Tag Archives: women

Marriage can help further your career – but only if you’re a man

28 Jan

My youngest brother was born with health complications that made it necessary to have one parent caring for him full-time. My mother assumed this role, and never returned back to work full-time once her maternity leave was finished, in order to care for my brother. This decision made sense because although my mother had a great career as an equine researcher at a university, my father had a higher earning potential as a software engineer. But even if my mother had returned to work, she would have been years behind on the career track compared to a counterpart that never took time off.

Alexis Coe wrote an article in The Atlantic which discusses the role that gender plays in the promotions of professors. She writes that female historian professors who had never married were promoted from associate to full professor in an average of 6.7 years, while their married counterparts took an average of 7.8 years to be promoted. On the contrary, their male counterparts who had been married were promoted in 5.9 years, while unmarried men took slightly longer to advance at 6.4 years. So why does marriage help further the careers of men while slowing down women’s careers?

Read the rest of this post on the IWI Survivor Blog

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The Balancing Act of Being Female; Or, Why We Have So Many Clothes

24 Jan

The Balancing Act of Being Female; Or, Why We Have So Many Clothes.

“I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality of unwilling participants”

13 Dec

Anne Hathaway is classy as always when questioned about her wardrobe malfunction.  This shows how our culture is still more fascinated with a woman’s sexuality than her work, but Anne Hathaway quickly steers the interview back to her work.

It was obviously an unfortunate incident. It kind of made me sad on two accounts. One was that I was very sad that we live in an age when someone takes a picture of another person in a vulnerable moment and rather than delete it, and do the decent thing, sells it. And I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality of unwilling participants, which takes us back to ‘Les Mis,’ because that’s what my character is. — Anne Hathaway, on the Today Show.” 

What’s Culture Go To Do With It?

8 Nov

I had the amazing opportunity to attend a forum on Reinvigorating the Gender Movement in Botswana this week. It was a really valuable experience and I got to hear some great and open debate, learn more about the history of the gender movement in Botswana and meet some really interesting people.

BUT (because there is always a but) there were two comments that just irked me.

The first was: “Women have more power than men because they can say no in the bedroom. Men will never say no!” Excuse me?! In what world can women always say no? Marital rape is a sad reality. Also, maybe she would want to have sex if her pleasure was put on an equal level as his. And maybe she would want to have sex if she wasn’t tired from working two jobs every single day – her paid work and the unpaid work she does at home. Of course, I too am making assumptions with these statements, but I just want to make it obvious that a woman does not always have the power to say no, and when she does have the power – well, why shouldn’t she? And to speak to my personal experience regarding the power dynamic in Botswana – when a man hits on me by asking me how many cows my parents want, that shows me that he has put the power on him and on my parents (likely mostly my father) while giving me none of the power.

Also – why should a woman’s power be connected to her sexuality? Men are judged on their intelligence, on their work, on their ideas – so why aren’t women?

The second comment was: “I married a Kalanga woman because I think she is still more controllable. It is still in the Kalanga culture to raise a girl to be a woman that will take care of her husband.”

This reminded me a comment on my Facebook that I choose not to address at the time. Here it is:

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How long are we going to blame culture for human rights violations?! Oppression does NOT equal culture. I am tired of skirting around it – but the “culture” excuse a shitty and pathetic excuse. Cultures are socially constructed and therefore are molded and changed over time. We need to carry the best parts of culture forward into the future while leaving the harmful parts in the past.  

New HIV law in Canada: Too Strict or Too Lenient?

7 Nov

This article was originally published by the International Women’s Initiative Survivors’ Blog.

A court ruling in 1998 stated that it was a crime for HIV carriers in Canada to not reveal their status to a sexual partner if there was a significant risk of transmission. Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada updated this law. The Supreme Court ruled that people with low levels of HIV do not need to disclose their condition to sexual partners if they use condoms. This was decided because “the realistic possibility of transmission of HIV is negated” when the carrier has a low viral load and a condom is used. In all other situations, HIV carriers must disclose their status to their partner. HIV carriers who do not meet these conditions and do not tell their partners can be charged with aggravated and sexual assault. 

To read the rest of my post, please go here

 

The High Incidence Rate of HIV in Botswana

31 Oct

Botswana is an upper-middle income country with a strong push for education from the government. All students can attend a public, or government sponsored, school until Form 3 (equivalent of Grade 10) and then they write examinations. Students with passing grades are then sponsored by the government to go to Senior Secondary School for Form 4 and Form 5. Students may then apply to attend the University of Botswana, and successful applicants are sponsored by the government. The Government of Botswana spends 8.9% of its GDP on education (compared to 4.9% in Canada).

So why does this educated country with a strong economy have the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the world? Even after both private and public sector attempts to educate the population and mitigate the spread of the disease, why is the incidence rate of new infections a staggering 2.9%? I asked “In your opinion, why does Botswana still have such a high HIV infection rate?” to coworkers, friends, and acquaintances. I tried to ask a mixture of both men and women, but I only felt comfortable asking a select few men, so only 3 of the 11 responses are from men. These are the answers I received:

  • “Our culture promotes cheating.”
  • “People, men especially, don’t feel guilty about cheating.”
  • “It’s almost like people have gotten so used to it that they’re proud of it.”
  • “Men rely on women to get tested – if their partner is negative, they assume that they are also negative. If their partner is positive, they just assume that they are positive as well.”
  • “The free condoms that the government gives out are crappy condoms.”
  • “Men don’t like wearing condoms.”
  • “Men take off the condom in the middle of sex.”
  • “Men are smooth-talkers and try to convince you to have sex with them because they don’t have HIV. If you ask them to go to the clinic, then they will just stop talking to you.”
  • “People will use a condom when they are having affairs, but they think that they don’t have to use one when they have sex with their main partner.”
  • “If a woman asks her boyfriend or husband to use a condom, then he will assume that it is because she is cheating on him. So she doesn’t ask because she is afraid she will be beaten.”
  • “Even if you go to the clinic with your partner, the test is 3 months old, so one of you might be positive and you wouldn’t know. Then you have sex with your partner and get infected,” (in Botswana, the HIV test given at clinics tests for the antibodies not the actual virus, which generally take about 3 months to become present in the blood stream).

The two trends I noticed in the answers were: people have multiple sexual partners, and women do not feel safe to negotiate safe sex. I have been told that both of these are “cultural”. Are they cultural, or is that just an excuse to continue the behaviour? How can this mindset (or culture, if you buy that) be changed?

I don’t have any of the answers, but I look forward to discussing this issue, among others, next week. I have the opportunity to represent Gantsi Craft at the forum for Reinvigorating the Gender Movement in Botswana. This national forum is a chance for organizations across the country to discuss and collaborate gender issues within the country. I am hoping to come away with a greater understanding of the issues facing Botswana and ideas on how to facilitate gender and HIV workshops within the producer settlements.

*Statistics on Education Expenditures from the CIA World Factbook

Breastfeeding and the Vertical Transmission of HIV in Botswana

27 Sep

I originally wrote this blog for the International Women’s Initiative

HIV/AIDS is one of the most significant development challenges facing Botswana, a sparsely populated country in southern Africa. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana is nearly 25% among adults, which puts Botswana as the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalent country in the world. The virus is spread mainly through heterosexual transmission among adolescents and adults and vertical transmission from mother-to-child.

The government of Botswana has put several measures in place to mitigate the spread of HIV. Particular focus has been put on reducing the new infections of infants through vertical transmission. Antiretrovirals (ARVs) are provided to women from when they are seven months pregnant, through childbirth and until they stop breastfeeding. However, there is still a lot of controversy surrounding HIV-positive mothers and breastfeeding, especially in Botswana.

Please go here to read the rest of this article.