Category Archives: Advocacy

New Grantee: Young Feminists Movement in Pakistan

IMG_1369

Pakistan is only second to Yemen in a list of the ten worst countries for girls to be born in according to The Global Gender Gap Report in 2013. Women receive 43% less educational opportunities than men, there’s a 21% gender-based income gap, and only a quarter of the national labor force are represented by women. When it comes to violence against women, according to a study by The Ministry of Law, Justice, and Human Rights, just from January 2012 to September 2013, there were 860 honor killings, 481 incidents of domestic violence, 90 cases of acid burning, 344 cases or rape or gang rape, and 268 incidents of sexual assault or harassment.

In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in Northern Pakistan, girls and women are living under a tribal and Feudal system that promotes male dominance, presented as Islamic norms and values by religious groups. These traditions create even more extreme gender inequality and chance of gender-based violence as girls and women can be forced into marriage for the sake of peacemaking between tribes, are excluded from political activities, plus face violence and religious extremism when making efforts towards promoting girls and women’s rights. All of this is what sparked an international movement behind young activist Malala Yousafzai after she survived the Taliban’s targeted shooting for her promotion of girls’ rights to education.

In a place where even young school girls face extreme violence for speaking out, and “feminism” is a bold concept, Spark is thrilled to support giving these young women a voice through our newest grantee, The Young Feminists Movement.

The Young Feminists Movement was created in 2011 by young women at various local colleges from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and adjacent tribal areas focused on raising awareness around gender equality issues plus giving young women a safe space and a voice in an oppressed society. They provide 5-day trainings for girls ages 15-25 around equal rights, reproductive health and abuse prevention, plus they promote activism around girls’ and women’s rights and gender equality. From these trainings and other activities, they form “Girls Power Clubs” which continue the cultivation and promotion of feminism and activism. So far, they have successfully organized a group of 23 young women who speak for equal rights and are equipped with the knowledge and tools to challenge the patriarchy, plus they have influenced many more through their activist activities.

IMG_4495

A Spark grant will cover:

  • 50 scholarships for girls to attend the training program, and
  • Volunteer services in the areas of development plus organizational and financial management.

If you are interested in being a part of providing these volunteer services, we would love to hear from you. Email programs@sparksf.org.

We are so excited to feature this progressive and innovative organization at our upcoming Cocktails For A Cause event!

Please join us at SparkSF’s Cocktails For A Cause event on April 23, 2014 at Mr. Smiths in San Francisco to help raise funds for the young feminists of Pakistan. #MoreMalalas

A Tipping Point

A Tipping Point: Raise the Minimum Wage

By Larkin Callaghan

Living Off Tips Graphic

This Valentine’s Day I spent a great evening with two dear friends at a restaurant we had all wanted to try. The food was delicious, the service was on point, and come the end of the night, we all felt pretty pleased with our evening. Then came the bill and the standard dividing and signing happened -

“How much are you guys leaving for tip?”

One of my friends queried, as someone usually does at this point. What usually happens is that 20 – 25% is tallied, we sign, and off we go. Because of the frantic pace of this particular holiday’s dining room, I added a few extra bucks to my total and we slipped away.

This particular Valentine’s Day, no doubt one of the influences for my (and my friends’) bumping up in tip was that the day before – to significantly less….fanfare, shall we say, from most of the media – was the National Day of Action, sponsored by Restaurant Opportunities United, meant to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by workers surviving on hourly wages and tips. This fantastic organization is doing essential work and creating a mobilizing force around the issue of raising the minimum wage.

When you look at the figures – a federally declared amount of $7.25 an hour – it is staggering to think how one might survive on wages of that size, much less in a city like ours, frequently deemed one of the most expensive places in…the…world. And for those serving us in our favorite restaurants, the situation is even direr. With those working in jobs in which a significant amount of their income is garnered from tips, the guaranteed minimum wage is a mind-boggling $2.13 an hour. That is not a typo. $2.13! This limit was set twenty years ago. As in, the ‘90s.

Interested in some other facts? 6 out of ten of the lowest paying jobs in the States are in restaurants. And since Spark members are always interested in the gender disparity – 70 percent of tipped restaurant workers are women.

An argument against raising the minimum wage to a livable standard would seem hard to come by, considering that a full-time hourly worker only rakes in $15,080 a year. Luckily we have a governor who supports raising the wages of our hourly and tipped workers, but this still needs momentum to spread. (Fortunately, it seems that the issue is gaining more national traction – Rolling Stone even delved into it in their latest issue, in a comprehensive article detailing the political warfare around this issue, a piece that I highly recommend.)

So what can we do as consumers? Those few extra dollars I left on Valentine’s Day have a nearly insignificant impact once tips are divided among the staff and it’s likely balanced out by someone under-tipping – so while it’s nice to do, and I certainly applaud it, something needs to change on a much bigger scale.

Luckily, folks in the big house (of Reps) agree! A couple weeks ago, the House of Representatives launched a discharge petitions to force a vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2015. That isn’t even as high as the minimum wage would be today if it had kept up with inflation (it would be $10.74 in that case). Of the 30 million folks who would receive a raise across industries, 56 percent are women, and nearly half are workers of color.

Here are some things we can do to help –

Everyone deserves a fair wage. No one should have to rely on someone’s holiday bump in tips to survive.

 

A Punk Prayer, Facebook Gender Options, and Surfing The Wage Gap

One Billion Rising dances to end violence against women and girls, Pussy Riot Members Arrested in Sochi, Ways To Squash The Wage Gap, and Facebook Expands Gender Options but not Gendered Ad Targeting. This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

By Spark Fellow: Kendra Hyett

*****

pussyriotprotesters

HUMAN RIGHTS: Behind The Music – Pussy Riot’s Fight For Justice

The music must play on. Pussy Riot members recently released from prison forged forward to hold a Pussy Riot action in Sochi, only to be detained repeatedly by police without any excuse at all. While the police action continued, so did the press as the incidents became a media sensation.

READ THE STORY

In an opinion piece, Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina expounds upon the Olympics’ “deceptive face,” and arrests of multiple groups showing support for the L.G.B.T. community.

READ THE STORY

*****

WOMEN’S RIGHTS: Rise Up For One Billion

One Billion Rising is a global campaign started by the V Day Movement demanding an end to violence against women and girls. Why One Billion Rising? Because one in three women in the world will be abused in her lifetime. ONE. BILLION. On February 14th, thousands gathered in cities around the world to dance, share stories, and promote justice for women and girls. Check out the local San Francisco news coverage and coverage of one of the many NYC events.

READ THE STORY

*****

TECHNOLOGY: Cheers for Gender Options or Jeers For Wrinkle Cream Ads?

Facebook expands their gender options from only male and female to include 50+ gender descriptions. Is this the right step toward inclusion, or would it be a better step to remove gender entirely to spare us from sexist gender-target ads like weight loss and wrinkle cream?

READ THE STORY

*****

GLOBAL HEALTH: India’s Next Generation Takes A Stand

A new generation of girls is emerging in India: girls ready to demand safety, education, and their right to the same opportunities as men. While traditions like forced marriage continue, with innovative opportunities and platforms like Pathways, an organization educating youth on basic reproductive and sexual health, girls are finding ways to make change in their lives and communities.

READ THE STORY

*****

ECONOMY: Pay It Forward To Yourself

It’s one thing to be informed by Lean In about the current existence of the gender wage gap. It’s another thing to know what to do about it in your life. Find out what an employment attorney says you can do if you think you’re not being paid fairly.

READ THE STORY

Pussy Riot: Punk Rock, Air Guitar & The Pursuit of Freedom

Pussy Riot: Punk Rock, Air Guitar & The Pursuit of Freedom

Authored by Kelly Gallo

Pussy Riot MembersWhile Russia was prepping for the Sochi Olympics, all-female punk rock collective, Pussy Riot, was using performance art to protest against President Putin. The group’s most famous action was in February 2012 inside a Moscow cathedral where band members danced and played air guitar as their boom box played what they called “A Punk Prayer”:

“Virgin Mary, Mother of God, chase Putin out… The phantom of liberty is up in heaven, Gay pride sent to Siberia in a chain gang… Virgin Mary, Mother of God, become a feminist.”

The action resulted in the arrest of three members of the group, including Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who were sentenced to two years in prison. As part of Putin’s pre-Olympics prisoner amnesty, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were released in December, two months before their sentences were up. Since then, they’ve been on a U.S Tour including a stop at The Colbert Report.

On February 27th, join Spark for an evening of film and conversation as we explore Russia beyond the glory of the Olympic Games and take a deeper look at the controversial political policies that have been simmering in Sochi.

We’ll be screening the acclaimed documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, which tells the incredible story of these young female activists and follows their infamous arrest and court trial.

To get a better understanding of what drove Pussy Riot to such controversial performances that resulted in jail time and hard labor, Spark will be joined by guest speaker Masha Gessen, a Russian-American journalist who recently published the book Words Will Break Cement: the Passion of Pussy Riot. Gessen is a prominent author who is also a lesbian and an outspoken LGBT rights advocate in Russia. After Russia passed two anti-gay laws in June 2013, she decided it was time for her, her partner, and their children to move to New York.

Join us for an evening of insightful film and conversation – the flame may burn out in Sochi but human rights and freedom of speech are not be gamed with as the fight continues for equality for Russian’s citizens.

RSVP HERE

Modern-Day Chastity Belt, Swedish Movie Ratings, and Google Shockers

Modern-Day Chastity Belt, Swedish Movie Ratings, and Google Shockers.  This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

By Spark Fellow: Linn Hellerstrom

 *****

Ellen Tejle

ENTERTAIMENT: Rating Feminism

Move over Rotten Tomatoes. Last week, Swedish movie theaters started a new rating system for films. Does the movie have at least two female characters? Is there at least one scene where women discuss something other than a man? If yes, congrats! You get an A. The goal of the rating system is to encourage more multi-dimensional female characters in film.

READ THE STORY 

 *****

GLOBAL: British emergency funding helping women and girls

We’ve seen it in Syria, Haiti, and now, in The Philippines. In countries in crisis, women and girls are disproportionately impacted. Gender-based violence increases dramatically. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has recently announced a £21.6 million in funding for protection and support of women and girls in crisis.  The project will fund simple investments that reduce the risk of violence against women.

READ THE STORY

*****

WOMENS RIGHTS: Let Girls Lead

Puberty is tough enough. Going to school often means dealing with sexual advances and peer pressure. Let Girls Lead started a video contest as a part of their global movement to encourage girls to lead social change. The contest allows girls to share their own stories around solutions and successes. The winners get to be the next Sofia Coppola, creating their own short films.

READ THE STORY 

*****

BUSINESS: Modern-Day Chastity Belt

Will a pair of anti-rape underwear provide security when we are “putting ourselves in potential risky situations”? The NY based company AR Wear created lockable shorts that aim to prevent rapes from completion. Successful or not, the product sparks controversy. Is this just another way of teaching women how not to get raped versus addressing the root issue?

READ THE STORY 

*****

TECHNOLOGY:  The Dark Side of Google Search

Type in the word “feminism” or “feminist” into Google. Watch the auto-complete results. Shocking? Here´s PolicyMic´s version of the results, together with the faces of the women that won´t accept it.

READ THE STORY 

Unraveling the Ribbon: Pinkwashing Away the Real Issues of Breast Cancer

October is colored pink. From football to cosmetics, good intentions get devoured by cause marking. This is your Spark News Digest, this week devoted to the Pink Ribbon and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Read, Discuss, Share.

Pink Ribbon Gun

Authored By Spark Fellow: Linn Hellerstrom

—–

POLITICS: Annual Mammograms & The Feel Good War

True or False: The awareness and availability of annual screenings is a Breast Cancer victory. The truth is unclear. Writer Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, shares her research and searing insights as a cancer survivor into the limits of screening and the dangers of over treatment.

Read The Story 

—– 

GLOBAL: Breast Cancer – Going Global           

In Uganda, awareness raising begins with vocabulary. Dr.Fred Okuku, a Ugandan oncologist says: “There is no word for cancer in most Ugandan languages. A woman finds a lump in her breast, and cancer doesn’t cross her mind”.  For African women, the fight against breast cancer faces multiple challenges. Not only are resources limited, but corruption and neglect hold women back from accessing timely treatment.

Read The Story 

—–

BUSINESS:  Pink Products – Hurting More Than helping?

Pink Ribbon labeled lipstick that causes cancer?!?! The market for these pink items isn’t all rosy. The industry is growing. Consumers beware.

Read The Story 

—–

WOMENS RIGHTS: In The Shadow of the Pink Ribbon

The overwhelming promotion of October as the Breast Cancer Awareness Month leaves other important issues unnoticed. October is also National Domestic Violence Month. Breast cancer effects 1 in 8 women and as many as 1 in 3 women experience domestic violence.  How did violence get beat by a pink ribbon? The answer: The Pink Industry. The Proof: Smith & Wesson’s Special Edition Pink Gun benefiting Breast Cancer Awareness.

Read The Story

—–

Interested in learning more?

Join SparkSF on Tuesday, October 29th for a special screening  and discussion of Pink Ribbons, Inc.  Tickets available HERE.

Nerd Crush: Saru Jayaraman

Behind The Kitchen Door

Post Authored By: Spark Fellow, Calli Rothberg

Being a foodie has its costs. Pork belly may entice you in, but there is a sordid underbelly in the U.S. restaurant industry. Human rights advocate and food justice powerhouse, Saru Jayaraman, is hell bent on changing restaurant employment and labor issues in America. Fighting brutally for the rights of underpaid and harshly treated workers, Jayaraman is a force to be reckoned with. She leads in educating the public on the importance of the treatment of those serving the food rather than the obsession with the grass-fed meat and organic vegetables being served.

Jayaraman’s passion for eradicating social injustices sparked during her childhood as a first generation American. In 1992 she co-founded a national young women’s organization, Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE). Later her work with post 9/11 displaced World Trade Center workers became the foundation of her latest project, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United). She has been making significant strides towards leading in the food justice movement ever since.

Jayaraman co-founded ROC-United in 2008 striving to improve the wages and working conditions of restaurant employees. One in 10 Americans work in the restaurant industry and ROC-United has led and won 13 major campaigns against high-profile restaurant companies. Seven million dollars was obtained in tips, wages, and significant policy changes for workers as Jayaraman’s triumphs continue to go off like fireworks. Incentivizing restaurant owners to create policy change and workers to speak up against improper conditions continues to motivate ROC-United.

Now Jayaraman wants to talk to you. In her acclaimed new book, Behind the Kitchen Door, Jayaraman uncovers the truth about eating out. Highlighting stories where workers with unpaid sick days equal H1N1 in our food. Her interview on Bill Maher caused an intriguing ruckus when giving a preview of the facts put forth in Behind the Kitchen Door. For the past 22 years minimum wage for tipped workers has been stuck at $2.13 per hour and women with children make up 70% of those earning such a trivial amount. These women serve hundreds of people a day, yet they are poverty stricken, unable to serve their own children at home. It’s statistics like these that give Jayaraman the drive and passion to make a change in this world we all live, eat, and breathe in.

SparkSF is thrilled to welcome Saru Jayaraman at our Investment Committee on June 26. Join us as we look behind the kitchen door and mobilize to create a just restaurant industry. Space is limited. Click the link below to purchase tickets. See you there!

http://sparksfkitchendoor.eventbrite.com/

 

Millennials, Women, and Impact: Spark News Digest

Next gen donors, a girl’s battle at home, and contraceptive prowess. This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

Next Generation Donors

PHILANTHROPY: Next Generation Donors And Their Plan For Greater Impact

Next generation donors, Gen Xers and Millennials are shaking up the state of philanthropy. A new report on our understudied generation states that next generation donors  “perceive their parents and grandparents as driven by obligation, recognition, and tradition, [and] they see themselves as driven by strategy and impact.” Once criticized for being cynical and entitled, next generation donors are proving their worth by pushing philanthropic strategy to be more effective.

Read the full story

*****

INTERNATIONAL: Girl Soldiers Face Tougher Battle On Return To Civilian Life

40% of child soldiers around the world are girls, and while programs are in place to help soldiers reintegrate into society, these programs are not addressing the needs of girl soldiers. This articles discusses the alarmingly low enrollment rate of girls into disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration (DDR) programs.

Read the full story 

*****

EDUCATION: Women – The World’s Best Investment

Who runs the world…GIRLS! Although research links the success of women with increased GDP,  women in developing nations face limited access to education and economic advancement. Programs’s like Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement) help narrow this gap by teaching women factory workers in developing countries technical and life skills.

Read the full story

*****

INTERNATIONAL: Justice Is Blind, But Not In The Case of Gender Violence

Famous South African paralympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder of his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. Similar to the gang-rape in India, this case has rightly attracted massive public attention and may be a catalyst for fighting violence against women in South Africa.

Read the full story 

*****

GLOBAL: Sexularism and The Female Body

Should there be compromises in contraceptive governess? In her opinion piece, feminine theorist, Zillah Eisentein discusses the blurred lines between public and private; political and religion; church and state; and secular and religious divides and what we can do as a worldwide community to stand for a women’s rights to her own body.

Read the full story 

In solidarity we trust. Spark News Digest

Maternal Mortality in Malawi & Texas,  Tabloids & the Men who Write Them, and a Flash Mob for LOVE. This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

An event organized as part of the ‘One Billion Rising’ campaign in New Delhi on Thursday.

GLOBAL: The ‘One Billion Rising’ on the Streets of Delhi

In almost 200 countries around the world, people took to the streets on Valentine’s Day to rise and dance. These flash mobs are part of One Billion Rising, a campaign initiated by Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues” to end violence against women. The mob message resonated in India which is still reeling from a highly publicized gang rape. Hundreds of men and women took the streets of Delhi to demand a JUST love grounded in equality for all.

Delhi Rising Promotional Video:

Read the full story 

*****

GLOBAL: Searching for Gender Equality

A new study found that mobilizing grassroots women’s groups may have the most long-term impact on policies to eradicate violence against women around the world.

Read the full story 

*****

GLOBAL: Boys: The Trouble with Female Celebrity Profiles and the Men Who Write Them.

The sex, the fantasy, the minimization, the disillusionment. This opinion piece illustrates the inherent sexism male writers continue to use to portray female celebrities in glossy magazines.

Read the full story

*****

GLOBAL: Malawi’s Leader Makes Safe Childbirth Her Mission

In Malawi, 1 out of 36 women are at risk for maternal mortality. The country’s new president, Joyce Banda,  is out to change that horrifying ratio. Banda has a plan to sensitize Malawi’s 20,000 village chiefs, the country’s power brokers, to the dangers of childbirth, while still respecting tribal traditions.

Read the full story 

*****

NATIONAL: Pregnant? Watch Your Risks In Great Texas State

When one think’s of maternal mortality rates, Texas is not the first place that comes to mind. No place in the US should be the first place that comes to mind. However, Gov. Perry’s budget cutting support for Texas’s women’s health services coincides with a shocking increase in maternal mortality rate in the Lone Star state.

Read the full story 

Spark News Digest

Spark is a learning community. We learn by doing and educate our peers on issues impacting women around the world. Practicing what we preach, we will be posting relevant news articles for your mind-expanding pleasure. Read, learn, discuss, share.

*****

An Acehnese woman straddles on a motorbike in Lhokseumawe in Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. / AP

An Acehnese woman straddles on a motorbike in Lhokseumawe in Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. / AP

GLOBAL: Women’s Rights Hit Roadblock in Indonesia

In Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province, women are being shunned for being…women. The Islamist government has voiced that because of the “curves of a women’s body,” female passengers cannot straddle motorbikes as it’s too alluring. Religious-based regulations like this are happening in many regions in the world and in some places, getting worse.

Read the full story

*****

LOCAL: We must reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

It happened. Congress failed to reissue the Violence Against Women Act before it expired last year. Congresswomen Glen Moore talks about the disappointment of  letting a bill as important as this fall to the wayside and the less-than-urgent  timing Congress has used to reauthorize it.

Read the full story and watch the video

*****

GLOBAL: The Internationalization of Women Issues

“Women issues are world issues,” Michelle Bachelet, the executive director of U.N. Women and former president of Chile, said recently. “Today there is greater awareness than ever before that women’s full participation is essential for peace, democracy and sustainable development.” The globalization of women’s issues continues to be on the rise. Hopefully, this will continue to penetrate into leadership positions and change the landscape of decision making around the world.

Read the full story

*****

GLOBAL: Lawyer in India Gang-Rape Case says Victim to Blame

The latest in the India gang-rape case shares the point of view of one of the lawyers defending the three men who are charged with the rape and murder of a 23-year-old women riding a bus in New Delhi at night. He states that “until today, I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady…even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect.” Will the international lens on this case force India to strengthen its laws on rape and protection of women?

Read the full story

*****

LOCAL: What Linda Lovelace’s Story Does and Doesn’t Say about Porn Today

Linda Lovelace’s story is about to hit Sundance with Lovelace, played by Amanda Seyfried. The film has potential to kickstart some serious conversations about rape culture and sexual consent. The question remains, will the conversation help or hinder a new understanding about women and sexual consent?

Read the full story