Saturday, January 26, 2008

World Social Forum Global Day of Action=Foro Social Mundial Día de Acción

See-read Shawn's reflections on the ground in Bangladesh on Davos World Economic Forum in his Uncultured Project posts: Post 1 / Post2/ Post3

See-hear-listen how Rising Voices grants have enabled young women in Bangladesh and young people in Bolivia, Colombia, India, and Sierra Leone and other parts of the world to express their opinions, dreams, hopes, and life stories on these issues and more. You can read more about global citizens' media & download guides in Spanish, Bangla, and English.

See Global Voices video editor, Juliana Rincón Parra's overview and discussion of Davos Videos
including Youtube and other bloggers' answers to The Davos Question:“What one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008?”

Read (es) how Las Panchas en Honduras are working & talking together on their lives, futures, and environmental issues via videophotography and community organizing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Post-Honduras, back to spring semester, updates, links

Since 4 Jan 08, I'm been back from my fun and hot Honduras trip, including a Latin New Year's eve and last day shopping in San Pedro Sula--thanks to Mr. Nando and my gracious host Sandra. Here's a mountain view from near her casa....

While in El Progreso & San Pedro Sula, I saw many fast food franchises (owned by a large soft drink corporation), two big malls with few customers, a large grocery store & many pulperias (small neighborhood stores) and street markets,

a huge export processing zone (EPZ) and heard of more cases of missing-murdered maquila women in San Pedro Sula (as in Ciudad Juarez, MX and other Central American countries). I bonded with Mr. Nando-driver through listening y singing to radio music (Alejandra Guzman muy bien) in Spanish and English and used my debit card to buy groceries and other items (CAFTA?).

Beyond my two previous posts, I also spent some time walking y jostling through street markets and driving through some streets of these two towns. One afternoon, I spent three hours sitting outside a visitation at a funeral home and where I met a young maquila worker, his six month old son (who ended up on my lap ), his young wife, and gradually his extended family-- y all in Spanish. Like many others, he also wanted to leave the maquila and go El Norte for better pay and work.

At the same time, I experienced-learned some limitations of infrastructures of roads, drinkable water, sewers (some serious flooding my last night in El Progreso), schools, ATMs, poverty, and public safety (bank and store guards with large guns and other security guards with machetes), and my need to work on my Spanish and to retain my improved gringa comprehension. Unlike Bangladesh, no loadshedding, however.

Since my return, I've been recovering-resting, & making my transition to cold Illinois and the start of the spring semester at my university. I am teaching two upper division classes: Globalization & Development and Comparative Race-Ethnic (gender-sexuality....) Relations. Hence I will be sharing some new links, thoughts, and insights from these classes and my students.

Some recent and interesting posts during the past month:

Shawn at Uncultured Project has a a very insightful post-videos-photos on post Cyclone Sidr aid efforts--hard lessons of aid work. I will be using much of his site and videos in my globalization class.

The Nari Jibon bloggers have continued their efforts in English and Bangla. Four bloggers (in English and Bangla) received awards for their efforts and also participated in a video training workshop conducted by Shawn. You can follow this link to the bloggers' names and their prize winning efforts.

Rezwan has an excellent new post on social media-nonprofits-NGOs.

Last but not least, the USA is in the midst of primaries for selecting the next president, and I will leave those thoughts for another post. An interesting exchange on race x gender transpired on Democracy Now between Gloria Steinem and Dr. Melissa Harris-Lacewell about issues raised by Steinem's op-ed article.

And I've been paying attention to las gatas....and their statement on peaceful dreams....

35 years on Roe V. Wade, Global Reproductive Rights

Today 22 January 2008 marks 35 years since the Roe v. Wade decision on reproductive privacy and abortion in the USA. Unfortunately, access to safe and legal abortions as well as women's control over their own bodies and reproduction has been a contested terrain in the USA as well as elsewhere. Various state legislatures, court decisions, and various federal mandates have affected women's access to abortion and birth control around the world--as in the last 24 years (except during the Clinton years) international family planning & women's organizations have had their U.S. federal funds & grants restricted by the gag rule, instituted during Reagan-Bush1-Bush2 --unless the programmes actively opposed abortions and related activities. In turn, we got the failed abstinence policies and programmes and & even less access to safe and effective birth control!

For those in USA and other countries with safe-legal abortions that have come of sexual age-activities that might lead to the risk of pregnancy since 1973, all of us have taken for granted that we would have access-choice. Others remember life (and loss of lives pre-Roe). Still millions of women in other countries have never had access to such safe reproductive choices, but rely on unsafe procedures in unlicensed clinics and/or folk remedies/desperate measures and higher levels of maternal mortality. Pictures of dead women who died from a Drano and/or coathanger abortions remain seared in my memory. Other women lack even the ability to dissolve abusive marriages as in the Philippines much less having control over their reproductive lives and ability to use birth control and make reproductive choices.

Or Liza at Culturekitchen offers her thoughts on outsourced births or where women surrogates in India and other countries in the South carry-bear babies for affluent women in the North and/or the South.

Many blogs have marked this day with commentary and links. AlterNet has a extensive and thoughtful list of posts on reproductive justice & gender.

My favorite photo appeared in Feministe:

Time for more Jezebels and others to step forward and speak up for safe reproductive choices and lives for women around the world!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Las Panchas

Last Friday, I went up to Los Laureles,a colonia on the mountain outside of El Progreso with several others (OYE's director y translator, Sandra Erika Gómez Osorio, two facilitators, and Mr. Nando--skilled driver) via rutted roads as we searched for las baleadas- a typical Honduran snack--but settled for soda and crackers, only. As we climbed up the mountain road, we passed many concrete block houses--finished and unfinished--and many neighborhood pulperias--small grocery stores-markets.

We arrived at an open air after school program of Las Panchas--a group of young women who are using video as a tool to raise social consciousness among themselves, families, and communities on subjects such as environment, drug abuse, and life. The members gradually drifted in, picked up name tags, signed in, and we started the meeting. The oldest Las Panchas--Leticia--videotaped the meeting and proceedings.

I shared photos of the Nari Jibon Project videobloggers and talked a bit about the Nari Jibon programme in Bangladesh. Las Panchas asked many questions about Bangladesh including questions about the bloggers clothes, burkhas, teen age pregnancy, dowry among other things. Although the weather and temperatures are nearly the same between Bangladesh and Honduras in December, the differences in clothing were quite apparent especially given the three piece salwar kameez and burkha of the Nari Jibon bloggers in contrast to the tight capri, jeans, and t-shirts of Las Panchas and in religion--Muslim and Catholic. At the same time, I recognized the same sly glances, whispers, and behaviours that I have seen at Nari Jibon project when young women must sit and listen to an older foreigner-gringa talk. I explained that we were very interested in sharing pictures with one another over time.

The two psychology and sociology students --Yalena and Jorge-- who facilitated the meeting, talked about developing trust with one another and group dynamics for Las Panchas. The members talked earnestly and at times with tears as they sorted through their conflicts. This session ended with two songs by Jorge, soda, and crackers.

I shared some pens from my Carbondale bank--First Southern Bank-- and some small toiletries from my travels--a form of socio-emotional cleansing as conveyed by apt translator, Sandra and I provided translation of the contents on request.

As the meeting ended, a group of Las Panchas took me to the back of the building where one tried out her 'Asalaam Malikum' and then posed for a photo.

I also took a picture of video operator, Leticia and her two daughters.

We headed back down the mountain around 5pm--very slowly over rutted roads--and sped back into El Progreso...for me to contemplate what I had seen and heard...and resolve to work more on my Spanish before my next trip to Honduras....