Monday, October 17, 2011 12:12 PM
This post originally appeared at
It’s hard not to be inspired when you meet Shannon Galpin. At first look she’s your average smart, athletic woman, living in Colorado. Dig a little deeper and you’ll learn she’s a single mom. Spend a few more minutes talking and she’ll tell you the story of how she left her career, sold her house and launched a nonprofit, committing her life to advancing education and opportunity for women and girls.
Galpin focuses her efforts on the war-torn country of Afghanistan, and with her organization, Mountain2Mountain, has already touched the lives of hundreds of men, women and children.
As the founder of Mountain2Mountain, I’ve been lucky to travel often throughout Afghanistan, working with Afghans as they strive to rebuild their country. My passion is working with Afghan women and girls as they fight to prove their value and worth in this male dominated culture. Afghanistan is consistently ranked as the worst place to be a woman and yet women and girls are key to the future of the country.
As a woman, and specifically, as a foreign woman, I’ve had unique insights into this country thanks to the concept of the Third Gender. A concept that treats foreign women as honorary males, and allows them to interact as equals with men, while still being a woman and therefore have full access to the women. In essence, acting as their proxy when they do not have a voice.
As a mountain biker I’ve felt the weight of women’s oppression knowing that in Afghanistan, women can’t ride bikes, but have embraced the Third Gender concept to the hilt by experiencing this country on two wheels. Via my motorcycle and my mountain bike I have ridden in several areas of Afghanistan, in the hopes that I could change stereotypes back home about the beauty and future tourism of Afghanistan, while challenging the stereotypes in Afghanistan of women on bikes.
Galpin recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan, and documented her time in an exclusive photo essay for EcoSalon
Learning to fish in Panjshir River by net.
Chaihanna in Kabul—fresh kebabs street-side.
Flying with the Afghan National Army to Khost Province. A quick stopover includes time for prayer.
All images by Shannon Galpin of Mountain2Mountain. Image at top is of a Buzkashi match in Panjshir Valley—horses and riders race through adjoining fields and roadways.
Friday, September 09, 2011 4:38 PM
President Obama’s summer reading list features five books by men authors (including Aldous Huxley and Abraham Verghese) and just two by women writers (Isabel Wilkerson and Emma Donoghue). That’s 70 percent male, reports Robin Black at Salon (Aug 24, 2011) with a gasp of disapproval even while admitting that this turn of events “is not the greatest crisis facing the arts, much less the nation.”
It’s true, critiquing the author gender ratio of the president’s beach reading at Martha’s Vineyard makes about as much sense as the media castigating Princess Kate for spending too much on candles to furnish the palace. But it is the perfect opening to suggest some terrific books by women that President Obama—and all men—might enjoy reading. Because it is true that, as a general rule, men tend to read men, and male-authored books get more airtime from critics. We know it anecdotally, and we know it statistically: The New York Times, for example, reviewed 524 books by men in a single year versus 283 by women, reveals a VIDA study.
So what books by women authors do you invite men to read? I’ll start the list off with Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout’s beautiful interconnected story collection; Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s memoir of growing up in Somalia; and West With the Night, Beryl Markham’s 1942 autobiography of bush piloting over Africa. What other gems, new or old, do you recommend?
Image by ruifernandes,
licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 11:45 AM
Chloe Angyal over at Feministing has a smart essay on a recent Paley Center for Media panel on women writers working in late-night television comedy. Sensing that the female panelists didn’t think gender was the true explanation for the dearth of women in comedy, Angyal draws an acute connection between women comedy writers and female traders on Wall Street:
It is no coincidence that the discussion of why there are so few women in late night comedy sounded so similar to a discussion of why there are so few women on the trading floor. In both industries, women are perceived to be naturally less gifted, ensuring that only the best women will put themselves forward. And in both industries, being loud and aggressive is a job requirement. Given that women in our society are discouraged from being loud and aggressive, the real failure of the women who can't hack it in a male-dominated work environment seems to be that they are, well, women.
Listening to the panelists on Thursday night, I was frustrated, but hardly surprised, that they insisted on portraying what is partly a cultural problem as a purely individual one. In late night as on Wall Street, the stakes are high. Speak out too loudly and you risk rocking the boat. You risk inviting the disapproval of the many men, and the few women, around you. You might end up as a cautionary tale, one of those women who couldn't hack it. You might even lose your job.
Image by TheeErin, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, May 20, 2010 3:13 PM
Developments has some troubling news about women farmers in poor areas. A startling amount (upwards of 80 percent) of the food in poor countries is produced by women, but they often don't have ample resources to work with and some even starve. As farmer Rosemary Mubita told the magazine: “Poor women farmers don’t get any support. They need help with seeds, fertilizer, credit. They are the ones who are growing the crops and cooking the food to feed their families, yet often are forced to go to bed hungry.” Mubita is helping promote a report about the state of women’s hunger and food production, which was recently released by Concern Worldwide—an organization trying to raise awareness and rally support for this important, but oft-neglected workforce.
Image by IRRI Images, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 5:43 PM
In the campaign against mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, many of the leading organizers are women. There’s Judy Bonds of Coal River Mountain Watch, whom we named an Utne visionary last year (and who is pictured here with another Utne visionary, Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx ). There’s Maria Gunnoe of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, who along with Bonds has won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her efforts. And, reports make/shift, there are front-line activists like Zoe Beavers, who did grunt work on a ground support crew for tree-sitters at a West Virginia mine site last August. (She was rewarded with trespassing charges.) Make/shift puts the work of these women in historical perspective:
Today’s activists are part of a long tradition. In 1965, Ollie “Widow” Combs laid down in front of the bulldozer readying to strip-mine her Kentucky farm. In the courtroom where she was sentenced to 20 hours in jail, the 61-year-old expressed her desire simply: to go back to her hollow and live out the rest of her life in peace. Contemporary activists take this demand a step further: they don’t want coal-related industries devastating anyone’s home.
Source: make/shift (article not available online)
Image by James Chase, courtesy of Coal River Mountain Watch.
Thursday, February 18, 2010 11:13 AM
Liza Monroy reports in Bust that since last October, Puebla, Mexico has been putting women behind the wheels of pink taxicabs in an effort to make the experience safer and harassment-free for women passengers. The program also helps combat stereotypes about women drivers and it provides job opportunities for women. It’s been so popular, that the Pink Taxi company plans to add a couple hundred more cars this year. Monroy also addresses any concerns that this is simply a quick fix that doesn’t solve the larger problem at hand. She writes:
Some women’s-rights activists have pointed out that painting a cab pink and putting a woman behind the wheel does not address the larger issue of sexual harassment, emphasizing that the city should do a better job weeding out harassers. Yet, in a country where machismo is still so commonplace, the service at least raises awareness and provides an alternative. And one undeniable benefit is the increase in employment opportunities for women in a traditionally male-dominated field. “I was eager to use Pink Taxi, not only because it’s safer,” says [Melissa] Ayala, “but also as a way to support other women who are trying to improve their economic situation.”
Image by didbygraham, licensed under Creative Commons.
Sunday, August 09, 2009 5:31 PM
Writing for Foreign Policy, Reihan Salam declares that the global dominance of men has come to an end. And what caused this “monumental shift of power from men to women”? Salam argues that the Great Recession is a “mortal blow to the macho men’s club called finance capitalism.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, men lost 80% of total jobs lost since November. Men struggle to deal with the mental effects of job loss, and the world increasingly looks to women for leadership:
Indeed, it’s now fair to say that the most enduring legacy of the Great Recession will not be the death of Wall Street. It will not be the death of finance. And it will not be the death of capitalism. These ideas and institutions will live on. What will not survive is macho. And the choice men will have to make, whether to accept or fight this new fact of history, will have seismic effects for all of humanity—women as well as men.
Although not all countries will respond by throwing the male bums out, the backlash is real—and it is global. The great shift of power from males to females is likely to be dramatically accelerated by the economic crisis, as more people realize that the aggressive, risk-seeking behavior that has enabled men to entrench their power—the cult of macho—has now proven destructive and unsustainable in a globalized world.
Source: Foreign Policy
Image by Elsie esq., licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, July 02, 2009 12:33 PM
In June, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his support for the banning of wearing burqas in public. Speaking to the French National Assembly, Sarkozy said that “The burqa is not welcome on French territory. In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity...It is a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.”
Needless to say, in the blogosphere these comments have set off a round of fiery debates reminiscent of the conversations about the 2004 French law that banned Muslim head scarves, Jewish yakamas, and large Christian crosses in public schools.
Writing for the Huffington Post, Liesl Gerntholtz, the director of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, argues that we need to look beyond controversial burqas: “Women's oppression is universal. Those who want to help address this sorry state of affairs should start not by telling Muslim women how to dress, but by tackling the root causes of this oppression both at home and abroad: discrimination, lack of access to services, and unequal economic opportunities.”
Newsweek senior editor Lisa Miller and a professor at the Chicago Theological Seminary, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, warn on the Washington Post blog On Faith that any government decision about which religions’ traditional clothing is offensive and very dangerous.
Over at the fantastic blog Muslimah Media Watch, Krista points out that the problems surrounding sexual oppression aren’t going to simply go away with the burqa:
So when these women make the “choice” to wear the burqa, they are not necessarily choosing between imprisonment and freedom, or between subservience and empowerment; they may be making this choice between multiple forms of imprisonment (symbolic or otherwise), or multiple options that still place them in subservient positions, or they may even be making this choice in a context where the burqa represents the positive side of those dichotomies.
Sources: Huffington Post, Newsweek, Washington Post, On Faith, Muslimah Media Watch
Image by fabbio, licensed by Creative Commons.
Thursday, February 26, 2009 4:27 PM
Promoting more women in the workplace isn’t just equitable, it’s profitable. Researchers have found that Fortune 500 companies that aggressively promote women to high levels consistently outperform their industry peers, Roy Douglas Adler writes for Miller-McCune. Adler and his colleagues at Pepperdine University used data from a study on the glass ceiling and found that the companies best at promoting women outperformed the industry median on various measures of profitability.
Adler stresses that the correlation between hiring women and profitability doesn’t show a causation, but he does come up with a possible explanation:
Firms exhibit higher profitability when their top executives make smart decisions. One of the smart decisions those executives have consistently made at successful Fortune 500 firms is to include women in the executive suite—so that regardless of gender, the best brains are available to continue making smart, and profitable, decisions.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008 12:54 PM
Five women theologians talk about their spiritual foremothers in the latest issue of Boston College Magazine. Each selection highlights a woman in the Christian or Jewish tradition who, despite the historical or religious obstacles, expressed her spiritual insights through public speaking, teaching, or writing.
Theology professor Lisa Sowle Cahill is the only one to invoke Mary Magdalene. “Magdalene was an apostle for the same reasons and in the same way that St. Paul was,” Cahill says. “Neither was one of the original twelve, but both saw the risen Jesus and were sent by him to announce the gospel.” She uses Magdalene’s role as an apostle to raise a question about contemporary Catholic hierarchy: “What possibilities might that leave us with, in regard to the status of women in the Church today?”
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