I was watching the news on women driving in countries where they are not allowed to. On Saturday, October 26, more than 60 women across Saudi Arabia got behind the wheel in protest of a driving ban. It seems a bit unfair that I am a woman and can drive a car if I wanted to but choose not to. I tried a few times to learn and then take the road test and failed each time. After failing the last time, I decided to throw the towel in and be content with taking pubic transportation. The thing is though, if I changed my mind and decided that I wanted to drive again, I could. There’s no law stopping me from taking driving lessons, passing the road test and buying my own car. I bet the women in countries like Saudi Arabia would love to trade places with me.
Why aren’t women allowed to drive in certain countries? Here are the commonly given reasons for this prohibition:
- Driving a car involves uncovering the face.
- Driving a car may lead women to go out of the house more often.
- Driving a car may lead women to have interaction with non-mahram males, for example at traffic accidents.
- Women driving cars may lead to overcrowding the streets and many young men may be deprived of the opportunity to drive.
- Driving would be the first step in an erosion of traditional values, such as gender segregation.
The most ridiculous reason I heard was from a prominent cleric who said said last month that medical studies show that driving a car harms a woman’s ovaries.
One wonders how women are supposed to get around if they aren’t allowed to drive cars and are discouraged from using public transit. They have limited access to bus and train services and where it is allowed, they must use a separate entrance and sit in a back section reserved for women. Some bus companies don’t allow them at all. As an alternative, they take taxis but this can be very expensive and they may face sexual harassment from the male taxi drivers. Women who have dared to drive in protest of the ban on Saudi women drivers have faced arrests, suspension from the jobs and their passports confiscated. They got back their passports but were placed under surveillance and passed over for promotions.
Critics reject the ban on driving on the grounds that: (1) it is not supported by the Quran, (2) it causes violation of gender segregation customs, by needlessly forcing women to take taxis with male drivers, (3) it is an inordinate financial burden on families, causing the average woman to spend 30% of her income on taxis and (4) it impedes the education and employment of women, both of which tend to require commuting. In addition, male drivers are a frequent source of complaints of sexual harassment, and the public transport system is widely regarded as unreliable and dangerous.
There are no specific Saudi law which bans women from driving but still women are not issued licenses. And it doesn’t help their situation when there are powerful clerics who enforce the ban, warning that breaking it will spread “licentiousness.”
Let us continue to support the women of these countries. Let us continue to raise our voices. ”King Abdullah, “You gave women the right to vote, why not give them the right to drive too? It’s time to end the ban on driving for women.”
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women’s_rights_in_Saudi_Arabia; http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/saudi-arabia-woman-driving-car-ban; http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/saudi-arabia-warns-online-backers-women-drivers-20679673; http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/10/26/saudi-arabia-women-begin-protest-against-driving-ban-despite-warning-from-officials/
Like many mothers here in Canada and around the world, I was able to celebrate Mother’s Day on May 12, 2013. There’s nothing more wonderful than spending this special day with your family. Even as I enjoyed the delicious breakfast my husband had given and as I watched my mother’s face light up as her grandson gave her a picture he had colored and a kiss, I couldn’t help remembering the mother who would not experience this joy.
Just recently I subscribed to The Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOM) newsletter and was moved by the stories of Christians who endured various trials and were persecuted for their faith. I got a free copy of the book Tortured For Christ, written by Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of VOM, an organization “dedicated to helping, loving and encouraging persecuted Christians worldwide”. I knew that there were Christians in other parts of the world who were killed or imprisoned because they refused to renounce their faith but was not privy to their sufferings until I read the newsletter and prisoner alerts on the website.
On Mother’s Day, I thought of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani woman who was arrested by police in 2009. Before her arrest, she along with many of the local women worked on the farm of a Muslim landowner. Many of these women pressured Asia to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam. There was a discussion among the women about their faith and after she reportedly told them, “Our Christ is the true prophet of God and yours is not true,” the women got angry and they beat her. Read the rest of Asia’s story at http://www.prisoneralert.com/pprofiles/vp_prisoner_197_profile.html
Asia is from a country where “Muslims who convert to Christianity are often threatened or killed by their family because of the shame associated with such a conversion. Breaking the blasphemy law, Section 295c of the penal code – blaspheming Mohammed – is punishable by death. Blasphemy accusations against Christians often occur in retaliation for personal or commercial disputes.”
Asia is still languishing in prison and there are times when she is discouraged. She has had to spend another Easter and Mother’s Day without her family. Her husband has been encouraging her to hang on to her faith. Letters to officials have been written on her behalf and over fifteen thousand letters of encouragement have been written her.
Apparently Pakistan is a dangerous place for a Christian woman. I just watched the video below of a woman named Shafia and the horrors she and her family endured for their faith. In the midst of this, though, she found peace and took comfort in the knowledge that she is a daughter of God.
Check out other videos of women who are persecuted for their faith and the widows of martyrs at http://persecution.tv/video?task=videodirectlink&id=942
Today, let us hold our brothers and sisters in Christ in prayer. Let us take action to let them know that they are not suffering alone. Write letters of encouragement. Write to the officials. Get prisoner and prayer alerts via email so that you can pray for the persecuted. Check out http://www.persecution.net to see how you can get involved. And don’t forget to give God thanks for being able to worship Him without fear of persecution or imprisonment or death. Thank Him if you are blessed to be living in a country where there is religious liberty.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).
I found out from a co-worker that a young woman was gang raped on a bus in New Delhi, India. I was appalled. This just confirms my belief that this one of the most dangerous countries for women. Something needs to be done and fast. The rights of women are not protected. I read in an article that the young woman was raped by drunk men who wanted to teach her a lesson because she had been out at night with a man. She and a young male friend had gone to the movies and were returning home when they were attacked on the bus. Read more.
I got a petition in an email from The Cause. If you want to add your voice to this petition to demand change and call for India’s leaders to take action, here’s your chance. A woman has the right to lead a normal life without fear of being attacked. Take action and join the fight to stop violence against women.
This is an issue very close to my heart. As a woman, I was blessed to be born in a country where my gender is treated with equality and valued. In India, many girls don’t live to see their first birthday much less puberty. Gendercide has been going on too long in this country. Something needs to be done. Take the quiz. Spread the word. Take action. Be the voice of these innocent victims.
Just recently I read that Sir Thomas More placed great importance on the education of women. Here’s an exerpt from his biography on Wikipedia:
More took a serious interest in the education of women, an attitude that was highly unusual at the time. Believing women to be just as capable of academic accomplishment as men, More insisted upon giving his daughters the same classical education given to his son. The academic star of the family was More’s eldest daughter Margaret, who attracted much admiration for her erudition, especially her fluency in Greek and Latin. More recounted a moment of such admiration in a letter to Margaret in September 1522, when the Bishop of Exeter was shown a letter written by Margaret to More:When he saw from the signature that it was the letter of a lady, his surprise led him to read it more eagerly… he said he would never have believed it to be your work unless I had assured him of the fact, and he began to praise it in the highest terms… for its pure Latinity, its correctness, its erudition, and its expressions of tender affection. He took out at once from his pocket a portague [A Portuguese gold coin]… to send to you as a pledge and token of his good will towards you.
The success More enjoyed in educating his daughters set an example for other noble families. Even Erasmus became much more favourable towards the idea once he witnessed the accomplishments of More’s daughters.
It is wonderful to hear or read about men who don’t have a problem with women being educated. As a woman I cannot imagine not enjoying the benefits of a good education. Growing up, I was exposed to great works of literature. I developed the love for reading and writing since I was a child. I remember the big red Oxford dictionaries I always consulted whenever I came across a new word. My parents took pride in sending my sisters and me to good schools so that we could get quality education.
I was touched by Michelle Obama’s story of how hard her father worked so that she and her brother could get a good education. Michelle attended Whitney Young High School, Chicago’s first magnet high school, where she was a classmate of Jesse Jackson’s daughter Santita. She was on the honor roll for four years, took advanced placement classes, a member of the National Honor Society and served as student council treasurer. She graduated in 1981 as the salutatorian of her class. Michelle attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School. Michelle stated in an address to students at a public school in Chile that she and her husband, Barak owe their successes to good education. She believes that education prepared her for the world. ”Growing up there was never any question in my parents’ mind that we would go to college. … And they always told us that even if we weren’t rich, we were just as smart and just as capable as anyone else. … They thought us that if we dreamed big enough and if we worked hard enough anything was possible.”
What are the benefits of educating women and girls? Higher rates of high school and university education among women, particularly in developing countries, have helped them make inroads to professional careers and better-paying salaries and wages. Education increases a woman’s (and her partner and the family’s) level of health and health awareness. Furthering women’s levels of education and advanced training also tends to lead to later ages of initiation of sexual activity and first intercourse, later age at first marriage, and later age at first childbirth, as well as an increased likelihood to remain single, have no children, or have no formal marriage and alternatively, have increasing levels of long-term partnerships. It can lead to higher rates of barrier and chemical contraceptive use (and a lower level of sexually transmitted infections among women and their partners and children), and can increase the level of resources available to women who divorce or are in a situation of domestic violence. It has been shown, in addition, to increase women’s communication with their partners and their employers, and to improve rates of civic participation such as voting or the holding of office. Improving girls’ educational levels has been demonstrated to have clear impacts on the health and economic future of young women, which in turn improves the prospects of their entire community.
When you educate a girl in Africa, everything changes. She’ll be three times less likely to get HIV/AIDS, earn 25 percent more income and have a smaller, healthier family – CAMFED USA
Unfortunately, barriers to education for girls remain. In some African countries, such as Burkina Faso, girls are unlikely to attend school for such basic reasons as a lack of private latrine facilities for girls.
I have also heard the saying that education is the greatest weapon to fight poverty. According to Aid For Africa, “when a girl in Africa gets the chance to go to school and stay in school, the cycle of poverty is broken and things change.” There is nothing more heartbreaking than a girl who wants to become a nurse or a teacher but she can’t because for many poor girls in Africa culture and tradition often keeps them at home while their brothers go to school.
Education can take a woman a long way and open many doors of opportunity. It gives her a sense of accomplishment and value. She is not limited. She can dream big and reach big goals. Education improves gender equality and empowers girls and women. Education could mean something as simple as wanting to learn how to write your name.
“ Education is a lifetime inheritance. It is a lifetime insurance.
Education is the key to success, a bus to a brighter future for
all our people. Without education, there is little that a person
can do—actually there is nothing a person can do without an
education. A person is never too old for knowledge; as my people,
the Xhosa, always say, ‘Imfundo ayigugelwa’ (Every day is an
education; you learn something new). We must be knowledge
seekers and we must strive for a better life through education.”
ZUKISWA, AGE 16 (Ubuntu Education Fund) Kwa Magxaki Township, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
For those of us who have access to education, let us be thankful and pass down the importance of learning to our children, especially our daughters. Let’s remember the women who fought to have the right to education and to vote and all the rights that were once denied to women. Let us think of the mothers and fathers whose parents could not afford to send them to school or university but they in turn worked hard to provide their children with quality education. Let us think of the women and girls who live in countries where their education is not valued. Let us do what we can to help our own children succeed in life or prepare them for the world through education. And let us see what we can do to help organizations like CAMFED, Aid for Africa, Global Fund for Children to help women and girl to have the quality of life they should have through education.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”
― Brigham Young
“Segregation shaped me; education liberated me.”
― Maya Angelou
“There is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls and women.”— Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
“Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody. ”
― Jane Austen
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
― Malcolm X
“Educate a boy, and you educate an individual. Educate a girl, and you educate a community.
African proverb via Greg Mortensen”
― Greg Mortenson, Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time
“Knowledge will bring you the opportunity to make a difference.”
― Claire Fagin
“I learned to dream through reading, learned to create dreams through writing, and learned to develop dreamers through teaching. I shall always be a dreamer.”
― Sharon M. Draper
“Education is the movement from darkness to light.”
― Allan Bloom
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_More; http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/03/21/michelle-obama-education-prepared-world/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_education; http://us.camfed.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home_index; http://www.aidforafrica.org/girls/; http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTEDUCATION/0,,contentMDK:20298916~menuPK:617572~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:282386,00.html; http://www.globalfundforchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/GFC_AnnualReport_2002-03.pdf
I wanted to share this email from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the first Pakistani woman to win an Oscar for her film Saving Face in 2012 and one of TIME Magazine’s most influencial people of the world.
A lot has happened since the Academy Awards in February in LA…I have begun work on a new series of documentary films which are being aired for the first time on TV Channels across Pakistan-
In a unique partnership with Coca-Cola, my production company SOC Films has launched a 6 part documentary series titled “Ho Yaqeen” featuring Pakistanis doing extraordinary things and transforming their communities.
The first episode of the series launched 2 weeks ago: Please do tune in to watch it, links are below:
Please do share these links with friends and family….
In other news, i was very fortunate to have been named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most Influential people in the world- (http://goo.gl/OFVhZ)
This positive reinforcement helps us get the message of our Academy Award winning film Saving Face out.
As more episodes of Ho Yaqeen become available i shall send them out on this mailing list. I am also involved in two more exciting documentary ventures outside of Pakistan which i shall share with you later in the summer….
All my very best
You can check out Sharmeen’s website at: http://sharmeenobaidfilms.com/bio/ I will keep you posted on Sharmeen’s exciting ventures.
This evening I was watching a news story about pregnant women and jogging and was surprised to learn that one of the women featured was nine months pregnant. I couldn’t imagine jogging so close to having a baby. At nine months I was waddling and anxious to give birth. The woman on TV looked fantastic. She was in great shape. This was her ninth pregnancy. Another woman received nasty comments because of a picture of her jogging while pregnant. She was called “selfish” and one person went as far as saying that child services should be called.
Is it safe for to run during pregnancy? I read on the Baby Centre website that it depends. If you ran regularly before getting pregnant, it’s fine to continue — as long as you take some precautions and first check with your doctor or midwife.
But pregnancy isn’t the time to start a running routine, according to Julie Tupler, a registered nurse, certified personal trainer, and founder of Maternal Fitness, a fitness program for pregnant women and new moms in New York City.
Pregnancy’s also not the time to start training for a marathon, a triathlon, or any other race, cautions Tupler. “The first trimester is when the baby’s major organs are forming, and overheating’s a real issue. If a woman’s core temperature gets too high, it could cause problems with the baby, so why risk it? Instead, train for the marathon of labor by strengthening your abdominals and pelvic floor muscles,” she says.
Whether you’re pregnant or not, running can be hard on your knees. During pregnancy, your joints loosen, which makes you more prone to injury. So unless you’re an avid runner, you should probably steer clear of this form of workout at least until after your baby arrives. For now, focus on exercises that are safe for pregnancy.
What are the benefits of running during pregnancy?
According to Zara Watt, who specialises in training for pre- and postnatal fitness, “Research and statistics show that women who exercise during pregnancy avoid unnecessary health risks to themselves and their unborn babies, and experience less labour pain because exercise has strengthened their muscles. They also have lower fat content and, more importantly, achieve a faster recovery following the birth of their baby. I’ve worked with pregnant women who also believe that regular exercise during pregnancy helped them with muscular tension, aches and pains, posture and circulation.”
On the Baby Centre website, the benefits of running during pregnancy are:
- It is a quick and effective way to work your heart and body, giving you a mental and physical boost when you feel tired.
- It’s easy to fit into your schedule.
They offer the following tips for each trimester:
First trimester tips
Follow the usual precautions, such as drinking lots of water before, during, and after your run. Dehydration can decrease blood flow to the uterus and may even cause premature contractions.
Wear shoes that give your feet plenty of support, especially around the ankles and arches. Invest in a good sports bra to keep your growing breasts well supported.
Second trimester tips
Your center of gravity’s shifting as your belly grows, leaving you more vulnerable to slips and falls. For safety, stick to running on flat pavement.
If you lose your balance, do your best to fall correctly, says Tupler: Try to fall to your side or on your behind, to avoid trauma to the abdomen. Or put your hands out to break your fall before your abdomen hits the ground.
Consider running on a track as your pregnancy progresses. Not only is the track surface easier on your joints, but you may feel safer running somewhere where you won’t get stranded in case of an emergency.
Third trimester tips
Be as careful as you’ve been during the first two trimesters. And remember: If you feel too tired to go for a run, listen to your body and take a break. Being sedentary is unhealthy, but pushing yourself too hard is also harmful.
Most avid runners find that their jogging pace slows down considerably during the third trimester — a fast walk may be a better choice as your due date approaches.
Never run to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. Pushing yourself to the limit forces your body to use up oxygen that should be going to your baby.
Stop running or jogging immediately and call your doctor or midwife if you have any of the following symptoms:
- vaginal bleeding
- difficulty breathing, especially when resting
- chest pain
- muscle weakness
- calf pain or swelling
- preterm labor (contractions)
- decreased fetal movement
- fluid leaking from your vagina
In the news story, a medical doctor warned that if you are panting too hard, that means that the baby is not getting enough oxygen. I suggest that you check with your doctor before jogging or doing any kind of activity. If you don’t think it’s a good idea to jog during pregnancy, that’s fine but don’t judge a woman who decides that it’s something she wants to do. It doesn’t make her selfish or unfit to be a mother. She is trying to stay in shape and would never knowingly endanger her unborn child.
If you are interested in learning more about jogging during pregnancy, check out this site for guidelines.
This evening I listened to a beautiful song of praise by Karen Davis. I used to play this song every Friday evening because it put me in the mood for worship. Watch the video.
It sometimes brings tears to my eyes when I sing this song. Jesus is worthy of our praise and adoration for who He is and all that He has done. He left the glory of Heaven and came here to earth in flesh to live among fallen mankind. He didn’t come to be served but to serve. He came to give His life as a ransom for many. He came to teach, heal and lift people’s hopes and change their lives for the better.
He broke down so many barriers. He treated women with respect. He had women followers and some of them funded His ministry. He spoke to a Samaritan woman and didn’t condemn her for being married five times and living common law with the sixth man in her life. In fact, He offered her a life of change and hope. He spoke kindly to the woman who had the issue of blood after she touched His robe and was healed. He called her “Daughter” and sent her away with the knowledge that her faith had made her well. She had spent so much of her money and none of the doctors was able to help her.
Jesus was gracious to the woman caught in adultery. He exposed the hypocrisy of her accusers and they went away in shame. Jesus didn’t condemn the woman. He sent her away in peace and told her to stop sinning. He welcomed the woman of questionable character who entered a pharisee’s home to anoint his head and feet with expensive oil. He forgive her sins even as those present condemned and scorned her. He healed a woman who was bent over for many years on the Sabbath. He brought joy to the parents of the sick twelve year old girl when he brought her back to life and the widow who was one minute crying because she was on her way to bury her son and the next rejoicing because he was raised to life.
Even as He hung on the cross, He asked His Father to forgive those who wanted Him dead and placed His mother in John’s care. Jesus was always putting the needs of others before His own. And this is why it is not surprising that He was willing to lay down His life for His friends and offer Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. He was the King of kings and the Son of God but He didn’t come to this earth in glory. He was born to a young virgin in a manger of all places. He was wrapped in swaddling cloth. He was humble at birth and throughout His life. He worked as a carpenter until it was time for Him to begin His ministry. He didn’t have a place of His own. He was always on the go, preaching and ministering to many. He chose ordinary men to become His disciples. He didn’t stop loving Peter because he betrayed Him. He didn’t stop loving the other disciples because they deserted Him. He appeared to them so that they could see that He had risen as He said He would.
He appeared first to Mary Magdalene out of whom He had cast seven demons. What a life she must have had before she met Jesus. The other day as I read the Bible I realized that Jesus affects people in three distinct ways after He changes their lives:
1. They tell others – e.g. the Samaritan woman
2. They follow Him – Mary Magdalene
3. They serve Him – Peter’s mother-in-law (soon after Jesus got rid of her fever)
What about you? What effect does Jesus have on you? Have you told others about Him? Are you one of His followers? Do you serve Him?
This weekend, reflect on Jesus and what He did for you. Think about the great sacrifice He made for you so that you would not perish but have everlasting life with Him. Share His story with someone. I personally will lift my eyes to the Lord on high and praise Him. I will thank Him for loving me so much that He endured the indignity of the cross.
‘Zimele’ means ‘standing on one’s feet’ in the Zulu language. I love their logo. It is of a woman not only standing on her feet but it looks like she is dancing. This to me expresses the joy of knowing that you are empowering yourself–learning new skills, educating yourself–taking action instead of depending on others to help you. Joy comes with knowing that you are standing on you own two feet. Helping people to stand on their own feet is what separates Zimele from the rest of the organizations out there. Zimele equips and empowers.
Zimele is an organization created from the vision of Rosetta Stander who wanted to develop community self-reliance in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. Rosetta was convinced that while non-profit organizations had good intentions, they created a short-sighted welfare environment in which people depend upon the charities for their everyday needs. Her prior experience of training people in life, vocational, and business skills gave her the conviction that the key to developing South Africa lay in the education of its people. Education and self-reliance is the best way for a community to survive and thrive. Rosetta pursued her vision and in 2006, Zimele was formed. A year later, Zimele USA was founded. Today, there are Zimele organizations in Canada, the UK and Germany. The organizations’ mission is to free the rural communities of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa and Zimbabwe from the poverty cycle by transforming each into a ‘Zimele’ community able to ‘stand on its own feet’.
Zimele Canada is throwing their first annual gala here in Toronto. Here’s your opportunity to learn first hand about the work this organization is doing and to meet its founder, Rosetta Stander.
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW! 1ST Annual ZIMELE Gala
Come join us in the inauguration of the highly anticipated 1ST Annual ZIMELE Gala! This event is an invitation for Toronto to experience a glimpse of the ZIMELE community and see how the region of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa is being empowered to overcome generations of poverty and illness with long term sustainability.
Guests will enjoy a fabulous evening of great food, live entertainment and opportunities to learn more about ZIMELE through various testimonies, including the organization’s founder Rosetta Stander.
Join us in helping the people of South Africa stand on their own two feet!
WHERE: The Columbus Centre, Carrier Gallery
WHEN: Friday, March 23, 2012.
TIME: 6pm cocktail hour , 7pm–11pm
TICKETS: $85 (no tickets at the door/pre-sale only)
Tickets are on sale now. Click here to purchase your ticket!
For those of you who live in New York or close to New Jersey, Zimele USA is having their annual gala on Sunday, April 1st. Find out more here.