Women may dominate the red carpets at award shows and film premieres but it’s a different story behind the set. Industry figures show that in 2013, women accounted for just 16% of directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors. That’s where The Goddess Project comes in.
Armed with nothing but a camera and a customized campervan, two women, Holli and Sara, ditched their lives working in the media industry to travel 10,000 miles across the US and make a grassroots documentary film on the lives of women from all over the country. “I grew up watching mainly male protagonists in films and without seeing women I related to on TV shows and media,” says Holli, 24. “But we want to change that.”
A feminist group based in Guangzhou, China staged an online protest against the sexual exploitation of women in the workplace, revealing a photograph with a message boldly written in red on a whiteboard behind them: “My vagina does not come free with my labor.” More words were written on the women’s thighs, reiterating: “Not freebies.”
The campaign was in response to a recent fatal rape case involving a 20-year-old woman at a state-owned company who was asked by her boss to a dinner. She was sexually assaulted by her boss’s friend and died as a result of her injuries.“Don’t ask your staff to provide part-time escort services. Women should only be asked to provide knowledge or technical skills in the workplace, but not other things,” says Ye Haiyan, an advocate of women’s and children’s rights.
Marvel has come under heavy fire over a cover for its forthcoming Spider-Woman series that shows the superhero in what is being described as a “blatantly sexualized” pose. The new series, set to debut in November, starring Jessica Drew as Spider-Woman shows her on all fours, in a skin-tight red outfit on the cover.
It drew immediate and scathing criticism.”She looks like she’s wearing body-paint, and that’s a big no-no for an industry still trying to remember that women exist and may perhaps read comics and also don’t want to feel completely gross when they do so,” wrote science fiction site io9.
“They didn’t expect to see a Muslim girl box. It’s like, oh my god, a woman’s doing something. She’s not staying at home and just being a housewife,” says Ambreen Sadiq, one of Britain’s first Muslim female boxers.
Throughout her boxing journey, the 20-year-old former UK champion has faced serious prejudice from the British Muslim community, her neighbors, her school friends and even some members of her family. She says she has been bullied in school and even received death threats after her sister made her a Facebook fan page. She believes the controversy has more to do with culture and how people have been brought up rather than religion.
Though she is disappointed at the lack of support from her community, Sadiq remains undeterred and continues to box. “Anything that you do, there are going to be people that are negative and don’t like it. You have to decide: do you want to do what you love, or do you want to please other people? Don’t let anyone get in the way of your dream no matter who it is,” she says in a recent interview with the Telegraph.
Years after her own daughter became a global crusader for women’s education, Tor Pekai Yousafzai, the mother of Malala Yousafzai, remained illiterate. But recently, Mrs. Yousafzai has been learning to read and write — and her husband has been helping more with domestic tasks.
“She wants to learn. She wants to get an education. She goes to school five days a week. She does her homework,” Malala said of her mother in a recent interview with New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor. She invited her mother, who has generally shied from the spotlight, to address the audience. Mrs. Yousafzai rose, described her new language skills and how they had changed her life, and said a few words in English.
An estimated 293,000 American youth are currently at risk of being exploited in the commercial sex trade, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. One out of three of children who run away from home each year in the U.S. will be lured into or forced into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. 90% of runaways and throwaways will eventually end up in the sex trade.
In honor of Marie Claire's 20th anniversary, the magazine celebrates 20 women audaciously blazing new paths for women and girls. Among them is Olivia Wilde, the actress and activist working to redefine charitable giving and contributions.
"I don’t mean to sound ungrateful to the people who give money to charities," Wilde says. "But I yearn for a better way, a more consistent way, to give." Wilde co-founded Conscious Commerce and collaborated with Anthropologie to create and sell a tea dress, donating $100,000 in proceeds to New Light Kolkata, which works to keep girls from being forced into the sex trade.
"There’s a certain amount of cynicism connected to philanthropy," says Wilde, a board member for Artists for Peace and Justice in Haiti. “But I’m optimistic. I want to show people not to lose hope.”
Fatuma Fofana didn’t have Ebola, but that didn’t matter as one clinic after another turned the mother-to-be away. When the fourth clinic finally opened its doors to her, it was too late.
Fofana is one of many pregnant women to be lost to the Ebola panic that has gripped Liberia. Health workers and hospitals are turning away patients, leaving pregnant women at greater risk of miscarriages and death. Throughout the villages, families tell stories of loved ones who have died from malaria, diabetes and other treatable diseases.
“The epidemic is having a chilling effect on the overall health care delivery,” said Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. “Out of fear of being infected with the disease, health care practitioners are afraid to accept new patients, especially in community clinics all across the country.”
17 years ago, Aissa Marou went to the well to collect water, a trip she has made six times a day since she was a girl. With her newborn baby strapped on her back, she leaned over and threw the man-made rope in the well but unexpectedly lost her balance, causing her to fall into the well face-forward with the newborn.
Aissa is one of many women in her village who have fallen down an open well while collecting water in the Sahel — a narrow strip of land below the Sahara desert and one of the harshest places to live on earth. For women in the Sahel, the first step out of poverty begins with clean water.
Join charity: water in their campaign to bring clean water to 100,000 people in the Sahel region of Mali and Niger. Today, Aissa is still fetching water from the same well that almost claimed her life. Help fund a water project and change a woman’s life.
Increasing acts of violence against women from around the world have led many to ask, “Where are the men? What can be done to bring an end to the atrocities committed against women and girls?” Bina Shah, a columnist for DAWNS DIGEST believes that “a crisis of masculinity needs to be addressed in order to see a reduction in sexual violence against women.”
In her latest Op-Ed, Shah calls for an honest look at the true origin of male-perpetrated violence — the skewed concept of masculinity in patriarchal societies, which operates in both war and peace. She also highlights organizations that are working to reduce sexual violence by changing the attitudes of men and boys.
In Bosnia, the “Young Men Initiative” has successfully changed attitudes by teaching boys and young men through workshops and sports that a “real man” does not have to dominate women or use violence to prove his masculinity. Similarly, the Rwanda Men’s Resource Center works to “engage men” in the support of women’s leadership and rights.
A new crop of self-empowerment videos have emerged that address body-image issues and encourage young girls to be themselves.
In the music video for “All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor sings, dances and brags about not being thin: “Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no Size 2./But I can shake it, shake it, like I’m supposed to do.” In another video, for “Try,” a number of women wipe the makeup off their faces as the singer Colbie Caillat implores them to stop being so focused on their images.
Viewers are responding in droves. “All About That Bass” spent much of the last week at No. 1 at the iTunes store. And “Try” has been watched on YouTube nearly 20 million times since its release in July.
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