women-as-agents-of-change

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Maryan Qasim is a humanitarian, an obstetrician and gynaecologist who has worked  as University lecturer, scientist and school teacher for over 15 years. She has lived and worked in Somalia, Yemen, the Netherlands  and Britain. She is the former minister for women’s development and family affairs, and is an adviser in the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia.

She now serves as the Minister for Human Development and Public Services in Somalia.

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Rad American Women – Athletes, writers, rock stars and other heroines who helped shape our world

Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History… and Our Future
by Kate Schatz (author) and Miriam Klein Stahl (illustrator)
City Lights Publishers
2015, 64 pages, 7.3 x 9.1 x 0.4 inches
$10 Buy a copy on Amazon

Activists, artists, pioneers. Rad American Women A-Z takes readers on an alphabetized journey through the lives of women throughout the country and across time “who fought,” “who led,” and “who soared.” Every woman’s story begins with an action: there are no passive heroines in this historical feminist primer.

Each biographical sketch by Kate Schatz is accompanied by a crisp, black and white print from Miriam Klein Stahl. The author and illustrator team create a tone that is both conversational and immediate. The brightly colored background of each portrait seeps across from image page to text, highlighting each woman’s name and drawing readers into her story. This alphabet book meets call to action lends itself to a wide range of readers, using accessible, explanatory language (“A union is an organization that helps protect the rights of people who have the same kind of job.”), bold, dynamic illustrations, and a traditional walk through each letter of the alphabet (“J is for Jovita,” and “K is for Kate.”). I’ve been reading it with my three year old knowing that even on the days we use it only to practice the alphabet, she’s getting a dose of empowerment and diverse herstory. Though many of the women profiled are easily recognizable agents of change, Rad American Women introduced me to others I hadn’t heard of and began to flesh out the origin stories and broader social contexts of the women I already knew. Through the work of greats like Billie Jean King, Angela Davis, Temple Grandin, and Maya Lin, this book does an excellent job introducing the concepts of identity, intersectionality, and straight-up girl power, simply by telling the stories of real, radical women.

It’s easy to forget that “rad” is short for radical, and even easier to forget what being a radical really means. In addition to the snapshots of rad women that make up the bulk of the book, there is a brief resource guide at the end for further reading, as well as the alphabetical acrostic, 26 Things That You Can Do To Be Rad! Armed with this list of ideas for cultivating social change through basic, individual actions, Rad American Women readers, no matter their age or identity, will connect with, and aspire to be like, one of the athletes, organizers, writers, or rock stars whose actions shaped the world we live in today. – Marykate Smith Despres

April 19, 2016

Aswan Mohamoud Jibril at 26 became one of Somaliland's first female prosecutors.

Born and raised in Borama, which lies on the Ethiopian border, she has became a very passionate advocate for women’s equality in the region.

Aswan’s determination to fulfill her dream of becoming a lawyer led her first to apply for a scholarship to study law supported by UNDP.

“I was alerted of the UNDP-sponsored scholarship programme for women. I applied, and was lucky enough to be accepted. I graduated and secured an .LL.B in 2009. Two days only after my graduation, I enrolled in a 10-month internship programme, together with other female law graduates, through the Somaliland Women Lawyers Association, thanks to UNDP support,” she said.

Aswan was appointed as a prosecutor with the Somaliland Prosecutor’s Office, and spends her days in court prosecuting those convicted of a range of crimes, but mainly of crimes against women and children. 

Armed with laptops, blood-pressure monitors and pregnancy tests, the young women ride their bicycles to remote villages providing health, agricultural and IT services. They are known as “Infoladies,” and they are working to bring change to rural Bangladesh.

“I feel like a rockstar while passing through the village roads, as children clap when I pass them,” said 30-year-old Infolady Shahina Begum.

The program — launched by local not-for-profit Dnet to facilitate the broader dissemination of information technology in the country — has gained worldwide attention and may soon be replicated in other countries in Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

“An Infolady is an entrepreneur. They are innovative, and sometimes they come up with services that were very much in demand but not available,” said the head of the initiative, Laura Mohiuddin. “These women are also agents of change.”

Read more via Al Jazeera English