I remember when I was little playing with my dolls and pretending that I was a mom from a very young age. I don’t think I ever remember a time when I was young thinking I wouldn’t have children. I remember coming up with names for girls and boys. As I grew up and got married and the thought of having my own children became more and more real, I began thinking and dreaming of what they would be like. (more…)
When’s the last time you took the time to be grateful for you toilet?
Unless you’ve just renovated a bathroom or just really need to go, if you live in a developed country you probably don’t put much thought into how amazing it is to have a running toilet in your home.
Today, November 19th, is World Toilet Day. It’s a United Nations-recognized day about global sanitation, an issue that affects 1 in 3 people worldwide.
WaterAid, with whom I traveled to Nicaragua last year to see their work on the ground, is commemorating the day with their State of the World’s Toilets report. The report reveals the most difficult place in the world to find a toilet (South Sudan), what country has the most people waiting for a toilet (India), and which developed nations are facing their own struggles in ensuring toilets for all (Russian Federation).
WaterAid also released the #GiveAShit smartphone app in the United States and Canada. The fun app allows users to create and share their own customized poop emojis, learn sanitation facts, and take a stand on behalf of the 2.3 billion people today who live without access to a basic toilet.
Here’s the poop emoji I created:
Potty talk and poop emoji are fun ways to bring up a very serious topic. The lack of clean water and sanitation around the world come with dire consequences. Here are some facts from WaterAid:
- Around 860 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation
- 1 out of every 3 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa drops out of school once she starts menstruating, because there are no toilets at her school
- Women and girls living without any toilets spend 97 billion hours each year looking for a place to go to the bathroom
- The lack of access to sanitation costs the world’s poorest countries $260 billion each year
The State of the World’s Toilets report is an eye-opening read. While I am somewhat well-versed on the topic of global clean water and sanitation, I learned a lot from its findings. I was most surprised that only 17 countries in the world have reported that just about every single household in the country has a safe, private toilet, and the United States wasn’t one of them.
The report also went beyond the health consequences of poor sanitation and addressed gender equality, education and economic development. Without access to a clean, safe toilet, women and girls are more vulnerable to harassment or assault, kids can’t attend school because they are sick and hospital beds are filled with people who have preventable diseases.
The good news is that the United Nations member states have adopted new Global Goals on sustainable development back in September. Goal 6 aims to deliver access to water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone everywhere by 2030. (I wrote about why this goal was the most important one to me on my blog.)
The 17 global goals may seem lofty, they are certainly attainable. It’s important for us as global citizens to be aware of these issues and to use our voices to keep world leaders accountable, making sure they keep to their promises to reach everyone including the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized people in our world.
How will you celebrate World Toilet Day?
This is an original post written by Jennifer Iacovelli of annotherjennifer.com and Author of Simple Giving.
Growing up I never had to see any women around me struggle with finding a ‘work life balance’ because women didn’t work much. They were either teachers or worked in hospitals. A few women owned their own businesses but had to have men run them. And the large majority of women I knew worked for the non profit sector running charities or working in them. I would say these charities were where I saw Saudi women working the most. They were a force to be reckoned with.
We also saw women doctors. I remember going to the eye doctor to get lenses for the first time when in walked a tall, thin woman wearing a niqab (face cover with opening for eyes). She was the opthemologist. Her hands, which were the only body parts I could see, were beautiful.
Her nails immaculate (being a life long nail bitter I notice these things). But women who worked in hospitals sometimes had a stigma because they worked in a mixed environment. I later learned that the majority of women who wore niqab’s in the hospital only did so to avoid this stigma and indeed never wore them anywhere else!
I went to an all female school and was taught exclusively by women, but the majority of them were Syrian. One year I remember distinctly there was a surge in the number of Saudi women in managerial positions and some teaching positions in school. They were always well coiffed, smelled nice, wore nice shoes and had make up on. They didn’t look like the typical teachers we were used to seeing, harried and there to do a job.
Then in 2010 things began to change. Mainly because of huge reform in laws that used to restrict women working in Saudi. This was the beginning of the King Abdullah era which saw the number of women in the workforce rise from 55,000 to 454,000 in 3 years! Suddently, women were in the work force, working along side men in many cases.
There was a mixed reaction to this change. Families could see the importance and benefit of adding another income, but at the same time, were conflicted about the women of the family going into the work environment and gaining independence. The women who were already in the work force were a huge support for the women newly coming into it. But men had a hard time working with women. Some didn’t respect them, others had no idea what do with them or where to look or how to address them. In the case of my cousin, who is the head of a non profit organisation, some men flat out refused to talk to her util they realised that they would not be offered an alternative and either had to work with her of shove off.
Then there is me. I have always felt the need to do something.
Since I got married at the age of 22 I have been planning, and researching and imagining this business I would open. I have files and files of papers printed, notes scribbled, suppliers contacted over the years until, finally, my dream was realised. Before opening my business it was a breeze working on it while being a ‘good’ wife and a ‘good’ homemaker and a ‘good’ mother. My time was my own and I worked when I liked. And it was still a dream… not a commitment.
Then I opened… and my life changed. I cannot speak for the women for whom work is a necessity. The ones who’s families depend on them to live. I do not think they have the pleasure of having this ‘life work balance’ conversation because without work there would be no life. Such as Um Ahmed who worked for a while as a cleaning lady at my center. She was the sole breadwinner of her family. When I met her she was in her late 30’s, she had 5 children, none of which worked. What blew me over was when she told me she would have to take a day off or leave early every few weeks as she was learning to read and write and wanted to sit her exams. Um Ahmed left a year after working for me as she got pregnant and had to stay home with her 6th baby.
In my case, working was a choice. It did come from a need to realise a dream I truly believed would be beneficial to society even in a small way. It was a necessity in that sense but it was very much a choice I made. No one is relying on any money I could potentially make (God willing at some point) from my business.
Society here puts the burden of making everything work on the woman. If the marriage fails they look at what the woman didn’t do. If the children turned out messed up they looked at the mother. If the house was less than pristine they looked at the wife. If the husband strayed they say “did you see how his wife let herself go?’.
I remember talking to a school teacher as we sat in a restaurant with her 11 month old and a few friends. She looked tired and harried while she bobbed her child on her knee and told us all about how when she gets home from work she makes dinner immediately so she has time to shower and fix her hair and get dressed up for her husband before he got home from work. She tried to make sure her son was calm and clean for his father.
She even gave us suggestions of things to do to make our husbands lives easier and more interesting (from having him walk in on you wearing your wedding dress to having him walk in on you wearing nothing… not sure what she did with her son in these instances).
She said “you know, we have to make sure they are happy and comfortable”, and I said “who makes sure you are happy and comfortable?”, and she looked surprised, then laughed at the absurdity of it. I went on saying “what little things does he do for you? take you out to dinner? Give your son a bath? Help with the house work?” she didn’t like this line of questioning and thought I was being rude I think so I dropped it.
In our society women must look beautiful for their husbands. And if you are lucky then you have a husband who at least tries to look presentable for you. I remember going to see a child counsellor when I was pregnant with my second child because of an anxiety issue my son had. I walked into her office, 8 months pregnant with my daughter, and talked to her about my son.
Somehow we ended up talking about me and about how I needed to make an effort in the way I look! She said “why don’t you have any makeup on? did you husband see you like this before you left the house?” Needless to say I left the office and never came back.
But it goes without saying that if you, like me, work because you want to work not because you have to work, and that work means you will not be perfumed, creamed and coiffed and wide awake for your husband when he comes back from seeing his friends at night, then you have failed. If your house is not totally impeccable then you have failed. If you don’t look like you stepped out of some sort of magazine at least 85% of the time then you have failed.
We have not entered, nor do I think we will ever, the phase of being proud of our mommy pants and the fact that we look tired because, well, we work hard and we are tired. Regardless of how hard you work or how much you have accomplished you will always be expected to maintain yourself. And in most cases it is down to you to make life interesting, entertaining and comfortable for your husband and children.
How do I feel about this? Even though, in the light of how much I have put into this business and how obsessed I was when starting it and how supportive my husband has been, (He only asked me to shut it down once when we were on vacation and I spent my whole time Skyping the staff.) I feel like I am failing probably about 60% of the time.
My husband works from home, and therefore, sleeps late. This means that I sleep late because I love spending time with him one on one. And by the time my kids are in bed he would have gone out to see his family or friends, and I would do the same. On most nights I would go out just to avoid falling asleep on the couch or in some instances I would fall asleep with my kids do and have a late nap till her comes home!
How is your life similar? How is your life different?
This an original blog post by World Mom, Mama B. of Saudi Arabia. You can also find her at her blog, YaMaaMaa.
Photo credit to Roberto Trombetta. This photo has a creative commons attribution noncommercial license. It has not been altered.
It is with great honor that we announce that World Moms Blog’s Senior Editor, Purnima Ramakrishnan, has been awarded an Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial prize for print and online coverage of the United Nations and UN Agencies.
Purnima is the joint winner of the Bronze award, which will be awarded at the United Nations Correspondents Association’s (UNCA) gala in New York City on December 14th, 2015 by the guest of honor, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
As an active Senior Editor for World Moms Blog since 2011, Purnima’s posts include celebrating Day of the Girl in India through murals, her response to the Peshawar attacks in 2014, and speaking out after the Nepal Earthquake this year. Previously, she has also written about unwanted girl children in India, the Brazilian health care system, and breaking the caste system in India. You can find all of her posts at World Moms Blog on Purnima Ramakrishnan’s author page.
In addition to her work at World Moms Blog, she reported on poverty issues facing Brazil in her fellowship with The International Reporting Project. In 2013 she was a BlogHer International Activist Scholarship winner and travelled to Chicago, USA to speak on her advocacy for vaccines for children in the developing world. At the BlogHer conference she launched World Moms Blog’s successful 8 month #Moms4MDGs campaign to raise awareness for poverty issues around the world. Purnima has also been featured on The Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists blog, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life blog, The Huffington Post and on Baby Center’s Mission Motherhood™.
“The dinner will be attended by U.N. officials, diplomats, Hollywood celebrities, corporate and cultural organizations and journalists from around the world,” according to the official award notice. We are currently (and excitedly!) coordinating arrangements with the hope that Purnima will be able to travel from India to New York City to accept this prestigious award in person.
It is also with a flood of emotions that we learned about the life of Elizabeth Neuffer, the woman for whom the UNCA award was named. Elizabeth Neuffer was The Boston Globe bureau chief at the U.N., who died in a car crash at the age of 46 while covering postwar Iraq in 2003.
An award winning journalist, she was the first to report that indicted war criminals remained in power in post-war Bosnia, where she spent a year reporting on war crimes. Early on in her career, she reported from federal court in Boston, Capitol Hill during the Clinton Administration, Moscow during the break up of the Soviet Union and the Middle East during the Gulf War. She then became European Bureau Chief from 1994-1998 in Berlin. Elizabeth also dispatched to Africa to report on the 1996 return of Hutu refugees from Zaire to their native Rwanda.
Learning about the life of Elizabeth Neuffer reminds, us, at World Moms Blog that there is so much work left unfinished when it comes to reporting on human rights and justice in the world. We will gladly carry a small spark from the large torch she lit by the example of her leading reporting. It is an honor for Purnima to receive this award as an Senior Editor for World Moms Blog. Congratulations to Purnima Ramakrishnan and the entire World Moms Blog team! We will continue to work hard to provide a voice for women around the world and speak up for those who need us most.
Thank you to the UNCA Awards Selection Committee for their selection and congratulations to all UNCA award winners!
For more on the UNCA.
“Elizabeth Neuffer, 46, Reporter Overseas for the Boston Globe” and Wikipedia Elizabeth Neuffer.
With the beginning of the rainy season here in Indonesia, the rain is welcome for all of us, especially for those affected by the forest fires spreading in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Every rain drop brought hope that the fire will be tamed. The difficulties of taming the fire especially in Borneo is also caused by the natural landscape of the forest. Mostly peat land, the fire would still burn under the ground long after the initial fire has been put out.
Writing about this topic has been hard because, as a mother, I am outraged by human greed that allowed this to happen in the first place, and it has been going on for years on end.
Part of me wants to shout – when will this stop? Until we have no more trees or until all our children died from inhaling toxic smokes?
Friends in Singapore and Malaysia are also affected by the fire. The haze reportedly traveled as far as to Thailand.
Lives lost…19 so far according to the last count. 500,000 suffered from respiratory tract infections.
Endangered animals, orangutans are on the brink of extinction.
This is an act of crime against humanity!
This fire has been raging since July!
4 months of breathing in toxic air… 4 months of buying oxygen to survive.
Deforestation caused by greedy hands who burn the forest down in hopes of turning them into palm oils have been so rampant in the past few years.
I am angered by the greed. I don’t care who started the fire, but this needs to stop! This needs to change. This can no longer be a yearly occurrence. Not in Indonesia, not in other countries.
Our innocent children are being put at risk. Indigenous people are losing their home.
Animals that are already on the endangered species list will soon only remain as photos for our children to see in books one day, if we keep going at this rate of earth destruction.
Can you imagine yourself living through this?
These images above are all from a friend who lives in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. She had to evacuate all her children for cleaner air.
The world needs to push for a real plan to end this because once the forest in Indonesia is completely gone, the whole world will feel its effects.
How do you think, we, as mother’s can help?
Photo credit to the author’s friend.