Inequality

  I find the three different categories of inequality to be very interesting,particularly the fact that the word inequality is used and never the word poor. Poor in my mind is just a word we use to describe people who may be have less or in a more degrading situation than their peers. Most people […]

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I find the three different categories of inequality to be very interesting,particularly the fact that the word inequality is used and never the word poor. Poor in my mind is just a word we use to describe people who may be have less or in a more degrading situation than their peers. Most people use the word poor when they mean inequality .Economic deprivation is the most common example of inequality, this includes but not limited to:income poverty,insecure livelihoods and asset deficits.Some well known cases of  economic deprivation are the substance farmers currently in Ghana,unemployed youth in Egypt,numerous indigenous groups in Mexico,Bolivia and the Philippines, homeless families in India,landless people in Uganda,trafficked children in Ghana, as well as all disaster -affected people.

Another form of inequality is discrimination.There are many and varying forms of discrimination . Two major groups of discrimination are people who are marginalised in society because of their identity or are lower down in the social hierarchy. Some peoples who are majorly affected by discrimination are: the indigenous groups in Mexico, Bolivia and the Philippines, the Dalit (untouchables in India),racial minorities Brazil and Nigeria,people with disabilities in Bangladesh,sexual minority groups in the Balkans,sex workers,LGBTQA, HIV-aids as well as people marginalised by conflict like the Palestinians.

Finally there is spatial inequality.This kind of inequality is active in regions of the world where people live in adverse conditions.These regions serve to disadvantage those who live and work in them.These people simply cannot escape poverty.Some examples of people who suffer from spatial inequality are people who live in mountainous terrain,remote areas, underserved urban slums or areas vulnerable to climate change.

People need to feel empowered that they themselves can make a change.

“Peoples relationships within their families and wider communities can enable or undermine their feelings of empowerment,self-recognition, belonging and aspirations for change-critical factors that enable agency.”

What  they have against them however is not one state of inequality but rather a multitude of problems that force people into think they are not capable of making any social change. People feel this way perhaps because of their family and other around them.Inequalities continue through lifetimes and generations and people are left feeling hopeless.

Development programmes and policies often do not help as they are very linear in their approach and look at a very simple understanding of change.Inequality however is sustained through a myriad of complex and interconnected social issues.

“It is impossible for someone to buy soap when he has no food. I cannot pay money for a latrine without food. I cannot buy a jerry can of water when I have no food. So we end up in dirty environment, poor hygiene and sanitation. This is where diseases come from. We drink unboiled water, survive on one cup of porridge, this can also make one sick. We end up suffering from cholera,kwashiorkor,dysentery, malaria and HIV and generally carrying a poor health situation. All the time you’re sick and you spend more, and then you cannot spend anymore. In most cases the poor die because we lack money to treat us and we die.”
(Slum-dweller, HEPS-Uganda 2013)

If people feel like they have power however ,they can and do make lasting change.They need to have a sense of belonging and feel like a citizen in their own country. Support networks of any kind are crucial as a transforming source of personal power.

Why the Chipko Movement is more important than ever.

The Chipko movement is a forest conservation movement that began in India, 1973. It pioneered many environmental changes that we have today. The Chipko movement arose in a time when there were few or no major environmental groups in India. At the start of the Chipko movement, it practised the Gandhian methods of Satyagraha. Since […]

The Chipko movement is a forest conservation movement that began in India, 1973. It pioneered many environmental changes that we have today. The Chipko movement arose in a time when there were few or no major environmental groups in India. At the start of the Chipko movement, it practised the Gandhian methods of Satyagraha. Since then it has become more of an eco-feminist orientated campaign. Eco-feminism tries to heal the divide between culture and denture that has become exceedingly apparent over the last few decades; this will be done through the feminine instinct for nurture and nature.

We need more movements like the Chipko movement now more than ever. A time when it is estimated within the next one hundred years, there will be no rainforests left whatsoever when 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon forest alone. Although forests still cover roughly thirty percent of the earth, we lose an area roughly equivalent to the size of Panama in forested land every year, not only this but over two hundred million people actually live in forest land, and another one and a half billion people depend on forest directly for survival.

Many movements now get much more attention now thanks to the progression of social media. Getting a share or a like on Facebook certainly, brings environmental issues to people’s attention but does not change the issues at its core. As St Augustine said, “there is a difference between knowing the good and loving the good”. The Chipko movement arose at a time when there were no other movements or social media, they instead arose and have inspired so many movements since then. Not only in India but around the world. Their stances of feminism were far ahead of their time, and feminism now, more than ever, truly is for everyone.

Edugeen, available online at-http://edugreen.teri.res.in/explore/forestry/chipko.htm [Accessed7/12/16]

Greenpeace why deforestation still matters, available online at – http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/6-reasons-stopping-deforestation-still-matters/  [Accessed7/12/16]

Women in world history, available online at – http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/contemporary-04.html [Accessed7/12/16]chipko-movement-1-638

Brief Brief on Gender Inequality in Thailand

In 2011, Thailand ranked 69th out of 143 countries in the Gender Inequality Index. The Gender Inequality Index mainly focuses on topics such as sex segregation and employer discrimination. During the last several decades the Thai Government and Non-Government Organisations have put many motions in place trying to change their ranking on the Gender Inequality Index.

 

 

 

In Thailand, the structure of gender relations suitable same for hundreds of years, with women being caretakers of the family and men taking care of the household financially.Thailand, however, had a massive shift in their social and economic structure in the 1960’s which changed gender relations in the country. The change in gender relations was due to a massive influx of American culture due to the war in Vietnam.Even the relatively small city that I live in had an American military base. Until this point, only the elite in society had any exposure to Western culture in any way. Many Thai people being exposed to these new ideals were drawn to the new and modern ways; this ended in the traditional Thai rural family unit, something of the past and people looked for a fortune in many of the major cities such as Bangkok.

 

 

 

There are three ways in which Thailand still has to make progress; this is reproductive health, empowerment, and economic activity.Regarding reproductive health,  too many women are dying from maternal causes. Too many adolescent women are still giving birth. With roughly 48 women dying in every hundred thousand dying from pregnancy-related causes and 43 out of every 1,000 births being those by adolescents(15-19).Empowerment for females is also still an issue as only 14% of all parliament seats are held by women, and with regards to education, only 25% of women have attained at least secondary school education. Economically women in Thailand still had a labour force of 65% as of 2011.

 

 

 

Due to Thailand dramatic Western influence in the 1960’s Thailand changes from an agricultural to an industrial economy.Now women in Thailand hold 50% of the employment rate.

 

The breakdown of occupations can be shown:

 

 

 

Men-

 

 

 

Agricultural (55.8%)

Mining and quarrying (83.6%)

Public administration and defence (64.0%)

Water supply (69.7%)

Construction (84.6%)

Transportation storage (86.9%)

Information and communication (64.8%)

Professional, Scientific and Technical (52.4%)

Administrative and support services (57.7%)

Electricity, gas, stream supply industry (81.17%).

 

 

Women-

 

Accommodation and food service (64.2%)

Financial and insurance activities (55.5%)

Real estate activities (55.7%)

Education (61.1%)

Human health and social work (75.9%)

Activities of household employers (82.1%)

Activities in international organisations (100.0%)

Other service activity industry (55.3%).

 

 

From personal experience, there does seem to be very much a “glass ceiling” in Thailand.Part of my job is to travel to various schools, almost every time the Directors, Vice Directors and Heads of Departments are men, even when many women have been working at the school for many years and are much more experienced more than them.

 

 

There have definitely been improvements, however. As was mentioned before due to the Western influence Thailand changed dramatically during the 1960’s. This did break down many of the traditional Thai family social norms. However, some of these changes were progressive. These changes allowed women to start and education and eventually a career. These changes allowed women to not only serve their families but server themselves. It is true that women still face opposition and many a “glass ceiling”, the salaries are still not the same, women still are often sold by their families and women must often do what is best for their family. In 2011, Yingluck Shinawatra was elected as the first ever female Prime Minister of Thailand, something which would not even be a concept in the 1800’s.Thailand has a long way to go regarding gender equality, but for now, at least it is moving in the right direction.

 

Feminism-More important than ever in a post-Trump America

Feminism, that truly terrifying eight letter word. So many people hear it and fear it,  if someone says that they are a feminist, they are thought to be a radical and that you support women’s rights over man.This is totally untrue, at least in conjunction with the beliefs of the feminists that I know. According to […]

Feminism, that truly terrifying eight letter word. So many people hear it and fear it,  if someone says that they are a feminist, they are thought to be a radical and that you support women’s rights over man.This is totally untrue, at least in conjunction with the beliefs of the feminists that I know. According to Belle hooks and the title of her guide to feminism, “Feminism is for everybody “.  Feminism has changed a lot from first, second and now third wave feminism. From early pioneers who introduced such as Jeremy Bentham when feminism was such a new ideal and differed greatly from protofeminism, the closest movement to feminism in the fourteenth century. Of course, progress has been made since then and the days when suffragettes would throw themselves under wagons in order to gain votes for women . Progress has been made, but now with the election of Donald Trump, feminism will be pivotal in the post-trump era. Even before his election, he had a very “boys will be boys attitude ” towards female victims of sexual abuse.

He posted

26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?

This was 2013, and not much has changed since then, he has an anti-abortion attitude towards planned towards planned parenting and has vowed to cut their funding if they don’t stop providing abortions.  He has continuously glorified the mistreatment of women, here are a few gems of his.

In a 1991 Esquire magazine interview, he said: “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a  young and beautiful piece of ass”.

In 1992 he said in an interview with New York magazine “You have to treat them like shit”.

In April this yea he Trump retweeted user @mplefty67’s comment, “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”

These are just a few examples of his patriarchal beliefs, now that he will, in fact, be president, however, he will have the power, in particular, most vulnerable: immigrant women, women of colour, lesbian women, transgender women, women seeking abortions, women seeking asylum, women seeking protection from men.  The American people need feminism now more than ever to combat this chauvinistic, presidency ..Modern feminism is an inclusive movement focused on making people’s lives better – regardless of what you look like.

trump-grab-her-by-the-pussy

Let’s not forget the 2005  “Grab her by the pussy tape https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8U0IaMsRf4

Bell hooks (2001)- Femenism is for Everybody

The Washington post, what does president trump mean for feminists(online) available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/11/09/what-does-president-trump-mean-for-feminists/?utm_term=.dac5a206b750%5BAccesses 09/12/16]

Bell hooks: Ending Domination — The Struggle Continues- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMuEJhlWSvA

Mens role in promoting gender equality

Going on what others having been saying, and the TED talk by  Katz. I truly believe that Katz was correct by saying that when people think of gender equality, they often are only thinking of promoting equal rights for women.  However gender refers to both men and women, people often think women when they hear the word gender. This is the same way in which people hear sexual orientation they often think homosexuality, we don’t often hear people describing heterosexuality as a sexual orientation.

I do believe that men are pivotal to promoting gender equality between men and women. In many cases pivotal in ways that women cannot be, “locker room chat” and “guy talk ” are areas in women would have a harder time to confront. When a man hears degrading talk about women it must be addressed there and then, this is not as easily done however in a dominant masculine society. As Katz mentioned in their TED talk.Men must be made to feel that they must not act controlling so as they will not be controlling. This is not only controlling towards women but towards other men also. The majority of abuse against men is of course by other men, the road to gender equality is not only aiding women but men also, hence equality.

Men can make progress in a number of ways, most notably the workplace. Take parental leave, for example, the majority of men do not take it, even when offered.

“Not only do too few companies consider extending paid leave to new fathers, when they do, men rarely take advantage of the entire leave. While a 2011 study of men at large companies found that approximately 85% of new fathers take some time off after the birth of a child, the vast majority of them only took off a week or two. And a study of 2011 study of college professors found that only 12% of fathers took paid parental leave when it was offered, compared with 69% of mothers.”

This not only perpetuates the idea that it should only be women who should take maternal leave but also stops other men from the possibility of spending more time with their children, even if they wanted to. They may feel that they may be “emasculated”. This can also hold women back from career progression in a number of ways. Employers may feel that they would give a promotion to a man over a woman because she has the possibility of taking maternity leave and he would not. Paternal leave is just one of a number of ways on how men can help promote gender equality in the workplace.

As for the people claiming that feminists are anti-men, these quite often are not people who are trying to promote gender equality. Feminists, real feminist are trying to promote gender equality and not female superiority. These are entirely different ideas and yet are so strangely often confused. More often than not it may be a struggle for power, male patriarchs feel that some feminists are gaining power for themselves and social change and therefore will lose some of their own power.  This is true, power does not dissipate but rather changes directions. In this way, it would flow towards women, not threatening men but rather make them equal. As women progress towards gender equality men are aided also as they are becoming more who they are and not what society has told them to be.

Human by Yann Arthurs-Bertrand

For anyone who has not seen this life-affirming piece simply must, it is breathtaking.I have watched it a few times now and have used it as a tool for many of the projects that  I have given to my students. It was the first movie to premiere in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations, to an audience of 1,000 viewers, including the Un Secretary General Baan Ki-Moon.

The film was financed by the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, which gave it rights-free to the GoodPlanetFoundation, responsible for driving the project. An extended version of the film is officially freely available on YouTube (in three parts)

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It covers a range of topics such as war, family homosexuality, religion, ambition and failure. It is beautiful to watch as the film is almost exclusively composed of first-person and aerial shots .By watching it you too may get a sense of what it means to be “Human”.

Human the website available at http://www.human-themovie.org/ [Accessed 6/12/16]

 

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Human movie playlist, introduction plus part 1, 2 and 3 available at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLEgA6bEeal3yh19xRhfVt5q5xBohcPYz7&v=qUWrdnbOEOQ

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Leave no one behind, made with clips from Human available at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhsSQZGDF1E

Power, and how it is used for facilitating social change

 

As the title suggest this will be a contribution to the following statement “when it comes to understanding power and movements for change, it’s important to think of power not only in terms of the powerful forces that movements are trying to disrupt or oppose or overthrow but also in terms of the power that individuals (like Ron Finley) and groups take for themselves (claim or mobilise) in order to create alternatives”. It will start by giving examples of the kind of power available to groups and individuals and how they can harness it. The paper will then move on to leadership amongst movements and how leadership is important and how they help make agency possible through expressions of power. The paper will then give examples how groups claim power for themselves and challenge ‘power over’. Finally to conclude the paper will show how important power is for movements of change and how we need to not only think of power “as being  defined only in negative terms, and as a form of domination, but it can also be a positive force for individual and collective capacity to act for change”. Lisa VeneKlasen and Valeries Miller in A New Weave of Power (2002, page 55)

 

Examples of power

There are four expressions of power, this is a brief explanation

Power Over

This is the most common expression of power, it if often seen as only as win or lose and nothing else. It has many negative associations for people, such as repression, force, coercion, discrimination, corruption, and abuse. With ‘power over’ it means taking it from someone, dominating and preventing other from obtaining it. This is not only seen being used by ‘powerful groups’ but ‘powerless groups’ also use this form of power’. Marginalized groups often, when they gain power imitate those who once dominated them by their use of ‘power over’

Power With

This is where people find common ground and work together to make change. ‘Power with’ bridges across different interests to transform or reduce social conflict and promote equitable relations.

Power To

‘Power to’ highlights the potential of every person. It makes it possible for joint action in conjunction with ‘power with’

Power within

‘Power within’ has to do with a person’s sense of hope, their sense worth and that they themselves can actually make a difference.

Powercube.net, expressions of power (http://www.powercube.net/other-forms-of-power/expressions-of-power/)

Leadership amongst movement for change

Leadership is important for social movements in a myriad of ways. It can be said that “social movement leaders mobilize the emotions that make agency possible”(Ganz,Leading change,Harvard Press 2010).As shown above through forms of power, relationships are paramount in social movements. Leadership can be seen as a key instrument to forming these relationships. This does not mean that there is one person ‘in charge’ or who takes ‘control’ but is rather a person who organizes “by identifying, recruiting and developing leadership on all levels. This leadership forges a primary source of social movement power.” (Ganz,Leading change,Harvard Press 2010).

How Groups claim power for themselves and challenge ‘power over’

It is possible to challenge ‘power over’ by using ‘power to’, ‘power with’ and ‘power within’. It is entirely possible for any group or movement to challenge the ‘powers that be’ and ‘power over’. We have seen examples throughout history and even now we see it on a daily basis. The key word here is challenge, not that people are always successful, but ‘power over’ is in fact challenged. An example is the ‘Arab Spring ‘These were a series of protest that spread throughout the Middle-East mostly aimed at the ageing Arab dictatorships amongst a variety of other social issues. These countries did not decide to protest together at the same time but rather it was an incendiary effect due to their homogeneous ideals. Some deemed these protest a failure, this is due to the fact that they did not overthrow the numerous authoritarian regimes that governed them. They truly utilized ‘power to’ and ‘power within’ by believing it was possible for social change in the Middle East. They also used ‘power with’ by following and inspiring each other in similar ways.

Rather I believe they were a catalyst for change in a different sense. It is difficult to over throw decades of corrupt rule. They have slowly paved the way for more elected officials and more transparent governing powers however. The Arab spring also inspired other movements such as the Occupy movement. This movement started in 2011 also, starting to challenge mainly the inequalities faced by the majority of Americans. They have taken the trademark “We are the 99%”(Occupy.net,20110, this is to reflect the fact that they represent the economic inequality faced by 99% of the American people. Since then it has taken hold and spread to every continent of the world .Not unlike the French revolution in the 18th century, where similarly there was economic inequality as the “top” tier of society paid no taxes at all. It ended with the ’99%’ creating their own constitution.

 

It’’s important to take note of some important movements happening in the world right now. Such as the Dakota pipeline protests also known as (and hashtagged) the NoDAPL movement. This is a movement that has attracted huge amounts of support (not enough from mainstream media) and has been tagged and shared worldwide. I think this is a great example of how movements are able to grow and flourish in the digital age. Even if they are not shown or even represented in any forms by some major news stations, they can still receive tremendous amounts of backing. This truly shows how media is an imperative tool in the use of any successful movement now and empowers all to make change.

 

To conclude, this paper has shown how power has changed over time. It is possible now more than ever to challenge ‘power over’ thanks to the use of social media and other platforms that were not available before. Social movements are now able to help each other on a global scale and more importantly believe that they can in fact implement social change.

 

 

Social movements are purposeful, organized groups striving to work toward a common goal. These groups might be attempting to create change (Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring), to resist change (anti-globalization movement), or to provide a political voice to those otherwise disenfranchised (civil rights movements). Social movements create social change.