Does the Hijab Scare You?

Three weeks ago, I had written an article about dress codes and sexist behavior that has been inculcated in us for so long that it has become normalized.

Well, the same goes for a woman who is covering up her body more than you normally do (and it isn’t cold outside). There might have been times when you have seen a woman walk by in a hijab or a burqa and you felt utter sympathy for her because you think she’s just succumbing to sexism.

There seems to be this trailing misconception going around that Muslim women who chose to wear a hijab do so because they are forced by their religion or because of male family members.

But on the contrary, many Muslim women wear the burqa because they truly want to. This can come from various aspects of their lives including respecting their religion, wanting to continue with their family tradition, or simply because they feel empowered when they cover themselves.

I had once asked my Muslim friend why she chose to wear the hijab every day. She had replied to me saying, “I wear the hijab every day because I feel so empowered to know that I am defying the societal standard of beauty set to please the male gaze.”

So, don’t be afraid of the hijab. It’s another piece of clothing that women use to define themselves and endow themselves with their own authority.

On Media and Reforms

While Legislative, Executive and Judiciary are the three pillars of Democracy, Media has emerged as another more significant pillar of democracy in today’s world.  Historically media has played an important role in governing and developing nations, in today’s world, with the increasing presence and influence of electronic and social media, the role of media has become more and more prominent. Media has the task of keeping the public informed about the happenings around the world. Not only just covering the incidents, but also providing the proper details. The Media professionals act as the watchdogs of society.

Media is that pillar of democracy which is always supposed to favor the public and show them the truth. Whether it is a political activity or a policy decision-making, it is the Media that can influence the public opinion on making valid decisions. Election of electoral representatives or even formation of the government is the results of public opinion influenced by Media.

Media provides transparency in the government. Only the fear of being exposed can restrict the corrupt individuals from unlawful activities. If the media does not uncover them or starts supporting them, they will rule without fear. The media today, has the power to transform the system for the betterment of masses. which is not favorable for masses or democracy.

Media should act like a mirror, which shows or strives to show the bare truth and harsh realities of life to the masses. However in certain cases such as those involving national security, religious sentiments or personal life and dignity of public figures, Media is expected to exercise self-censorship so that the fabric of society is not ruffled.

In the words of Malcom X “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

Women in 2017

Women have made it a long way since the time when we had to willingly lend our ears, never talk, and stand on the sidelines of every political and economic reform. We now have strong female figures leading powerful nations and making prevailing changes that are sure to shape the world in a more egalitarian form. But we still have a long way to go in achieving gender equality in every aspect of our lives. And I believe 2017 is going to be that year where we, as a global society, can break gender walls and create an environment where both women and men can reach their fullest potential.

Empowerment of women relates directly to national and global growth of the economy and the society of a particular nation. It is only when all of the human resources of a country are given an equal platform on which to realize their potential, that the country can grow as a whole.

It is especially important to give women financial independence so that they don’t have to depend solely on the financial resources of their male family members.

We live in an era when women like Hilary Clinton and Angela Merkel are making a prominent stand in the global political sphere, but also, on the other hand, when women own less than one percent of the world’s land resources. This disparity arises mostly due to the prevalent class differences. An often-overlooked dimension in achieving gender equality is how class difference reflects on women. Women from poorer backgrounds have an almost quadrupled chance of never getting out of poverty than their male counterparts. This means that most of the egalitarian growth that we have achieved so far is concentrated in the hands of women from a well-off financial background.

We must empower local women, we must empower women from all walks of life so as to create a society where our gender identity does not hold us back from achieving our potential. Collaborative efforts of international organizations and United Nations subsidiaries is one of the most promising ways in which local women can be empowered.

In retrospect, 2016 has been a dynamic year for women, but 2017 has unfolding promises for both men and women that we can see only when we stand together as an educated and open-minded society.

On Dress Codes in Society and School

How many times have you seen a woman walk past you in shorts that were too short for your liking? And how many times have you thought less of that woman just because of her choice of clothing? We all are allowed to wear whatever we want and we shouldn’t be judged harshly because of our clothing choice.

You might not realize this, but asking women to cover up their body only fuels body shaming and rape culture. It stigmatizes the female body and soon it becomes all too easy for people to put the blame on the rape victim for wearing a “provocative” dress.

Young girls have been taught from a very young age to be afraid of their own bodies. Having a dress code mandatory only for girls is completely sexist. It’s basically teaching young girls body shaming and how they are supposed to cover up their bodies so that boys can study in a distraction-free environment. Girls’ bodies aren’t distractions and if any of the boys are getting distracted by it then it’s their problem, not ours. So why should we cover up ourselves? Why can’t we teach guys not to think of women as sexual objects?

Sending a girl back home from school just because she broke the dress code indicates that the school thinks that creating a distraction free area for boys to study is more important than the girl’s education.

I understand that dress codes are necessary to maintain uniformity in a place. Dress codes are everywhere, in hospitals schools and parties, but these dress codes should be mandatory to both girls and boys. And I think that there is absolutely no harm if a girl or a boy wears shorts on a hot sunny day to school or to anywhere.

Women in Politics: Ending Sexual Assault and Violence

A major reason why women are deterred from taking up decision making roles in both domestic and international forum, is because if they are more prone to violence and sexual assault. It’s because they are afraid of their male counterparts; it’s because they don’t feel that the environment is safe and conducive.

Establishing a safe environment where women aren’t afraid to actively take part in politics and decision making process should be a priority for every country.

According to a recent study by Inter-Parliamentary Union, it was found that sexist violence and harassment against women lawmakers is extremely rampant, even in the international forum.

It is very important that education is utilized as an optimum tool in promoting gender equality and condemning violence against women. Media should also actively advocate for creating a safe environment for women within the country.

Women in Politics: Solving Financial Problems

Lack of finances disproportionately affects women candidates since they typically have less access to moneyed networks and credit, have less time and confidence to raise funds on their own behalf and may fear the repercussions of campaign costs on family budgets. Since women are primarily responsible for, or expected to be responsible, for the household.

Allocation of resources by international organizations and UN entities should be directed toward combating the financial hindrance that women face while running election. Establishment of institutions that primarily focus on providing aid to women who intend to take part in domestic or global politics is a viable solution to this problem.

Women in Politics: The Role of UN Subsidiaries

Resource allocation to countries currently under conflict. Conflict affects women differently than it does men so it is important that women have a substantial voice in the international forum so that they can raise their concerns and act on issues that violate their human rights.

Creation of a new UN subsidiary is also important. ECOSOC, UNDP, and HeForShe have done a lot in the gender spectrum of international politics, but the Delegate of Colombia believes that there is a need to launch a new UN subsidiary that focuses primarily on the issue of women in countries under conflict. It is important to empower women in conflicted areas to speak so that their issues and concerns can be heard and acted upon.

Every few years, UN Women should come together to discuss the progress made and the direction the direction in which new policies should be framed in order to maximize the role of women in global politics.  Regular systematic reporting and collection of data on the participation of women nationally, regionally and globally would be a welcome advancement in efforts to facilitate the establishment of a clear direction on which the policies have to be made.

Women in Politics: Challenging Backward Social Institutions

Eradicating sexist social customs that hinder the participatory role of women in politics is extremely important.

Providing a safe and secure place for women to work productively and contribute to the society is a key factor in promoting gender equality. It is important to educate, inform and mobilize audiences—collectively and individually—to build and adopt new patterns of masculinity and femininity and to encourage new behaviors about partner and family roles. Women’s political empowerment should be in tandem with women’s social empowerment so that the nation, as a whole, can benefit in multifold aspects. International institutions challenging stereotypical patterns of masculinity and femininity should be established to empower women.

Backward social institutions and cultural practices that restrict women should be no longer valid in the twentieth century.

Mosquitoland

Mosquitoland was a splendid read! I had picked it up in Borders because I wanted to deviate from the heavy words of Dante Alighieri and Sylvia Plath that I had been indulging in. And I’m really glad that I did.

This books covers many aspects of teenage life (and life in general) through an impulsive trip taken up by one of the most realistic protagonists ever written up in literature – Mary Iris Malone. The reason that Mim (Mary Iris Malone) appears extremely realistic to me is probably because I found her very relatable. She has profound physical and emotional flaws (like we all do) and her personality balances both good and bad in the rawest way possible. There is a lot I can say about how Mim is written in the book, but everything she does and everything she became came as surprise to me, and I want it to come as a surprise to you too.

The story around the book develops in two ways: through what Mim does on her little road trip to find her mother in Cleveland, and through letters that Mim writes in her stick-figure journal (I’m not going to disclose who these letters are addressed to because I’m not the kind of miserable person who spoils books – or anything – for people.)

Each and every character in the book was marvelously written, and I had to use the word marvelous because I couldn’t find any other word that described how beautifully David Arnorld painted vivid and colorful pictures of the characters. To me, characters in a book are what makes the book interesting. Characters develop the plot, characters blend into the literature, and characters are the condiments that stand out.

I also really admired Arnold’s tongue-in-cheek writing style, it was unique and made the book so much more fun to read. If you haven’t read the book yet, I would definitely recommend you put Mosquitoland on the top of your ‘to-read books’ list.

P.S. I couldn’t not mention how excited I was when I read that Bon Iver and Elliot Smith were featured in this book as amongst Mim’s favorite artists!

Increasing Women’s Role in Global Politics

Humanity cannot progress when half of its human resource is untapped. Women’s empowerment is an important link to sustainable development, since women comprise of half of the population and possess valuable skills. Coalescing the skills of both men and women at an equal level will add immensely to global development goals and will help the United Nations to reach some of its imperious objectives like combating international poverty and ending war tendencies.

Women comprise half of the world’s population and yet don’t receive a quarter representation in global politics. The issue of women empowerment and gender equality has gained a lot of importance in recent years, and while many steps have been taken to combat gender inequality, there is still a lot to be done to bring women at the same platform as their male counterparts.

A key factor in increasing the role of women in global politics is to set up institutions at the international (as well as domestic, pertaining to different countries) level and to decrease the gap between policy and funding and monitoring programs. Creation of United Nations subsidiaries like HeForShe and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is also a major aspect in increasing the participation of women in global politics.

Another issue that is especially important to tackle is eradicating sexist social customs that hinder the participatory role of women in politics. Backward social institutions and cultural practices that restrict women should be no longer valid in the twentieth century.

Providing a safe and secure place for women to work productively and contribute to the society is a key factor in promoting gender equality. It is important to educate, inform and mobilize audiences—collectively and individually—to build and adopt new patterns of masculinity and femininity and to encourage new behaviors about partner and family roles. Women’s political empowerment should be in tandem with women’s social empowerment so that the nation can benefit in multifold aspects. International institutions challenging stereotypical patterns of masculinity and femininity should be established to empower women.