Climate Change and Feminism

By Aminah Koshul

http://www.predictions2016.com/2017/01/27/five-technological-innovations-identified-to-tackle-climate-change/

The pervasive nature of social justice is such that it demands we connect the two seemingly unrelated issues of climate change and feminism. A surface-level analysis of both issues does little to reveal the extent to which the two are related. However, it is important to recognize that an integral component of sustainable development is curbing climate change, which we erroneously view within the framework of technological advancements alone.

It is true that technology may mitigate problems related to climate change, but to propose an effective solution with both short-term and long-term goals, human activity must be distinguished as the root cause behind it. Social issues such as overconsumption and overpopulation are primarily responsible for driving the negative effects of climate change. Accordingly, it is necessary to seek out solutions that are not based in technology alone and are preventative rather than reactionary in nature. Carbon tax and solar panels may be a good start, but they do not even begin to combat the deep-seated social issues, such as poverty and gender inequality, which contribute to climate change.

http://womengenderclimate.org/category/news/ and http://www.soroptimistinternational.org/advocacy-roundup-si-un-reps-help-give-a-global-voice-to-women-and-girls/

Climate change and feminism can go hand-in-hand if we empower women with work and educational opportunities that diversify their role in society beyond wives and mothers. This facilitates population control by reducing birth rates, which is essential to maintaining current rates of consumption without depleting resources. Such initiatives can be introduced in both the global north and south by granting women bodily autonomy at the policy level, as well as at the social and behavioral level.

http://web.unep.org/gender/

The United Nations Gender and the Environment Program (UNEP) promotes a gender-inclusive approach geared towards sustainable development. It recognizes that sustainability requires the inclusion of all sectors of society, especially those that are most vulnerable to climate change. UNEP has adopted gender mainstreaming policies in which women’s interests are recognized in the implementation and evaluation of programs in political, economic and social spheres.

 

https://www.facebook.com/WhatToDoAboutClimateChange/

 

This is obviously easier said than done, but it provides a more sustainable solution to climate change that can be affected in both large-scale, institutional and small-scale, individual scenarios. Countering climate change requires an agenda more comprehensive than engineering affordable green technology, and by aligning the goals of sustainable development with social justice, we can envision a world which manifests the principles necessary to build a brighter future.

References

Loring, P., Boucher, M.J. (2017, March 21). Climate change is more than a tech problem, so we need more than a tech solution. Retrieved from Eco-Business: http://www.eco-business.com/opinion/climate-change-is-more-than-a-tech-problem-so-we-need-more-than-a-tech-solution/

United Nations Environment (n.d.). Welcome to Gender and the Environment. Retrieved from United Nations Environment: http://web.unep.org/gender/

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“The Fairer Sex” Films, Too

Let us know your favorite female directors and/or movies directed by women in the comments below!

"We Can Do It!" poster for Westinghouse, closely associated with Rosie the Riveter, although not a depiction of the cultural icon itself.

The iconic “We Can Do It!” poster associated with Rosie the Riveter and female empowerment.

We heard you all loud and clear– you loved our March post on female authors from around the world! Just because Women’s History Month is over doesn’t mean we can’t highlight more talented female artists. So this week we bring you a post with films by female directors. And if you need further justification other than “we think it’s an interesting topic”, you may also be interested to know that:

  • April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and gender-based violence is a theme or undercurrent of many international documentary and feature films by women directors,
  • On Tuesday, April 5th from 7:00-9:00 pm the International and Area Studies Library is co-sponsoring a screening of one such film, “India’s Daughter” at the Spurlock Museum,
  • Renowned director Pang Eun-jin will be visiting the University of Illinois to screen two of her films, “The Way Back Home”, and “Perfect Number” on April 25, and 26 respectively.

Without further ado, here are a few fantastic films directed by a selection of talented women from around the world:

India’s Daugther: The Story of Jyoti Singh”  directed by Leslee Udwin (2015)

Tags: India, United Kingdom, Jyoti Singh, rape, documentary

“India’s Daughter” is a harrowing documentary recounting the infamous 2012 gang rape case in New Delhi which resulted in the death of a young girl, Jyoti Singh. Both the incident and the subsequent release of the film sparked protests and international conversations about women’s rights and violence against women. The film was banned from screening in India but has nonetheless had a worldwide impact, having been screened in countries all around the globe. One of the aspects of the film that makes it controversial is that the director, Leslee Udwin, is not a South Asian, and the film cannot help but comment on societal conditions and attitudes that contributed to the incident. The film is also difficult to watch because it gives voice to the rapists, their legal counsel, and the families of the rapists including the wife of one of the rapists who laments her suffering and the suffering of her children while her husband is in jail awaiting possible execution. .

Poster designed by Rachel Storm to advertise the April 5th screening of the film "India's Daughter".

Poster designed by Rachel Storm to advertise the April 5th screening of the film “India’s Daughter”.

More like this: “Saving Face” a documentary on acid attacks in Pakistan by Academy Award-winning Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy; “Salma” a documentary by Kim Longinotto telling the story of a Muslim poet and politician in Tamil Nadu, India who was locked away and confined in her home by her family for many years.

Wadjda” directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour (2014)

Tags: Saudia Arabia, Islam, girls, mothers and daughters, feature films

“Wadjda” is a bittersweet film about a little girl in Saudi Arabia who dreams of owning her own bicycle so she can race with her neighborhood friend. Her mother doesn’t want to buy her the bike because it is not considered a proper toy for girls. Wadjda decides to enter a Koran recitation contest so she can use the prize money to buy the bike herself. Just as Wadjda is running into walls about what is proper for women, we also see her mother struggle with this as her husband searches for a second wife and copes with an overly challenging commute to work as, presumably, she is not allowed to drive herself.  The film manages to find hope and humor in conditions where women’s lives are heavily policed from an early age. The film is all the more remarkable in that it is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. In an interview with NPR, director Haifaa Al-Mansour recounts the logistical challenges of trying to shoot the film in a country where she is not supposed to be outside or mingling with men to whom she is not related.

More like this: “Blackboards” by Iranian filmmaker Samira Makhmalbaf, a feature film about the lives of Kurdish refugees after the Iran-Iraq war; “The Square” by Egyptian filmmaker Jehane Noujaim on the Arab Spring.

Girlhood” by Celine Sciamma (2015)

Tags: France, black diaspora, coming-of-age films, gangs, adolescence, feature films

“Girlhood” is an intense and complicated film to watch, especially as an American [viewer] in a time when racism and civil rights is dominating the news. While this film is set in France, this film shows the ways in which race and economics are inextricably linked, irrespective, it would seem, of one’s country of origin. These considerations become even more complicated when one realizes that the director, Celine Sciamma, is white. On the one hand, “Girlhood” is supposed to be a coming-of-age story, where race is just one small part of a larger context that focuses on the development of a single character. On the other hand, that character is developing within the context of joining a neighborhood gang, fighting, drugs, prostitution, and an abusive family. These issues are thoughtfully considered in an interview between Celine Sciamma and Ghanaian-born film and culture writer Zeba Blay. Taking aside the complicated racial politics of this story, this film is also worth watching for its beautiful cinematography and the masterful acting by newcomer actress Karidja Toure who plays the lead role of Marieme. Like “Wadjda,” the film finds some hope and humor within a bleak situation, but with an ending that leaves the viewer anxious: one is befuddles as to whether the s/he is seeing a happy ending or the set-up for a tragedy waiting to happen.

More like this: Celine Sciamma has two other coming-of-age films, “Tomboy” and “Water Lilies“. To try out a different French female director, you can also check out the work of Agnes Jaoui. The library has several of her films and if you need a break from serious films on difficult social conditions, you can start with her 2000 comedy, “The Taste of Others“.

Take Care of My Cat” by Jae-eun Jeong (2004)

Tags: South Korea, friendship, young women, cats, feature films

“Take Care of My Cat” is a 2004 feature film about a group of friends who struggle to maintain their friendship and find their way after graduating high school in South Korea. One of the five girls, Hae-joo moves out of their smaller city of Inchon to try to make a new life in the more glamorous capital city, Seoul. Her success and ambition alienate her from other friends, most especially Ji-young. Ji-young is trapped by an impoverished home situation and has dreams that feel unattainable and hopeless. Trapped in between these two is Tae-hee who has both ambition and a difficult home situation. Tae-hee ends up in a place where she must choose between her two friends and in doing so choose a vision for her future. Observing the ways in which particular cultural conditions in South Korea impacted the girls’ choices and behavior was compelling while also considering the ways in which their struggles are universal. For example, Ji-young was unable to get a job she had applied for because she didn’t have an immediate relative to vouch for her, a custom that is largely irrelevant in the United States. Like women all over the world, for these girls becoming independent requires tough choices and unexpected development that can transform their personalities and values.

More like this: If you’re looking for another Korean film but would like to learn about North Korea, check out Yang Yonghi’s documentary “Dear Pyongyang“. For something completely different but still from East Asia, check out Joan Chen’s film “Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl“.

Be sure to comment below letting us know what films you’d recommend that are directed by women or featuring them in lead roles. And be sure to like our Facebook page for more posts like these.

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“The Fairer Sex” Writes

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What writers would you highlight to commemorate Women’s History Month? Comment below!

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Image Source: suggestive celine (via Flickr)

March is Women’s History Month and an appropriate time to highlight some of the women’s voices that represent world literature. After all,

  • American Hillary Clinton, who is an author of five books, is running for the U.S. presidency,
  • Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who is an author of five books, has a TED Talk that opens our courses concerned with social justice,
  • and Pakistani Malala Yousafzai, author of one book, continues to fight for the equal education of girls and boys.

Check out these literary works from across the globe that engage discourses of women’s and gender rights in ways that are frequently subversive, occasionally confrontational, and always powerful.

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Mahasweta Devi. Image Source: TopNews

Draupadi” by Mahasweta Devi (1978)

Tags: India, South Asia, Bengali, short story

In a poor, post-colonial town in India, rumor has it that an infamous young woman, “Dopdi,” who has yet to reach the age of 30, has become a menace to local authorities. Fighting for labor rights and attacking officials without warning, she presents a dangerous local figure. Yet no one can identify her with any certainty. While the police have laid traps to draw her out of hiding in the forest, Dopdi continues to evade capture. In the end, what is meant to be Dopdi’s undoing invigorates her spirit and renders her an even more powerful threat. The best reading of this story is dependent on minimal research into the South Asian mythical epic of the Mahabharata. Themes of gender, sexual violence, and classism are strong threads in this short and powerful work. To continue the conversation addressing sexual violence as a world phenomenon and its prevalence in South Asia, attend the April 5th evening screening of India’s Daughter at the Spurlock Museum.

More Like This: Gayatri Spivak’s essay Can the Subaltern Speak? (India and postcolonial nations), most any title by Jhumpa Lahiri (India & the USA)

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Gayatri Spivak. Image Source: Rosa Luxemburg-Stiftung on Flickr

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Jhumpa Lahiri. Image Source: Il Circollo del lettori on Flickr

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (1988)

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Tsitsi Dangarembga. Image Source: Pan American Center on Flickr

Tags: Zimbabwe, Africa, English, novel

In this novel, “Tambu” is a young girl living in a country then known as Rhodesia in the 1960s. Because she is female, her ambition for academic study is not well supported by her community—that is, until her older brother suddenly dies and someone must take on a role of leadership and status to save her family from economic ruin. As Tambu is introduced to a new world of privilege, knowledge, and experience, readers examine what she leaves behind and what these sacrifices mean in shaping a new, hybrid identity. This bildungsroman succeeds in taking on the ambitious goal of engaging discourses of gender, colonialism, and competing cultures in a work deemed one of the most important to have come out of Africa. If you are a current University of Illinois student and interested in these themes and this novel in particular, consider taking a course taught by Dr. Manisha Babb. She teaches a cross-listed course called Modern African Literature offered in the English, African Studies, Comparative World Literature, and French departments, respectively as ENG 470, AFST 410, CW 410, and FR 410.

More Like This: Mariama Bâ’s Une si longue lettre (Senegal), Maria Nsué’s Ekomo (Equatorial Guinea)

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Mariama Bâ. Image Source: Wikipedia

A photo of Maria Nsue. Image Source: escritores.org

Maria Nsué. Image Source: escritores.org

Emails from Scheherazad (2003) by Mohja Kahf

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Mohja Kahf. Image Source: Aslan Media on Flickr

Tags: Syria, the Middle Eastern Diaspora, poetry

Do you remember Scheherazad(e)? She was the sole wife and queen to King Shahryar who eluded death by telling tales within tales that never ended? The stories of Aladdin, Sinbad, and Ali Baba all stem from this famous text. Mohja Kahf, a poet of Syrian descent, revisits this legacy in her compilation of poems. Emails from Scheherazad. Her bi-cultural identity informs and enriches her work, as seen in the poem “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears.” In it she describes being the product of both a Middle Eastern and an American culture. She regularly contradicts the widely held notion that being a Muslim and a woman is synonymous with being oppressed and her poems allude to globally recognizable female characters who face adversity—Eve, Malinche, Hagar, and more—suggesting a shared history and resilience. To get more connected to the local Muslim community on University campus, check out the United Muslims and Minority Advocates (UMMA) on Facebook.

More Like This: Arabian Nights/One Thousand and One Nights, Mona Eltahawy’s Headscarves and Hymens (Egypt & the USA), Ghada Abdel Aal’s I Want to Get Married (Egypt)

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Mona Eltahawy. Image Source: Aspen Institute (via Flickr)

 

A photo of Ghada Abdel Aal. Image Source Christopher Rose on Flickr

Ghada Abdel Aal. Image Source: Christopher Rose (via Flickr)

Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1983)

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Barbara Streisand as Yentl. Image Source: Ziegfeld Girl on Flickr

Tags: Poland & the Jewish Diaspora, Yiddish, short story

This text is actually written by a man. Because it inherently engages questions of genders and their roles in society, and also features a female protagonist, it remains relevant to global literature that tackles issues concerning women’s lives. The main character in this work, Yentl, has been spoiled by her father as a child by being allowed to study sacred rabbinical texts, an activity strictly reserved for men in her community. When her father dies, not wanting to abandon her religious learning, she makes a plan to hide her sex and continue on her path of erudition. However, there are some unanticipated expectations associated with her new role as a male. The cinematic adaptation of Yentl starring Barbara Streisand is inextricably linked to this literary work. If you’re an enrolled student and interested in this area, seek out the Program in Jewish Culture & Society for more about works written in Yiddish and on the Jewish diaspora. A selection of the program’s courses can be found on the program’s website.

More Like This: Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank, Deborah Feldman’s Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots 

A photo of Anne Frank. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Anne Frank. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

A photo of Deborah Feldman. Image Source: Zimbio

Deborah Feldman. Image Source: Zimbio

Kinsey Report” by Rosario Castellanos

An image of Rosario Castellanos. Image Source: Milagros Mata Gil on Flickr

Rosario Castellanos. Image Source: Milagros Mata Gil (via Flickr)

Tags: Mexico, Latin America, Spanish, poetry

The title of this poem refers to American sexologist Alfred Kinsey, whose published works on human sexual behavior became well known in the mid to late 20th century. While this poem makes for a quick read, it remains in the reader’s memory indefinitely. It features six different feminine voices that expound on the condition of their gender. One woman reports on her marriage which has become a hollow and juridical union of self-sacrifice and anxiety; another fears being deemed a prude for lack of sexual activity or a whore for any carnal intimacy engaged outside of marriage; a third wistfully awaits a Prince Charming who will whisk her away from any care she might have. All of the voices problematize notions of female gender and show how societal expectations and traditional roles can, to say the very least, be limiting. For ways to find more Latin American literature, see this lib guide.

More Like This: All titles by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Mexico), all titles by Clarice Lispector (Brazil), Sabina Berman’s (Mexico) Entre Villa y una mujer desnuda

A drawing of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Image Source: Wikipedia

A drawing of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Image Source: Wikipedia

A photo of Clarice Lispector. Image source: ana.claudia on Flickr

Clarice Lispector. Image source: ana.claudia (via Flickr)

Happy reading, sharing, and happy Women’s History Month! Let us know what additional authors you would add to this conversation. Also drop by the Main Library’s Marshall Gallery (first floor, east side of the building ) to see an exhibit curated by Leanna Barcelona highlighting women’s history at the University of Illinois. If you want even more titles, visit the Undergraduate Library’s post to commemorate Women’s History Month last year.

For more posts like these, make sure to like our Facebook page, where we share a new Glocal Notes article every week of the semester.

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Women’s History Month: International Female Hip-Hop Artists

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United Electrical Workers (UE) and Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT) mural on the UE Hall at 37 S. Ashland, Chicago, IL 60607.

Women’s History Month may be coming to an end, but why not continue recognizing and celebrating the women that have shaped our lives and the direction of international hip-hop culture. In this week’s blog, I provide a sample of female hip-hop artists from throughout the world. Each artist has a distinct story and background that they share with the public, whether it’s through music or interviews. The list is inspired by a Hip-Hop Feminism course I took my first semester in the University of Illinois and I encourage the readers to take the leap to learn more about the artists listed below.

I remind you, this is not a comprehensive list, but rather a slight push to help you discover more about these women and hip-hop, motivate you to find other female hip-hop artists, and most importantly, support female MCs.

Meryem Saci

Algerian born, singer/songwriter/MC Meryem Saci is part of a multicultural hip-hop group called Nomadic Massive based in Montreal, Canada. She and her mother fled Algeria due to a civil war and immigrated to Montreal. Saci has not released an album, but she has worked with many international artists and is currently in the process of releasing her first solo project. She is also part of the multimedia agency ‘The Medium’ which includes a roster of other independent artists working together to produce an art form that is free from corporate influence. The following video is an interview with Meryem Saci, who talks about her journey from Algeria to Canada and her experience as a female artist.

“MERYEM SACI – Singer, Songwriter & MC”

Ana Tijoux

Chilean-French singer/songwriter/MC Ana Tijoux first collaborated with a hip-hop group named Mazika. Afterwards, she went solo and was recognized for her single “1977”, which was also featured in the television series ‘Breaking Bad’. The messages in her albums are in Spanish and vary from love, politics, challenging patriarchal systems, birth, motherhood, and more. Tijoux has five albums, which includes her 2014 release ‘Vengo’ which is known for the singles “Vengo” and “Somos Sur.” The video below is a 30 minute interview from Democracy Now.

“Chilean Musician Ana Tijoux on Politics, Feminism, Motherhood & Hip-Hop as ‘Land for the Landless”

Poetic Pilgrimage

London-based, Jamaican-bred, Hip-Hop/spoken word duo ‘Poetic Pilgrimage’ have produced music for many years. Recently, they have been recognized by social media and news outlets such as Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, HipHopDX, Huffington Post, and many more. As a hip-hop group, Munira Rashida and Sukina Abdul Noor identify as Muslim, and have been working to show the public the similarities shared between their Islamic faith, cultural and ethnic background, and hip-hop culture. Poetic Pilgrimage have released ‘Star Women: The Mixtape’ followed by their 21 track mixtape ‘Star Women,’ including other singles and spoken word releases. The following link is from Aljazeera’s program The Stream that interviews Poetic Pilgrimage, welcomes other Muslim artists, and encourages the public to use social media to become a part of the discussion.

“The Stream – Poetic Pilgrimage rappers strike a chord with Islam”

Shadia Manosur

British-Palestinian artist Shadia Mansour, the “First Lady of Arabic Hip-Hop,” is well-known for her outspoken demeanor and politically charged lyrics. Her songs deal with issues of the oppression and discrimination experienced by underrepresented communities, especially Arabs. She has traveled to Latin America, and has also worked with the non-profit organization Existence is Resistance’ to work and perform with other hip-hop artists and youth in Palestine. Mansour has yet to release an album, but has many singles under her belt, including her most recent track “El Kofeyye Arabeyye” (the Arabic Kufiyyeh).  The video below is a short interview of Shadia Mansour by the United Kingdom’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

“Shadia Mansour on creative freedom in Britain”

Rocky Rivera

Filipino-American journalist/instructor/activist/hip-hop artist Rocky Rivera has written articles for magazines such as Rolling Stone and The Source, to name a few. She is the first woman in the record label BeatRock Music and is a feminist gangster MC, just check out her discography and music videos. The last album she released was ‘Gangster of Love’ and a free mixtape ‘Rock & Roz Present Rose Gold.’ The following video is an interview by radio show host Miss Special, who interviews Rocky Rivera about her career from journalist to independent hip-hop artist and involvement in her local community.

“Rocky Rivera Interview”

Soosan Firooz

Soosan Firooz is an Afghani actress hip-hop artist who fled Afghanistan with her family from the Taliban. She lived as a refugee in Iran and Pakistan, and has returned to her home in Afghanistan where she raps about the oppression of Afghan women. Firooz is “Afghanistan’s first female rapper”, but Firooz’s publicity has led to death threats and rejection from some family members. However, she continues to make music with the support of her father and with the conviction to change society and continue to provide for her family. The following video gives the viewer a brief look at Firooz’s life in Afghanistan and the struggles she has to endure being a female artist and a provider for her family.

“Afghanistan’s first female rapper undeterred by threats”

Mayam Mahmoud

Egyptian born Mayam Mahmoud took the public by surprise when she appeared in an American-inspired show, Arabs Got Talent, veiled and rapping on the microphone. A young woman in her early 20s, Ms. Mahmoud has taken it upon herself to rap with a purpose and convey a positive message as counterargument to commercial hip-hop and its debasing lyrics towards women. At a time when the Middle East, especially Egypt, continues to undergo social and political changes, Ms. Mahmoud’s public appearance and perseverance is a sign of her hope to transform misconceptions of women artists and raise awareness of injustices against women.

“Egypt’s first veiled rapper, Mayam Mahmoud”

 

If you are ready to take the next step, I encourage you to continue your search by visiting the following sites in order to discover more international female MCs:

The following link provides a list of 500+ female hip-hop artists compiled by a person of many hats, Davey D: journalist, adjunct professor, hip-hop historian, talk show host, radio programmer, producer, dee jay, media and community activist. Some links do not work, but do not be discouraged, there are many more artists to discover.

500 Female Emcess Everyone Should Know – (Davey D’s Ultimate List)

Nomadic Wax, is an event production company specializing in international hip-hop. The company recently released a free mixtape ‘World Hip Hop Women SoundSIStem Mixtape hosted by DJ Lajedi.’ The project includes 19 transnational MCs, and you can learn more about them by clicking on the following link:

WORLD HIP HOP WOMEN: SOUNDSISTEM – THE ARTISTS

The last article is a collection of Latin American female hip-hop artists. Although it is a small sample, the featured artists push borders and challenge the stereotypical image of Hispanic women endorsed by corporate media and hip-hop:

Five Women That Are New Voices In Latino Hip-Hop

Finally, the International Area and Studies Library has acquired a new book on international hip-hop that you can check out from our collection of circulating books:

The organic globalizer: hip hop, political development, and movement culture

 

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