Armed with laptops, blood-pressure monitors and pregnancy tests, the young women ride their bicycles to remote villages providing health, agricultural and IT services. They are known as “Infoladies,” and they are working to bring change to rural Bangladesh.
“I feel like a rockstar while passing through the village roads, as children clap when I pass them,” said 30-year-old Infolady Shahina Begum.
The program — launched by local not-for-profit Dnet to facilitate the broader dissemination of information technology in the country — has gained worldwide attention and may soon be replicated in other countries in Africa, Latin America and South Asia.
“An Infolady is an entrepreneur. They are innovative, and sometimes they come up with services that were very much in demand but not available,” said the head of the initiative, Laura Mohiuddin. “These women are also agents of change.”
AT&T made a $1 million contribution to Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that seeks to bridge the gender gap in technology by equipping girls with computing skills. The donation will help the organization expand beyond its current outposts in five U.S. states.
Since their start in 2012, 3,000 girls have graduated from Girls Who Code clubs and camps across the country, with 95 percent of the students wanting to major in computer science in college. “It has made becoming a computer scientist seem possible,” said Anah Lewi, one of the graduates.
During the organization’s summer program, high school girls learned to code, worked on programming robots and met with women working in technology and engineering.
After being repeatedly sexually harassed and stalked, two teenage girls committed suicide at their school in India. The engineering students, Madhu and Nikita, both left suicide letters at their desks decrying the way women are viewed in society.
"Every day a new man would come and chase us. They would pass lewd remarks and offer us phone numbers. The people around us would stare as if we had done something wrong,” wrote 16-year-old Madhu in her six-page letter.
"I have not done anything wrong to bring shame on my family. I am ending my life because I cannot take this daily tension," 17-year-old Nikita wrote, urging police to crackdown on sexual harassment and warning of more suicides happening if action is not taken.
Arpita Mitra is a Half the Sky Movement Campus Ambassador who had the honor of being selected to represent India as a fellow for the “Study of the US Institute Program on Women’s Leadership.”
This unique opportunity gave her the chance to interact and exchange ideas with other young leaders such as her that are working to make women’s equality a reality around the globe. “This experience made me optimistic about the change that youth can bring in their own way,” said Arpita.
“The future is in safe hands of strong, young women who I believe shall determine the path of tomorrow.”
To learn more about Arpita’s visit to DC, read her guest blog on A Path Appears.
Manju Mitra was fearful for her life after her husband beat her, demanded a bigger dowry and then threatened to kill her. Most Indian women suffering from abuse think twice before walking into a police station to lodge a complaint due to fear of sexual harassment from the all-male officers. An ATM-style machine installed at a bank is now empowering women like Mitra to report abuse without fear.
ICLIK, or “Instant Complaint Logging Internet Kiosk,” allows women to type out a complaint, or if she is illiterate, speak into the machine to register her complaint before it is forwarded to the police.
Mitra, now living with her father, was surprised at the speed of police action. “I’ve heard my husband is on the run because the police are trying to arrest him — and this is just two days after I lodged the complaint,” she said.
Beyoncé didn’t just prove (re: remind us) that she’s a feminist. She used a massive, multi-national platform to make sure we knew it matters. The moment represents a culmination of feminism’s trickling from the edges into the pop culture mainstream — a process Beyoncé, whether one agrees with her approach or not — shot into overdrive.”
"Women’s Equality Day is not just a celebration; it is a call to action," writes Susan Cochran, president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland, in an Op-Ed for the Baltimore Sun.
On Aug. 26, 1920, Congress certified passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. While significant progress has been made through legislation and court action, equality did not automatically come with the right to vote, Cochran notes.
"The message of Women’s Equality Day is that the vote is precious and we should use it to continue to pursue the goal: full equality," says Cochran.
Four male students from North Carolina State University have developed a prototype for a nail polish that detects date rape drugs and changes color when it is exposed to them.
“In the U.S., 18% of women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime,” the company says on its Undercover Colors Facebook page. “That’s almost one out of every five women in our country. We may not know who they are, but these women are not faceless. They are our daughters, they are our girlfriends, and they are our friends.”
“To every young woman out there and every person out there, you determine your worth and if you feel you’re ever in a situation where you are not being treated with respect or the way you are being treated is not acceptable to you then you have every right to walk away and every right to stand up for yourself.”
Shima Aktar was an 11-year-old girl in Bangladesh when her father pulled her out of school and began planning for her marriage to an older man. Shima would have accepted her father’s decision were it not for the support of a local youth advocacy group that educates young people on gender roles, sex discrimination and early marriage.
Now that she knows her rights, Shima is fighting hard to assert them, joining a grassroots army of young women in Bangladesh who are determined to change traditional views about gender. According to UNICEF, some 600,000 adolescents around the country — 60 percent of them girls — are now educated on issues like the legal marriage age of boys and girls, as well as the importance of education and family planning.
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.