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.
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!
How are you? After approximately two months of “shelter at home” (depending on where you are in the world), I would love to know how are you really?
Are you pulling your hair out? Tired of online learning and Zoom calls? Longing to spend time with friends and colleagues? Itching for things to open up so you can get back to some sort of normalcy?
Or are you enjoying the slower pace of life? Not missing the commute or the hours spent in your car getting from one activity to the next? Relishing having an excuse to order in to support your local restaurants rather than figuring out yet again what to cook for dinner?
If you’re like me you’ve felt it all at some point. From calm and peace to anger and frustration all before breakfast.
But I think what I’ve found most revealing about myself during this slowdown is how much I value my freedom. I’m a bit of a rebel, so I really don’t like being told what I can and cannot do. It’s why I’ve chosen the path of entrepreneurship over corporate life.
However, I also recognize how important it has been for us to come together as a global community and make choices that benefit the whole rather than doing what we feel like doing at any given moment.
I’ve also found myself asking questions about who wields power, particularly in times of chaos, and can I trust them? With revelations happening constantly about our so-called “leaders” it’s challenging to know who or what to believe.
How did this whole thing happen and how do we ensure that it never happens again? Because I really don’t want to sit around, with fingers and toes crossed, hoping someone else is minding the store.
Do we continue to put our faith in those who hold the power and claim to have our best interests at heart? Or is it time for each of us to acknowledge and take back our own power? Our AWE-thentic Power?
AWE-thentic Power comes from within. It’s your birthright. Your inherent worth. It’s something that every human being on the planet has a right to embody. It’s just that most of us have forgotten.
In some cases, our AWE-thentic Power is taken from us. At other times, we give it away, perhaps unconsciously.
We give it away when we don’t stand up for ourselves. When we let others treat us poorly. When we stay quiet in the face of abuse or wrongdoing.
We give it away when we conform to fit in or follow outdated rules so we will be liked.
We give it away when we stay in toxic relationships or situations too long. Or when we let others decide our life path.
In some circumstances, life is just too overwhelming and we’re too tired or afraid to take back our power. It just seems easier to give in.
But for those of us who believe we have a choice, it’s time. Time to take back our power for ourselves and our sisters. Because when one of us rises we all rise. When one of us steps up and out we all are lifted. When one of us shines our light, the darkness recedes. And when one of us raises our vibration, the vibration of the entire planet rises.
And that’s where we are right now. At a turning point. We either keep playing small or we rise together.
We either stay asleep or we wake up to what our soul came here to do. Stepping outside our comfort zone and into our potential, our purpose, our destiny.
We didn’t just come here to enjoy the scenery – although we should do that as much as possible. We came here for a reason.
You incarnated into that beautiful body of yours so that your soul could experience its own growth and transformation. And your soul’s purpose is what makes you come alive.
Your soul is the source of your AWE-thentic Power! Get to know her!
You have the power to co-create your life and to participate in the ongoing evolution of the Universe. Your dream merges into something bigger than yourself – the greater story you are destined to live.
Here’s something to remember…you’re not given a dream unless you have the capacity to fulfill it. We’re unlimited in our capacity for impact. So what are you waiting for?
But how do I hear her, you ask? How do I know what I came here to do?
Your soul speaks to you through your intuition. So that gut feeling…listen to it! That calling that keeps nudging you…listen to it! That phrase that keeps showing up, that desire that keeps creeping in, that passion that keeps tugging at your heart strings. Listen to it!!
Women are naturals at this. Tuning into their gut. Trusting their instincts. Possessing a “knowingness” about things. Listening, feeling, being with emotions.
And this is why we need more women in leadership positions. Why we need a paradigm shift bringing the feminine into every sector of society.
Not because the masculine energy is bad. We’re all designed to have both masculine and feminine qualities and attributes. We’re just out of balance.
It’s time to move from competition to cooperation, achievement to fulfillment, doing to being. We need more love, creativity, connectedness, receptivity, wisdom, and compassion. More honesty, vulnerability, and community.
AWE-thentic Power is shared power. It’s power with – not over.
We need to support each other on the journey. We need our sisters to be strong and re-claim their voice. Let’s start affirming each other’s gifts. Encouraging each other’s potential. Supporting each other’s dreams.
Together we can achieve far more than we can imagine. Because your soul doesn’t play small. And neither does the Universe.
You are a partner in the Divine Dance. So let the dancing begin!
Be bold. Be daring. Be AWE-dacious!
Are you afraid that life as we know it will never be the same?
Or are you excited about the opportunities we now have to take a pause, gain a Broader view, and move forward from a place of love, compassion, inspiration, and empowerment?
Maybe you’re feeling a bit of both depending on the hour or the day. Whatever you’re feeling is absolutely perfect. The key is to feel it fully.
In fact, it seems as if the whole world has been asked to slow down, listen, and really feel into what’s being asked of us individually and collectively.
We have been given an amazing opportunity to re-imagine life on our planet. To question where we are and where we’re headed. To effect the changes that until now we have only dreamt of.
We can either be drawn into the energies of uncertainty and fear, or we can transmute them for the benefit of our awakening and the rise of global consciousness.
In the depths of your soul there is a place of peace and calm, an unwavering and steady self, that knows you’ve got this. No matter what happens next or what changes may be on the horizon, the Source of all that is shines as a light in the darkness and loving shelter in the storm.
If you’re looking for a place to explore the shifts in thoughts, beliefs, and actions we are being invited to consider as we step into the Edge of evolution…I would love for you to join me and my co-hosts, Sheila Cash, Teri Angel, and Mira Rubin, for our new podcast entitled The Broader Edge…Candid Conversations that Envision a New Future.
Our mission is to empower and engage you in shaping our tomorrow because who you are and what you do matters.
You can find us every other Thursday beginning April 23rd at 5:00 p.m. ET on Facebook at Enlightened World Network. This link will take you there…https://www.facebook.com/enlightenedworldnetwork.
Don’t wait for things to change…be the change! See you on the Edge!
Be bold. Be daring. Be AWE-dacious!
Last week I had an experience that shook me, angered me, and inspired me to write this blog. As much as I really didn’t want to share something so personal and knew it might invite criticism, I felt I had to. Because if we stay quiet nothing changes.
Spoiler Alert…This is not a blog about breast cancer or the pros and cons of mammograms. But that’s where it begins.
For a number of years, I received annual mammograms as women are encouraged to do. And I didn’t have a problem with them – despite the discomfort. In fact, I’m so grateful that for the most part in the U.S. we have access to the latest medical technology.
But as I became more knowledgeable about alternative and holistic medicine, I chose to forego mammograms and instead began using thermography. Once again, I’m not here to talk about the pros and cons and I know many of you will vehemently disagree with my decision. That’s fine.
We don’t have to agree to respect each other. But please hear me out.
So a recent thermography appointment revealed a spot on one of my breasts. There was no concern associated with it and I was told to return in a year. However, in speaking with my holistic practitioner about this he suggested exploring the option of having an ultrasound rather than a mammogram just to double check.
So I reached out to an imaging center, explained that I did not want to have a mammogram, and inquired as to whether I could have an ultrasound instead. They said yes and made the appointment.
When I arrived, the technician escorted me into a room with a mammography machine. I politely told her I was here for an ultrasound and she said she needed to ask me some questions. She then told me that their protocol is to do a mammogram first and then decide if an ultrasound is warranted. I replied that I did not want to have the mammogram. “So you’re refusing the mammogram?” she asked. “Yes,” I responded.
The technician then left to speak with the doctor. When she returned, she told me they had decided to go ahead with the ultrasound, but that they couldn’t issue a complete report without the mammogram. I was fine with that.
But something had shifted since I first arrived. No longer was there a sense of caring in her voice. Instead, a wall went up.
I was now viewed as a trouble-maker. I wasn’t playing by their rules. And they didn’t like it.
Now I can understand that they might be concerned from a liability standpoint. But I was more than happy to release them from any liability if they had requested it.
In any event, I’m taken to the ultrasound room where an equally cold female technician performs the exam barely speaking to me throughout. She then says she’ll be back, but I need to stay on the table as the doctor will want to perform the exam as well.
Now I’m starting to get a little nervous. Because anytime I’ve had an ultrasound in the past the doctor has not needed to come in and perform the exam again. So I’m starting to think something’s wrong. And if you’ve ever had a diagnostic test of any kind for what might potentially be a serious disease, you can relate to the fear in wondering if everything’s alright.
A few minutes later a male doctor walks in and introduces himself. He then proceeds to use his hand to perform a breast exam. He doesn’t ask permission. He doesn’t explain what he’s doing or why. He just helps himself while the female technician looks on. When he finishes, he proceeds to do the same ultrasound exam.
Once he’s finished, and while I’m still lying on the table, he launches into a lecture based on his 25 years of experience about why my decision to use thermography and refuse a mammogram is ill-informed. This despite the fact that he can find nothing wrong from the exam. (Thank-you, God!)
I said nothing as he spoke waiting for the nightmare to come to an end. Frankly, I’ve come to expect this type of reaction from the medical community.
But once I was in a vertical position and fully clothed the anger started to build…
What right did he have to touch my breast without asking me?
What right do they have to treat me like I’m an idiot?
Why am I not allowed to make decisions that affect MY body, My health, MY life?
And why didn’t I speak up during the exam?
Why? Because I was scared. I was afraid that something was wrong and I just wanted to know what was happening. His unprofessional and uncaring behavior was secondary to me at that moment.
And the fact that I was lying in a horizontal position, half-clothed, as he stood over me made it more difficult for me to “stand” in my power.
How often does this happen to women? We’re “put in our place” by an authority figure. We’re made to question our intelligence, convictions, and rights because we want to do things differently. And even worse, while other women stand by and watch it happen.
What will it take for each and every one of us to take back our inherent AWE-thentic Power?
To find our voice again and speak up for what we know is Our Truth?
To trust our gut, our intuition, even when nobody else agrees with us?
From the bedroom to the board room, from hospitals to universities, from Washington to London to Baghdad, it’s time!
It’s time sisters to re-claim Our Voice and begin using it to speak Our Truth while encouraging others to speak theirs. For our own evolution and the evolution of our planet.
To become heroines of our own lives and support women around the globe in becoming heroines of their own.
The feminine is rising and it’s time. Time for the feminine and masculine to come back into balance for the sake of our families, our communities, and our world. Let’s do this together!!
Be bold. Be daring. Be AWE-dacious!
P.S. Want support to find your voice and speak your truth while making your unique impact in the world? My on-line course Impact from the Inside Out was designed for women just like you. Learn more here…https://awepartners.com/social-impact-course/