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How to form a network of like-minded women

As women, we do not advocate for ourselves as often as we should. However, when you work with people who have similar experiences, perspective and objectives it motivates you. With enough people cheering you on and offering you guidance, you are definitely likely to succeed. Such organizations inspire us to advocate for ourselves and support each other in that process.

There are many benefits to being in a women’s networking group. It can be a great way of building connections within your chosen field, help you gain confidence and encourage others to participate, collaborate and innovate.

It need not be too large in scale to begin with. You can start off with 10 or less members, discussing topics that concern you – handling family, progressing at work, etc. In addition to encouraging discussion and spreading awareness such initiatives can serve in developing effective skills.

The world is increasingly becoming aware of the importance of developing well rounded women leadership and close the gender gap in positions of influence. A key tool for this is networking and organization of women. The goal of such programs should be to give women the tools and resources they need while also boosting leadership skills.

Several professional organizations now conduct mentoring programs offering participants a chance to work with and build long-term relationships with mentors and help them devise goals for professional development. With support from mentors, women employees can join group members to discuss current challenges and brainstorm solutions on topics ranging from professional growth to work-life balance issues.

If you are interested in starting a networking or social program for women in your community, workplace or among friends and relations, these are the steps you need to follow:

  • Identify and form an association of like minded individuals or those with similar interests.

  • Identify and decide your common desired goals and communicate it well within the group.

  • Look to examples of other similar groups and use it to outline what your group can do, how participants can contribute meaningfully, how to balance any initiative with their individual and personal schedules, plan budgetary requirements and initiatives.

  • In choosing people to lead the group or head its initiatives, it’d be good to appoint someone with experience who can bring the needed discipline, organization and direction your group will need.

  • Ensure that the group constantly reviews their plan and goals.

  • The groups can also hold social events to raise awareness for local women’s non-profit and charity organizations.

Share the progress and instances of success within the group and encourage members to spread the word. By popularizing and promoting such initiatives you will be contributing to raising awareness and encouraging others to participate.

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The Internet Vs. Sex Trafficking - What’s at stake?

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, with the support of several prominent Republican and Democratic senators. The act increases sites’ responsibility for user content, potentially expanding criminal liability for websites.

The bill proposes a significant amendment to Section 230 (1996) of the federal Communications Decency Act. This decades-old regulation functions as the internet’s liability shield providing websites with legal immunity for their users’ posts. For instance, a social platform like Facebook or Twitter cannot be held responsible for its users’ activity.

The bill’s stated goals let state law enforcement officials prosecute companies engaged in conduct that breaks federal sex trafficking laws. This is in addition to allowing victims of sex trafficking to seek compensation from websites that enabled their victimization and also criminalize any commercial conduct that enables a violation of federal sex trafficking laws.

In short, this legislation would make it easier for the federal and state governments to punish online service providers when criminals make use of their services.

Sex trafficking or prostituting of children are horrific crimes. Most people would abhor such practices and welcome such a step. This reprehensible practice and its perpetrators deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

But why are the tech companies against such a landmark legislation?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation refers to CDA 230 as “the most valuable tool for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet.” Without this protection, most of the web would no longer exist in its current form.

The most infamous misuse of this provision has been Backpage, the classifieds portal that hosted ads from sex traffickers on its adult services section. After a raid of its offices and the arrest of its CEO by the California Department of Justice in October 2016, the charges were dismissed citing CDA 230. However Backpage eventually shut down its adult services ads, citing overwhelming pressure from the government and public.

This proposed legislation may have some unintended consequences both for tech companies and the people. The proposed act can affect bloggers, news organizations and any platform that allows for public comments. If Facebook, Twitter or Google are held responsible for what users post, they would have to monitor our content and potentially even refuse to allow us to express ourselves or even remove our posts altogether. A new age of censorship.

The proposed law potentially implicates every online service that deals with user-generated content and could hit websites hard. It would directly impact the fundamental right to free speech. The tech industry and internet-rights advocates are rightly concerned about protections of free-speech platforms.

All this points to the need for the framework to evolve from its current form, but as the first step to tackling such a serious issue, it is a very much welcome one.

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Fighting human trafficking while you shop

Thanks to the increased social awareness in recent years, sex-trafficking is at the forefront of our conscience and omnipresent in the news. A dark and scary term which fails to fully represent the horror of human beings who are treated as objects for sale.

When confronted with this scenario it is easy to fall into despair or denial while tending to ask, “How can one person make a difference to a problem so huge?”

However, there is no need to despair, and there are actually a lot of ways anyone can help. The problem is really big but not insurmountable. And you can even start today, simply and easily at your own time and convenience!

Social organizations and nonprofits are stepping up their activities across the world, imparting awareness, providing skill-sets and means of income for the survivors of human trafficking, as also for the young who are at high-risk for trafficking. Some of these organizations raise funds through merchandise.

Your contribution to making a difference can start off by simply choosing to shop differently. It can be as simple as going to your big-box discount store or retailer. Instead, opt for one of the numerous organizations offering many of the same things, being made by women who are striving to support themselves with dignity.

Purchasing products from such organizations may mean some who can go to bed safely tonight and wake up in order to earn a living for themselves, the honorable way. These women will now be able to support themselves with a trade and thus less likely to become victims of trafficking. Beneficiaries of your actions will now be able to support themselves with dignity.

Several major global companies have committed to the Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (gBCAT) and are determined to take a proactive approach to end human trafficking, which remains widespread and difficult to uncover.

The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act requires certain companies to report on their specific actions to eradicate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains. In addition, the NGO KnowTheChain encourages greater corporate understanding of the said act. It benchmarks companies in a variety of industries to help inform investor's decisions and it also provides tools and resources to help companies be in compliance with both this act and the UK Modern Slavery Act.

All this makes sound business sense as well — With increased demand supply too has to keep up. There are more and more ethical shopping options out that go ABOVE and BEYOND by playing a part in the fight to end modern day slavery. It’s time to vote with your dollars!

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The Secret to Being a Successful Leader - Emotional Intelligence

Quite a few professionals struggle at being good leaders and have trouble understanding why. After all they work hard, are successful in their fields and communicate with their direct reports in a comprehensive and clear manner. However, these associates never seem quite satisfied, engaged or most importantly: productive. Something definitely seems amiss.

In most cases, the problem starts with how new leaders make the draw – on the basis of their expertise and satisfactory job performance. These criteria do make perfect sense - but are not enough by themselves. The third requirement - emotional intelligence is often neglected but is as crucial for good management.

Lack of Emotional Intelligence

Have you ever witnessed someone have a meltdown at work? How suddenly facts, logic and reason turn irrelevant just because a decision maker loses their senses? Or more common, at a meeting, the moderator is holding forth on a monologue as opposed to engaging the other participants and discussing different viewpoints and ideas? Such behavior is the sign of deficiency of emotional intelligence and for leaders who lack it, the consequences for their teams can be truly harmful.

Need of Self-awareness

Emotional intelligence is crucial in being able to control one’s behavior and it requires a high degree of self-awareness. When you are able to take a holistic view of your actions or words from an external perspective and see the impact on other people, you are that much more likely to exercise control over your conduct towards others and thus avoid any negative ramifications of your behavior. This is especially important when you feel under pressure or dealing with conflict situations.

The Key - Empathy

Empathy skills can be very integral for good leadership. If you are able to easily empathize with others, you’ll feel more connected with them. This in turn leads to a higher level of trust and engagement, leading to improved performance. Empathy can not just make you a better leader, but can also boost your own performance.

Gaining Emotional Intelligence

For people who feel they just don’t have adequate levels of emotional intelligence, there’s good news. You just need to adopt three steps to become more emotionally intelligent.

  • Pay attention to what people are saying - and what they are not. Try to recognize cues - verbal as well as nonverbal (e.g. facial expressions, tone, body language).

  • Unravel such cues, which involves understanding the meaning of the spoken and silent messages along-with making educated guesses about the underlying emotions and motivations.

  • Responding or reacting in an appropriate manner, that involves demonstrating to others that their message has been well received and encouraging them to be forthcoming.

Good leadership is all about connecting with your associates and supporting their individual professional development that will lead to more engagement and higher productivity.

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What to Know When Seeking Nonprofit Funding

The governing body of a nonprofit organization has a range of different funding options to consider. The most popular sources of income are are grants and donations. However each income stream comes with its unique processes.

Below is a holistic view of what’s involved.

Grant Funding

Grants are typically doled out by the public sector or charitable foundations or trusts. The grant need not be repaid and is normally tax-exempt. However, most grant providers only fund organizations of charitable nature. Several grant makers also do not fund organizations that have significant resources or cash in hand. This can be disadvantageous for those organizations with a business-like functioning.

In addition, grants generally come with conditions, like:

  • Specific objectives or results

  • Particular milestones

  • Reporting on use of the money or the progress of the project.

  • Unutilized amount to be returned to the provider

Before opting for grant funding, nonprofits should consider the following:-

Does the funding aid the present aims and strategy – or divert from the mission?

Is it feasible to adhere to the grant conditions?

Will the cost of obtaining the grant outweigh the benefits?

Can the activity be sustained in the absence of grant funding?

Gifts and Donations

Gifts and donations are a very important source of income for charities and can also benefit from tax relief. Donations are generally received from individuals, companies, or other charitable trusts and foundations. You generally have considerable freedom in choosing how to apply them unless the donations have been made in response to a particular appeal.

Fundraising however can be a costly and time-consuming process – with even the risk of losing money. With this in mind, these are a few key aspects to be aware of:-

  • You will need to comply with data protection, accounting rules and legal requirements with regard to professional fundraisers, for house-to-house collections and lotteries. The rules regarding fundraising can be complex and it’s best for you to seek professional advice.

  • Is your fundraising economic and effective? Do you have a ROI model for your fundraising activity and are you adhering to it?

  • More importantly you should have a concrete plan in place to ensure that the funds are spent effectively for the purpose it has been raised for.

  • You have to ensure clarity and transparency in the specific objective(s) of the fund raiser, and also have plans to deal with any surplus or shortfall of your target.

  • Ensure that your fundraising activities are above the board and unlikely to tarnish your reputation in any manner. For example, you should have solid policies on corporate donations.

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OUR TIME IN KENYA...PART 2 BEAUTIFUL HEARTS, BEAUTIFUL SOULS, SPIRITS OF LOVE

As I begin sharing with you the next part of our trip, I immediately think about my team.  By the time we reached the Olmalaika Home, we were eager to see the 37 beautiful girls who live there.  It was actually the first stop since we had landed in Kenya two days earlier.  We'd acclimated to our surroundings, went on our first safari to see the unbelievable wildlife at the Masai Mara, rested a little and now were eager to bea part of the Olmalaika initiative who protects, educates and sustains girls who have been victims of FGM and or childhood marriage.

Women Like Us supports the work of Kim DeWitt at the Olmalaika Home in Kenya. The purpose of the home is to house, educate and protect girls who are victims of FGB and/or childhood marriage.
The children were intrigued with our phones.  What a delight to see their picture and touch the phone.

The children were intrigued with our phones.  What a delight to see their picture and touch the phone.

As we arrived, I watched the volunteers, my fellow like-minded travelers, step out of the jeep and meet the girls.  It was no different than meeting children at a school in the United States, except these girls had much more to battle, and yes, much more to be thankful for.  My team right away began friendships, especially Devan, our 17 year old who had come with her mother.  The connections were instantaneous.

I am so proud to know Kim DeWitt and now Kumunge, her partner in Global Village Ministries who have managed the home, grown the awareness and saved the lives of these young women.

We were given a tour, what a difference from the last time I was here.  They have planted a garden, built a guest house for people who come to volunteer and taken in almost 10 more girls.  The girls showed us how they do bead work, they sang for us, and they told us they are happy and blessed to be at the home.  The thing that is needed most, as is always the case with charities, is dollars to sponsor the girls.  It takes $1000 per year for each girl to get educated, have medical services, food clothing and housing.  LEARN MORE

Thank you Olmalaika Home for all you do.  We are glad to be able to support you through telling your story, reaching funders, and traveling to you so Women Like Us can learn first hand, on the ground, of your work.

The beautiful girls of Olmalaika Home.

The beautiful girls of Olmalaika Home.

 

 

 

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When Celebrities Take on Sex Trafficking

A high profile celebrity possesses considerable advantage in our connected society today. Their vast following on social media along with a proven ability to garner attention ensures wide coverage from mainstream media and has immense potential to be used for good or bad. Several celebrities make full use of this advantage to become vocal on issues they are passionate about.

Hollywood heartthrob Ashton Kutcher is one such celebrity who has leveraged his popularity and status as an actor and entrepreneur to advocate for vulnerable children caught in the sex trafficking trade. Sex trafficking is a rampant problem across America, one which law enforcement struggles to cope with. Co-founder of a tech company called Thorn, he has been using his familiar face and name for the good of a vulnerable and neglected part of our society, namely children.

Through the use of the software tool “Spotlight,” over 6,000 trafficking victims were identified, of which one-third were minors. This was accomplished in just six months, with the involvement of just a quarter of their user base. The successful tool is now being used by around 4,000 law enforcement officials in 900 agencies.

Kutcher has utilized his celebrity status to open doors of opportunity that many ordinary folk do not enjoy, even testifying about human trafficking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

"I've met victims in Russia, I've met victims in India, I've met victims that have been trafficked from Mexico, victims from New York and New Jersey and all across our country,” he said. "I've been on FBI raids where I've seen things that no person should ever see."

Since then, other celebrities like Carrie Underwood and Kristen Bell too have joined forces and lent their voices in the fight against modern day slavery. Social media plays a big part in their efforts. Movements like the "Shine a Light on Slavery Day" engaged hundreds of thousands of people to draw a red "X" on their hand and posting images on social media. Maybe symbolic, but a powerful statement.

However there is a disturbing tendency to demonize celebrities when they make use of their high profile platforms to voice their concerns. This is what led to a backlash against Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes or Beyonce’s electrifying performance at last year’s super bowl. These are just two examples of smart, successful and passionate individuals being heckled to stop talking about important subjects they are concerned about. The treatment meted out to them was as if they weren’t humans with rights and their valid opinions didn’t reserve an airing.

By lending our support in such instances can only help in the fight against the scourge of child trafficking.

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3 Ways U.S Citizens are fighting Sex Traffickers

No longer can we ignore the presence of human trafficking in the US. Be it facebook warnings from concerned mothers in Milwaukee, legal tussles with prominent online portals or concerned citizens banding together, awareness and activism is definitely on the rise.

On Social Media

More and more reports are coming in from Kenosha of young women in some scary situations. According to the authorities, the I-94 corridor between Milwaukee and Chicago is becoming a hot spot for human trafficking, because it leads to a lot of destinations.

Recently a young woman detailed a threatening encounter with a stranger while on a beach. Her facebook post went on to become viral and elicited a lot of responses detailing similar incidents.

One harrowing instance was a mother’s detailing of her teenage daughters who encountered a couple of shady individuals before managing to escape. Such messages have contributed a lot to raising awareness than even reports in mainstream media.

Victims Vs Tech Giants

Even more harrowing is the tale of Kubiiki Pride who had to go online on a classified ads portal Backpage in order to get her 13 year old daughter back. She would eventually go on to lead a 7 year legal tussle that eventually shut down the portal’s adult services listings.

A feisty start-up, Backpage was launched In 2004 by the iconic libertarian publishing house New Times Media. The house launched Backpage as an online advertising business that soon morphed into one of the world’s largest prostitution hubs with more than 90% of its weekly revenues from trafficking and escort related ads.

Kubiiki and her daughter are not alone in the fight that’s going on even now. Many other victims of trafficking and their families are embroiled in multiple legal suits with the tech giant. To compound their woes, several not-for-profit special interest groups funded by companies including Google are supporting Backpage in their legal battles.

On the Road

Truckers in the US are increasingly operating on the front line in the fight against human trafficking. Truckers tend to spend a lot of time in the places that trafficking victims also pass through due to the transient nature of their job.

Traffickers are constantly moving the victims around, shifting them to newer locations according to demand. Pimps also often look to sell their victims in places like truck stops en-route-- hence the importance of trucker diligence.

Organizations like Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) seek to educate truckers on what to look out for, how to report suspect incidences and the importance of doing so.

It’s encouraging that these acts of resistance are gaining ground in our country, yet alarming that such acts are even required at all. Anyhow, these efforts are not adequate by themselves and we as a society can contribute more to the fight against trafficking. Be it raising awareness about this modern day slavery, urging authorities to take steps to curb this crime or providing support and rehabilitation for rescued victims, we all can do more.

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Our time in Kenya...beautiful hearts, beautiful souls...spirits of love.

Our trip to Kenya revealed so many things to us.  The women's initiatives we support were as eager to see us as we were to see them.   The hugs of reunion and the renewal of friendships across so many many miles proved that we not only had not forgotten one another, but that our emails, social posts and support was making a difference and building even closer bonds.

And what a team we had!  Speaking of bonds...there is nothing like dedicated women for the greater good coming together to make a difference in the world.  Our group worked tirelessly, laughed loudly and celebrated joyfully with the new friends and relationships that were made over the two weeks we were there.

THANK YOU TO OUR KENYA, 2017 TEAM. TERRY, DEVAN, TERESA, FRANCI, LINDA, ANGELA, DANISHA

THANK YOU TO OUR KENYA, 2017 TEAM. TERRY, DEVAN, TERESA, FRANCI, LINDA, ANGELA, DANISHA

"I didn't know it would be like this," said Danisha.  "This is so much more than I expected,", said 17 year old Devan as she played with the children and made friends with the teen girls. "I want to bring my teen friends back here again.  We can do so much more when we come again."

We brought water filters and watched children drink the pure clean water and instructed the teachers how to correctly use and clean the filters at the Noel School.  Over the past 3 years, at the Noel school, we've begun self-sustainable projects that focus on hygiene, nutrition and education.  We've built a latrine, provided funds for dried beans, millet and other resources for lunches and assisted with medical and classrooms.  Most recently, a donor provided two 10,000 gallon tubs to catch rainwater.  NOW, that rainwater can be filtered to remove 99% of the germs and microbes the children have been drinking. And we worked with the children, teachers and families in the newly plowed land for a future garden.  Spinach and kale are the first two vegetables to give the children a healthier start to their lives.

 

NEXT PROJECTS:  A permanent source of sanitary water, completing the garden, increasing the teacher's salaries from $50 a month to the standard $150 a month; providing medical supplies and textbooks!

 

NEXT PART OF OUR TRIP:  OLMALAIKA HOME AND VICTORIOUS TEENS

JOIN US IN CHANGING THE LIVES OF CHILDREN IN KENYA???

WOMEN LIKE US FOUNDATION

 

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Why Child Sex Trafficking Can No Longer Be Ignored

Even though child sex trafficking is an alarmingly widespread issue in our society, it is often swept under the rug because it’s so uncomfortable to talk about.

The problem is that so few of us are willing to admit to its existence to ourselves as well as to others. We simply ignore this as something that couldn’t happen in our ‘safe’ neighborhoods, to us or someone we know, and often assume it’s something that only happens in foreign countries.

The thing is, child sex trafficking is way more common than a lot of people realize and it is happening in Canada, in the United States, and it’s happening right under our noses. It is something that all of us should be concerned about.

Human trafficking has surpassed the illegal sale of arms, and is set to surpass the illegal sale of drugs within the next few years. An estimated $32 billion a year industry, human trafficking is on the rise and is prevalent in all 50 states.

Children who run away from problems at home are often easy targets and are easily exploited due to their homelessness, emotional vulnerability, and desperation for money. This commercial sexual exploitation is not limited to any particular ethnic, racial or socioeconomic groups even though children from lower income families seem to be at a higher risk.

People can be lured, bought and sold into the sex trafficking industry in several different ways — through newspaper ads, fake employment agencies, word of mouth, or outright abduction. The traffickers can be friends, neighbors, family members etc. However, in recent times traffickers are increasingly part of organized crime syndicates who are often in cahoots with corrupt government officials, law enforcement agents, and employers.

Victims are generally isolated under lock, unable to get in touch with their families; they are repeatedly exploited, abused, and raped. They are subjected to severe psychological trauma designed to compel them into thinking that what is happening to them is their own fault. They soon reach the point where they feel they are solely deserving of the treatment that they are receiving. Traffickers will also threaten the victims’ families, and use fear, shame to control and keep them imprisoned.

In the future, maybe we can live in a world where sex trafficking has ceased to exist and all this is just a dim memory of our past, but till then, we should all make an effort to help in any way we can. To know about ways you can participate in, contribute or donate to the fight against trafficking and raising awareness, click here.

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How Women Can Protect Their Rights at Work

In the 21st century, women have come a long way. We have evolved from damsels in distress into confident, driven, and goal-oriented individuals over the years. We have succeeded in balancing work and personal lives, with a number of women moving their way up the business world and even the once male stronghold of politics.

But despite all these changes for the better, women are still having to deal with issues of basic rights in the workplace. There are still a lot of ordinary women who feel discriminated against in their jobs. The most evident aspect of this is the wage gap.

While statistically, 62% of the wage gap can be attributed to occupational and sectoral differences; unequal experience and education; along-with factors such as region, race and unionization, a whopping 38% is still left to be accounted for. It’s obvious that this stems from discrimination and (knowing or unknowing) bias towards sex.

Another equally vital issue is that women face is sexual harassment in the workplace. This is so alarmingly rampant that at least one in three women in US workplaces have experienced it. Harassment has grown beyond unwanted and aggressive physical contact to include sexual/sexist remarks, lewd texts, e-mails etc. What’s even more alarming is that most of these incidents are unreported.

No woman is ever safe from these violations of their basic rights. Every woman should know how to protect themselves and fight for their rights. Here are 3 ways you can take up the good fight:

1. Know your rights.

The primary step to protecting yourself from discrimination and harassment is by being aware of your rights. Learn about your rights and the laws that can protect you. Importantly, you should go beyond those policies that are commonly practiced and seek out the laws there for your protection.

2.Spread the knowledge

One can make a huge difference by sharing with others what you know. When you witness acts of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, don’t hesitate to call them out. Be bold and talk to your supervisor or employer about the incident. Let them know that you see it as a problem.

Authorities encourage victims of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination to report such issues and take actions against it.

3. Provide support.

If someone you know has been sexually harassed or discriminated because of her gender, give them your support, and encourage them to take action. One can also join support groups in your community to let others know that they have your support.

Remember, there is strength in numbers. There’s no one better to protect womanhood than women themselves. Above all,we must gather together in sisterhood to assert our rights and to be respected and protected. Be aware, spread the wisdom and never stop striving for change.

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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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