someone who has fundraising expertise on your team and ask them to help you put a plan together.

Understand that “charitable” does not mean that everyone needs to work for free.

But it does allow you to solicit people to volunteer services and help out alongside their regular jobs and careers. Make sure you have a concrete funding plan and don’t forget to allocate money to yourself and other staff (volunteers or paid) who help with day to day operations.

Put together a board or a core committee and clearly define each member’s role or responsibility.

Keep in mind that those who volunteer are often less effective in absence of clearly set expectations or goals. Many of those who already own businesses are interested in giving back. These days, the concept of “volunteering” has taken on a whole new meaning for women entrepreneurs. It can mean creating jobs in poor third world countries or donating a portion of proceeds to charity.

Consider starting your passion project as a non-profit from the start and taking advantage of all that this structure has to offer.

Even if you are not sure about starting a non-profit, the most important thing is to be passionate about your cause and what you are accomplishing. Your enthusiasm and passion should radiate and influence others who can help you and in turn attract opportunities and resources to make your idea effective and fruitful.

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My night in the dark-meeting victims of sex trafficking.

Here is an excerpt from our newest Women Like Us Book, WOMEN LIKE US.  TOGETHER...CHANGING THE WORLD.  It includes my accounting of my night meeting girls on the streets of Los Angeles. 
Linda Rendleman

 

Our Bodies Are the Garden of Our Souls   Deepak Chopra

I set the alarm for 12:30 a.m. I really hadn’t been sleeping. Just mostly trying to rest, and to anticipate and be open to the mission I was a part of that cool November night in Los Angeles. They told me to be sure to bring a jacket, as the windows will be open a lot.

The familiar ping of a text arrived on my phone: “We’ll be there soon. Want a Starbucks?”  I indulged in my favorite vanilla latte…kind of ironic based on the activity I was about to experience. That latte became a symbol for me that would be remembered for years to come.

carinthedarksextrafficking..jpg

A white SUV with tinted windows pulled into the drive like a white charger in the dark of night, ready to begin its work.  I was invited to go along.

There were three women waiting for me: Kyla, Monique and Monica.  Kyla and Monique were the leaders, the experienced ones, the women who would teach us a lot about sex trafficking in Los Angeles in the next five hours.  Monica and I were the newbies.  We sat in the back seat.

When I climbed in the vehicle I gratefully accepted my latte.  I was told to be careful with the 32-cup stainless steel coffee urn sitting between Monica and me.  It was full of hot water…eady to go for the hot chocolate we’d be handing out to the girls.

We were also handed small bags, each filled with one lip gloss with an 800 number on it, hand sanitizer, and wet wipes.  In the front seat, Monique had a bag of mittens and gloves to keep hands warm against this cold night.

We turned south on the 110 and headed toward Long Beach, then on to Santa Ana/Anaheim.  The Orange County area.  I asked Kyla why we were leaving the inner city of Los Angeles and heading toward the suburbs.  We were headed toward Disneyland, for heaven’s sake.  She told me I’d understand when I got there.

It was now nearing 1 a.m. Driving along a busy street in Santa Rosa we saw a few young girls dressed like they had been out for a night of “clubbing.” Were they on their way home? They walked across the busy lanes of the well-lit retail area and into a residential neighborhood.  Kyla stopped at the light and we watched them disappear into the darkness.

“Look ahead; see all those cars down going into that neighborhood?  Do you see their taillights?  Do you see how they are all turning left?  Those are johns.”

We pulled across the street and took our place in line with them.  It felt like we were in the drive-thru at McDonald’s, waiting our turn.  And when we made our left turn into the neighborhood, we became part of a mass of cars, all with one driver; some old, some young, some Mercedes, some rusty old trashy cars…all sharing the same common denominator of seeking sex for hire. It was a mid-month Friday night.  Payday—when not so many bills were due, when child support had been paid, rent and utilities already taken care of.  So, extra money meant more to spend on sex.

Monica and I were told not to speak to the girls.  We were instructed to be quiet in the back seat. We were told to make them hot chocolate if they wanted it, to make no comments, to let them be them.

It’s not that I didn’t understand sex trafficking or that I didn’t know the data.  It’s not that I didn’t understand what the statistics were on DMST (domestic minor sex trafficking) or the realities of how women get trapped into this work, are abused by their pimps or by the johns, and treated as criminals by the police.  I had studied the subject, had even spoken to hundreds of people in the Midwest and my home state of Indiana, about how it is a problem in the U.S., in our communities, and we must do something.  I helped dispel the myth, or should I say the blindness, that permeates our daily, safe lives, that these things only happen in third-world countries. 

They call it “the game.”  The game of pimps owning girls, pimps competing with one another to steal their girls, pimps patrolling the streets to make sure the girls don’t talk to the competition.  If the girls talk to the competition, it can be dangerous. They can be abused, cut, made to pay in a number of ways.

Sophia was the first girl I met.  She was standing by herself at the edge of the street, waiting for a car to pull over and invite her in. Dressed in a red mini skirt, a black faux fur vest with a black bra underneath, and spike black and silver high heels, she walked over to us when we rolled down the window.  “Hi,” said Monique.  “Would you like a gift?”  How about some hot chocolate?  Pretty cold out there tonight, isn’t it?”  “Oh, yes, thank you,” said Sophia.

Monica made the hot chocolate and handed it through to the front seat.  Sophia peered in the back where we sat, hidden from the outside by the tinted windows. She fearfully said, “Oh, you have friends?” She pulled back a bit. “Yes,” replied Monique, “They’re helping us with the hot chocolate.  By the way, we know about the game.  You’ll find a lip gloss with an 800 number on it in the little bag.”  Sophia said, “OK, thanks. And thanks for the hot chocolate.”  She moved back to her spot on the street. Back to work.

There were 13 girls on that block that night.  Some young, some older, some dressed scantily, others dressed in sweats, some Caucasian, some African American, some Hispanic…a mix of nationalities, but where we were…mostly African American. Some were boys, but mostly women.

We went to three different locations that night, including two in the inner city of Los Angeles.  In all we talked with 43 girls; 37 of them accepted our gift bags that contained the 800 number.  Six declined.  In the three years Kyla has been going out every week, 300 women have been touched and approximately a third of them have entered social service programs.

So how does this happen?  How does someone become a victim?  How does someone get free?  What’s the process? Does this process really make a difference? What happened in someone’s life to get to this point? Where are the people to help?  What are the police doing? How can all of this be?  What resources do we have to reach understanding…to explain the WHY and the What and the How?

 

 

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The narrowing gender pay gap – and how to close it completely

Everybody knows that Hollywood’s leading actresses earn considerably less than their male counterparts. And it’s common knowledge that for every dollar a man earns, a woman earns only 83 cents. However, recent research reveals that a woman aged between 17-36 now earns only 5% less than a man of the same age through the 20s.

But the stark reality remains that women still earn less than men.

This is dependant on career choice too. But even when we compare male and female graduates who go into the same job upon graduation, gaps exist. The gender pay gap widens during one’s 30s and 40s. For mothers (but not fathers) with babies it is pay Armageddon.

As we all are well aware of, there are penalties to be paid both for taking time off work or for choosing part-time. For mothers, this is an unavoidable penalty that takes its toll even when they return to full-time employment.

So what can be done to close the gender pay gap? Should it be that women put away or even stop having babies? It is something an increasing number of females seem to be contemplating. While a new generation of women think success in a high-paying career or profession is important, many also do not believe that this is attainable with a child in tow.

Looking purely through an economic perspective (without going into the pros and cons of child rearing), a child-free existence can only be an incomplete solution at best. Look no further than women without children who also earn less than men throughout their careers, but to a lesser degree.

The state also has a prominent role in making it easier for mothers to re-enter full time work faster. Case in point : Iceland, which instituted a very generous paternity pay in 2000 - has seen this strategy deliver, and how?! 90% of fathers now leave the labour market for at least three months. Consequently, their partners get to return to full-time work faster. Highly subsidised infant and kindergarten care is another state intervention that contributed to making a difference.

So men have a part to play as well. Men need to celebrate when their partners earn more than they.  And finally, the path for women themselves. Many smart, successful women rarely if ever, initiate a pay-rise conversation at work. Remember, if you do not ask, you will never get enough.

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Former Oprah Producer, Dianne Hudson, tells her story in new Women Like Us Book

Dianne Hudson is one of those strong women.  She lived during troubled times, too. As a young black woman she always knew her life was going to be special, in spite of the exclusion and harshness she experienced from racial conflict.  Today she’s had many experiences that have shaped her, including her time with Oprah Winfrey as her Executive Producer.  She found herself on the forefront of change for women in America.

Life is a Flow

“Get yourself aligned with the stuff that’s in the back of your mind and is calling you.”

I grew up in a pivotal time in history. I grew up seeing so many changes. I grew up during the Jim Crow laws that forced segregation. And as an African American little girl in South Carolina, I didn’t understand about racism and bigotry.  We really didn’t talk about it much.  It was a way of life and all I knew.

I was fortunate. I came from a family with educated parents and grandparents. They were all teachers. We lived in a family environment and it was kind of like a compound. All of our aunts, uncles, and cousins were in the same neighborhood, very nearby. I had lots of love and nurturing and wasn’t affected as a child by the turmoil outside my small world.

I went to Catholic school. And, although there was a Catholic school within walking distance, mine, the black school, was across town. We had black nuns, but the priests were white. I have a summertime memory of when I was about 7 years old watching kids in the neighborhood walk by our house in swimming suits, carrying towels. I asked my grandmother, “Where are they going?” Grandmother responded, “To the swimming pool, but you’re not allowed to go.” We just accepted that we had different rules. We were able to go to the beach, but only the “colored” beach.  It wasn’t as nice as the white beach.

The bigotry DID affect me

In hindsight, the bigotry did affect me.  At the time, it was the way it was.  Rules were you didn’t get upset that you couldn’t go to the pool. My parents never told me why I couldn’t go; they didn’t say it was because of the color of our skin. I got lots of “no’s” without explanation.

In today’s world, white people who didn’t live during those times as an African American have an attitude of “Get over it…that is history…don’t bring up the race card…things have changed.”  But experiences have chains.

We eventually moved to Baltimore where my eyes were opened to change happening in the country. Busing became a part of my childhood. I went daily to the suburbs for school. In an effort to integrate the schools, many black children were sent out of their area .The bus rides were long. Many of us felt displaced. When my classmates would have activities and get-togethers after school, I was not included.

I didn’t live in the neighborhood.

There were many critics of busing, and I understand why. But I do understand what they were trying to do. In certain ways, busing opened up a level of exposure for me that may not have happened otherwise. I went to school in a Jewish community and it was my first look at any beliefs outside the Christian religion.  I learned social skills that came with meeting people other than what I had always known in my life. Some kids didn’t adapt well to the busing experience.  It was too foreign.  But not me: my world got bigger.  I was exposed to a life developing for me.

I’m reminded of the story Oprah tells when her grandmother said, “You better watch to see how I do this clothes washing…so you can do it someday.” Oprah remembers thinking, I don’t think so.

READ THIS AND MANY OTHER STORIES IN THE NEW BOOK

WOMEN LIKE US:  TOGETHER CHANGING THE WORLD.  REAL STORIES.  REAL STRATEGIES.

LEARN MORE HERE.

I knew my life was going to be interesting

I always just kind of knew I was going to be someplace else. And as I grew more and more into adulthood, I felt my life was going to be interesting. I was getting more skills.  Success skills, in a way.

I was fortunate to have educated parents. It was a given that I would go to college. I supposed I would get a teaching degree like the rest of my family, but my motherencouraged me to think bigger, to think of what I love and what I was good at, and make it my career. I was a natural writer, so my direction became journalism.

As a kid, we had three TV stations. It was the talk shows like Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore that I always wanted to watch. While my friends watched Mickey Mouse Club or some after-school kids’ show, I was fascinated by the talk shows. When I was asked to be a production assistant for a local talk show, I got a glimpse of what I had been preparing for all along. In a field like this, it wasn’t like other careers. There were few female mentors and teachers to help lead the way.  And not for a black woman, especially.

I got my first taste of affirmative action when I was a senior in college. The Associated Press called me and was looking to hire. I was referred to them by one of my professors.  They had a writing test I needed to take, so I did that.  Then they gave me the job. I was confused. It was hard to understand how I could get a job simply through a test and with no interview. When I asked them about it, they explained that the reference from my professor was good enough. It dawned on me that they were fulfilling the new affirmative action requirements set forth by the government. It was a way of implementing opportunities for us after the lifelong insidious exclusion that we experienced. Many others didn’t understand…many still don’t.

8 women and Oprah

What happened for me was I spent 10 years of my career working on local talk shows in Detroit. Then I got a call. There was an African American woman hosting a new show, and she was putting together a team.  She was going up against The Phil Donahue Show in Chicago. And she was launching the show in 30 days! Right then I knew this was going to be something special. And within two weeks of launch, Phil Donahue was struggling and The Oprah Winfrey Show was off and running.

We were an all-woman crew with the opportunity to communicate to women and relate in a different way. It wasn’t just news. In fact, news wasn’t layered enough for me. This was my opportunity to build depth in stories and experiences that news didn’t allow.

I was one of eight who started with Oprah. We did five live shows per week.  It wasn’t long before it became clear to Oprah that we should build in the spiritual and philanthropic component.  No more regular talk-show stuff.

I became Executive Producer and was in charge of ratings. My instructions were to change the show and yet stay number one. It was a challenge. At first, viewers didn’t understand the philanthropy or spirituality angles. It was the mid-’90s and there was no differentiation between spirituality and religion like there is today. Spirituality meant church then and that confused some viewers.

But we kept pushing.   Oprah would tell me, “Dianne, this isn’t just a show…it’s a mission.” So we developed the Angel Network and began our quest to uplift and inform…to give a broader perspective and open up the world to one another. We developed a Christmas Kindness effort for needy children and put it on the show; we took food and toys to thousands of kids in Africa and put it on the show; we started the school in Africa and asked people to donate on the show. We got on Nelson Mandela’s radar.  And the rest is history.

And right now, today, when I turn on OWN, I can’t even tell you how great it feels for me to watch it. To know that I was a part of that journey and the richness it gave the life of a little black girl from a segregated community in the South, along with the rest of the world.

 

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4 Principles of Community Organizing for Aspiring Changemakers

This is for community organizers, aspiring changemakers, and activists--and also anybody who seeks to make an impact in their communities. Community organizers are always trying to figure out people’s common self-interest, the glue which binds organizations and movements.

You have to believe that humans, no matter how much they may appear to hate each other, can always find some common connection. Today being a changemaker has become a trendy thing, but it’s important to remember that in order to facilitate real lasting impact, there must be a level of strategic direction. Below are four key principles to community organizing to bear in mind when moving forward with an initiative.

1. Institutions and people that hold power over others are rarely as united as they appear. If you cannot get an authority to support you, you have to do everything in your power to convince them that it’s in their best self-interest to do so. When an authority with responsibility fails to do its job, you need to challenge it and force it to do the right thing.

2. It is always useful for any creative community campaign to advocate for a positive and also to oppose a negative. The more complicated a strategy or tactic, the harder it is to carry out, and the less likely that it will be successful.

Similarly you can ask a few people to do a lot of things, especially if they’re committed activists. If you want a larger no. of people to participate in a campaign, you need to ask them to do one thing, and only one.

3. Go not only with what you know, but with whom you know. Even in the Internet age, personal relationships still count, especially when you’re asking people to do something.

In campaigns, much as in real life people are always united in part, partly divided. It’s up to the organizers to reinforce unity and compensate for the divisions and differences among members. Ensure that the people you work with truly understand the risks, things that could go wrong, losses that might occur, before decide to act, either individually or together.

4. One of the greatest skills an organizer can have is the ability to frame and ask questions in ways that make people not only want to answer them, but also to think deeply, and in unexpected ways, about what the answers might be. When dealing with volunteers, give them a specific list of campaign needs from which they can make a choice.

Start the process of strategizing by visualizing the instant just before ultimate victory. Then work backwards, try your best to figure out the steps that can lead to that winning moment. We can never truly predict what human beings working together can accomplish, and so there’s no need to ever compromise with injustice.

 

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The Menace of Sex Trafficking in the U.S – Brought to Light

According to human rights advocates, human trafficking happens every day in major cities across the U.S. Now, in the largest study of its kind, researchers have found that as much as one-fifth of all homeless youth in the U.S. are victims of human trafficking, most likely for purposes of sex. The study also showed that LGBTQ youth accounted for nearly one-third of the sex-trafficking victims.

Among the dozen cities the report investigated, along with Toronto and Vancouver were: Anchorage, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Oakland, California, Phoenix, Arizona, St. Louis, and Washington.

Sex trafficking though is not exclusive to cities alone, it occurs in all sorts of areas, including rural. People are prone to the risk of being sex trafficked - if homeless or living in poverty, if involved in the child welfare system or those with a history of childhood abuse, family conflict or violence.

They’re also likely to be victims of trafficking if they experience things common to teenagers: A desire to be independent or to test societal boundaries, if they feel misunderstood or think their parents don’t care enough or being attracted to material goods.

Too many youth desperate and alone on the streets making them vulnerable to traffickers. We are living in a world where desperate kids are bought and sold. If we wish to cut down the menace, reduce the number of youth who are being trafficked, we first have to deal with youth homelessness.

Increasingly some pimps are even branding their victims, often with tattoos on their bodies. Tracking chips too are becoming more popular in the world of sex trafficking. Tags are often found on victims' hands - between the thumb and the forefinger, as well as underneath their arms and on necks.

There are several things that members of the public can watch out for to spot a victim of sex trafficking. Physical indicators, such as malnourishment and multiple STDs or pregnancies. What a concerned person can ask themselves about a suspected victim is whether or not they are being exploited in any way — either for money or something else of value.

The Women Like Us Foundation has highlighted this nefarious practice in the past. We have shed light on incidents in the U.S as well as in other parts of the world. The recent statistics only bear testimony to how entrenched this practice is within our society.

We have made considerable efforts in the past as well as ongoing to tackle the menace on three fronts – Education, Homelessness and Trafficking itself. We have achieved considerable impact on our own and also worked hand-in-hand with like-minded organizations towards this goal. But much still needs to be done and any help is welcome. Learn how you too can contribute here...

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A few tips on Finding and Working With a Mentor

A common question that entrepreneurs often ask is how to find a mentor to help them with their business. Budding entrepreneurs need someone they can call on for advice on day to day problems, sit down with to discuss the more arduous matters and so on.

A mentor is one who’s seasoned in the business you’re in; they have knowledge and experience in your particular area and an interest in helping you achieve your goals. But mentorship is also a two-way street. These are people who give support and advice to those in need, but there are limits on how much you can impose on them.

A mentor is generally someone who has a personal interest in you. Nowadays you can find mentors through social media, but the best kind of mentor is someone who you already know and wants you to succeed. Seek out someone near and dear; even a friend of a friend, then commence a formal relationship.

Choose a mentor who has experience in your specific business. Make sure that they can be useful to you (and not just a fancy title or a lot of money) before you drag them through your business woes.

Set your expectations accordingly. Keep in mind that a mentor is not going to solve all of your woes. They can be relied on for periodic counsel, but not to offer in-depth business advice (not unless they offer that).

Know what to bring your mentor. A mentor is meant to be a bigger-picture thinker and strategist. They help you keep yourself collected and provide you perspective and a sense of longevity for your business. If they’re open to questions and discussions, great - but Choose your questions wisely.

You can never assume that their time for you is infinite. Make a list of things you want to discuss and the problems you hope to solve with your mentor. Take notes and keep track of the time.

At times, your mentor may make an introduction or pass you a contact. It’s your duty to make it good and to convey the utmost respect. You need to understand that you are now responsible for this person’s reputation. So be responsible in all communications, prompt with your follow-ups and so on.

Mentors spend a lot of their time and effort in guiding and supporting you - all for free, as a favor, or even as a way to give back. Make sure you acknowledge this — by showing your gratitude.

Treat this key relationship with care and it will serve you well for years to come. And hopefully, you too will be in a position to mentor someone in the future—returning the favor will feel twice as good as receiving it!

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How Entrepreneurs Can Excel In Their Chosen Career

If you feel secure and comfortable in your job, it may be time to reassess your current commitment and job satisfaction. Why? Sometimes being too comfortable is an indication that growth just isn’t happening. And if you’re not learning and moving forward, you’re losing out.

The Role of Learning

Everybody wants to move up in one’s career and life. In today’s constantly evolving workplace, It’s safe to say that whatever you learned back in college has become pretty much irrelevant.

The days of steady upward career trajectories are numbered, and can in fact even be harmful to you in the modern era. A one-track career can narrow your knowledge base, and might lead eventually to a dead end. So it’s recommended that you commit to learning constantly, open up-to lateral moves and so on.

 

Dealing with Failure

Unfortunately, we tend to internalize failure as being “our fault,” even if it is the result of external factors or part of natural career progression. Get over thinking that failure means you’ve been at fault. The important thing is that you made an effort and not that it didn’t succeed! Owning up to our failures is never a cause for shame. In fact,  good leaders would rather hire someone who has experienced a lot and learned some important lessons in the bargain.

Be in strong and good company (or network). Remember that it is the number one unwritten rule of business success. A strong network can help one stay apprised of the curve-balls business can (and will) throw you and it can also function as your support system when you need it.

One good way to accomplish both these is to get involved with startups in your area of expertise. People who work at big companies tend to dismiss startups as being not serious or a flash in a pan. Its right that most startups fail to take off, but a few will definitely succeed. And there  can be a lot for one to learn from them even from those that fail.

Instead of being negative, get involved with younger ventures. In addition to the satisfaction you might get from mentoring entrepreneurs, you stand to gain a lot in the bargain.

Keep in mind that change is always good. And well, it’s the only way to keep up in these times!

 

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How to tackle the spreading menace of Human Trafficking.

Human trafficking, though widespread, is largely unknown and misunderstood.

Modern day slavery that involves the use of force, coercion or fraud to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act,  every year, thousands of people, mostly women and young girls are deceived, threatened or simply forced into commercial sexual exploitation. This isn't a crime confined to far-off locales, but also playing out in our neighborhoods, foster homes and the internet.

Human trafficking exploits the most vulnerable and is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, the second-largest behind drug trafficking. Today, an estimated $150 billion industry, victims are mostly children and account for as much as half of those sold for sex. With around three-quarters of victims coming from foster care or some other type of guardianship, poverty, domestic abuse, prostitution, gang activity and pornography are all intricately entwined in the illegal scourge.

The International Labor Office Estimates show that currently there are 20.9 million slaves. Victims are bought and sold, changing hands multiple times. Most victims get to live an average of a mere seven years from the time they are initiated into their first commercial sex act. Homicide, suicide, abuse and sexual diseases take their toll.

Efforts to eradicate human trafficking include strict legislation to stiffen penalties for buyers. States like Florida and Missouri are enacting new regulations that plan to utilize even consumer protection laws to target traffickers. But such efforts are rare, time-intensive and costly. In the law enforcement, many local officials and prosecutors simply do not possess the resources, training or manpower to effectively handle criminal cases involving trafficking. More effective would be creating awareness of the problem.

Not surprisingly, as much as 88 percent of the victims have contact with health care providers. So it's very important that healthcare professionals be made aware of the signs of someone being sold for sex. This also holds true for the hospitality industry as traffickers frequently use hotels to ply their trade and in moving their victims from one place to another.

The need of the hour requires the work of many and an appraisal of the social attitudes and habits that make trafficking profitable. Join us in the fight to end sex trafficking globally. Together, we can build awareness of this horrendous practice and motivate people to take steps to prevent its spread.


 

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