How many of you think it’s a good thing that girls as young as 10 years old are getting pregnant? I think I know the answer.
Our February Film Festival continues with “Girls at the Heart of It: Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Kenya.”
In Kenya, anti-rights movements are blocking access to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) for girls and young people—a critical barrier to girls and young women realizing their full potential.
In this episode, we meet Purity Kagwiria, Executive Director of Akili Dada, an organization that provides education and leadership training to high school- and college-aged girls and young women. We also meet Mary Adhiambo, a young leader and sexual assault survivor in her early twenties who is taking her new organizing skills to the streets, and Mary Anyango, a high school student who is sharing what she’s learned about sexuality and leadership in her own community.
Across Kenya, young people and especially teenage girls are denied CSE and access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. According to a 2017 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report, more than 390,000 10- to 19-year-olds became pregnant in Kenya between July 2016 and June 2017.
Patriarchy and religious and social conservatism are exacerbating the issue: teenage pregnancy is high, along with maternal mortality rates and rates of unsafe abortion. Pregnancy—often a result of a lack of comprehensive sexuality education—is one of the main reasons that girls drop out of school. For girls in Kenya, misinformation on sexuality and gender is coming from many different places: religious leaders, individuals with deep cultural and traditional beliefs, media and news sources, social media, or teachers without the skills or training to develop CSE.
But teenage girls and young women in Kenya are change-makers and leaders. Many of them are advocating for comprehensive sexuality education, educating their peers on their bodies and rights, and working for laws and policies that advance sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is about more than just reproductive health, pregnancy, and sex. A truly comprehensive sexuality education program includes positive, scientific, and nonjudgmental information about so much more, including gender roles and power relations, bodily autonomy, consent, and gender identity (among other important topics).
CSE is an incredibly effective tool to empower girls. A 2019 United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report outlines why comprehensive sexuality education is crucial: it leads to improved health; contributes to gender equality; enables young women to understand basic facts about their bodies; encourages young people to think about families and social relationships, and recognize inappropriate behavior; and helps prepare women for healthy, consensual, and pleasurable relationships.
However, CSE is rare, and even basic information about sexual health can be lacking in many places. For example, 48% of girls in the Islamic Republic of Iran believe menstruation is a disease. Likewise, 51% of girls in Afghanistan and 82% in Malawi were unaware of menstruation before they first experienced it.
In the United States, CSE programming varies widely across the country. Currently, just 29 states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia mandate sexuality education, and 39 states mandate HIV education. Although almost every state has some guidance on how and when sexuality education should be taught, decisions are often left up to individual school districts.
Nothing changes if we don’t talk about it. Join us!
Be bold. Be Daring. Be AWE-dacious!
Have you ever felt out of place or unwelcome?
Sadly, this is a daily experience for members of the LGBTQI community. And for many, it’s worse. They live in fear.
LGBTQI+ discrimination is rampant around the globe. As of March 2019, there are 70 United Nations Member States (35%) that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual acts, with imprisonment as the most common penalty. Indeed, in 37% of these countries, consensual same-sex acts can be punished by life imprisonment. In six countries, a person can receive the death penalty for being found “guilty” of consensual same-sex sexual acts, with three in Asia (Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen) and three in Africa (Nigeria, Sudan, and Somalia).
In 30 states in the United States, LGBTQI+ people are at risk of being fired, refused housing, or denied social services simply because of identifying as LGBTQI+.
Our February Film Festival continues tomorrow, February 10th, at 7:00 p.m. CST as we feature “Living Out Loud: LGBTQI rights in Georgia.”
In this episode, we meet feminist activist Ekaterine Aghdgomelashvili, a trailblazer for LGBTQI+ rights in Georgia and co-founder of Women’s Initiative Supporting Group (WISG). Eka and the other leaders at WISG focus their work on empowering women and LGBTQI+ people in Georgia and working to advance their rights through political participation, economic empowerment, and cultural exchange.
We also meet Eka T., an aspiring young artist and fellow community activist, in the tense days leading up to a rally for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). Through the eyes of Eka A., Eka T., and others, we see how anti-rights and anti-gender movements are endangering the lives of LGBTQI+ people and seeking to rollback rights gained by the gender justice movement in Georgia.
A 2018 study on hate crimes and discrimination in Georgia found that the majority of Georgians generally think it’s important to protect the rights of minorities—with the exception of LGBTQI+ people.
While officially a secular country, church and state are far from separate in Georgia. LGBTQI+ people in Georgia are the targets of violence and state-sanctioned oppression because of the undue influence of the Georgian Orthodox Church on social and political life in the country. Anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric, led by religious and political leaders, has resulted in homophobic and transphobic violence, discrimination, hate crimes, and murders throughout the country, as well as state-ordered threats against LGBTQI+ individuals and activists. At the same time, LGBTQI+ and feminist movements in Georgia have made gains and have grown stronger over the years.
Don’t miss this eye-opening documentary and discussion. You are needed and Now is our time!
Be bold. Be Daring. Be AWE-dacious!!
P.S. We will be hosting the Fundamental film series on Wednesdays in February. It is a joint production from Academy Award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and the non-profit Global Fund for Women. At a time of unprecedented political uprisings around the globe, Fundamental introduces global audiences to grassroots movements and community leaders who are standing up for our fundamental human rights and working to hold governments accountable for healthier and more just societies for all.
I had an interesting dream last night.
Since Covid started, I’ve been remembering my dreams and I’ve heard that from others, too. How about you?
Anyway, last night I dreamt I was at a resort and I was trying to find my way outside to the pool area. I asked an employee and he pointed to a door but said we’re not allowed to use it. Then he showed me a small window. A man and then a woman jumped out through the window. But when I went to look out, the window seemed too small for me to get through. Then, magically, it became larger. However, when I looked out I saw my husband already in the water warning me not to jump. There was a large boulder and he was afraid I would get hurt. So I chose not to jump and instead went back inside to look for a door.
Ouch! Why didn’t I jump? Why did I listen to my husband? My logical side? The one that doesn’t take risks?
That’s really not like me. I’ve been taking risks for the last decade. I’m constantly pushing myself outside my comfort zone. Constantly doing things I’ve never done before.
Why? For a lot of reasons…
- Life is more interesting when we’re stretching ourselves
- We need more women leaders and it’s my mission to do everything I can to inspire women to step up and into their magnificence
- Women don’t sit by while women and children suffer so I want to encourage more women to become involved in social impact so together we can effect real and lasting change
- I believe my calling, my purpose in life is to use everything I’ve been given – every gift, talent, skill, experience, bit of wisdom to co-create the better world we imagine
- My soul came here for growth and transformation and I want to honor her
But my biggest reason for living outside my comfort zone is because I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and ask myself, “Why didn’t you jump?”
That’s my why. What’s yours? I want to hear!
Next week you have the opportunity to come together in a circle of courageous women to explore together our why.
What are you Passionate about?
What’s your Purpose?
How do you tap into Passion & Purpose to Invite Abundance into your life?
We’re circling up and there’s nothing more powerful on the planet than a circle of women on a mission.
I hope you’ll join us!
On November 10-12 from 12-1 pm CT, I’ve created a FREE Facebook Challenge called:
Grow Your Business – Grow Your Impact…
For More Passion, Purpose & Profit
You can join us live in the Business Women Giving Back Facebook Group where we’ll explore together how to…
Re-ignite your Passion
Discover your Purpose
Expand your Profit
When it comes down to it – it’s all about your Why!
Let’s leave the closed doors of 2020 behind and take a leap out the window together into the clear, blue waters of 2021 and our new future!
Be Bold. Be Daring. Be AWE-dacious!
A couple of weeks ago I was in Colorado for a short family vacation before sending my youngest son back to college. We love being out west in the winter to ski and the summer for a variety of activities including rock climbing, mountain biking, fly fishing, and whitewater rafting. Ok I only participate in the whitewater rafting, but this year I added a new dream activity to the list – paragliding!
I seem to have a deep desire to rise above the earth. With the existing chaos I feel this even more intensely. We’ve tried to go hot air ballooning numerous times, but it never works out. So this year I decided to take that as a sign and look for an alternative.
In looking back on the experience, I see a number of parallels to what life is like or can be like if we take the leap.
We gathered early in the morning to get our gear and meet our pilots. I was thrilled to be matched with a badass, female pilot named Anne. We all loaded into a pickup truck for the trek up the mountain. A long trek that was incredibly bumpy.
Can you relate to this experience? You feel like you’re climbing up a mountain in life. And it takes a really long time with lots of bumps and bruises on the way? But then eventually you arrive at the top and the view is magnificent!
We even saw some young bucks with new antlers playing on the hillside. The pilots began laying out the canopies and straightening the lines. Next, it was time to harness in. So I step into the device that holds my life in its hands. The thing that will keep me tethered to the canopy and my pilot.
Once we’re geared up, Anne explains to me how this whole thing is gonna go down. She’s going to begin counting backwards…3, 2, 1, go. Then we’re both going to begin running slowly – keeping our feet on the ground for as long as possible – and our eyes on the horizon. Because if I look down I might end up flat on my face. Comforting.
Mind you all this running is happening about 10 feet from the edge of the cliff. So I’m confused as to how I can keep running upright at 11,000 feet. But I decide to trust the process.
Just take one step at a time and keep your eyes on the horizon. Sage advice for anyone who’s reaching for a dream.
Before I could possibly be fully ready, I hear “let’s give it a minute for the wind” (which I don’t feel at all) and then the countdown begins. Anne’s yelling in my ear, “Keep running, keep running”. And I’m running toward the edge of the mountain, trying not to acknowledge the reality of the situation, but rather looking out at the horizon.
And the next thing I know, we’re air born. The running has stopped and instead I’m sitting in a swing of sorts enjoying the ride.
A leap of faith and we’re flying.
But Anne wasn’t done with me yet. She decided I need to learn how to fly this baby. She puts the brake cords into my hands so I could steer the dang thing. It was actually a lot easier than I would have expected – as long as you can keep your arms suspended indefinitely.
Of course, there was one last piece that we hadn’t yet discussed. How to ace the landing. I had visions of me tumbling to the ground with Anne landing on top of me, and some limb of mine broken in two. Thankfully, her 26 years of experience led to a much better plan. As a result of the winds, rather than landing upright we instead slid in on our behinds. And gracefully at that!
Here’s the thing…you can choose to stay safely on the ground, in your comfort zone, looking up into the sky and imagining what it would be like to fly.
Or you can find your mountain. Take the sometimes arduous and lengthy path to climb through all your resistances. Ask for guidance from a trusted advisor. Gear up for what is sure to be an adventure of a lifetime. And take that leap of faith to who knows where.
Don’t want to go it alone? Join me in my new Facebook Group, “Business Women Giving Back”. There are mountains to climb, adventures to be had, and a new future waiting to be co-created when you get clear on what you have to share and where you’re meant to serve.
I’ve got all the gear ready. I just need you and a little bit of courage!
Be bold. Be daring. Be AWE-dacious!
Women and girls are half of the world’s population and yet in 2020 they are not considered equals in most parts of the world.
And despite attempts in the social impact space to direct funding to organizations that serve women and girls, support is surprisingly deficient when compared with philanthropic giving as a whole.
In 2019, The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University published the first Women & Girls Index, which measures giving to more than 45,000 U.S. organizations dedicated to women and girls. The findings show that only 1.6% of all philanthropic support went to these causes. And through studies of foundation giving in both the U.S. and Europe, researchers estimate that only about 7% of all foundation grants specifically benefit women and girls.
How can this be? We know that female-led households are more likely to give to charity than male-led households and, at nearly every income level, women donate almost twice as much as men. Additionally, women are both more likely to give to women’s and girls’ causes and give larger amounts to these causes.
And despite the current challenges we’re facing, the financial status of women in the U.S. continues to improve. Women already own more than half of investable assets and control decision-making for $11 trillion. They are expected to inherit 70% of the $41 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfer over the next 35 years. More women obtain college degrees than men and more women are in the workforce than ever before.
So with the knowledge that making investments in women and girls promotes a ripple effect of change throughout families, communities, and even entire countries – why aren’t more women supporting causes that lift up women and girls? And what can we do to change that?
Perhaps the answer lies in the confusion over how we can effectively support women and girls around the globe. Of the philanthropic giving directed toward women and girls, 90 cents of each dollar are focused on reproductive health, leaving inadequate funding for the range of other issues affecting them. The factors that will lead to women rising into co-equal partnership with men are varied and go beyond reproduction.
Intersectionality emerged in the late 1980’s as a way to understand the complexities of women’s lives and to develop solutions that take these complexities into account. Coined by Kimberle Crenshaw the essence of intersectionality is that gender alone does not determine women’s experiences. According to Crenshaw, intersectionality is a way to see “multiple forms of exclusion”, as well as to advocate for women of all backgrounds and identities.
So what does that mean for those of us who desire to lift women and girls out of oppression? It means we need to focus on multiple issues at the same time. We can’t devote resources in one area and expect it to be enough.
But it can be a daunting task to sift through data and information and identify those efforts that have the greatest potential for social impact. There are many existing frameworks used by different organizations, but no single framework that is commonly used across the field. For example, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are not specific to women, do not organize the topics that improve women’s lives holistically in one place, and can be overwhelming given there are a total of 19 goals.
But what can feel overwhelming doesn’t have to be. In an effort to simplify the approach to better focus our efforts in the places where we are likely to have the greatest impact, I’ve created the:
7 Pillars of Women’s Empowerment and the Divine Feminine Rising
Using research from the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, we begin with the five core areas where the most promising solutions lead to the greatest impact on the lives of women and girls globally. These five dimensions are inextricably linked and provide a holistic view of how to create the greatest impact:
- Access to Healthcare
- Economic Empowerment
- Freedom from Violence
There is terrific work being done on the ground to address the issues that keep women and children disempowered. But is it enough? Are we moving women from a life of suppression and oppression quickly enough and at scale? What might we be missing?
Can we really make an impact on the empowerment of women and children if we’re living under the old constructs and beliefs of a patriarchal, hierarchical society? Constructs and beliefs around culture, religion, politics, business, education, healthcare that we have in many ways accepted for ourselves as truth. Until now.
The rise of the Divine Feminine on the planet is shifting the way we look at women and men, the roles we play, the privileges we have, where the power is held, and ultimately the imbalance that is prevalent in all sectors. And it’s time to incorporate two long forgotten pillars into the women’s empowerment movement and all sectors of society:
- Re-connecting to Mother Earth
- Restoring the Sacred Feminine
I believe these two anchor pillars merged with the five core pillars are the missing link to ending oppression and restoring equality for all. It’s time sisters to shift the paradigm that has allowed the “-isms” of sexism, racism, classism, etc…to fester and infect the health of our planet and humanity. Over the next couple of months I’ll share more about how we do this together.
Let’s get started!
Be Bold. Be Daring. Be AWE-dacious!