In My Hands Today…

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle – Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.

Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you “love your body” when every magazine cover has ten diet tips for becoming “your best self”? How do you “lean in” at work when you’re already operating at 110 percent and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish?

Sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being, they explain with compassion and optimism what we’re up against—and show us how to fight back. In these pages you’ll learn

• what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle—and return your body to a state of relaxation
• how to manage the “monitor” in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration
• how the Bikini Industrial Complex makes it difficult for women to love their bodies—and how to defend yourself against it
• why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are keys to recovering and preventing burnout

With the help of eye-opening science, prescriptive advice, and helpful worksheets and exercises, all women will find something transformative in these pages—and will be empowered to create positive change. Emily and Amelia aren’t here to preach the broad platitudes of expensive self-care or insist that we strive for the impossible goal of “having it all.” Instead, they tell us that we are enough, just as we are—and that wellness, true wellness, is within our reach.

World Menstrual Hygiene Day

Tomorrow is World Menstrual Hygiene Day. Initiated by the German non-profit WASH United in 2014, the day is a global day of action with more than 830 partner organisations working together to create awareness and action toward a world without period poverty and stigma. The date of 28 May represents the menstrual cycle which has an average duration of 28 days, with an average of five days of bleeding.

For some, menstruation may be an inconvenience they don’t give much thought to. But for millions of others, this most natural of reproductive cycle functions can equate to abuse because the onset of menstruation may lead to child marriage and sexual violence as well as violations of bodily autonomy; stigma which includes banishment to menstruation huts; missed opportunities where many girls skip school because of pain, discomfort and/or the lack of personal hygiene products; and loss of dignity due to the lack of supplies in humanitarian and refugee settings where even the basics like soap and water are in short supply or unavailable. Poor menstrual hygiene caused by a lack of education on the issue, persisting taboos and stigma, limited access to hygienic menstrual products and poor sanitation infrastructure undermines the educational opportunities, health and overall social status of women and girls around the world. As a result, millions of women and girls are kept from reaching their full potential.

World Menstrual Hygiene Day promotes good menstrual health and hygiene for all women and girls. More specifically, the day breaks the silence, raises awareness and changes negative social norms around menstrual health and hygiene and engages decision-makers to increase the political priority and catalyse action for menstrual health and hygiene at global, national and local levels.

Recently, countries have made sanitary supplies free or tax-free to help fight period poverty. New Zealand, France and Namibia are the latest countries to announce such initiatives after Scotland became the first country to provide period products free to anyone who needed them last year. 

The theme of this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day is Action and Investment in Menstrual Hygiene and Health. The Menstruation Bracelet is a global symbol for menstruation which stands for the commitment to create a world, by 2030, where no woman or girl is kept from realising her full potential because she menstruates. A world where menstruation is just a normal fact of life.

Today, millions of women and girls around the world are stigmatised, excluded and discriminated against simply because they menstruate. In 2022, it’s no longer acceptable that a natural bodily function prevents women and girls from getting an education, earning an income and fully and equally participating in everyday life. On this day, we should break the taboos and end the stigma surrounding menstruation and raise awareness about the challenges regarding access to menstrual products, education about menstruation and period-friendly sanitation facilities.

Women’s Empowerment

It’s been about two months since International Women’s Day was celebrated and commemorated across the world. Everywhere, be it on social media or in the physical world, we saw people celebrating the day with events and posts aimed at empowering women. But what happened after that? I feel we have gone back to business as usual. Things are becoming better, 2022 was better than 2021 which was slightly better than 2020, but the issues surrounding women’s empowerment still need a lot to be desired.

Women empowerment means gender equality, since there is a serious inequality  between women and men in every sphere of our life. Women Empowerment is not a segmental need, but a solution to the great problems that afflict the world. The empowerment of women has a far-reaching impact on their own lives, their families and communities, and society as a whole. Women who are empowered to make choices in all areas of their lives, have greater control over their health, their careers and their quality of life.

Women’s or female empowerment may be defined in several ways, including accepting women’s viewpoints or making an effort to seek them, raising the status of women through education, awareness, literacy, and training. Women’s empowerment equips and allows women to make life-determining decisions through the different problems in society so they may have the opportunity to redefine gender roles or other such roles, which in turn may allow them more freedom to pursue desired goals. It allows women to control and benefit from resources, assets, and income as well as aids their ability to manage risk and improve well-being resulting in approaches to support trivialised genders in a particular political or social context. While often interchangeably used, the more comprehensive concept of gender empowerment concerns people of any gender, stressing the distinction between biological and gender as a role. Women empowerment helps in boosting the status of women through literacy, education, training and awareness creation and refers to women’s ability to make strategic life choices that had been previously denied them. Nations, businesses, communities and groups may benefit from the implementation of programs and policies that adopt the notion of female empowerment and this, in turn, enhances the quality and the number of human resources available for development. Empowerment is one of the main procedural concerns when addressing human rights and development.

In a world where almost 50% of the world’s population comprises women, empowering this section of society is not just important, but essential. Even today, there are many societies where women are still discriminated against because of their gender. Even in many first world countries, women are still paid less and are expected to take on the lion’s share of the housework and rear children. etc. In many cultures, women are not allowed outside after sunset, work outside the house and if allowed to work, not allowed to work far away from their homes, not allowed to choose their life partners and in many villages in India, are dictated on what they can and can’t wear and even on whether they can use a phone or not!

Empowering women is to give women the right. Women can and should have an equal right to participate in education, society, economy and politics. An empowered woman is a strong one who can do anything they want to do. Empowerment helps to reduce in domestic violence, sexual abuse, emotion abuse and physical abuse.

When societies progress, societal culture should not be seen as a barrier and an obstacle to women’s rights. Culture is an integral and huge part of diversity and a medium that seeks to ensure women’s equal opportunities. It recognises their freedom to take pride in their values, whether they are orthodox or modern in nature. There is a need for equal cultural rights for women to be acknowledged and implemented which would in turn help to reconstruct gender in ways that would rise above women’s inferiority and subordination. Experts say that women must be recognised as, and supported to be, equal spokespersons vested with the authority to determine which of the community’s traditions are to be respected, protected and transmitted to future generations. Many of the barriers to women’s empowerment and equity are the result of cultural norms. While many women are aware issues posed by gender inequality, others have become accustomed to it. Many men in power are hesitant to disrupt societal norms that are unfair to women.

Research shows that the increasing access to the Internet can also result in an increased exploitation of women because releasing personal information on websites has put some women’s personal safety at risk. In 2010, Working to Halt Online Abuse stated that 73% of women were victimized through such sites. According to the International Labour Organisation or ILO, sexual harassment is a clear form of gender discrimination based on sex, a manifestation of unequal power relations between men and women. Studies show that women face more barriers in the workplace than men with gender-related barriers involving sexual harassment, unfair hiring practices, career progression, and unequal pay where women are paid less than men are for performing the same job. When taking the median earnings of men and women who worked full-time, year-round, government data from 2014 showed that women made $0.79 for every dollar a man earned and the average earnings for working mothers came out to even less — $0.71 for every dollar a father made, according to 2014 study conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Children. While much of the public discussion of the wage gap has focused around women getting equal pay for the same work as their male peers, many women struggle with what is called the “pregnancy penalty”. This occurrence is difficult to measure, but the possibility of having a baby can be enough for employers to disrupt women’s pay. Women are put in a position where they need to make the decision of whether to maintain in the workforce or have children.

Education empowers women to make choices that improve their children’s health, their well-being, and chances of acquiring survival skills. Education informs others of preventing and containing a disease and empowers women to make choices that can improve their welfare, including marrying beyond childhood and having fewer children. Education can increase women’s awareness of their rights, boost their self-esteem, and provide them the opportunity to assert their rights. Education is not universally available and gender inequalities persist. A major concern in many countries is not only the limited numbers of girls going to school, but also the number of educational pathways for those that step into the classroom. In some parts of the world, girls and women are attacked for attending school, and societal efforts to stop this may be lacking. COVID has made these inequalities starker with many girls and women pulled out of schools and institutions of higher learnings.

The Internet is also conversely often a source of empowerment for women through its creation, dispersion, and utilisation of hashtags on social media. Growing Internet access in the late 20th century provided women with various tools to empower themselves. Women began to use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter for online activism and through this, they are able to empower themselves by organising campaigns and voicing their opinions for equality rights. Blogging emerged as one tool for educational female empowerment. According to a study done by the University of California, Los Angeles, medical patients who read and write about their disease are often in a much happier mood and more knowledgeable than those who do not. By reading others’ experiences, patients can better educate themselves and apply strategies that their fellow bloggers suggest. With the easy accessibility and affordability of e-learning, women can study from the comfort of their homes and learn skills that help them advance in their careers.

Women are the secret to a nation’s bright future and so any country which empowers its girls and women is one which has invested in its future. So if you are a woman reading this, make sure you let your daughters be able to soar and reach their full potential. And if you have sons, teach them to respect women and be an admirable ally to the women in their lives. And if you are a man reading this, be the ally that the women around you are proud to have.

In My Hands Today…

The Shooting Star – Shivya Nath

Shivya Nath quit her corporate job at age twenty-three to travel the world. She gave up her home and the need for a permanent address, sold most of her possessions and embarked on a nomadic journey that has taken her everywhere from remote Himalayan villages to the Amazon rainforests of Ecuador.

Along the way, she lived with an indigenous Mayan community in Guatemala, hiked alone in the Ecuadorian Andes, got mugged in Costa Rica, swam across the border from Costa Rica to Panama, slept under a meteor shower in the cracked salt desert of Gujarat and learnt to conquer her deepest fears.

With its vivid descriptions, cinematic landscapes, moving encounters and uplifting adventures, The Shooting Star is a travel memoir that maps not just the world but the human spirit.

International Women’s Day

Regular readers will know that I am a huge supporter of women’s rights and so International Women’s Day which falls tomorrow is a topic I never fail to write about.

International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when all women are recognised for their achievements. International Women’s Day was first born out of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe. Since those early days, International Women’s Day has grown in prominence and reach, touching women in every corner of the world. The growing international women’s movement has helped make International Women’s Day a central point for action, to build support for women’s rights and their full participation in the economy, politics, community and everyday life.

Source

In 1910, Clara Zetkin, the leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. The proposal received unanimous support from over one hundred women representing 17 countries. The very first International Women’s Day was held the following year on March 19th. Meetings and protests were held across Europe, with the largest street demonstration attracting 30,000 women. In 1913, IWD was moved to March 8th and has been held on this day ever since.

International Women’s Day or IWD, celebrated on March 08 is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. The IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, International Women’s Day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere and is not country, group or organization specific.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day from the IWD organisation is Break the Bias. Let’s imagine a gender-equal world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive and a world where difference is valued and celebrated. Let us all forge women’s equality and collectively we can all Break the Bias. Individually, we’re all responsible for our thoughts and actions – all day, every day and we can break the biases in our communities, our workplaces, our schools, colleges and universities and together, we can all break the bias – on International Women’s Day and beyond. Purple, green and white are the colours of International Women’s Day with purple signifying justice and dignity, green symbolising hope and white representing purity, albeit a controversial concept. The colours originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union or WSPU in the UK in 1908.

The United Nations celebrated International Women’s Day with a separate theme. Women and girls face greater vulnerability and exposure to disasters, and conflicts, and yet they remain largely ignored in developing solutions and their capabilities are often under-utilised. As the most impacted, women are also a critical part of the solution. The theme this year is Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. Women stand at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry. This year’s theme celebrates the tremendous efforts made by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. The world has made unprecedented advances, but no country has achieved gender equality. Fifty years ago, we landed on the moon; in the last decade, we discovered new human ancestors and photographed a black hole for the first time. In the meantime, legal restrictions have kept 2.7 billion women from accessing the same choice of jobs as men. Less than 25 per cent of parliamentarians were women, as of 2019 and even today one in three women experiences gender-based violence.

Because sometimes we need to remember we’re not alone. Happy International Women’s Day to all the lovely women and the men who support and motivate their women!