WBEZ | women http://www.wbez.org/tags/women Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Taxi Gives Men a Sense of What it Feels Like to Travel as a Woman http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2016-01-21/taxi-gives-men-sense-what-it-feels-travel-woman-114548 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/taxifabric_leadimage.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><p>In India, segregation of the sexes is a very real thing. Sure, men and women mingle, but we&rsquo;re singled out in the strangest of places. For instance, in malls, hotels&nbsp;and airports, women go through separate lines for security checks, which are specifically conducted by female staff.</p></div><p>In post offices and train stations there are separate &ldquo;ladies&rdquo; queues for stamps and tickets. And on every bus, metro and local train, there are separate sections for women. In fact, we not only have women&rsquo;s seats, but also entire compartments: In Mumbai, there&rsquo;s an entire train, the &ldquo;Ladies Special,&rdquo; only for women.</p><div><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/IMG_20151223_145716.jpg?itok=M8gMvIFp" style="height: 551px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="&quot;Ladies' Only&quot; seats on a Mumbai bus. (Chhavi Sachdev)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>It can seem nice, but women quickly realize what happens when they leave the gilded cage. One morning I jumped into the &ldquo;general&rdquo; compartment of a train &mdash; a place where women typically don&rsquo;t travel unless they are with a male companion. But the train was just about to depart, and that compartment door was closest to me.</p></div></div><p>I figured everything was going to be fine; everything was fine for the first few stops. As the train got crowded, though, I realized I had three men pressed up against me, all avoiding eye contact, all making me uncomfortable. I finally jumped off at a station and ran the length of the platform to the safety of the ladies&rsquo; compartment. It was humiliating as well as infuriating. I travel only in the ladies&rsquo; compartment now, or in a taxi.</p><p>&ldquo;When a woman travels through a public space in India, and a man travels in a public space, it&rsquo;s a completely different experience,&rdquo; says multimedia artist Roshnee Desai.</p><p>&ldquo;A woman travels with sets of rules they are conditioned to follow: Make sure cleavage isn&rsquo;t showing, your legs are covered, no one is staring, no one is trying to brush past you.&rdquo; She points out that women often carry a bag in front of their breasts like armor, protection against the groping from an anonymous hand in a crowded bus.</p><p>But Desai&nbsp;is determined to put the shoe on the other foot. She&nbsp;has&nbsp;her chance as one of 20 artists who have created upholstery for a moving art installation collective called Taxi Fabric.</p><p>A taxi with rules for men</p><p>Mumbai&rsquo;s taxis are always a treat. They&rsquo;re cheap, of course, and they&rsquo;re always colorful. The décor is generally a one-off, chosen by the driver and it&rsquo;s sometimes lovely &mdash; with abstract geometric designs in muted colors &mdash; and sometimes garish.</p><p>Desai&rsquo;s fabric has rules called Only For Men. Along with a little, mustachioed man, there is a line of text in Hindi: Be home at 7 p.m.; don&rsquo;t sit with your legs apart; don&rsquo;t look at unknown women; don&rsquo;t use curse words; cover your body with your bag; don&rsquo;t let your undershirt show.</p><p>This last one cracks me up. Desai is quick to explain: &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re in a public space, if you&rsquo;re in a train &mdash; invariably there will be a random woman who will say, &lsquo;Excuse me madam, your bra strap is showing.&rsquo; And this is the protocol: You have to say, &lsquo;Thank you ma&rsquo;am, thank you so much. You are the savior of my dignity and without you I would have been shamed.&rsquo; And that to me has been so annoying, because men have three buttons open, they&rsquo;re showing their chest hair and undershirt.&rdquo;</p><p>The conversation I had with Ramji Pal, the driver of Desai&rsquo;s &ldquo;Only For Men&rdquo; taxi was rather interesting. He seems quite proud of his unique interiors.</p><p>&ldquo;I like having this taxi fabric,&rdquo; he told me. &ldquo;When people sit in the taxi, it always gets a conversation going.&nbsp;They ask me about it. It&rsquo;s not a joke.&nbsp;They realize it&rsquo;s a serious thing.&rdquo;</p><p>Ramji plies his cab from 8:30 in the morning to about 8 at night. Every day, he carries&nbsp;anywhere between 30 and 100 passengers.</p><div><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/IMG_20151218_113501.jpg?itok=rg_j7yc_" style="height: 888px; width: 500px;" title="Driver Ramji Pal in his &quot;Only for Men&quot; taxi. (Chhavi Sachdev)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><p>As I get into his taxi with my headphones on and mic pointed at him, we attract a small crowd of security guards, drivers&nbsp;and even the clothes ironing man. It becomes clear that along with the men who&rsquo;ve joined us, Pal takes these rules inscribed on his taxi quite literally.</p></div></div><p>I ask them: &ldquo;It says here that men shouldn&rsquo;t sit in the front seat.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Ah, because they put their feet on the dashboard. Or they sit with their feet on the seat,&rdquo; one man explains.</p><p>&ldquo;Think about women,&rdquo; I say. &ldquo;Do they ever sit in the front seat with the driver?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;No. If she is with a driver, she sits in the back. Women should only sit in the front if they are with their husband. This is the rule,&rdquo; the driver says.</p><p>&ldquo;But it isn&rsquo;t written anywhere, is it?&rdquo; I ask.</p><p>&ldquo;It isn&rsquo;t written anywhere, but it&rsquo;s like that,&rdquo; says another male passenger.</p><p>&ldquo;What about the rule that says boys should be home by 7 p.m.?&rdquo; I ask. This makes them laugh. &ldquo;Who gets told this?&rdquo; I press on.</p><p>They don&rsquo;t answer. Men don&rsquo;t face curfews here &mdash; but women regularly do.</p><p>The whole time I have this feeling that they&rsquo;re on the verge of understanding the dichotomy, the double standard &mdash; and then at the last minute, they drop the ball.</p><p>The driver declares: &ldquo;Both men and women have rights, but they have to exercise them within limits.&rdquo;</p><p>Artistic irony and playfulness also seem to have their limits for the working-class men clustered around the taxi. First of all, these guys do not travel by taxi, and second, to them it&rsquo;s only natural that women follow different sets of rules. The tongue-in-cheek nature of this art seems lost on them.</p><p>But designer Roshnee Desai says she&rsquo;s found the response to her artwork fantastic. People tell her it made them stop to think. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s funny, but it&rsquo;s not a joke,&rdquo; they tell her.</p><p>&ldquo;Where a man has to follow the rules, even to a woman this looks really ridiculous. It makes you chuckle,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It is starting conversations, and I think a taxi is a great place for a conversation to happen.&rdquo;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-01-15/taxi-gives-men-sense-what-it-feels-travel-woman-india" target="_blank"><em>via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></p> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 10:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2016-01-21/taxi-gives-men-sense-what-it-feels-travel-woman-114548 Some Muslim Women are Taking Self-Defense into Their Own Hands http://www.wbez.org/news/some-muslim-women-are-taking-self-defense-their-own-hands-114231 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/mw14-8f0266a78194ce1c2965f59150ec37e576885748-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res460324354" previewtitle="About two-dozen Muslim women attended a recent self-defense class in New York City."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="About two-dozen Muslim women attended a recent self-defense class in New York City." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/mw14-8f0266a78194ce1c2965f59150ec37e576885748-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="About two-dozen Muslim women attended a recent self-defense class in New York City. (Courtesy of Mariana Aguilera)" /></div><div><div><p>It&#39;s not an easy time to be Muslim in the U.S. Attacks on mosques are at a record high,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cair.com/press-center/press-releases/13313-mosques-targeted.html">according to the country&#39;s largest Muslim advocacy group</a>. Women wearing hijabs, or headscarves, are often singled out for harassment.</p></div></div></div><p>That has galvanized some to take their protection into their own hands.</p><p>On a recent day, some two-dozen Muslim women &mdash; nearly all of them wearing hijabs &mdash; have crowded into a studio in Midtown Manhattan. They are sparring with instructor Nicole Daniels.</p><p>One of the women smacking Daniels&#39; glove is Amirah Aulaqi. She and friend Mariana Aguilera, who is also Muslim, decided to create the class after the attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino, Calif. They&#39;re concerned by the antagonism they see directed against Muslims.</p><p>&quot;We want you guys to leave this class and not feel like victims, because you&#39;re not victims,&quot; Aulaqi tells the class.</p><p>There were no men allowed in the class &mdash; and only Aguilera, one of the organizers, had a camera.</p><p>Aulaqi and Aguilera created the class for observant Muslim women. That population is particularly at risk, because their hijabs can make them stand out. There have been incidents of verbal abuse &mdash; in some cases, people have yanked at women&#39;s headscarves.</p><p>&quot;We want you to go out and say, &#39;I&#39;m a Muslim woman and nobody has the right to take my dignity or freedom within this country,&#39; &quot; Aulaqi says.</p><p>The class sold out in an hour. It drew women not just from New York City, but New Jersey and Connecticut as well.</p><p>The only students who were willing to be interviewed are longtime New Yorkers with careers.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;d never thought I&#39;d actually see myself in a self-defense course,&quot; says Fatiha Ahmed, who was born in Queens, N.Y., to Bangladeshi parents. She is a teacher and attended the class with her three sisters and two sisters-in-law.</p><p>She signed up because she has been feeling uncomfortable wearing the hijab on the subway. People looked at her before, but she says it feels different now.</p><p>&quot;Usually it&#39;s curiosity. But now it&#39;s a more hateful stare. And it&#39;s not a good feeling,&quot; Ahmed says.</p><p>She is particularly concerned about her sisters-in-law, who came to the U.S. from Bangladesh in the past few years.</p><p>&quot;They are very timid,&quot; she says. &quot;They&#39;ve had experiences where people have said hateful things toward them. They ran away, they ran home, they didn&#39;t want to go to work for a few days.&quot;</p><p><strong>RELATED:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-15/being-muslim-america-today-114168" target="_blank">Being Muslim in America Today</a></strong></p><p>Both of Ahmed&#39;s sisters-in-law declined to speak with NPR.</p><p>Her older sister, Sabji Ahmed, is a nurse and a classic New Yorker.</p><p>&quot;When I walk around, I don&#39;t put my head down to be the victim,&quot; she says. &quot;And if I see a couple of guys, I make sure I give them the look and say, &#39;Yes, I know you&#39;re standing there.&#39; &quot;</p><p>Sabji Ahmed says she attended the class to see if there were self-defense techniques, and not just attitude, that she could teach her three teenage daughters.</p><p>&quot;It was more for them. They couldn&#39;t make it today for other reasons,&quot; she says.</p><p>Nadia Alemare was born and raised in New York and is a single mom to an 11-year-old boy. She says she hasn&#39;t encountered much harassment, but her son has, coming home from school.</p><p>&quot;He was like, &#39;Mom, I had these kids chase me down and they kept saying I&#39;m a terrorist, go back to your country.&#39; And I was very scared for him,&quot; she says.</p><p>What concerns Alemare most is how the incident crystallized for her son that people can identify his ethnicity and that it makes him vulnerable.</p><p>&quot;He was like, &#39;Mom, do I look Arab?&#39; For him to even feel inferior just because of the way he looks, that in itself kind of bothered me,&quot; she says.</p><p>Alemare says she is going to tell her son what she learned in this all-female class. The organizers are planning to make it a regular event. It&#39;s not just about preparing the students to deal with physical attacks. It&#39;s also a way to make them feel supported at a time when it can be challenging to be an observant Muslim.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/18/460307169/some-muslim-women-are-taking-self-defense-into-their-own-hands?ft=nprml&amp;f=460307169" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Sun, 20 Dec 2015 21:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/some-muslim-women-are-taking-self-defense-their-own-hands-114231 After Historic Elections in Saudi Arabia, What's the Future for Women? http://www.wbez.org/news/after-historic-elections-saudi-arabia-whats-future-women-114230 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ap_603279723628_custom-9103137ed0c5e46bef8f9209302cc964c690ddc3-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="storytext"><div id="res459492391"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Saudi women vote at a polling center during municipal elections, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Saudi women are heading to polling stations across the kingdom, both as voters and candidates, for the first time in this landmark election." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/12/ap_603279723628_custom-9103137ed0c5e46bef8f9209302cc964c690ddc3-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 435px; width: 620px;" title="Saudi women vote at a polling center during municipal elections, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Saudi women are heading to polling stations across the kingdom, both as voters and candidates, for the first time in this landmark election. (Aya Batrawy/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>In municipal council races in Saudi Arabia a week ago,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/12/14/459683623/saudi-women-elections-are-one-step-forward-on-a-long-road">21 female candidates were elected to office</a>. In the country&#39;s third-ever elections, the monarchy gave women the right to vote, as well as to seek election to office.</p></div></div></div><p>Nearly 1,000 women ran throughout the country, but while there were 1.36 million men registered to vote, according to the&nbsp;Wall Street Journal, only 130,000 women could vote.</p><p>NPR&#39;s Rachel Martin and Marisa Peñaloza traveled to Saudi Arabia ahead of the election to find out how women were reacting to their new rights and how they&#39;ve been living.</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong>One candidate&#39;s view</strong></p><div id="res459492972"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Haifa Alhababi, architect and candidate in the election." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/12/haifa-edit_custom-0f037749a7696972299693be29386386795b708b-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Haifa Alhababi, architect and candidate in the election. (Mohammed Al-Khawajah for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Haifa Alhababi is an architect and university teacher. She also was one of the women vying for a spot on one of the municipal councils.</p></div></div></div><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;First of all, I was curious to know what&#39;s happening.</em></p><p><em>&quot;Like, I went to the balloting workshop ... if it&#39;s like, really beneficial or if it&#39;s like, because I have this idea from living abroad that this is about, this is a major step, and who runs here?</em></p><p><em>&quot;But for myself I don&#39;t want to be, like, a politician &mdash; I&#39;m not a politician, I&#39;m an architect. So I wanted just to be sure. Is it work like outside, or its something different here? So thank God that I went to this workshop and I realized that it&#39;s more about local issues that we really face.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>Alhababi, who had studied abroad in the U.K. and who also had lived in Texas for some time, said the country&#39;s standing in the world is not where some would like to hope.</p><p>&quot;I always said that they call us &#39;developing country&#39; because we have the oil &mdash; but we are not a developing country, we are still a third-world country,&quot; she said. &quot;So to deal with this mentality, to deal with these people, to deal with this system here, you need to work on the ground, not just to lecture and say words and that&#39;s it.&quot;</p><p>Alhababi is optimistic about her generation&#39;s future.</p><p>&quot;I believe that we&#39;re gonna create change,&quot; she says. &quot;When you experience, try something, live it, you understand. So you want to apply it to your country. No one hates their country &mdash; when you come back and live, that means you love your country, so you want to make it better.</p><p>&quot;What&#39;s happening now, for me, it&#39;s not about male and female, it&#39;s about the changing conception of people &mdash; that they try to understand that they should participate in their community. They should understand that, without your participation, the country won&#39;t go any further.&quot;</p><p><strong>What else do Saudi Arabian women need?</strong></p><p><strong><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/459491653/460353506" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></strong></p><div id="res459492442"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Aziza Youssef." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/12/azizayousef-marisa_custom-984f572371b66892acbb8e75f28907097d959dc8-s200-c85.jpg" style="height: 226px; width: 210px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Aziza Youssef. (Marisa Penaloza/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Some women, like Aziza Youssef, don&#39;t see how the election connects to their daily lives.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;I&#39;m boycotting the election,&quot; she says. &quot;In my point of view, it&#39;s putting backward the women movement for rights. ... This election is just &mdash; it&#39;s for the West, it&#39;s not for us. ... It&#39;s good for our picture in the West.&quot;</p><p>Youssef, a former university lecturer now operating a full-time catering business, says she&#39;s made a name for herself by helping push the Saudi government&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/05/11/405885958/saudi-women-cant-drive-to-work-so-theyre-flocking-to-the-internet">to remove its ban against women driving</a>. Youssef says while people in the West may think letting women vote is great for women, it&#39;s exactly what the Saudi regime wants the world to think.</p><p>Her daughter, Sarah Alkhalidi, agrees that the elections won&#39;t mean much.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s like giving me a cashmere sweater when I need a place to sleep &mdash; that&#39;s the analogy I&#39;m using,&quot; she says.</p><p>The thirtysomething mother of three says she wants more control of her daily life.</p><p>&quot;I can&#39;t open a bank account for my children that takes money out of my paycheck and, like, for a savings account for them. I can&#39;t do that &mdash; their dad has to do that,&quot; Alkhalidi says. &quot;So it&#39;s like the whole guardianship issue. ... Even if my guardian tries to renew my passport, I can&#39;t pick it up. He has to pick it up for me. So I feel like these issues are more significant and more &mdash; like they have more influence on my daily life.&quot;</p><p>Guardianship rules dictate how women move around in Saudi society. They move with the permission of men &mdash; either a father, a brother, a husband or a son. Men also act as so-called guardians who oversee women&#39;s choices and escort them in public places.</p><p><strong>Security in Saudi Arabia, and its effect on calling for social change</strong></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/459491653/460354793" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></p><div id="res459495939"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Hala al-Dosari, a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University from Saudi Arabia, poses for a portrait in her living room on Dec. 2, at her apartment in Baltimore." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/12/hala-al-dosari-jtsuboike-0013-edit_custom-e247a229efab71633ee1fbf38757ac4d213b0155-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Hala al-Dosari, a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University from Saudi Arabia, poses for a portrait in her living room on Dec. 2, at her apartment in Baltimore. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>The recent aggressive response to would-be terrorists in the country has also meant a crackdown on anyone who seems to be speaking out in a way that threatens the regime. That means human rights activists, including Hala al Dosari.</p></div></div></div><p>For the past year al Dosari has been in the United States for a fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She also writes about women&#39;s issues for Saudi websites and international media, and as a result has been stigmatized at home as someone who wants to import Western values into Saudi culture.</p><p>She&#39;s supposed to go back home at the end of her fellowship, but she&#39;s afraid.</p><p>&quot;I listen to other activists being summoned for interrogation, and being threatened and being warned and being silenced &mdash; and I don&#39;t want to end up like that,&quot; she says. &quot;So I do feel intimidated. I do feel threatened.&quot;</p><p>She misses her family &mdash; her nieces and nephews especially. But she thinks she can effect more social change in Saudi Arabia from the outside, so she doesn&#39;t know when she&#39;ll go back.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t think of it as a price, or as a cost,&quot; she says. &quot;I think it&#39;s whether you want to live aligned with what you believe in. I believe it&#39;s a duty, that everyone should do their part. And I don&#39;t think I&#39;ve paid the price of ... men and women who have been imprisoned &mdash; and still imprisoned for years, for ten years or so &mdash; for stating their opinions.</p><p>&quot;And I&#39;m safe. I&#39;m able to voice my concerns, I live in autonomy, I&#39;m protected.&quot;</p><p><strong>A quiet campaign</strong></p><p>While followers of American elections are familiar with lengthy primary and general elections, the Saudi candidates are under tight restrictions.</p><p>They spoke to NPR reporters only on condition that the material could not be published before election day on Dec. 12. The gag order affects both female and male candidates, but candidates spoke to NPR anyway.</p><p>At one event we attended, we were told we could not record the candidates&#39; statements. Government minders often watch over the candidates at their events.</p><p>Candidates also can&#39;t provide promotional materials that show their face, though some have found ways around that.</p><p><strong>The glass wall</strong></p><p><strong><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/459491653/460354835" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></strong></p><div id="res459567033"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="May Saja (left), general manager of merchandising at Harvey Nichols, who says that the election was &quot;just the beginning,&quot; but also that &quot;it's not easy to change the mindset of a whole country.&quot; On the right: one of the private makeup rooms Princess Reema put into the store to make female customers more comfortable." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/13/maysaja-mall_custom-aa9d0f147ae905aea35033177455d4633afa99ba-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 395px; width: 620px;" title="May Saja, left, general manager of merchandising at Harvey Nichols, who says that the election was &quot;just the beginning,&quot; but also that &quot;it's not easy to change the mindset of a whole country.&quot; On the right: one of the private makeup rooms Princess Reema put into the store to make female customers more comfortable. (Rachel Martin/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>On the trip, Martin and Peñaloza met with a member of the Saudi royal family. Princess Princess Reema Bint Bandar al-Saud, who until recently was the CEO of department store Harvey Nichols in Riyadh, walked us around a store and talked about the efforts for equality.</p></div></div></div><p>All the big names are here in Riyadh: Chanel, Dior, La Mer. And working behind the counters were women all dressed in the same long black robes, called abayas. Some wore thin veils over their faces, but most just had a loose scarf around their head.</p><p>During the visit, Princess Reema pointed out a glass-encased office where the female employees sat.</p><p>&quot;I guess the glass ceiling is in the West ... for us, it&#39;s the glass wall,&quot; she says. &quot;She can&#39;t stand up, but you can see her &mdash; and it&#39;s important for me to make sure that the men see and recognize that that woman is their equal. But out of respect for our community and our culture, she&#39;s in her private space.&quot;</p><p>Six years ago, Princess Reema decided that the way to get more women into her stores was to make them more comfortable &mdash; and that meant hiring women to sell things to them.</p><p>&quot;It was difficult when we first hired the ladies, because [the male employees] weren&#39;t sure how to react to them,&quot; she says. &quot;They weren&#39;t sure how to get in an elevator with them; they weren&#39;t sure, &#39;is it okay to say good morning, or do we ignore her?&#39; But once she&#39;s your colleague, you&#39;ve got to kind of talk to this girl. And we just kept moving the girls up to more senior positions.&quot;</p><p>NPR&#39;s Rachel Martin had some parting thoughts as she and the team departed Saudi Arabia. You can watch her clip below.</p><div id="res459561209"><div id="fb-root"><strong>&#39;A Good Moment&#39;</strong></div></div><div id="res460397769"><div><div><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/459491653/460413760" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></p><img alt="Hatoon al-Fassi, speaking at a women's forum in Riyadh a week before the election." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/19/fullsizerender1_custom-22a20adb135ef1a2dc7da216c1bd6a554ecbb931-s200-c85.jpg" style="height: 391px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Hatoon al-Fassi, speaking at a women's forum in Riyadh a week before the election. (Deborah Amos/NPR)" /><p>After returning to the U.S., Martin spoke with Hatoon al-Fassi, a professor of women&#39;s studies at King Saud University in Riyadh. Fassi happened to be in Washington, D.C., and Martin asked her to reflect on the significance of the Saudi elections.</p></div></div></div><p>Despite the continued obstacles in campaigning, and even registering to campaign, Fassi says the results of the municipal elections offer reason for optimism.</p><p>&quot;Now you have women who are in the public eye for the first time, where they have to deal with real issues of their community,&quot; Fassi says. &quot;I believe that these local positions are very important. Women could change many discriminatory rules that deals with women&#39;s financial status, women&#39;s health, women&#39;s well-being.&quot;</p><p>And even if it&#39;s a small victory, Fassi says, it&#39;s a crucial one &mdash; and one that should be savored.</p><p>&quot;This is a good moment of reflecting on the victories. And it gives me hope that change can happen in my lifetime.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/19/459491653/after-historic-elections-in-saudi-arabia-whats-the-future-for-women?ft=nprml&amp;f=459491653"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sun, 20 Dec 2015 19:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-historic-elections-saudi-arabia-whats-future-women-114230 How Maasai Women in Kenya are Helping to Make Your Cosmetics http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-12-17/how-maasai-women-kenya-are-helping-make-your-cosmetics-114214 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/15446551817_936259a48b_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/aloecutting_169.jpg?itok=znAWry5x" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Priscilla Lekootoot shows how she harvests leaves from the aloe secundiflora plants at Twala Cultural Manyatta. (PRI/Anne Bailey)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><p>It&rsquo;s a day-long drive from Kenya&#39;s capital&nbsp;Nairobi to Twala in Laikipia County. The last 50 miles is along a dusty road, and then you arrive at the farm of the Twala Cultural Manyatta. It&rsquo;s oasis-like, and the moment you enter the gate, the fresh smell of greenery strikes a contrast with the aridity&nbsp;you leave behind.</p></div><div><article about="/stories/2015-12-16/how-maasai-women-kenya-are-helping-make-your-cosmetics" typeof="sioc:Item foaf:Document"><p dir="ltr">Even more striking for me are the two dozen Maasai women lined up in front of the mud wall of their compound, bedecked in brightly colored beaded jewelry. The second my car door opens, they break into song.</p><div><img alt="Maasai women tend to 40 acres of aloe at the Twala Cultural Manyatta." src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/_MG_3068.jpg?itok=UAk1p_y1" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Maasai women tend to 40 acres of aloe at the Twala Cultural Manyatta." typeof="foaf:Image" /></div></article></div><p>I had inquired how much press they&rsquo;ve received. &ldquo;Not much,&rdquo; was the answer from Joseph Lentunyoi, the agronomist from the&nbsp;<a href="http://permaculturenews.org/2013/01/24/laikipia-permaculture-centre-a-new-centre-for-kenya/" target="_blank">Laikipia Permaculture Project</a>. He&#39;s&nbsp;crucial in many ways to the success of the women in Twala.</p><p dir="ltr">Publicity or not, they are eager to talk about what they have done at the Twala Cultural Manyatta. In four years, the 140 women have turned an overworked scrap of land &mdash; 40 acres actually, a not-altogether-inappropriate echo of the false promise of property to freed slaves after the Civil War &mdash; into a model of sustainable agriculture.</p><p dir="ltr">After all, stats indicate that women own barely one percent of the land in Kenya, even though they haul the firewood, till the fields, fetch the water, raise the children, and more.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><div><img alt="Agronimist Joseph Lentunyoi has been working with local women's groups in Laikipia to grow and sell aloe to LUSH cosmetics." src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/joseph2.jpg?itok=abzDeWvH" style="height: 380px; width: 620px;" title="Agronimist Joseph Lentunyoi has been working with local women's groups in Laikipia to grow and sell aloe to LUSH cosmetics in England for the past two years. (PRI/Anne Bailey)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>But here more than 15 years ago, the women organized themselves into the Twala Cultural Manyatta (&ldquo;manyatta&rdquo; means &ldquo;settlement&rdquo; or &ldquo;compound&rdquo; in Maasai), and they pressured their husbands and men in their village to give them some land. They got that scrappy, arid 40 acres. And they got to work. They say their husbands like what they&rsquo;re seeing.</p></div></div><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s because women like Florence Larpei and Priscilla Lekootoot are making money growing aloe, and selling the leaves to the British cosmetics company Lush.</p><p><a href="http://www.lushusa.com/Melting-Pot/article_melting-pot,en_US,pg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/thumbnail/public/charity%20pot.jpg?itok=jQ3TRAgv" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="SUPPORT THE TWALA WOMEN: Part of the proceeds from every Charity Pot go to Lush's &quot;sLush fund.&quot; The Maasai women have used this money to invest in fencing to protect the aloe from being trampled on by wild elephants and camels." typeof="foaf:Image" /></a></p><p dir="ltr">They&rsquo;re also harvesting honey.&nbsp;And growing food. And raising goats&nbsp; It&rsquo;s a sustainable ecosystem.</p><p dir="ltr">More specifically it&rsquo;s permaculture.&nbsp;&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a human system, a people system,&rdquo; explains Letunyoi. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about soils, the environment and fair share. How do we take care of ourselves?&nbsp;How do we get our food? And make sure that our soils are not degraded. We don&rsquo;t use chemical fertilizers. We have to look at alternative livelihoods for all locals. We have to take care of the culture.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/story/images/169lead_lush.jpg?itok=Px53i0_A" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="More than 140 Maasai women harvest aloe secundiflora leaves at the Twala Cultural Manyatta in Laikipia to export to LUSH cosmetics.(PRI/Anne Bailey)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><div><p>I really got along with Letunyoi.&nbsp;He reminded me of a Senegalese farmer I met in Togo, where&nbsp;I was a Peace Corps volunteer, who believed in this kind of farming system &mdash;&nbsp;only at the time, it didn&rsquo;t have the name &ldquo;permaculture.&rdquo;</p></div></div><p dir="ltr">When Letunyoi helped create his project about two years ago, he says it was not easy to preach the gospel of permaculture to the Maasai. They&rsquo;re pastoralists &mdash; herding cattle and goats and sheep &mdash; and not really prone to growing crops.</p><p dir="ltr">But among the Maasai, he says,&nbsp;&ldquo;The women&rsquo;s groups are easy to work with because they&rsquo;re already organized,&rdquo; he points out. &ldquo;They are ambitious and they are patient.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Aloe <em>secundiflora</em><em>&nbsp;</em>leaves were already known to the Maasai as a cure to wounds, for deworming animals and people, and as the source of a local wine. All the womens&rsquo; groups needed, says Letunyoi,&nbsp;was a little nudge.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The aloe was already growing all over and they know about it, so when we brought the idea of soap-making, selling leaves to whatever companies and other places, they clicked very fast and they said, &lsquo;Yeah, this is exactly what we wanted &mdash; an alternative to pastoralism.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><div><img alt="Some of the Maasai women working at Twala Cultural Manyatta" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/_MG_3133.jpg?itok=HoHtlwO-" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Some of the Maasai women working at Twala Cultural Manyatta. (PRI/Anne Bailey)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>When Lekootoot showed me around the Twala aloe field, she did so with the reverence of someone who unlocked the gate to a personal Eden. After all, this field of aloe is bringing the Twala women more than $3000 each year. That&rsquo;s more than double the per capita GDP in Kenya.</p></div></div><p dir="ltr">The Twala women are focused, they&rsquo;ve got a vision that includes bee-keeping, growing food for themselves, selling aloe to Lush and making money.&nbsp;And they have managed to maintain their cultural connections to pastoralism.</p><p dir="ltr">It shows what can happen when you&rsquo;re organized, and then you get a little boost from the outside.</p><p dir="ltr">&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-12-16/how-maasai-women-kenya-are-helping-make-your-cosmetics" target="_blank"><em> via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></p> Thu, 17 Dec 2015 16:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-12-17/how-maasai-women-kenya-are-helping-make-your-cosmetics-114214 How Does Your Life Stack Up Against a Kenyan Woman's? http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-12-17/how-does-your-life-stack-against-kenyan-womans-114193 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.wbez.org/" alt="" /><p><header><div><figure><div id="file-94871"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/kenya-quiz-lead.jpg?itok=6hYmqs1D" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="(PRI/Faye Orlove)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div>&nbsp;</div></div></figure></div></header><aside><aside><div id="dfp-ad-pri_ros_atf_300x600-wrapper"><div id="dfp-ad-pri_ros_atf_300x600"><div id="google_ads_iframe_/1009951/PRI_STORY_ATF_0__container__">The Across Women&#39;s Lives team is currently on the ground in Kenya reporting&nbsp;stories about women and entrepreneurship&nbsp;for a special series we&#39;re calling&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pri.org/series/owning-it">#OwningIt</a>.</div></div></div></aside></aside><div><article about="/stories/2015-12-14/how-does-your-life-stack-against-kenyan-womans" typeof="sioc:Item foaf:Document"><p>You might already know that Kenya trains the world&#39;s top distance runners, produces some of the most sought-after coffees, and is home to several of Africa&#39;s most popular wildlife parks and safari destinations.&nbsp;</p><p>But did&nbsp;you know that Kenya is expected to be the world&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-25/the-20-fastest-growing-economies-this-year" target="_blank">third fastest growing economy</a>&nbsp;in 2015, after China and the Philippines?&nbsp;Or that its capital, Nairobi, has become Africa&#39;s &#39;Silicon Valley,&#39; attracting regional tech start-ups, venture capital firms and international tech giants?</p><p>What about Kenyan women? How&nbsp;much do you really know about them beyond what you&#39;ve seen in the news? Time to test your knowledge! Check out our&nbsp;interactive quiz below to see how your home country stacks up against Kenya and its women.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="left" frameborder="0" height="10450" scrolling="no" src="http://admin.pri.org/sites/default/files/kenya-quiz-2.html" style="width: 620px;" width="620"></iframe></div></article></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 14 Dec 2015 10:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-12-17/how-does-your-life-stack-against-kenyan-womans-114193 More Women Are Freezing Their Eggs, But Will They Ever Use Them? http://www.wbez.org/news/more-women-are-freezing-their-eggs-will-they-ever-use-them-113918 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/npr_fertility.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457110565" previewtitle="Maria Fabrizio for NPR"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Maria Fabrizio for NPR" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/23/npr_fertilitywindow_wide-358896666ed2e510442e1294f05133a865dd5d59-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="(Maria Fabrizio/NPR)" /></div><div><div>If egg freezing once sounded like science fiction, those days are over. Women now hear about it from their friends, their doctors and informational events like Wine and Freeze.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="https://www.shadygrovefertility.com/">Shady Grove Fertility Center</a>&nbsp;in the Washington, D.C., area hosts Wine and Freeze nights for prospective patients every few months. Fifteen or so women in their 30s gathered at one recently over wine, brownies and sticky buns. A doctor explained the procedure, the costs and the odds of frozen eggs resulting in a baby &mdash; which decline as a woman ages.</div></div></div><p>Egg freezing for medical reasons &mdash; often women undergoing chemotherapy &mdash; has been possible for decades. Some 5,000 babies have been born from eggs that were frozen, thawed and fertilized.</p><p>In 2012, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine decided egg freezing was no longer an experimental procedure. That opened the door for clinics like Shady Grove to market it to women who don&#39;t have a medical reason to do it but are simply worried about their declining fertility &mdash; what&#39;s being dubbed as &quot;social&quot; egg freezing.</p><p>The &quot;social&quot; egg freezing business these days is good, says Shady Grove medical director&nbsp;<a href="https://www.shadygrovefertility.com/doctors/widra">Dr. Eric Widra</a>. &quot;This is clearly a time where the technological ability to do this is converging with the demographics,&quot; he says. &quot;There are more and more women who find themselves in a situation where they may potentially benefit from having their eggs frozen.&quot;</p><div id="res457130643"><p data-pym-src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/fertility-patients-20151123/child.html">&nbsp;</p><script src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/fertility-patients-20151123/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script></div><p>The majority of women currently freezing their eggs live in cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, according to Jake Anderson-Bialis, who&#39;s building a company called&nbsp;<a href="http://fertilityiq.com/">FertilityIQ&nbsp;</a>with his wife, Deborah. &quot;Marketing is aggressively happening, and these are the hubs where fertility clinics will prove out the concept,&quot; he says.</p><p>Anderson-Bialis says he&#39;s hoping to serve women freezing their eggs, as well as couples doing in vitro fertilization, with a database of fertility doctors and reviews from patients. FertilityIQ has so far gotten about 200 women who have frozen their eggs to write reviews of their experience.</p><p>The fact that wine is served at egg-freezing info sessions around the country might imply that this is no big deal, even fun. In fact, it&#39;s a complicated and physically demanding process.</p><p>Women inject themselves with hormones for up to two weeks to stimulate their ovaries to get as many mature eggs as possible. There&#39;s a surgical procedure to retrieve them. And there can be side effects along the way.</p><p>It also isn&#39;t cheap. One round averages about $12,000, and multiple rounds may be needed. No insurance companies cover egg freezing, but in October, a third tech company, Intel,&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.intel.com/jobs/2015/10/19/intel-expands-family-benefits/">joined</a>&nbsp;Apple and Facebook in offering to pay the costs of egg freezing for employees. Financing may be available from a company called EggBanxx as well as some fertility clinics.</p><p>Stacey Samuel is a producer with CBS in Washington, D.C., (formerly with CNN). She thought about freezing her eggs earlier, but couldn&#39;t afford it until this year. &quot;Before you know it, I&#39;m 40, and I thought, oh, my goodness, this is very real for me,&quot; Samuel says.</p><p>Doctors prefer that women freeze their eggs before their mid-30s. But Samuel thought that advice might not apply to her. &quot;I&#39;m a black, South Asian female. Fertility in my culture and family extends for many years,&quot; she says. &quot;So I&#39;m thinking 40 is nothing but a number &mdash; I still get carded.&quot;</p><p>She assumed she&#39;d get the 15 to 20 eggs that doctors recommend women freeze. But in the middle of her cycle, while she was injecting hormones, there were complications. She ended up with just 10.</p><p>&quot;Even when I choose to go use those eggs, I could lose them again,&quot; Samuel says. &quot;So that feeling of reassurance that I thought I was buying with my near $20,000 on the table &mdash; I&#39;m still unable to control the outcome.&quot;</p><p>Preserved eggs offer women like Samuel hope for beating the biological clock. But you can&#39;t escape the fact that your body will continue to age. The older a woman is when she freezes her eggs and when she uses them with in vitro fertilization, the lower her chances of success.</p><p>&quot;There was a lot of encouragement to go forth even if it looks like you&#39;re kind of a risky case, because I think these dedicated doctors really want to know where they can take this,&quot; Samuel says. &quot;And they need the numbers, and they need those of us who are willing to go through with it.&quot;</p><p>That concerns&nbsp;<a href="https://law.utexas.edu/faculty/jr43/">John Robertson</a>, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Texas Law School. He wrote a&nbsp;<a href="http://jlb.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/03/28/jlb.lsu002.full">paper</a>&nbsp;published in 2014 in the&nbsp;Journal of Law and the Biosciences&nbsp;on how women freezing their eggs can be both empowered and alienated by the procedure.</p><p>&quot;The problem is it may be marketed to women who are in the older age group who may have very little chance of obtaining viable eggs,&quot; Robertson says. &quot;So it&#39;s extremely important that there be full disclosure at every step of the process.&quot;</p><p data-pym-src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/fertility-births-20151123/child.html">&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.embryo.net/fertility-center/fertility-doctors">Dr. Kevin Doody</a>&nbsp;agrees. He codirects the Center for Assisted Reproduction in Dallas, and is president-elect of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, or SART.</p><p>&quot;I do not think that this should be highly promoted for the older-age woman,&quot; Doody says. &quot;I&#39;m not saying one should refuse or deny services if a 40- or 42-year-old woman wanted to have her eggs frozen. But I think it would warrant a substantial counseling session with that patient.&quot;</p><p>SART collects data on egg freezing in the U.S. And Doody says in 2013, about 4,000 women froze their eggs, up from about 2,500 the year before. And he predicts the number this year will be much higher.</p><p>But so far very few women who&#39;ve frozen their eggs since the experimental label was lifted in 2012 have gone back to try to use them. SART found that of the 353 egg-thaw cycles in 2012, only 83 resulted in live births. In 2013, there were 414 thaw cycles and 99 live births. &quot;Live birth&quot; is not babies born &mdash; it means delivery of one or more infants, so it can include twins.</p><p>Overall, the success rate of live births from frozen eggs has remained consistently pretty low, at about 20 to 24 percent since 2009. And, Doody adds, &quot;Even if the success rates were significantly higher, there&#39;s never going to be a guarantee for an individual patient that the eggs she would bank would ultimately result in a baby for her.&quot;</p><p>Medical anthropologist&nbsp;<a href="http://marciainhorn.com/">Marcia Inhorn</a>&nbsp;at Yale University is conducting a study of the women who have frozen their eggs.</p><p>&quot;The vast majority say, &#39;Well, it&#39;s given me peace of mind, I feel a sense of relief, it&#39;s taken the pressure off of me to rush into a relationship with someone who isn&#39;t right,&#39; &quot; she says.</p><p>Inhorn has interviewed about 100 women so far for her study.</p><p>&quot;Most of these women are amazing professional women, I have to say,&quot; says Inhorn. &quot;But the major reason over and over is not being able to find the right person to embark on a partnership and parenthood with.&quot;</p><p>Finding the right person is likely to be just as big a challenge for women in the future, Inhorn says. Which is why she believes this technology will become normalized, like in vitro fertilization.</p><p>And maybe it&#39;s already happening if people like Mindy Kaling are talking about it. The actress, producer and writer hit on this in an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hulu.com/watch/865280">episode</a>&nbsp;of her Hulu show&nbsp;The Mindy Project. Her character, a fertility doctor, goes to a college campus to peddle her newest service for women.</p><p>Here&#39;s what she tells them:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;When I was your age, I thought that I was going to be married by the time I was 25. But it took a lot longer than that. And unfortunately your body does not care if you are dating the wrong guy. ... Your body and your eggs just keep getting older, which is why freezing them is a pretty smart idea, &#39;cause it gives you a little bit more time.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>But it will be years before there&#39;s enough data showing us whether egg freezing actually helps most of the women doing it fulfill their dreams of motherhood.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/24/456671203/more-women-are-freezing-their-eggs-but-will-they-ever-use-them?ft=nprml&amp;f=456671203" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-women-are-freezing-their-eggs-will-they-ever-use-them-113918 Facial Feminization Surgery: What Makes A Face Feminine? http://www.wbez.org/news/facial-feminization-surgery-what-makes-face-feminine-113831 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1117_renee-baker-624x351.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_96262"><img alt="Renee Baker before facial feminization surgery. (Photo courtesy of Renee Baker)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1117_renee-baker-624x351.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Renee Baker is pictured before facial feminization surgery. (Photo courtesy of Renee Baker)" /><p>Have you ever thought about what makes a face feminine?&nbsp;</p><p>According to one of the surgeons who pioneered facial feminization surgery,&nbsp;what makes a face feminine isn&rsquo;t easy to define.</p></div><p>&ldquo;We hear beauty is only skin deep; it&rsquo;s not,&rdquo; Spiegel says. &ldquo;It has to do a lot with the bones. When we change the face, I need to change the bones. And then the skin is almost like clothing. If a woman puts on a man&rsquo;s shirt it still looks like a woman&hellip;. so the skin, if it sits on the right way on the facial structures, we start to get the right cues.&rdquo;</p><p>As&nbsp;Lauren Silverman&nbsp;from&nbsp;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/17/facial-feminization-surgery" target="_blank"><em>Here &amp; Now</em></a>&nbsp;member station KERA in Dallas reports, that can make it tricky for people in the transgender community thinking about having surgery. She speaks with Spiegel and Renee Baker, a transgender woman who traveled from Dallas to Boston to receive the surgery.</p></p> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 15:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/facial-feminization-surgery-what-makes-face-feminine-113831 Let's tell Obama #WhatObamaShouldKnow about women in Malaysia http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-13/lets-tell-obama-whatobamashouldknow-about-women-malaysia-113787 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/obama-visits-malaysia.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/obama-visits-malaysia.jpg?itok=iGdpRZrk" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="US President Barack Obama pauses after being introduced at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Town Hall at University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur April 27, 2014. (PRI/Larry Downing)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Selamat Datang, Mr. President!&rdquo; As a Malaysian, I would like to welcome President Barack Obama who is making his second visit to Malaysia in less than seven months.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Obama&rsquo;s last trip here in April made him the first US president to visit Malaysia in nearly 50 years. On that visit, Obama called for equal opportunities for the Malaysia&rsquo;s non-Muslim minority.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But this time his top priority will be the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive free trade deal with Malaysia and 11 other countries across the region.</div><p>However, we at Across Women&#39;s Lives would like to invite you and your friends to help Obama to look at the status of women in the three countries that he will visit in this trip &mdash;&nbsp;Malaysia, Philippines and Turkey.</p><p>Malaysia was ranked 107th out of 142 countries in the WEF Global Gender Gap 2014, one of the two worst performing country in Southeast Asia together with Cambodia. (East Timor and Myanmar were not ranked.)</p><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/PVUkQ/1/" style="width: 813.25px;" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></div><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="330" scrolling="no" src="http://admin.pri.org/sites/default/files/whatobamashouldknow-malaysia-gap.html" style="width: 813.25px;" width="100%"></iframe></div><p>A closer look at this annual index published by the World Economic Forum to measure gender equality revealed that Malaysia was given some of the lowest scores in term of women&#39;s political empowerment. The chart below shows the details.</p><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="500" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="https://charts.datawrapper.de/agzjF/index.html" style="width: 813.25px;" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></div><div><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="330" scrolling="no" src="http://admin.pri.org/sites/default/files/whatobamashouldknow-malaysia-cabinet.html" style="width: 813.25px;" width="100%"></iframe></div></div><div>The weak position of Malaysian women in the public space is further confirmed by another international gender index. The Social Institutions &amp; Gender Index 2014 published by OECD Development Center ranked Malaysia as the country with the highest &quot;restricted civil liberties&quot;&nbsp;in Southeast Asia. This includes negative attitudes toward women as public figures or as leaders.</div><p>The same index found that Malaysia has the second highest &quot;discriminatory family code&quot;&nbsp;in the region after Indonesia. &quot;Discriminatory family code&quot;&nbsp;refers to social institutions that limit women&rsquo;s decision-making power and undervalue their status in the household. This is especially true for Muslims women who are deprived of certain rights under the Sharia laws. For example, Muslim men are allowed to marry up to four women, and they are granted an automatic right to divorce, while women need the approval of a judge if they want a divorce.</p><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="450" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/bisIa/1/" style="width: 813.25px;" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></div><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="330" scrolling="no" src="http://admin.pri.org/sites/default/files/whatobamashouldknow-malaysia-family.html" style="width: 813.25px;" width="100%"></iframe></div><p>Malaysia practices a unique dual justice system that allows the Sharia laws to run in parallel with secular laws. The Islamic laws only applicable to Muslims who make up approximately 61 percent of the population. The growing of conservative Islam since the 1970s has led to a narrower interpretation of Islamic laws and teachings.</p><p>The discrimination against Muslim women was epitomized by a recent debate over the definition of marital rape following a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/dap-rep-launches-rape-awareness-campaign-targeting-men" target="_blank">rape awareness campaign</a>&nbsp;launched in April with the tagline &quot;Rape is rape. No excuse.&quot;</p><p>But Islamic conservatives, including a state-appointed mufti, challenged the campaign, arguing that men can always have sex with their spouses even&nbsp;<a href="http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/women-must-give-husbands-sex-even-on-camels-islamic-scholar-says#sthash.qX1O4Ock.dpuf" target="_blank">without their consent</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Even the Prophet says even when they&rsquo;re riding on the back of the camel, when the husband asks her, she must give ... So there&rsquo;s no such thing as rape in marriage. This is made by European people, why should we follow?&rdquo; Harussani Zakaria, mufti of the Malaysian state of Perak, told a local newspaper.</p><p>The muftis in Malaysia are given power to issue Fatwa which is legally binding for every Muslim.</p><p>Two months later, this view on marital rape was backed by the government when the law minister Nancy Shukri, one of the three female ministers in the cabinet, told the parliament that marital rape&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/06/10/govt-maintains-marital-rape-not-crime/" target="_blank">is not a crime</a>and there is no plan to amend the law.</p><p>The Islamic laws and religious norms also hold Malaysia back from fully complying with the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The country has made several reservations with regard to women&#39;s equality in marriage and family relations.</p><div><iframe frameborder="0" height="330" scrolling="no" src="http://admin.pri.org/sites/default/files/whatobamashouldknow-malaysia-rape.html" style="width: 813.25px;" width="100%"></iframe></div><p>Criminalization of transgender</p><p>The discrimination does not stop at Muslim women. Muslim men who want to be women are also facing growing persecution by the religious authority.</p><p>In June this year, religious officials&nbsp;<a href="http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/negri-sembilan-islamic-department-crashes-wedding-for-transgender-hunt" target="_blank">raided a wedding party</a>&nbsp;held in a private home and arrested 17 transgender women invited as guests, including a minor. One was reportedly beaten, choked and kicked by the officials during the arrest. A Sharia court later fined and jailed the 16 adults for seven days. They were put in the male prison and had their heads shaved.</p><p>The offense? Men posing as women, which is a crime under a state Sharia law.</p><p>According to Human Right Watch, while some states in Malaysia also criminalize women posing as men, all arrests to date under these laws have targeted transgender women.</p><p>In a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/09/24/im-scared-be-woman/human-rights-abuses-against-transgender-people-malaysia" target="_blank">report</a>&nbsp;released last year, the international human rights watchdog pointed out that transgender people in Malaysia are fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, physically and sexually assaulted, and denied access to health care because of their gender identities.</p><p>&ldquo;When public officials or private individuals commit violence against transgender people, the victims face serious obstacles &mdash; and at times further sexual abuse &mdash; from the police who are supposed to be helping them,&rdquo; said the report.</p><p>The struggle for transgender right suffered a blow last month when the Malaysian federal court, the highest court in the country, overturned the judgments of two lower courts and reinstated a state law that criminalizes cross-dressing of males as females.</p><p>Rights group Justice for Sisters found that the court&#39;s decision has triggered a wave of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/317227#ixzz3r5p5u7Fn" target="_blank">raids and arrests</a>against the transgender community in several states.</p><div><iframe frameborder="0" height="330" scrolling="no" src="http://admin.pri.org/sites/default/files/whatobamashouldknow-malaysia-transgender.html" style="width: 813.25px;" width="100%"></iframe></div><p>Sex trafficking</p><p>Malaysia was identified by the US State Department and the United Nations as both a destination as well as a transit country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking.</p><p>In her&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15631&amp;LangID=E#sthash.bldkFj5x.dpuf" target="_blank">preliminary report</a>&nbsp;published in March this year after a visit to Malaysia, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, stated that trafficking of young foreign women and children particularly from neighboring countries for the purpose of sexual exploitation is prevalent in the country.</p><p>&ldquo;These young women and children mostly end up into the commercial sex trade following deceptive recruitment practices for legal work in Malaysia.</p><p>&ldquo;There is also information about women and girls from South Asia entering into brokered marriages with older men in Malaysia and subsequently being forced into domestic servitude and forced prostitution,&rdquo; her report states.</p><p>Human trafficking in Malaysia attracted international attention in May when several&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/24/mass-graves-trafficking-malaysia-perlis" target="_blank">mass graves</a>&nbsp;of suspected trafficking victims were found along Malaysia&rsquo;s border with Thailand, and again in July when the US&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-27/us-human-trafficking-report-called-toilet-paper-after-it-upgrades-malaysia-s" target="_blank">upgraded Malaysia</a>&nbsp;from tier three, the worst ranking in its 2015 Trafficking in Persons report, to tier two.</p><p>The upgrade was criticized by anti-trafficking groups and activists as a political decision to facilitate Malaysia&rsquo;s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership as US legislation bars Obama to fast-track the trade negotiation with countries in tier three.</p><p>A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/04/us-usa-humantrafficking-disputes-special-idUSKCN0Q821Y20150804" target="_blank">Reuters report</a>&nbsp;published in August revealed that human rights experts at the State Department concluded that Malaysia should remain in tier three as the trafficking conditions in the country hadn&rsquo;t improved. However they were overruled by senior American diplomats and pressured to inflate the assessments of Malaysia.</p><p>Several US lawmakers have since called for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/28/us-usa-malaysia-humantrafficking-idUSKCN0RS2QI20150928" target="_blank">internal probe</a>&nbsp;into the controversial ranking.</p><p>On top of all this, Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, who recently claimed he is the only prime minister in the world to be able to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/313831" target="_blank">play golf with Obama</a>, has been implicated in a financial scandal.</p><div><img alt="obama plays golf with malaysian prime minister najibi razak" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/obama-malaysia-najib-golf.jpg?itok=cYje0RJv" title="US President Barack Obama and Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak walk off the 18th hole while playing a round of golf at th" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>US&nbsp;President Barack Obama and Malaysia&#39;s Prime Minister Najib Razak walk off the 18th hole while playing a round of golf at the Clipper Golf course on Marine Corps Base Hawaii during Obama&#39;s Christmas holiday vacation in Kaneohe, Hawaii, December 24, 2014.</p></div><div>Credit:&nbsp;<p>Hugh Gentry</p></div></div><p>Razak&rsquo;s opponents say he&rsquo;s capitalizing on his cozy relationship with Obama while his support within the country wavers. Hence there are more reasons for Obama to raise the issues above during his visit to Malaysia.</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 14:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-13/lets-tell-obama-whatobamashouldknow-about-women-malaysia-113787 More women are playing fantasy sports http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-06/more-women-are-playing-fantasy-sports-113677 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/adrienne samuels gibbs.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The fantasy sports world has long been dominated by men. But with every passing season, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2015/01/22/fantasy-sports-daily-games-women-customers/22198493/">more women are getting in on the action</a>. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, women account for a third of all fantasy football managers this year &mdash; up from 20 percent last year. And that&rsquo;s important because the NFL expects women to play a major role in the growth of the league, and the growth of advertising dollars, in the future.</p><p>Journalist and fantasy football participant <a href="https://twitter.com/AdrienneWrites?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">Adrienne Samuels Gibbs</a> and USA Today Sports writer<a href="https://twitter.com/Schrotenboer?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor"> Brent Schrotenboer </a>join us.</p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 12:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-06/more-women-are-playing-fantasy-sports-113677 Former Marine says some combat roles should be off-limits to women http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-19/former-marine-says-some-combat-roles-should-be-limits-women-113413 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1019_lisa-jaster-624x416.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_94534"><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Maj. Lisa Jaster following an Army Ranger school graduation ceremony, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in Fort Benning, Ga. Jaster, who is the first Army Reserve female to graduate the Army's Ranger School, joins U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and First Lt. Shaye Haver as the third female soldier to complete the school. (Branden Camp/AP)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/10/1019_lisa-jaster-624x416.jpg" title="Maj. Lisa Jaster is pictured following an Army Ranger school graduation ceremony, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in Fort Benning, Ga. Jaster, joins U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and First Lt. Shaye Haver as the third female soldier to complete the school. (Branden Camp/AP)" /></p><p>The ban on women in combat was lifted in 2013, and now Defense Secretary Ash Carter has until the end of the year to decide which positions will be open to women. The Marines are asking that infantry and reconnaissance jobs be excluded.</p></div><p>In a series of conversations about women in combat,&nbsp;<em>Here &amp; Now</em>&nbsp;heard from a&nbsp;<a href="https://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/09/29/women-in-combat-debate" target="_blank">female Army veteran</a>&nbsp;and a&nbsp;<a href="https://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/08/women-in-combat-sebastian-bae" target="_blank">male former Marine</a>, both of whom believe combat roles should be open to women.</p><p>Today, host Robin Young hears from a <a href="https://twitter.com/primepaychad" target="_blank">former Marine</a> who has come to a different conclusion, and who believes including women in certain combat roles would be a distraction.</p><hr /><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Interview Highlights: Chad Russell</strong></span></p><p><strong>On comments saying that women should be banned from combat</strong></p><p>&ldquo;So I think the way that the argument currently is being framed is a little bit off. I think what a lot of people in the audience probably don&rsquo;t realize is that, you know, what does women in combat mean &ndash; what does that mean versus specifically barring females from the infantry specifically? So there&rsquo;s a big difference, so I&rsquo;d kind of like to throw that out there first.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>On the argument that women help in combat</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Right, I understand that. And that&rsquo;s where I think it&rsquo;s more a matter of value and function, meaning I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s a matter of value. I think females bring an equal value to the military in general, but where I think the difference is, it&rsquo;s about our functionality. You know, if you don&rsquo;t mind, I&rsquo;d like to share something that I got from an anonymous person that has served a career in the military &ndash; still active. So this is what he says:</p><blockquote><p><em>&lsquo;The life of an infantryman is no glory. It&rsquo;s strictly about staying alive and keeping each other alive while defeating the enemy. And for all those who say females are already in combat, there&rsquo;s a big difference between being in a combat zone or in actual combat. Being in a combat zone or on a convoy once in a while exposed to an IED [improvised explosive device] is quite different than being in a sustained, direct action against the enemy up close and personal. </em></p><p><em>There&rsquo;s no comparison so please stop making it. I have killed from a distance and I have killed as close as a foot away and, more importantly, I&rsquo;ve watched good Marines who were great people and had bright futures ahead of them get killed. There&rsquo;s no glory in killing or being killed, not when it involves the lives of the futures of very good young people.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>This is not a video game where you can press reset and combat is not about equal opportunities. It&rsquo;s about surviving and it&rsquo;s about defeating the enemy.&rsquo; </em></p></blockquote><p>So I think that right there frames the undercurrent inside the Marine Corps infantry and where maybe a lot of these sentiments are at, at this current point.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Are you saying a woman can&rsquo;t perform in combat?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Absolutely not. Of course, they could do those things, but it&rsquo;s a matter of is this a necessity to do this or is this a political desire coming from an outside influence? And that&rsquo;s where my biggest beef with all of this is, is that we have so many things going on in the military, why is this something that is being forced on the infantry, in my opinion.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Do you think women won&rsquo;t be safe in combat?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s one aspect of it. It&rsquo;s tough to get an idea of this when you&rsquo;re out in the civilian world and you&rsquo;re trying to understand where these riflemen, infantrymen are coming from. And since I lived it, and I did three combat tours in Iraq, and I was engaged in direct combat with the enemy on every deployment that I was on &ndash; I&rsquo;ve really thought about this and tried to stay objective. It&rsquo;s tough when you&rsquo;re in the Marine Corps and it is all guys and you&rsquo;re around all guys. However, there seems to be this push, and regarding these test results that came out, the secretary of the Navy &ndash; he is already decided. He kind of showed his hand and we kind of saw that with the Sgt. Maj. LeHew and the Marine Corps in a private Facebook post. I don&rsquo;t know if you saw that or not.</p><p>Actually, I have an excerpt of that if you don&rsquo;t mind me sharing it. He was one of the top Marines in charge of the training, and this was a part of what he said here:&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p><em>&lsquo;This was as stacked as a unit could get with the best Marines to give it 100 percent success rate as we possibly could. </em><em>End</em><em> result, the best women in the test as a group in regards to the infantry operations were equal or below in most all cases to the lowest 5 percent of men as a group in the test study. They are slower on all accounts and almost every technical and tactical aspect, and physically weaker in every aspect across the range of the military operation. Secretary of the Navy has stated that he has made up his mind even before the release of the </em><em>results,</em><em> and that the United States Marine Corps test unit will not change his mind on anything. </em></p><p><em>Listen up folks, your senior leadership of this country does not want to see America overwhelmingly succeed on the battlefield. It wants to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to pursue whatever they want regardless of the outcome on national security.&rsquo;&rdquo;</em></p></blockquote><p><strong>What about those that argue women offer a softer and important side to war &ndash; reaching out to communities and speaking with them?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Right, and I understand that. And you know, as an attachment asset, I can see that. But there&rsquo;s a big difference being exposed to an IED, right, going out and being an attachment versus being in a sustained combat role day, after day, after day in these high-stress environments. It really boils down to that bottom line of &ndash; we have a saying in the Marine Corps &lsquo;complacency kills.&rsquo; Every deployment I was around females and my last deployment was on ship, there was&nbsp;females there and there was&nbsp;little relationships blossoming on the ship. I mean I just was like, I stayed away from that stuff, but I could see it happening, because in the air wing in the Marine Corps, you&rsquo;ve got females on the ship. I&rsquo;ve served three tours and most of the time I was not around females in the infantry. On deployment though, if we were around the army base where females were, every time we were around females, I mean, the radar &ndash; beep, beep, beep, beep, beep &ndash; goes up on the guys, because we&rsquo;re all, you know, pent up. We&rsquo;re young guys. We have a strong sexual drive and we are noticing them and going out of our way to notice them. So it does create a distraction. I can&rsquo;t imagine going through Fallujah and, you know, having a bunch of females in the platoons. I just can&rsquo;t imagine it.&rdquo;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/19/women-combat-chad-russell" target="_blank"><em>via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 17:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-19/former-marine-says-some-combat-roles-should-be-limits-women-113413