World Voice: The Burquini Controversy

World Voice: The Burquini Controversy

As summer winds down in the United States, wardrobe choices become less of an issue. In other parts of the world, warm weather attracts beach goers and most women don’t have to worry about what bathing suits they wear – that is, until recently.

In Cannes, a new law was proposed by Mayor David Lisnard whereby women are banned from wearing burquinis or full-body swimsuits. The reason behind it? It is seen by the mayor as a symbol of extremism and the women wearing them, are perceived as flaunting their beliefs to a country that’s been through a rash of terrorist attacks in the past few years. According to the proposed ruling by Mayor Lisnard, “Beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation, when France and places of worship are currently the target of terrorist attacks, is liable to create risks of disrupting public order (crowds, scuffles etc) which it is necessary to prevent”.

France has had more than its share of terrorist attacks, including the ones brought upon them on July 14 in Nice during Bastille Day, and on July 26 in which a priest was senselessly killed. It is understandable that people in France would feel it critical to tighten their security measures, but how is banning what Muslim women wear to the beach a threat to national security? How is that any different from discrimination? What’s worse is the notion that what mainstream society sees as typical beachwear should be the only form allowed. Just because Muslim women prefer to wear swimwear that may not be considered mainstream, is that a reason to ban them from wearing what they feel is appropriate for them or worn out of respect for their religious beliefs?

Wearing a burquini gives Muslim women the same opportunity to enjoy the beach like so many others do. Even more compelling is that a burquini is worn not to foist any religious beliefs on us, but a way of enjoying the beach without compromising their beliefs. Their choice of what type of swimwear to use should not be seen as a plot to invite extremists, but should be seen as exercising their freedom of expression.

Since then, the ban has been overturned in thirty French cities by a French court as it’s been deemed as a violation of their human rights. While I am glad that the court decided to overturn this ban, why should any woman, Muslim or not have to fight for her right to dress the way she sees fit? I believe that no one should have to right to dictate how one should dress because they don’t “fit in” to what others consider as the norm. The burquini controversy may have been resolved, but there’s more work to be done if we, as a society want to change how different cultures are to be accepted just as they are.

Do you think the ban on the burquini is a human rights violation or does wearing one symbolize religious affiliation to extremism?

Read the original article here.

This is an original post by #WorldMom, Tes Silverman of The Pinay Perspective from New York  for World Moms Network.

Picture Credit: Flickr

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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World Voice: No Girl Should Ever Miss School Because of her Period

World Voice: No Girl Should Ever Miss School Because of her Period

Delivering Kits

Delivering Kits

Last April, I traveled to Nicaragua, staying in the Chinandega, Managua and Granada regions of the country. I have traveled to many places, but never to Central America so I was really excited to embark on this new adventure. Nicaragua is famous for its volcanoes (including volcano boarding) and its amazing waterfront beaches where surfing is a must. It’s rich history, unique culture and incredible people make it an idea travel destination.

But Nicaragua has undergone many transformations over the years, rebuilding from internal unrest and strained global relations. Almost half of the Nicaraguan population lives below the poverty line. People struggle to provide the basic necessities to their children, and for many young girls, this can mean having to miss school when their periods start.

Nicaragua Clinic

Nicaragua Clinic

Just before going to Nicaragua, I met an amazing woman, Brenda Porter, living in my community who runs the local chapter of ‘Days for Girls’. I had never heard of the organization before reading about Brenda in the local newspaper. As the name suggests, Brenda and her countless volunteers, dedicate most of their free time to making and assembling sustainable menstruation kits, that are then brought all over the world to communities in need. With access to the menstruation kits, girls can attend school all year round, not missing school because of their periods. Missing a week of school per month has a huge impact on the educational success of girls. It means they are put at a disadvantage as soon as puberty hits. I connected with Brenda, and with the support of  my friends, travel companions and Brenda’s incredible ‘Days for Girls’ network, I was able to bring two suitcases full of menstruation kits to Nicaragua free of charge.

With the help of the owners of the eco-resort I stayed at, El Coco Loco, we were put in touch with an American nurse’ Margarite (Meg), who runs a health clinic in a rural area outside Chinandega (http://coenicaragua.weebly.com/). She was thrilled to receive the kits and held a sexual education clinic for local village girls before distributing the kits. She was so overwhelmed by the response of local girls to the kits, and had no idea that there was such a need in the community.

Days For Girls

Days For Girls

Days for Girls is a global organization. If you are travelling to countries where girls may be in need of the menstruation kits, I highly recommend reaching out to this wonderful organization. No girl should be put at a disadvantage in school when her period starts. And, if you have a local chapter nearby, please consider donating time to help cut material, sew pads and assemble kits.

For more information, please visit: www.daysforgirls.org

This is an original post by Alison Fraser who is Founder and Director of Mom2Mom Africa.

Picture Credits to the author

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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GLOW: A Unique Webinar Series by #Heartfulness Institute and #WorldMoms Network

GLOW: A Unique Webinar Series by #Heartfulness Institute and #WorldMoms Network

World Moms Network and Heartfulness Institute have joined together to create the new GLOW series of Webinars for introducing women across the world to Heartfulness Meditation.

World Moms Network’s vision statement as you all know is, “We envision a world of peace and equality, born through our common ground of motherhood.”

Over here at World Moms Network and Heartfulness Institute, we believe that this world of peace and equality can be born only if the mind is at peace, and the heart at joy, for every single individual in the world.

For change begins with you, with me, with the woman of the family!

GLOW stands for ‘Genuine Loving Outstanding Women’, and is a series of monthly online workshops for women everywhere to learn and practice Heartfulness meditation in the comfort of their homes or their workplace.

Each webinar will feature an expert speaker, chosen from women who are outstanding in their fields, who have influenced their own family, or their community, or their nation. These women have been change-makers and influencers. They’ve also been able to find peace, joy, and love in their own lives, and  have influenced people around them to find the same.

Women are well-placed to create harmony and peace in all areas of life, often starting within families and spreading out into the world. And we’re highlighting just that!

The first webinar in this series is on 5th September 2016, 9:30 AM ET/6:30 AM PT. Calculate your local time here

goo.gl/A2HDy7

The theme for the first in the series of webinars is “Individual Peace Contributes to World Peace. 21st September is celebrated as the UN International Day of Peace.

GLOW Webinar Series

GLOW Webinar Series

Keynote Speaker:
Jennifer Burden, Founder & CEO of World Moms Network

Jennifer Burden, Founder & CEO of World Moms Network

Jennifer Burden hails from the USA and is the founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award-winning online media organization and website promoting a world of peace through the common bonds of motherhood. Jennifer has been nominated a Global Influencer Fellow and Social Media Fellow by the UN Foundation, invited to the White House, spoken at the World Bank for the right of a universal education for all children, and her writing has been featured on Impatient Optimists, The Huffington Post, ONE.org and BabyCenter. She is the mother of two girls and practices Heartfulness meditation.

Jennifer has been hosting Heartfulness meditation sessions through internal webinars on World Moms Network. In this webinar she will guide us to contribute towards world peace through meditation.

Who Should Attend:

All women, everywhere in the world, are welcome to join! Click here – goo.gl/A2HDy7

goo.gl/A2HDy7

New to meditation? These workshops are a perfect place to start! And… you can bring a friend!

For more information, leave a comment below, or write to Glow@heartfulness.org

World Moms Blog

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.

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A Report of the #Heartfulness Conference from NJPAC, New Jersey

A Report of the #Heartfulness Conference from NJPAC, New Jersey

This summer, our #WorldMom Hannah Ashton reports about the Heartfulness Conference which was held at NJPAC, New Jersey.

The best way to teach children to meditate is to be an example. - Kamlesh D. patel

The best way to teach children to meditate is to be an example. – Kamlesh D. Patel

I recently started Heartfulness meditation. When a group of World Moms started to meditate together, I decided to join in. I had never meditated before but life was stressful with two young children and a house move and I was looking to add a little more balance to my life. I wanted to be a more chilled-out parent and be calmer in stressful, time sensitive situations such as getting both children to school on time.

The first time I participated in Heartfulness meditation, I was surprised at how quickly I was able to go into meditation. Firstly, the world moms chatted about our days through a video conference tool which in itself was relaxing. Then our Heartfulness trainer (another world mom) talked us through a relaxation exercise which I found extremely helpful in moving me to a meditative state and we meditated together for fifteen minutes, being instructed to focus on the light in our heart and gently guide our attention back to our heart when we felt our minds begin to wander.

The second and third times we meditated together, the fifteen minutes felt like five. I find it easier to meditate with others, rather than alone, mainly because I like to be led in the relaxation exercise and I appreciate the comfort of others around me. I really enjoy getting to know other mothers around the world.

This past weekend I attended The Heartfulness Institute’s seminar in New Jersey, USA. Dr. Partha Nandi, M.D. did a wonderful job as the Master of ceremonies. In his opening he praised the benefits of meditation and reminded us to be our own health heroes; to eat less and to move with purpose.  Looking after our bodies and our health is vital.

I was excited to see Gabrielle Bernstein speak, having watched her on Oprah. Gabby is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker.  She explained that meditation had been a radical turning point in her life.  As a child she had watched her yogi mother practice daily meditation. Frazzled by the challenges of daily life, Gabby’s mother would go into her bedroom, close the door and meditate.  She would reappear noticeably calmer and revived.

When Gabby had existential crises as a teenager and in her early twenties, her mother advised that there was only one way – to turn inward.

Gabby has been meditating daily for eleven years.

Kamlesh D. Patel is the spiritual guide of the Sahaj Marg system of raja yoga meditation and president of Shri Ram Chandra Mission.

Kamlesh describes the process of meditation as ‘cool rain in hot summer which quenches your thirst’.

He said that the deeper into yourself you go, the less selfish you become. He praised technology which allows remote meditation sessions and provides much easier access to Heartfulness meditation sessions for those that want them.  I’d like to point out that these sessions are completely free.

Kamlesh said that it was very important to teach children to chill and how to cope. However, he would not recommend teaching meditation to children under 16; the best way to teach children is to be an example. Gabby concurred; her mother’s example had led her to turn to meditation as she got older in challenging times. During this talk of children Dr. Partha said how helpful meditation is to his role as a parent. He said that when one of his children is crying incessantly, his training brings him back to how he should conduct himself.

Focusing back on my own personal meditation experience, I have to agree.

When I take the time to meditate, activities such as the school run do seem to run more smoothly. I have more patience; I am kinder and calmer.

From my experience, I would recommend giving Heartfulness meditation a chance.

MEDITATE WITH A TRAINER – Heartspots.heartfulness.org

 This is an original post for World Moms Network written by Hannah Ashton.

World Moms Blog

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.

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World Voice: A Vision of My Country – USA

World Voice: A Vision of My Country – USA

Rushing past rural cornfields in Missouri by train

Rushing past rural cornfields in Missouri by train

I spent a quiet Fourth of July watching the heartland of America roll by my train window on a journey from Chicago to St. Louis. Playing in my headphones was the soundtrack of an old educational cartoon called “Schoolhouse Rocks!” In honor of my country’s Independence Day, I was listening to musical explanations of the American Constitution, the concept of “manifest destiny” (the 19th-century idea that expansion of the U.S. from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific was justified and inevitable), and the American Revolution. The simplistic way the songs presented information to me as a child in the 1970’s led me to believe that everything my government did was right and good. I completely trusted American authority despite glaring evidence that manifest destiny didn’t work well at all for the Native Americans who already lived in the center of the continent.

Now, in my 40’s, I know better. I see that the America that I live in, is not a nationally shared experience. For instance, the little rural towns I saw from the train are not my day-to-day reality although almost 1/5 of all U.S. residents live in communities like them. Here’s another difference: twenty-three million Americans live in food deserts – urban and rural – with little to no access to fresh fruits and vegetables while others are surrounded by high end grocery stores. Other differences are not bound by location. From sea to shining sea, challenging voices ring out to proclaim “Black Lives Matter” to help everyone understand that shootings of citizens by police officers is a reality for people of some skin tones and not for others. Each person lives a different truth depending on one’s geography, race, income, and a host of other factors. Clearly, for all its wealth and power, the United States is letting many of our people down.

#WorldMom Cindy and her daughters with U.S. Senator Roy Blunt in Washington D.C.

#WorldMom Cindy and her daughters with U.S. Senator Roy Blunt in Washington D.C.

Such everyday injustices are what led me to Washington D.C the week before Independence Day to join hundred of anti-poverty advocates at the RESULTS International Conference and Lobby Day with my daughters. We  visited the offices of our elected officials and urged them to change systems that keep so many people in poverty across the U.S. and around the world.

Every year we go, we wade into a hostile partisan landscape. We have to move past the open negativity our leaders show on T.V. in order to connect with the individual humans they are and paint a picture of what life is like for Americans they might never meet. If left to their own devices, party extremists drift further apart. Like a mother bringing arguing siblings back together, it’s our responsibility as citizens to reach out and remind them how they are connected to all of us. In this way, we guide our country toward fairer tax policies, better nutrition, and improved maternal/child health…all with a goal of providing each person with opportunity to reach their full potential in life.

Back on the train, hearing the words of our constitution sung in folk-style harmonies reminded me how every person in our political extremes truly believes she or he is honoring the American founding fathers’ vision. No matter how far apart we are on policy ideas, every one of us wants our country to thrive. We want to be treated with respect and raise our children in safe communities with good schools. We truly have more shared values than we often think we do.

Cindy’s daughter in front of the United States Capitol building

Cindy’s daughter in front of the United States Capitol building

Here is my vision of my country and for my country:

My America is a place where diversity is strength, not something to be feared. It’s where voices can be heard when we find the courage to speak out. It’s a place where my children can live, grow, and thrive. It’s not colorblind. It’s not perfect. It’s not best in the world about everything, but we are a country of possibilities and leadership. My America is a place where we can speak truth to power and come closer to becoming a more perfect union.

How would you finish the phrase “My country is…” for the place you currently call home? What parts of your answer are different for your fellow citizens? How can you be engaged in helping your country be the best it can be for all people?

Cindy Levin

Cynthia Changyit Levin took her first advocacy action in 2001 with a hunger event at her church. Years later, after resigning from her position as an automotive engineer to raise her newborn daughter, she searched for a way she could better the world from home while caring for infants. She returned to advocacy and is now a dedicated volunteer activist with RESULTS, Shot@Life, ONE, and Bread for the World. Levin involves her young children in her advocacy activities, including face-to-face lobby meetings with members of Congress, letter-writing, and classroom advocacy projects. She shares what she has learned about advocacy through her Anti-Poverty Mom blog and training other activists with RESULTS. Her op-eds and letters-to-the-editor have appeared in Chicago area newspapers as well as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Washington Post, the New York Times and the international Financial Times. Levin has served on the Board of Directors for RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund and on staff with RESULTS Educational Fund as a fundraising coach for grassroots volunteers.

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World Voice: #EqualityForDummies

World Voice: #EqualityForDummies

World_VoiceMy name is Aisha Yesufu and I happen to be a human being with the reproductive organs of a female so I am called a woman. When I demand for equality I am not demanding to change my womanhood for manhood. That would be an insult to the ME that I am. When I demand equality I am merely asking to be treated equally. When I demand for equality I am not saying I want to take over a man’s job I am merely saying I want to have my own job and not handout. When I demand for equality I want to be looked at as a human being with all her 5 senses and an accompanying brain and not as a toy to be toyed with.

When I demand for equality I am not saying I want to beat up a man I am just saying I should not be seen as one to be beaten with impunity. When I say I want equality I am not saying I want to take over the pay of a man I am just saying I deserve fair pay based on what I bring to the table. When I demand for equality I am not saying the Boy-Child shouldn’t be sent to school I am just saying that the Girl-Child has a place in the classroom. When I demand for equality I am not saying a Boy-Child born should be frowned at I am just saying the Girl-Child born should be heralded with joy.

When I demand for equality I am not saying the wife should be above the husband I am just saying the wife should have a place in the partnership. When I demand for equality I am not saying Men have to do the cooking I am just saying whoever wants to should be allowed to. When I demand for equality I not saying men should become Mijin Hajiya (Men controlled by women). I am just saying women should be matar Alhaji(a wife) with rights. When I demand for equality I am not saying men should be disinherited I am just saying women have a right to inherit and be inherited from. When I demand for equality I am not saying I am better than you. I am just saying you should not be afraid of who I am.

At the end of the day my demand for equality does not take anything away from you. It only ensures I get what is truly mine so why all the bad belle(hatred)?

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Aisha Yesufu in Nigeria.