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Updated 08 Aug 2008

Societies that empower their women, societies that use all hands and all brains in cooperation, societies whose women are equal before the law, these are the societies that forge ahead, peacefully. That ideal has not yet been attained, not even close world-wide. Yet, there are a few very brave women who stand up and speak out on behalf of themselves as well as their deprived and abused sisters. We pay homage to a special few here.

Movers and Shakers for Peace

Links For Action:

Bonnie Raitt and Delores Huerta -- "In the second episode of the new documentary series, This Brave Nation, these two legends from radically different walks of life discuss the myriad issues and movements that have informed and inspired their work and talk about their passions, regrets, fears, and most of all their dreams for future generations. Watch the episode now."

Emily's List-- "EMILY's List members are dedicated to building a progressive America by electing pro-choice Democratic women to office. We believe in the power of women as candidates, as contributors, as campaign professionals, and as voters to bring about great change in our country. When women are involved in the political process, our democracy is truly representative. When women make policy, the needs of women and families are not ignored. When women vote, Democrats — who share our values and priorities — win."

Girls For A Change -- "Girls For A Change (GFC) is a national organization that empowers thousands of teen girls to create and lead social change. GFC provides girls with professional female role models, leadership training and the inspiration to work together in teams to solve persistent societal problems in their communities. Explore our web site to learn more about how you can join our movement and how girls are transforming our world--and reinventing girl culture--through GFC!"

National Organization For Women -- "Since its founding in 1966, NOW's goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women. NOW works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society."

Wand of Atlanta -- "Atlanta WAND is the local chapter of a national organization that seeks to channel women's voices into a powerful movement for change."

Links For Research:

Mukhtaran Bibi Stands up against the clans, the male-dominant feudal system of Pakistan. Bibi suffered a grievous assault, the kind that usually drives Muslim women to suicide. Illiterate, she knew her options were grim. But by speaking out, she made some headway, at least on the local scene of her village, in Pakistan. Above all, Bibi became a role model for us all to follow; fearless, tenacious, and deeply concerned about her Islamic sisters. She shook a feudalistic society; found support in far places, made a difference, at least for a time.

Shirin Ebadi Nobel Laureate from Iran. It is hard to say enough about Ebadi. Living and working under a repressive theocracy, she nevertheless managed to catch the attention of the world. More importantly, she may be leading a passive revolution against the ruling Islamic theocracy.

Wangari Maathai Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Lecture, Oslo, December 10, 2004. Not often does one find a shaker, who is a planter, who is also eloquent. Maathai is just that. A marvel to behold.

Irshad Manji TV personality and more, much more. Manji expresses herself in such a penetrating, yet honest, way, she is winning converts to her causes. Manji has spirit almost beyond spirit. For example: "I have to be honest with you. Islam is on very thin ice with me... Through our screaming self-pity and our conspicuous silences, we Muslims are conspiring against ourselves. We're in a crisis and we're dragging the rest of the world with us. If ever there was a moment for an Islamic reformation, it's now. For the Love of God, what are we doing about it?"

Manji is by no means an atheist, though she has been called that. At the recent "Secular Islam" Summit, Manji had this to say:

"The Manifesto of the Secular Islam Summit (known as the St. Petersburg Declaration) calls for some things that are necessary and completely compatible with Islam: separation of mosque and state, protection of universal human rights, and the promotion of intellectual diversity. But in order to be a unifying, effective call to action, the Declaration must include, unapologetically, the voices of faithful Muslims. As Irshad Manji said at the end of her address, 'this summit cannot be used to alienate people of faith who are on the side of secularism. The question is, how will we ensure that we are on their side?' In our view, the Summit Declaration fails to meet this challenge. It should clarify that secular Muslims are not necessarily atheists or people who have renounced the faith; rather, secular Muslims believe in separating clerics and politics, and this isn’t any less loving of Allah, respectful of the Prophet Muhammad, or appreciative of the Qur'an. Our offer to amend the Declaration met with silence. However, Summit organizers have told us that the Declaration could evolve in the coming months. To that end, we propose the following statement be added: "Practicing Muslims are an integral and valuable part of the global community, as well as essential to any movement for secular, faith-respecting states that work toward universal human rights. We acknowledge the peaceful observance of Islam to be a legitimate choice for many. We stand by those who embrace an Islam that defends critical thinking, empathy, justice, and non-violence. They are our allies, and we are theirs." Irshad Manji, Founder and President, Project Ijtihad; Raquel Evita Saraswati, Vice-President, Project Ijtihad

Coleeen Rowley Displays the kinds of courage and insight the world needs more of. Rowley can also buck the system, call it like it is. Compared with the society Ebadi lives in, Rowley's is most enlightened. Still she was ignored, not harrassed, just simply and completely ignored. Is this why the Equal Rights Amendment did not pass?

Loretta Ross. Rebounding from early abuse is never easy. But Ross is showing the way. Her activism is matched only by her deep insights. One is:

"There is something mindboggling about telling a girl she's old enough to be pregnant, but not old enough to use birth control."

On top of her many daily accomplishments, Ross organized the largest women's rights march in history. Stints at the National Organization for Women, Center for Democratic Renewal, The DC Rape Crisis Center, and Black Woman's Health Project only begin her resume. She was a founding member of Sister Song. She also founded the National Center for Human Rights Education.

Ross was invited to testify before the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, and the Food and Drug Administration on women’s health and human rights issues. She served eight years on the Washington D.C. Commission for Women. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Foundation for African American Women, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the Committee on Women, Population and the Environment, and SisterLove Women’s AIDS Project. Ross received an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law degree in 2003 from Arcadia University.

On Another Level:

We quote from: Nannies band together

    "Most Sundays for the past six years, about 25 live-in nannies and housekeepers from across the Washington area have gathered in Silver Spring to share stories of mandatory six-day workweeks, 14-hour days and salaries that amount to as little as $1 an hour."

    "Calling themselves the Committee of Women Seeking Justice, they gather in a circle and commiserate in English, Spanish, Hindi and French. Among the topics: no sick days, little overtime pay, feeling "on call" at all hours and sleeping on basement floors. Several have shared stories of having been kept as modern-day slaves, organizers said, rarely allowed out of the house and never seeing a cent."

    "... What began as an informal support group soon blossomed into a political movement for workers' rights. After four years of petition drives and appealing to local lawmakers, the group claimed a key victory last week, when the Montgomery County Council approved what are believed to be among the most far-reaching labor protections for domestic workers in the country."

Let's hear it for the spirit of these nameless nannies! Collective action works! If this is not democracy in action, what is?


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