WORLD VOICE: “Leftover Women” in China Fight Back

Photo Credit Wikipedia commons: kanegen kto288 (talk)

Are you a single woman currently enmeshed in the dating scene? Do you find it easy or difficult to find someone to date because of your success or independence? Being a single, independent woman should not be seen as a disadvantage, but in China, women are being targeted for not conforming to what’s seen as part of their tradition.

A recent advertisement has been circulating in China where a woman who may still be single after the age of 25 is labeled as a “Sheng-nu” or “leftover woman”. It is believed that women who have not secured a marriage before a certain age are not as favored by prospective suitors. Those who have been “lucky” enough to be matched are considered to have their future secured, unlike these women.

In this day and age, dating in any culture can be challenging. Finding the right person to connect with takes time and commitment, and should not be forced. The video in question shows how these women are pressured by their parents, going so far as listing profiles of their daughters at a Marriage Market in Shanghai. Shanghai’s Marriage Market at People’s Park has been around since 2004 and has been widely used by parents to find matches for their daughters whom they believe are past their prime. While the Market also lists profiles of men, it is those of women that have raised the alarm to fight back.

The advertisement is meant to bring awareness to the issue of women being discriminated against for not wanting to be part of what has been a tradition in China for many years. Part of the hold on this tradition is the thought that marriage is seen as the ultimate success of increasing one’s familial line. Any delineation from it is seen as turning away from one’s culture. Another reason is that women are seen as unable to fend for themselves, and need a man to support not just her, but her family as well. One heartbreaking segment is of a woman who sits by silently while her mother speaks about the difficulty of finding a mate for her average-looking daughter. Or a father saying that it would bring him heart disease if his daughter couldn’t find “the one” because she’s too picky.

While the idea of finding a mate in any culture is part of the norm, finding one because of a society’s view on unmarried women is subject for concern. The objective of being married off becomes the focus, instead of what they really want for themselves. This is happening even in this modern culture in China, where women work and are able to provide for their families

Shouldn’t women be acknowledged and supported for having the courage to say “no” to a tradition that’s forced upon them by their family and society?

Instead, so many women are caught between a rock and a hard place. To refuse to be matched by their parents would be the ultimate disrespect, but to acquiesce to an age-old tradition may only bring unhappiness.

The women in this advertisement do fight back by letting their parents know via video that they, too, want marriage, but on their own terms. They ask for support instead of disapproval for their success and independence.

As someone who grew up with strict parents, dating was nonexistent for me until I was in college. While I didn’t agree with my parents’ rules about dating then, I appreciate them now. Dating in my twenties gave me the opportunity not just to find the right person right for me, but know what I wanted in life.

The women in this advertisement may initially be seen as victims, but their desire to speak out against being labeled and let others know they deserve to be happy, make them worth remembering.

To see the video regarding this article, clock below:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/leftover-women-in-china-emotional-advert-challenges-the-pressure-on-single-women-to-get-married-a6980291.html

This is an original post written by Tes Silverman for World Moms Network.

What do women in your culture think about marriage by a certain age?

Photo Credit Wikipedia commons: Traditional Chinese Wedding Ceremony by kanegen kto288 (talk)

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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POLAND: Five Ways to Genuinely Connect With Your Loved Ones Over the Holidays

POLAND: Five Ways to Genuinely Connect With Your Loved Ones Over the Holidays

Good times with family over summer holidays

The great Amazon toy search. I found myself at it again this Christmas as I looked online for gifts my three children, ages 2, 4, and 6. My husband and I had already purchased the gifts that our children had said they wanted – you know, the big items that Santa brings; things they have been waiting on all year to receive. But now it was time to gear up for the holiday tradition of swapping gifts among their cousins – eleven in total.

So I searched. I rigorously searched for toys for over an hour trying to figure out what they might like. Once I narrowed down my list, I asked myself, “will this toy – which I’m not sure if they really want in the first place – bring them joy?” Maybe, maybe not. Is the toy needed? No. Do I feel like I should be asking our family to buy them a toy that I think they might want, but I’m really not sure? Definitely not.
The toy search – which should always be fun – was not fun at all. So I gave up.
I gave up and I announced to our families that the kids did not need any more gifts for Christmas.
What we preferred instead was to have a video call with them on Christmas. Less money, more heart. Less stress, more meaning. This is – and will be – the way to go from now on.  At Christmas time, children don’t need more things. They need to know that people love them. And what better way to demonstrate that love than with the simple act of interaction.  If you live far away from your loved ones, here are five ways that you can connect with them meaningfully:
  1. Exchange photo books. Last year, we used a fantastic service called ChatBooks to create photo books for our family. ChatBooks is great because it can automatically turn your Instagram posts into photo books. The standard size photo books are small and inexpensive, making them great for children to enjoy. Our children loved looking at what their cousins had been up to all year in America. They also recounted memories of our time back in the States with family over the summer. They looked at the books over and over again throughout the year. The books are like the gift that keeps on giving.
  1.  Organize an ornament swap. Two years ago, we purchased some inexpensive craft ornaments on Oriental Trading. The kids were able to write their names on the ornaments and we sent them to our cousins, who sent us some in return. It was such fun for the children to hang the ornaments and see each other’s names on the tree. Even as we pulled out the ornaments this year, the kids smiled and enjoyed thinking about their cousins at home. This creates a feeling that our families are close during the holidays, even if they are a world away.
  1. Set-up a video call. This is our current-year plan. We’ll connect with our cousins via Skype or Face Time on Christmas. This is not something the kids do all the time, so it will certainly be special for them. Being able to see facial expressions, share excitement, and see families as a whole is so much fun. Often we do not take the time to do this during the year because of our busy schedules. The time change between the U.S. and wherever we happen to be (Thailand, Poland) makes it even trickier. Planning it ahead of time gives the kids something to look forward to.
  1. Send something hand-written or hand-crafted. If your children are old enough to read, sending and receiving handwritten letters can be so gratifying. If you and your children are crafty, why not create paintings for your family members. Or perhaps bake them some special cookies with a note? What about a scrapbook of summer time fun that they spent together? The possibilities here are endless. Sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best way to go.
  1. Plan a meet-up.  What could be more meaningful than visiting with your loved ones during the holidays? Spending quality time with those we don’t get to see often can really solidify relationships. Our children have always lived far from their extended family members, but we always visit the U.S. each summer. Family is also very good about visiting us during the year, no matter what exotic locale we happen to be living in. Why not choose a location and meet half-way? This could create great adventures for everyone.
So what are your plans to connect with family this holiday season? Share in the comments!
This is an original post by Loren Braunohler written for World Moms Network.

Loren Braunohler

Loren Braunohler is a former U.S. diplomat turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. She is a world traveler who avoids the cold (don't ask why she is currently in Poland). Former assignments have included Mozambique, Venezuela, Australia, Sudan, Thailand and Washington, D.C. She enjoys running, although she probably enjoys sleeping even more. Loren blogs about her family's international adventures and parenting at www.toddlejoy.com.

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CANADA: Ten Insights From An Autism Conference

CANADA: Ten Insights From An Autism Conference

gca-symposiumLast week, I had the honour of representing World Moms Network at the Geneva Centre for Autism 2016 Symposium, held in Toronto. Over the course of three days, I reconnected with friends in the autism community and made some new ones, I saw an act by an autistic stand-up comic who was absolutely hilarious, and I learned a lot of things that gave me insights into my own autistic son.

In due course, I will be sharing some of this information with the World Moms community. For now, I offer you ten insights from the presenters:

1. Mental health in people with autism is largely overlooked: autistic youth are almost four times more likely to experience emotional problems than their neurotypical peers, and many of these problems are undiagnosed and under-treated.

2. Our ability to make social connections depends in part on genetics and hormones. About two hundred chromosomes are related to our ability to make social connections.

3. Language is not about words. It is about seeking social connections. People with autism need to acquire language, but more importantly, they need to develop the social motivation to use it.

4. Kids with differences like autism tend to process social stimuli in non-social areas of the brain. As a result, interactions with autistic people can seem somewhat clinical.

5. People with autism should be allowed to make eye contact on their own terms. Being forced to make eye contact can create anxiety and distract them from their efforts to communicate.

6. Just because someone is unable to speak, that doesn’t mean they have nothing to say. When interacting with someone on the spectrum, we need to look for other ways they might be communicating.

7. Don’t just tolerate the differences of autistic brains, embrace them. People with autism have very distinct neurological wiring that make them think in ways that neurotypical people cannot relate to.

8. People with autism tend to process small changes similar to how typical people process major changes, like the loss of a job or a loved one. This can make a neurotypical person’s average day like a minefield of trauma for someone with autism.

9. People with autism learn best visually. Their brains are not wired for the kind of auditory learning that is found in most regular classrooms.

10. The hidden curriculum consists of unwritten rules that are not directly taught but everyone knows. Violation of these rules can make you a social outcast. People with autism do not pick up hidden curriculum items from their environment like everybody else. They have to be taught.

Are you the parent of a child with special needs? What little snippets have you learned on your parenting journey?

This is an original post to World Moms Network by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit to the author.

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook and on Twitter @running4autism. Be sure to check out her personal blog, Running for Autism!

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KENYA: Are we raising our girls to be subservient?

KENYA: Are we raising our girls to be subservient?

Raising our girls

The other day, a fellow mom and I were seated outside, basking in the warm Kenyan sunshine as our children played. We both have two sons, each aged 3 years and 5 years. Our boys were playing in a group of 11 children – six girls and five boys.

Their play area was quite muddy and so were their shoes, as it had rained just a few hours before. But as the weather changed from the warm sunshine into a windy, cloudy affair, with signs of the skies soon opening up again, we instructed the children to each wipe the mud off their shoes before proceeding into the house. Time for play was up!

While the girls immediately began wiping the mud off their shoes, the boys continued running around, begging for more time in the playing field. They even argued that it would ‘be much more fun’ to play in the rain. Their joy lasted for a few more minutes before they finally gave up, realizing that we were not going to relent. They then sat down, disappointed, but nevertheless ready to begin wiping the mud off their feet. But it really got my neighbor and I thinking.

No sooner had the boys begun working on their shoes, than the girls swiftly started doing it for them. Quite effortlessly, they asked the boys to relax, that they would do clean the mud off their shoes for them.

That surprised us!

Our instructions had been very clear – that each child was to wipe the mud off their own shoes.

But it happened so mechanically, so swiftly, that the girls, aged between 5 – 8 years, took it upon themselves to wipe not only their own shoes, but those of the boys too. And to be honest, the boys looked like they were not going to protest the offer at their disposal. Even though we quickly stopped the girls from going ahead and instructed the boys to undertake the chore themselves, it got us thinking: why do women (and girls) instinctively feel the need to wait on boys and men? Is it automatic? Are we born with it? Is it in our DNA? Or perhaps it’s cultural? Could it be how we were raised? Are we raising our daughters this way? Or is this how we are raising our sons: to be more than accepting to have girls and women always wait on them?

The episode took me back to a conversation that I had recently with my colleagues. Why does it happen that when in meetings, when tea time arrives, many women feel the urge to serve the men tea, even though they are all equals in that meeting? Even when she doesn’t feel like it, she just feels as though it’s her responsibility to do so?

When a fellow board member says he is thirsty and could do with a glass of water, why is it almost always that the woman will unconsciously rise up to pour the man a glass of water, and not only stop there but go ahead to ask other men around the room if they’ll have some water too, then pour it for them? Why do we impulsively feel the need to serve men, even when it’s not necessary to do so? Is it something that we learn from our childhood? Is it instilled in us?

The incident of our sons and their girl playmates was quite revealing, I must say. How are we raising our daughters? How are we raising our sons?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Mummy Tales in Kenya.

Photo courtesy of Women Deliver / Flickr.

Maryanne Waweru Wanyama

Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, a mother of two boys, writes for a living. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her family. Maryanne, a Christian who is passionate about telling stories, hopes blogging will be a good way for her to engage in her foremost passion as she spreads the message of hope and faith through her own experiences and those of other women, children, mums and dads. She can be found at Mummy Tales.

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INDIA: Of Sleepless Nights and Hard-won Patience

INDIA: Of Sleepless Nights and Hard-won Patience

The happy story of motherhood invariably begins with one little discordant note. Amidst the congratulations from friends and family and the heady feeling of having reached a life-transforming milestone, one thing that invariably goes unmentioned to new mothers is that sleep will become the most precious thing in their lives, second only to the newborn squalling in their arms! Recently, I stumbled upon some old pages from my diary, written when my progeny was all of 40 days old.

From the Diary:

Motherhood. One little word with so very many nuances of color and meaning! I knew about the nappies, the feeding, the burping, the rocking-to-sleep thing. I didn’t know about the sheer sense of awe and wonder I would feel each time I looked at or held my little one. But all that awe threatens to disappear in a puff of smoke – this baby just won’t sleep! He seems to run on adrenaline. Even now as I write, my left hand is patting him, hoping he will shut his eyes (and I will shut mine too) but he seems fascinated by the wall-clock! J But the real battle of wills happens after dinner. The situation runs like this:

Mother (that’s me): Abhi, finish your feed and then sleep; don’t doze off now.

Abhi (if he could talk, this is what he might say): Huh? I am not too hungry…zzzz…or am I?…zzz…

Mother tickles Abhi’s ears in a vain attempt to get him to finish his feed. The doctor had advised her this was the best way to awaken a sleeping baby. Abhi obviously didn’t get the memo! She wonders how he manages to become drowsy at feeding times and valiantly resists sleep at other times.

Mother: One moment, let me hold you properly…

Abhi: Waaaanh! (mother quickly soothes him; he seems to finish his feed, all seems well)

Mother: Good boy! Now I will help you sit up and burp.

Abhi: Not the least bit interested! (Helpfully brings up some curdled milk instead. Mother quickly wipes him clean and starts worrying – is this normal? Does he need more feeding?)

Mother: Are you hungry?

Abhi responds by hiccuping, putting a stop to all further feeding plans.

Mother: O.K. Sleep-time. “Aye ghoom aye. Shona ghoomaye” (Bengali for “Come, sleep, come. The little darling sleeps.”)

Abhi opens his eyes wider and starts counting the squares of the mosquito-mesh at the window.

Mother: “Aamaar shone cheley. Please ghoomiye poro”. (“My darling boy, please go to sleep)

Abhi: Mom, there are 672 panels in this part of the mesh!

Mother: Aargh! What are you staring at? Shut your eyes, please!

Abhi: What a lovely little lampshade we have! Say, the curtains look a different colour at night. Interesting…

Mother is ready to collapse. She looks at the clock and decides there is no point in collapsing – the next feeding time is just minutes away! As a last-ditch effort, she decides to walk around with him, tired body notwithstanding. And he snoozes off. Victory! Mother wonders how a 40-day old infant can differentiate between the bed, the crib and her arms…Mother declares herself to be a student of “Bachelor of Child Care Management” taught by the University of Life and Experience!

 

Reflecting on the journey:

If anyone had told me that I would survive for months on end with barely four piya and babyhours of sleep a day, I would have thought that to be impossible. And yet, motherhood seems to confer Superwoman-like powers on the humblest of us. Exhaustion battled with a supreme sense of hard-won patience. The latter won. Every time. The sheer force of unconditional love and an increasing sense of clarity about what the little one needed, were enough to deal with perpetual sleeplessness. The almost zombie-like days and nights segued into each other. And soon the infant grew to be a mischievous toddler, then a curious, inquisitive child, and is now, a strapping teen. Was I a patient person to begin with? Far from it! The first weeks and months of motherhood were therefore a “baptism by fire” for me. Over the years, there have been many, MANY more occasions for me to grow my “patience-muscle”. But this one was by far the sweetest and most definitive way to learn patience; truly claimed by the sheer persistence of a mother’s love.

Abhi and his mom – all round-eyed innocence!