World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children.
World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.
“Will we be safe there?” My 11 year old son asked me that question as we were discussing our winter holiday travel plans, and I suppose, given that we live in the UAE, his question might make sense. In the last few years, we’ve traveled to Jordan, India, Kenya – all places that have been in the news lately as sites of violence.
Where are we going for the winter holidays, you might wonder, that would elicit such a question?
The United States.
I’ll let you think about that for a minute.
Okay, true, his question was a bit of a joke – the question of travel safety has become a running gag in our household, in part because that question is always the first thing my mother (in Illinois) always asks us.
But this time, when he asked the question, none of us laughed. He’d asked us just after the last mass shooting, the one in San Bernandino. And think about that for a minute: I have to specify for you which shooting I’m talking about. Was it the one in Colorado Springs outside Planned Parenthood, or the one in Oregon, or the one…
In other countries, when you say “mass shooting,” there simply aren’t that many to choose from because in the aftermath of the tragedy, governments have changed the laws to make such events less possible. But not in the good ol’ US of A.
When I tell people in the States where I live, there are two questions I am always asked: do I have to “cover” and “do I feel safe?” The answers are “no,” and “yes.” People who didn’t worry about me strolling home after midnight in New York’s East Village in the late 1980s now seem dreadfully concerned about my safety here, in this part of the world, as I drive off to the mall.
Part of why we chose to live abroad with our children had to do with wanting to give them a cosmopolitan perspective on the world: we wanted them to experience other cultures and learn to be open to, rather than threatened by, difference. I know that in the US it is possible to live in cosmopolitan cities—we used to live in Manhattan, where children from many nations crowded into my kids’ classrooms—but it is a different experience to live in a place where “your” culture is not the dominant.
A little while back, for instance, my older son had some friends over so that we could all go to a water park in the afternoon. When I told them it was time to get ready to go, my son said “well, we have to wait a little bit because T. is in the other room doing his prayers.” T. comes from a devout Muslim family and his mother would have been pleased to know that T. didn’t miss a prayer time just because the water park called. And for my son and his other friends, T. doing his prayers was as matter-of-fact as if he’d been changing into his swimsuit, or drinking a glass of water. Ordinary.
Like many of us, at home and abroad, I wrestle with how to explain to my children why the United States can’t simply change its gun laws and why so many people in the country seem afraid of anyone who worships at a mosque rather than a church or a temple. The explanation in both instances seems to boil down to fear: fear of change, fear of difference, fear of that-which-is-not-me.
It’s not much of an explanation, but it’s the only framework I have to explain why Donald Trump, for instance, can still be considered a candidate for the Presidency.
I know that the demagogues like Trump do not speak for all the people in the United States, and that many, many people are outraged by gun violence, but alas, the picture of the country that travels outward to the rest of the world is one of violent, gun-toting Islamophobia – and it’s scary. For me the fear rests not in the thought that Trump will ever be President because I refuse to believe that his bilious self is actually electable. I hang on to that fact as ardently as I once hung on to my belief in Santa Claus. No, my fear rests in the fact that, according to a recent poll, Trump leads the group of Republican Party presidential hopefuls, with 35.8% of the vote.
THIRTY-FIVE POINT EIGHT?
Maybe there really isn’t a Santa Claus.
How do you explain what’s happening in the United States to your children?
This is an original post by World Mom, Deborah Quinn in the United Arab Emirates.
After twenty-plus years in Manhattan, Deborah Quinn and her family moved to Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates), where she spends a great deal of time driving her sons back and forth to soccer practice. She writes about travel, politics, feminism, education, and the absurdities of living in a place where temperatures regularly go above 110F.
Deborah can also be found on her blog, Mannahattamamma.
An “anchor baby” is a child that born to a noncitizen mother in a country which has birthright citizenship. The term is especially offensive when viewed as providing an advantage to family members seeking to secure citizenship or legal residency.
And this, of course, has a lot to do with China’s one-child policy. For several decades, the only way for a Chinese couple to have a second child, is to give birth outside of China in a country which has birthright citizenship.
Taiwanese, though not under the one-child policy, like to have their babies born in the U.S. for a “potentially better future” for the children. It is reported that last year about 300 Taiwanese woman traveled to the U.S. just to have their babies born here.
Now, a recently announced rule allowing couples to have two children will be officially adopted on the first day of next year in China, and some Chinese couples have canceled their plan of giving birth in the U.S.
For example, a girlfriend of mine from Nanjing is pregnant with her second child, due next May. She was planning to come to the U.S. to give birth here, but she changed her birth plan after the China’s National Health and Family-Planning Association made the announcement that it was ending the one-child policy, which was instituted in the late 1970s.
She told me that many mothers from her QQ (Chinese Facebook) group “Giving Birth in America” also changed their mind about giving birth in the U.S., since the announcement.
This is good news. In fact, it is very risky for these Chinese women to travel to the U.S. and give birth here. The high demand of giving birth to an American baby among Chinese mothers has led to the illegal operation of “maternity tourism” in California, New York, and other areas where Chinese-Americans have settled.
The maternity tourism service providers arrange for the Chinese mothers to enter the U.S. on tourist visas and hide them in apartment homes, or so called “maternity centers,” while waiting to give birth. This practice is often associated with visa fraud, conspiracy, and other crimes in which women were helped to fabricate documents for visa applications and coached to falsely claim that they were traveling to the U.S. for tourism.
I followed the maternity tourism story for years as a journalist. The stories that occur in the “maternity centers” can be scary. Some of the “maternity centers” are very popular, so popular that the service providers want all the mothers to give birth and leave as soon as possible. This is so they can arrange more maternity trips for more mothers. The centers often give drugs that induce labor to the mothers, and the drugs can be harmful to the babies. Earlier this year when the Federal government raided maternity tourism in California, hundreds of mothers with little big bumps or tiny babies were throw into the street. It was horrible.
Many mothers knowingly came to the U.S. in full awareness of the risks. It’s hard to understand why they would be willing to risk their health and the the babies’ well-being. Let’s wish the trend will slowly die down with the end of China’s one-child policy.
A report I did on maternity tourism back in 2012, way before the main-stream media noticed the trend. (Chinese with English subtitles):
This is an original post to World Mom Blog by World Mom, To-wen Tseng of California, USA .
Prior to the awards, I was invited to a private cocktail hour with fellow award winners, where we had the honor of meeting UN Secretary General, Ban ki-Moon!
After shaking hands, we had the opportunity for a mini photo session with the UN Secretary General.
Elizabeth and I met up with Dan Thomas, Communications Director and Spokesperson for the President of the UN. We worked with Dan when he was in Switzerland at the GAVI Alliance on a project to help raise awareness for vaccinations in the developing world. It was so fun to finally all meet in person!
Meeting and talking with fellow UNCA award winners was also a highlight of the night!
We are thankful to our community of readers, contributors and editors. Look what we can achieve with you all! Thank you for believing in us. We, at World Moms Blog, are looking forward to 2016 and have a lot of exciting plans to announce in the year ahead!
Happy New Year Around the World,
— Jennifer Burden, Founder and CEO of World Moms Blog
Video credit to UNCA. Photo credit of Jennifer Burden and Ban Ki Moon and the UNCA Award Winners to Jennifer Ehidiamen, whom we met at the UNCA awards.
Photo credit of Elizabeth, Dan and Jennifer to the author.
Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India.
She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls.
Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.
Hmmmmm…today is Christmas, as I write this, and for many all over the world it’s time for félicitation, a time for merriment and sharing. But for our Chibok girls and their families, it’s time to wail and cry silently, while putting up a brave face for the whole world.
Freedom of worship is what a lot of us take for granted. A confirmed right, but for our #ChibokGirls, alas, it is not so. Most of them we heard have been converted to Islam. Islam doesn’t need forced converts. There is no compulsion in religion says God in Qur’an Chapter 2 verse 256.
Why, then, would someone take girls, who, even in the rules of war islamically, are never to be attacked? And forcefully convert them to Islam?
World Mom, Aisha Yesufu, speaks as activists gather in Abuja continuing to demand the rescue of the 219 Chibok Girls captured in April 2013 in Nigeria.
While others enjoy Christmas, our Chibok girls are weeping silently in their hearts. They probably do not even know that today is Christmas. That would be the worst.
For 620 days our Chibok girls have been in captivity. Mocked by their captors that no one would come, and, indeed, no one did.
Our Chibok girls have had to spend another Christmas in captivity, while the world moved on and forgets that 620 days ago the lives of 219 Chibok girls were frozen in a nightmare they never envisioned. They were captured by Boko Haram when they set out to get an education. Young, educated girls, whose empowered voice the terrorists found threatening.
For daring to have a mind of their own by getting an education, they have been put in bondage for 620 days.
How are Chibok parents faring during this day of festivities knowing that their precious daughters are with monsters who have no drop of humanity in them?
How do they cope thinking of all the atrocities their daughters have had to endure this past 620 days? Ahhhhh…they must die a thousand deaths everyday imagining what their daughters have had to go through.
While many in the world are waking up today after celebrating Christmas with their family and friends, please remember the 219 #ChibokGirls who spent their second Christmas away from their loved ones and in captivity.
Please remember #ChibokParents who have had to celebrate a second Christmas without their daughters and struggle to put on a brave face for the other children. All so that the terrorists would not steal the joy of the season from their children the way in which they stole their daughters.
#BringBackOurGirls NOW & ALIVE
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by World Mom, Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria.