5 women won Nobel Prizes this year

13 10 2009

This year there are five female recipients of a Nobel Prize, which sets a record for female winners throughout the Prize’s 114 year long history.  Who are the winners?

1. Elinor Ostrom, 76, an American political scientist from Indiana University who made history by being the first woman to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for her research that examines how common resources–such as forests, fisheries, oil fields, and grazing lands–are more efficiently managed by local communities than by private corporations or the government.  She was awarded it alongside fellow American Oliver Williamson for their work in economic governance.

Ostrom was constantly discouraged from being an economist because she was a woman, but her accomplishment in being the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Economics shows that she broke through a glass ceiling.  It serves as an inspiring reminder that girls and women can succeed in historically male dominated fields.

2. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, 60, and Carol W. Greider, 48, who were both awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine with Jack W. Szostak for their work in figuring out how chromosomes protect themselves from degrading during cell division.  Blackburn is American and Greider has dual US-Australian citizenship.

3. Ada Yonath, 70, an Israeli, who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Americans Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz for their work on atom-by-atom description of ribosomes.

4. Herta Mueller, 56, a Romanian-born German writer who won the Nobel Prize in literature for her writings on life behind the Iron Curtain.

Ever since the conception of the Nobel Prizes, only 40 women around the world have been awarded them.  It’s excellent that women are finally getting more recognition for the significant work that they’ve done.  Congratulations to all of them!





Tomorrow marks the 8th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan

6 10 2009

Tomorrow, Wednesday October 7th, marks the 8th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan.  Earlier this year, President Obama announced his 10 year plan for Afghanistan which entailed of adding 21,000 more U.S. military forces deployed in Iraq and diplomatic engagement of Pakistan.  This is misguided – the way to Peace in Afghanistan will not come through more military force.  That will only lead to more civilian casualties and inner turmoil.  The war in Afghanistan will only end if the public keeps demanding it.  It is time to tap into the political momentum for peace.

If you are in the Boston area, the United for Justice with Peace (UJP) Coalition will be having Stand Outs against the War at T stations:

Wednesday, October 7th is the 8th anniversary of the war on Afghanistan, a war which UJP was formed to oppose.

To mark this date, the Cambridge and Somerville/Medford UJP community groups will be standing out at T- stops from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. We will be distributing information about the costs of the war, for Afghans, for  US troops and for our communities, and alerting people to the Oct. 17th anti-war rally at Copley Square.    We will gather at the Central Sq., Harvard Sq., and Porter Sq. T-stops in Cambridge and at Davis Sq. in Somerville.

At Harvard Square, the Raging Grannies will sing at 5:30pm, and there will be a creative action in addition to vigiling and leafleting.    We invite all to join us there, or at one of the other T-stops, if that is more convenient.
Dorchester People for Peace will also leaflet at the Ashmont T-Stop on Wednesday morning from 7:30-9am.
Milton for Peace will stand out on Blue Hill Ave. near Mattapan Square from 7-8am.
The tide is turning away from further escalation of the war on Afghanistan.  It’s time to bring the troops home now and end this war which is bad for Afghans and bad for Americans.  It’s a time when we can make a difference.  Come stand with us on Oct. 7th.




Monday Blogaround

5 10 2009

Here are some things that popped up on my feminist radar:

What Counts as Real Rape? – More from Gwen on the Roman Polanski case

Concerns About Racism Are “Weird” – The trivialization and dismissal of racism by saying “it’s weird”

US Fence Causes Increase in Border Deaths – Today marks the 15th anniversary of the poorly misguided border strategy known as Operation Gatekeeper

Childbirth at the Global Crossroads – The implications of surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology on women in the “developing” world

End the War in Afghanistan – Peter Rothberg’s lists ways you can help end the war in Afghanistan

Fiona Pilkington inquest: how ableism can lead to suicide – ableism has been instituted and normalized in our society, thus marginalizing and erasing certain existences

Woody’s To Face Boycott – The Fairness Campaign is calling for a boycott of Woody’s Tavern at 4 PM Tuesday

My Weight – Stomp out weight bigotry and fatism. As Joy Nash says, “Tell people how much you weigh. It’s just a stinking number.”

Reclaim the Night (For Cis Women Only) and the London Cis Feminism Network – Feminism is not fully functional if it excludes trans people

Activist Modus Operandi: Methods of Communication – a great post from Genderbitch on activism for marginalized groups and tips on how to be an effective activist





Guido Westerwelle – soon to be the first openly gay Foreign Minister of Germany

1 10 2009

GuidoWesterwelle

Guido Westerwelle is going to be the first openly gay Foreign Minister of Germany, a position that is basically equivalent to the Secretary of State in the United States.  He heads the minority Free Democrats Party and has a reputation for being an exhibitionist, but what seems to get him the most attention is the fact that he is gay. Why do people care more about a his sexual orientation instead of his politics or policies that he’s committed to?

Some are worried that the prominence of Westerwelle and his partner, Michael Mronz, and the publicity they garner will “undermine the security and support of Germany within the international community”.  Pessimists and pundits claim that leaders of nations with anti-gay laws like Iran will have less than great relations with Germany now with the appointment of Westerwelle.

Why the negativity though?  This is definitely a step forward.  Westerwelle can lead by example.  He has already used his publicity and high profile to encourage LGBTQ youth.  He told a popular magazine geared towards gay people:

I can only tell all young gays and lesbians to not be disheartened, if not everything goes their way. This society is changing for the good in the direction of tolerance and respect … though slower than I would wish.

Well, Congrats Westerwelle and Hurray Germany!





Happy Peace Day!

21 09 2009

Today, September 21st, is International Peace Day. In 1999, filmmaker Jeremy Gilley started Peace One Day to find a starting point for peace. He was on a mission to document his efforts to establish the first ever fixed day of global ceasefire and nonviolence. Two years later, all 192 member nations of the United Nations unanimously adopted September 21st as an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence and thus September 21st became Peace Day.

Peace Day is  not just about creating and sustaining peace between nations, but it is also about creating and sustaining peace on a more local and interpersonal level. This means observing nonviolence in our homes, our friendships, our relationships, our schools, our communities, our workplaces, etc. As most peace activists already know, peace is more than just the absence of war. Peace is also the absence of structural violence.

Structural violence can often be invisible and harder to detect because it is so normalized and ingrained in society. It is a term that was coined by Johan Galtung to denote violence that is perpetuated by the systematic ways in which a given social structure or social institution oppress people and violate their basic humanity. Examples of structural violence include racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, ethnocentrism, etc. Structural violence is linked to and interdependent with direct violence because it creates the foundation from which direct violence can manifest seemingly justifiably.

His Holiness The Dalai Lama has said, “We must make every effort for the promotion of peace and inner values.” Peace One Day has suggestions for how you can take action on Peace Day. One simple way is to make a commitment to take action on Peace Day. Go throughout the day with this elevated intention. Taking action does not have to be a grand gesture. It can be small (afterall, the personal is political), like apologizing to someone who you may have wronged, making a donation to a nonprofit organization that you support, taking some time out of your day to volunteer, etc.

Gilley, the Chair and Founder of Peace One Day, says:

We want to reach 3 billion people with the message of Peace Day by 2012, and we are working with governments, the UN system, non-governmental organisations, schools and corporations to achieve that; but ultimately it is your support that will help make it a reality. As Ahmad Fawzi (now Director of News Media at the UN) said at our launch in 1999, “It is the peoples of this world who can create peace.”





How NOT to write about Africa

19 09 2009

This is really well done and totally worth watching.





Congratulations, Hilary Lister!

1 09 2009

According to The Guardian, Hilary Lister, 37, has made history as the first quadriplegic to sail solo around Britain. In 2005 she also set the record as the first quadriplegic to sail solo around the English Channel. We salute you, Lister!

Hilary-Lister-001

Lister is an Oxford-educated biochemist who has a rare, progressive neurological disorder, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, that has left her paralyzed from the neck down. Last night at 6:45 pm she sailed into Dover, completing the final leg of a marathon journey undertaken in a series of 40 day-long sails that started in June last year.

She used advanced technology (her “sip and puff” system) that enabled her to steer and control the sails by sucking and blowing through plastic straws. She embarked on and completed her voyage alone, except with a support team that helped her get in and out of her boat.

Says Lister of her amazing feat:

It’s a privilege to be back in Dover. The killer was when the wind died just east of the entrance to the harbour but unbelievably it picked up just as I sailed in.

Asked of the highlight of her journey:

Just seeing whales 35ft long fully breached out of the water was incredible. Two of them jumped like dolphins, it was amazing.

All in all:

I’m so relieved to be home but looking forward to the next challenge. One thing I’ve learnt is that you can’t predict the future, we couldn’t even predict tomorrow’s weather so I’m not ruling anything out or anything in.