Here's another one for our Inland Empire folks! Yucaipa is an amazing course, but is pretty far out there for our LA and OC members, and it's $10 to get your car in on weekends, so if you're interested in carpooling, please feel free to post in the Talk About this Meetup section.
This month's non-profit is: MADRE!! This wonderful organization has been working to advance women's human rights by meeting urgent needs in communities and building lasting solutions to crisis since 1983, so let's help them continue this valiant struggle through our donations. Below you will find info about some of Madre's current projects. All of the info below, and much more can be found on their website: www.madre.org. As I mentioned in the first posting for this month, we can select where our donation goes and how we would like to help by visiting this section of their website: www.madrewebstore.org/algi.html. So, please look at the link after scanning over the info below, and please considering giving to support this cause.
Bolivia: Demanding a Political Voice for Women The Problem
Until the 1990s, women’s participation in Bolivia’s government was uncommon and generally unwelcome. Though the number of women candidates has since increased, most significantly during the recent 2009 elections, Indigenous women are still significantly underrepresented in Bolivia’s government.
President Evo Morales has pushed for reforms to Bolivia’s Constitution that have created unprecedented opportunities for poor and Indigenous peoples to hold political office. But for women who have been systematically denied education and formal leadership roles, the mere opportunity to stand for elections is not enough.
Without the skills and resources to mount successful political campaigns and govern effectively, Indigenous women will continue to be disenfranchised and Bolivia’s bold experiment in advancing participatory democracy and human rights will falter.
MADRE is partnering with the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (better known by its Spanish acronym FIMI) to equip women leaders in Bolivia with the skills they need to succeed in politics. The project will bring Indigenous women leaders from around Latin America to conduct trainings with Indigenous Bolivian women who want to run for public office. The topics of training will include:
- Running a successful political campaign.
- Building consensus across political and ethnic divides.
- Addressing the needs of communities through the legislative process.
In order to reach the greatest number of Indigenous women leaders, FIMI and MADRE are working with Bartolina Sisa, the largest Indigenous women’s organization in Bolivia, to train Indigenous women for leadership roles at the local, national and international levels.
- In the December 2009 elections, the number of women elected to parliamentary positions rose from 14% to 28%. Six Indigenous women who had participated in the workshops were elected to parliament.
- In January of 2010, a national conference of Indigenous Women Parliamentarians drew close to 100 participants from across Latin America.
- A larger number of Indigenous women will be elected to governmental positions, bringing meaningful self-determination for a traditionally repressed population.
- The workshops will encourage communication and friendship between women seeking leadership positions in Bolivia and ultimately strengthen the social and political position of Indigenous women.
For the first time in history, the leadership of Indigenous women is being formally recognized in the political arena in Bolivia.
Serving as elected officials, Indigenous women are enacting a historic shift in state power to Bolivia's poor majority, bringing much-needed social services and delivering on the promise of democracy for Indigenous Peoples in Bolivia and beyond.
Colombia: Protecting Children of War
Thousands of children, some as young as eight years old, are being used as soldiers in Colombia's armed conflict. In a war that pits the government and right-wing paramilitary groups against anti-government guerillas, all sides exploit children to advance their combat goals.
For many children from poor families, joining an armed group is the only way to get a meal each day. Some “street children” are bribed with promises of money and adventure. Others are taken from their families as a "tax" levied by arms groups. These children are turned into killers. Many are sexually abused for years.
Once the children are recruited as soldiers, the armed groups become the only family they know. As they grow up, child soldiers tend to cling to a life of combat, perpetuating a war that has already lasted more than 40 years.
MADRE provides critical services for children who are at high-risk for being recruited as child-soldiers, giving them the social and psychological support they need to create alternatives to a life of combat and violence.
Through our local partner, Taller de Vida, MADRE provides trauma counseling, art therapy, and recreational programs to young people in Bogota who have been uprooted from their homes by war and poverty. With training from MADRE, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian youth are learning videography in order to document and heal from their experiences of war and displacement.
- Instead of being forced to become killers, the youth of Taller de Vida spend their afternoons engaged in academic tutoring, sports, arts, theater, and trauma counseling programs.
- Indigenous and Afro-Colombian youth who have been displaced by war and poverty are healing from the traumas they have endured.
- Youth are developing their self-expression and their talents in the arts, and working together to envision and create a culture of peace.
"The paramilitaries kidnapped me and made me fight. I thought I would never escape. But I did. And my new friends at Taller de Vida like me and they help me."
- Tania, a former child soldier
Palestine: The Safe Birth Project
Israeli-imposed restrictions on Palestinians' freedom of movement, coupled with intermittent military attacks, threaten the rights and well-being of Palestinian women, with particular consequences to women's reproductive health.
The Israeli military has destroyed or barricaded thousands of roads in the West Bank, making it difficult for Palestinian women who are in labor to reach hospitals.
Ambulances are regularly detained by soldiers at checkpoints. As a result, dozens of Palestinian women have been forced to give birth at Israeli military checkpoints, resulting in the deaths of 20 women and 36 infants.
There has been almost a fivefold increase in the number of pregnant women who received no prenatal care due to military restrictions on the movement of women and healthcare providers.
There has been a dramatic increase in births that take place in unsafe conditions or without a skilled health worker, increasing the danger to women during pregnancy and childbirth, and creating enormous psychological strain for women.
Midwives for Peace is a grassroots group of Palestinian and Israeli midwives supported by MADRE and Circle of Health International. The midwives have come together to act on their commitment to their profession and to peace.
They are working side by side to:
- develop updated standards of midwifery practice;
- create joint professional trainings and workshops for Palestinian and Israeli midwives;
- and ensure that childbirth is a joyful happy, healthy occasion for every woman.
- Maternal and infant mortality are reduced by "safe deliver kits" that MADRE has provided to midwives in the West Bank.
- The health of mothers and newborns is improved as the midwives provide women with personalized healthcare counseling and postpartum health education on breastfeeding, hygiene, infant care, and family planning.
- Women’s access to family planning is expanded. A MADRE delivery of 15,000 condoms is being distributed by midwives who offer workshops on preventing unwanted and high-risk pregnancies.
- Despite the ongoing conflict, Palestinian and Israeli midwives are able to work cooperatively to share skills and midwifery techniques that save lives and improve maternal health.
- Women have increased access to well-trained midwives in their communities, lowering the risk associated with the difficult trips to the hospitals through heavily barricaded checkpoints.
Cuba: Renewing Aid, Renewing Hope
The biggest threat to public health in Cuba comes from the United States. Since 1960, Cubans have endured the world’s longest embargo—imposed by the US in response to the Cuban revolution. The embargo prevents Cuba from purchasing food and medicine, with grave consequences for women and their families. Every year for the past 20 years, the UN General Assembly has condemned this embargo as a violation of international humanitarian law.
Members of the US Congress have repeatedly introduced bills to end the policy. But consecutive US Administrations have refused to give it up, even as President Obama has promised to loosen restrictions.
We work to meet urgent health needs of Cuban families and to change US policy towards Cuba. We call for an end to the embargo and the ban on travel to Cuba and advocate for normalized relations that respect Cuban women and families.
The Cuban Red Cross delivers our donations of medicines to five hospitals and clinics in Havana. MADRE delivers life-saving medicines to combat cancer, pediatric diseases and other public health threats exacerbated by the US embargo.
- We deliver well-trained Cuban doctors and nurses the medicines they need to save people’s lives.
- We build bonds of friendship and support with Cubans working to build healthier communities.
- Our advocacy shines a spotlight on decades-long failed and harmful policies.
- We combat childhood disease and malnutrition by delivering essential medicines and supplements to Cuban families.
Bonuses!! As many of you may know, I've been working on some mixes combining political speeches or interviews with hip-hop instrumentals. In honor of this month's celebrations and non-profit, I've re-uploaded the track featuring Kerry Washington reading Sojorner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" and just finished 4 new tracks featuring Sandra Oh reading Emma Goldman's "Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty", Christina Kirk reading from the court transcript of The U.S. v. Susan B. Anthony, Molly Ivins talking about Activism and Fun, and Ani DiFranco reading her poem Grand Canyon. So, go to the files section to check these out, and be on the lookout for more: http://www.meetup.com/socaldisc/files/
Hope to see you out there folks!!