Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

Have a CAN-DO Attitude

Sorry it’s been a few days since I blogged. It’s been busy and I’ve been trying to finish unpacking and my parents are coming later this day and my to-do list is too long and it just needs to be a to done list already.

Oh and I was working on making a new button for my blog. You can check it out in my sidebar and let me know what you think. Oh and as you can see, I have some other buttons in my sidebar and I am definitely willing to put more up, just contact me and let me know and if I think you’re a good fit, I’ll pop it on up there.

Anyways, what I want to talk about today is a really neat organization. The organization’s name is CAN-DO, which stands for Compassion into Action Network – Direct Outcome Organization. What this means basically is that CAN-DO really wants to make sure that your aid actually helps people and that they are totally transparent. How they accomplish this is by doing written updates, pictures, videos, and they even livestream some of their relief efforts. It’s really incredible because with CAN-DO you can actually follow your dollars from beginning to end.

They frequently work overseas and also with disaster relief efforts. In fact, they are currently preparing to mobilize for Hurricane Isaac. So if you’ve been wondering how you can help out with that, CAN-DO would be a great organization to check out. I think having that accountability and the checks to make sure that your aid money is actually helping people is so important. Nothing is more frustrating than donating to a cause and realizing that most of your donation went just to keep the organization running and very little to actually helping people.

You can check out CAN-DO here.

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post. I posted it because I believe in the mission of CAN-DO and I wanted to spread the word.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Maria Bashir

Again, Maria Bashir is not a name I recognize immediately, but let’s take a look before I make a decision on whether I think she is influential or not.

  • She is a prosecutor in Afghanistan, focuses especially on cases of violence against women.
  • She couldn’t work under the Taliban so she took to schooling girls in her house. Illegally.
  • She has been a hard voice of dissent to the Afghan government’s practices, especially those that restrict women.
  • She has been honor with the International Women of Courage Award by the US government.
  • She has faced assassination attempts.

I definitely think she is influential for a bunch of reasons. First of all, she is giving other women in Afghanistan someone to look up to. Women in Afghanistan need many things to be empowered, but one part of the picture is having positive female role models, so that women and girls have something to aspire to. Maria is providing that. Second, she illegally taught girls during the rain of the Taliban. This makes her influential because these girls will go on to have better lives because they are educated. Those girls have been directly influenced. Third, she is helping to ensure that laws are enforced. This will directly help Afghanistan to become a better place for women and children. She has been highly influential in this area. And not that I would say this is a true way to measure influence, but she has faced multiple assassination attempts and has guards who protect her. Generally, only people who have enough power to change things face these kind of circumstances. If there weren’t people who thought she was making a difference in Afghanistan, then they wouldn’t try to kill her. So I think she is definitely influential. What are your thoughts? Do you think Maria Bashir is influential or do you disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Esther Duflo

Today is another name I don’t recognize, but I think in this series I actually find those the most fun because I get to learn about new people. So let’s dive in and take a look at Esther Duflo.

  • She’s an economist.
  • She teaches at MIT (Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics).
  • Her research looks at developing countries.
  • She has worked hard to advance using field experiments.
  • She is the director (and one of the founders) of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which seeks to reduce poverty by having science to help inform policy.
  • She often focuses on the very specific and studies it in randomized trial experiments. Examples include “If schoolkids could get their uniforms for free, would attendance go up?” and “What’s an effective way to reward mothers for immunizing their babies?”
  • Speculation has it that she will win a Nobel Prize in the future.
  • She’s met with several big shots: Bill Gates, the head of Facebook, and the head of Amazon for example.

I think she is definitely influential. She is slowly changing the way we address poverty. It may not be widespread yet, but I think the work she is doing now will be in the future. This is really revolutionary work if we want to end poverty (which most people would say we do) because her work focuses on trying to find out what actually works. If we want to end poverty, her work is going to be crucial. Her influence will come in the future, as she is really making this a popular idea. It seems like such common sense – let’s test what actually makes a difference, but yet before her, it wasn’t really happening. I think that if we ever want to end poverty we need to pay attention to the work she is doing and we need to pay attention to how she is doing it. This is world changing stuff, mark my words. And it will have all started with Esther Duflo.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List: Kate Middleton

Sorry that I disappeared for a bit guys. But I’m back – to bring you more commentary and such 🙂 Today’s person is Kate Middleton. Technically she’s on the list with her husband, Prince William, but I’m only going to look at her. I have definitely heard of her (maybe a better question is who hasn’t?) but let’s still see if we can find out anything new and interesting about her.

  • Her formal title is “Her Royal Highness Princess William, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus”
  • She would become queen if her husband becomes king.
  • Because of her, the law of succession was changed ensuring that daughters will have the same rights to the throne as sons.
  • She came from a common background, not royalty.
  • She supports the Art Room, the National Portrait Gallery, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice, Action on Addiction, and the local Scout Association in her official capacity.
  • In silly information about her, she was named ‘Hat Person of the Year’ by The Headwear Association. It’s not completely silly, though, because apparently her wearing of hats boosted the industry of people who make hats in the U.S.

Is she influential? I definitely think so. She has a huge potential to be the next queen, from which position she will have lots of influence. She also had the ability to influence a whole industry’s performance. She also got the laws changed for the better for women, in ensuring that not just girls of hers but girls in the future will be able to aspire to be the queen. And she didn’t even lobby for those, it was just how the public fell in love with her that caused the law-making body to make that change. If that isn’t influence, I don’t know what is. She is also an influence in fashion – just google Kate Middleton style or Kate Middleton fashion and you’ll find probably a million blogs with ways to copy her style. So, what do you think? Do you think Kate Middleton is influential? Leave your thoughts in the comments! 

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Dilma Rousseff

I have to admit Dilma Rousseff is another name I wasn’t super familiar with. I mean, okay, I did study politics, but ask me if I know the leader of every country in the world and the answer would be no. But I doubt you would either and if you can, gold star to you. Anyways, let’s find out about her.

  • Current president of Brazil (first woman to hold that position)
  • She’s had her hand in ousting several corrupt leaders from the Brazilian government.

Is she influential? Definitely! I think the leader of the country is always influential, but there are certain leaders that are even more influential and I think she is one of them. There are a lot of people in politics who speculate that Brazil is going to be one of the next world powers (it’s currently the 7th largest economy in the world) and I don’t doubt it – Latin America is just poised to really come onto the political scene in their own way. So I think like whether or not Brazil becomes a super power or gets put on the path to be a super power will be related to their leaders, which means it is related to her. Also, she does have a sketchy background (she was involved in an armed struggle for Marxism earlier in her life) but she shows that she hasn’t let that define her or keep her out of the political arena and also showing that people can change – as she now supports capitalism, not Marxism.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Aung San Suu Kyi

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Let’s take a look at Aung San Suu Kyi.

  • Non-violent activist in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) working for peace and democracy.
  • She has been under house arrest in the past for over 10 years (sources differ between 14 and 15 years) though she is now free.
  • She was the legitimately elected leader, but unable to lead due to the house arrest issue (and because the government in power just didn’t like her).
  • Her and her party are getting ready to run again, despite the bad outcomes for her on the last time she ran.
  • She holds a Nobel Peace Prize.

I want to add this video too since I think it does a pretty good job explaining a lot of the background to her:

I’m not going to lie when I say I think she’s influential, because I truly think she is, but I should admit upfront my bias. She has been my political hero for a long time for her unrelenting perseverance in the face of a very oppressive government. But apart from that, if not for her work and the people working with her, Myanmar/Burma would have very little chance of ever seeing freedom because it is hard and scary to stand up to a military junta and they’re not likely to just say “Oh you’re being oppressed? Sorry about that, here’s your freedom back.” Later on at some point, I will probably do a more in depth piece on her because I think she is such an important and influential figure.

I know I haven’t been including videos with this series, but I will today because I think it’s worth listening to her explain why non-violence is so important.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Kim Clijsters

I have to admit that I’ve never heard of Kim Clijsters before. And that I have no idea how to say her last name. But she’s the next woman on the list so let’s take a look at her.

  • She was a professional tennis player from Belgium who left to start a family.
  • After the birth of her daughter, she decided to go back to tennis.
  • She won two US open titles since her return, becoming the first mother since 1980 to win such a major title.
  • She won 41 Women’s Tennis Association titles and 4 Grand Slam titles (both singles).
  • She often volunteers to help out with charities.
  • She has received the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award not once but seven times.

I’m not sure about how much influence she has, but I think she should have more. She seems like she would be a really good role model for little girls to look up to. She’s a good sport, she gives back, she balances work and family – all great things that we need more of in our media.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Angela Merkel

Now here is someone who I think definitely deserves to be named most influential. Angela Merkel has a lot of power, especially in Europe, so let’s find out a little bit more about her.

Angela Merkel:

  • Current (and first female) Chancellor of Germany
  • Was President of the European Council
  • Played an important role in negotiations of the Berlin Declaration and the Treaty of Lisbon
  • Second woman to chair the G8
  • Named 4th Most Powerful Person in the World and the Most Powerful Woman in the World by Forbes
  • Received the Vision for Europe Award
  • Received the Charlemagne Prize
  • Received the  B’nai B’rith Europe Award of Merit
  • Received the Leo Baeck Medal
  • Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • First person from what was East Germany to lead the country

Influential? Definitely! She is all over the political scene in Europe and with Germany being such a big economy in Europe, her actions and decisions will have a huge effect on how the Eurozone fairs, for better or for worse.

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Forced Abortions

I wish I could say that sex selection abortions didn’t happen. I really wish I could. Because most of the time, when an abortion is the choice to be made, it’s because the baby is a girl. It happens in places like India and China. Especially  China, where population police control the number of children you are allowed to have. Why is the rest of the world so slow to say something about it? It is girls that are being effected, more than anything, because of the high cultural preference for a boy.

I can not imagine what these mothers go through, how terrified they must be, knowing that if they get pregnant again or even if they get pregnant the first time and it’s a girl, someone might force them to have an abortion or pay an amount of money they can’t afford just to keep the child.

This is a truly sad situation that needs to be stopped. Girls are dying merely because they are girls. Watch this video about one mother in China and her daughters.

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Rape in India

Rape is something that is treated pretty poorly in a lot of countries. It’s something that is looked down on with shame in many cultures.

Today I want to take a look at rape in India. According to at least one source, India is on it’s way to becoming the rape capital of the world. I warn you that’s what up ahead is not pretty or anything like that. I’m not a fan of skipping things because they’re hard to read, but I want you to be forewarned what’s coming up.

In almost every place in the world rape goes underreported. It seems to be particularly bad in India (though at this time, I don’t have comparisons, but if I run across them, I will compare them), estimates for India are that only 1 in 69  are actually reported and that a woman is raped every hour in India.That means the number of rapes in India are much, much worse. On top of that, of the reported cases, only 20 percent of them actually get convictions. It’s sad because it means so many women are going without justice.

And it seems that little can be done. Women get pulled into cars and gang raped in the cars for 2 or 3 hours. Isn’t that horrible? It seems awful and terrifying to me. One woman was gang raped and then lit on fire.

Equally awful is that incest rape is on the rise and many experts feel these are actually the kind of rapes that happen most often in India, but like others, are underreported. Child rapes are on the rise too, as one in four of the reported rapes are girls less than 16 years old. Though these, like all others, are underreported.

Delhi is particularly bad – so much so that it is coming to be known as the Rape Capital of India, because one quarter of all rapes in India occur there. The statistics work out to a woman being raped every 18 hours in Delhi alone. Apparently, women who migrate from the north-east are raped more and more often in Delhi as well because of underlying discrimination against them. They even tried to get these women to abide by a dress code to “prevent” these rapes.

And often times, rape damages a woman for good socially. There is so much stigma surrounding it in India that a woman often can’t get married after being raped. In fact, one person convicted of rape even used this as a reason to propose before his sentencing, hoping if she accepted her would get a lighter sentence. How twisted is that?

Other attitudes effect victims. There are often very strict ideas surrounding sex and privacy (the idea that this is a family issue and it shouldn’t go beyond that). If you get justice in court, you are often outcast from your family and society. There is also this idea that a woman shouldn’t work outside the home and that when women do this, it “makes” them a target.

Unfortunately, it seems that certain people get a free pass. After a woman said she was raped by soldiers in the army, a protest formed calling for their arrests (which didn’t happen – the government blamed it on the side they were fighting, it happened in the Kashmir area). In a separate situation, one woman committed suicide after no one took action when she was raped at a police station.

And the system is not well equipped to handle it either. The victim has to prove they were penetrated, which can be a hard thing to do. They used to do a “finger test” to see if a woman had been raped. I don’t want to get into the graphic details, but it’s traumatizing and unnecessary. Fortunately, they’re getting rid of this. They’re also getting rid of labeling what a person is wearing as attractive or not, instead choosing that they should only note whether it’s torn or not. The system tries to gather evidence, which is good, but they often forget there’s a person who has just been traumatized. They also recently cut funding meant for victims. The defense will often try to attack the victim as well. Like many places, their laws are good, but they’re not really executed well. However, they have made an effort to come down harder on child rapes.

But there are people working on it. For instance, a charity is releasing an app that sends a text message to five people, including the police, with your location, so that hopefully someone can come and stop it.

For more info, this book might be helpful

I hope you learned something interesting. I know it’s sad, but the discussion needs to be had.

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