Archive for December, 2013

What’s In A Word?

Posted on December 11, 2013 by 5 Comments


“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”
My mother, like many mothers of children who were ostracized and tormented for being different, used this expression to assuage us – to no avail.  We still got into physical fights with the kids in our building who called us the S-word and other Hate Words because our father was Puerto Rican.
One hundred years earlier, in March of 1862 the phrase was cited in “The Christian Recorder” of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, (Which was first published in New York City in 1852).
“Remember the old adage, ‘Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me’. True courage consists in doing what is right, despite the jeers and sneers of our companions.” [http://www.phrases.org.uk/]
There are too many commonly used Hate-Words:  African Americans are called the N-word, Italian Americans, the W-word, Chinese Americans, the C-word, Vietnamese Americans, the G-word and many more than I care to list in this short blog entry. (If you need me to spell-out or explain any of the phrases listed above please email me.)
In the 1980s, when I first began to develop sexual harassment prevention education, I cautioned participants that words are actions and may lead to an escalation of inappropriate and illegal behavior from verbal to physical if not addressed by someone in authority. Bullying of any kind must be dealt with directly by teachers, supervisors and CEOs.
The R-Word

Cody Blackbird
This sign appeared this morning (12/08/13)
outside a Sonic Drive-In Restaurant in Belton, Missouri.
Read more at  Indian Country Today

I have long been deeply perturbed by the usage of the derogatory R-word as the name of an American football team based in our nation’s capital. The team that was originally the Boston Braves when it was established in 1932, became the Boston Redskins a year later (1933–1936), then moved to Washington D.C. in 1937 where they still go by that same offensive name.
Perhaps not coincidental to the name is the fact that in 1962, Washington was the last American football team to integrate racially and they did so only after the federal government threatened to sue the owners as D.C. stadium, where they played at the time, was U.S. property and so segregation was illegal there. 
I strongly urge everyone to stop using the R-word entirely.
The K-Word:
Etymonline.com  provides the history of another insidious hate word:
“1790, from Arabic kafir “unbeliever, infidel, impious wretch,” with a literal sense of “one who does not admit the blessings of God,” from kafara “to cover up, conceal, deny, blot out.” Technically, “non-Muslim,” but in Ottoman times it came to be used almost exclusively for “Christian.” Early English missionaries used it as an equivalent of “heathen” to refer to Bantus in South Africa (1792), from which use it came generally to mean “South African black” regardless of ethnicity [African or Indian], and to be a term of abuse since at least 1934.” 
How many times did Nelson Mandela hear the K-word used as a weapon against himself and others?  How many times did he have to rise above unimaginable abuse to move from victim to victor, from one of many of the oppressed to a global symbol for freedom and human rights?
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Nelson Mandela
 

World Human Rights Day

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948 as a result of the atrocities committed during the Second World War.The Commission on Human Rights was made up of 18 members from various political, cultural and religious backgrounds. Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the UDHR drafting committee.
Universal Values
The core principles of human rights first set out in the UDHR are universality, interdependence and indivisibility, equality and non-discrimination.  The Declaration begins:
“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,”
What’s In A Word?
Native American tribal leaders have been appealing to the owners of the football team with the racist and derogatory name in an attempt to get them to change the team’s name by offering alternative names.  Their appeals continue to fall on deaf ears. What words do the owners need to hear to understand how the R-word is an assault not only on Native Americans, but on all of us who value people’s inherent dignity?
Nelson Mandela did not transform South Africa from a nation crippled by Apartheid to a democracy for all of its citizens alone.  He did not employ violence to achieve this lofty goal.  He used words and his incredible capacity to listen – to the oppressed as well as their oppressors.  In order for Nelson Mandela to talk to others in their language he had to learn their language by listening.  Once he mastered that language he was able to use it to effectively dismantle a hateful and criminal system.
To move from hatred to recognizing our shared humanity – to move from Hate-words to a humanitarian language – is a lofty goal.  It is incredibly fortunate for all of us that we have had role models such as former President Nelson Mandela to remind us that, however lofty they may be, our goals are achievable if we are optimistic enough to believe in them.  Words can be transformed from weapons to tools for learning about and loving one another.  This fairly simple concept is at the core of the work to create and sustain inclusive environments, work places, communities, and nations.
It is critical that we engage in conversations that may initially be uncomfortable, but in the long term can help us to understand how we have much more in common with one another than we think.  It is fitting that on World Human Rights Day tens of thousands of people, including leaders from around the world gathered to honor and celebrate the life of one of our greatest humanitarians, Nelson Mandela.  
Onward,
~ Wendy

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The Women’s Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business

Posted on December 6, 2013 by 6 Comments


I want to let you know about some of the great work that the UN is doing to advance women’s equity in the workplace and beyond, and about an amazing and dedicated woman who is helping to make our world a better place, one woman at a time!
Thanks to a recent U.N. initiative, businesses worldwide now have guidelines that spell out seven principles that create a gender equitable workplace environment. In just three years since its inception, 664 companies in 51 countries have signed “The 7 Women’s Empowerment Principles” (WEP). The WEP document offers standards about how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. 
In March of this year, 5 companies from around the world received the inaugural WEPs Leadership Awards at the annual “Equity Means Business” event in New York City. Nominations are now being reviewed for 2014. Before I list the principles and tell you about the amazing Turkish woman we are supporting for a WEP award, here’s a brief background of how the award originated. 

Background

In 1995 I was privileged to travel to Beijing, China with representatives of 180 New York City-based women’s organizations. We were among 17,000 supporters of women’s rights who were in China for the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women. I was the Acting Executive Director of the New York City Commission on the Status of Women (NYC CSW) at the time. The NYC CSW sponsored four workshops for the NGO Forum in Beijing on the subjects of outreach, education, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. The outcome of that conference was the “Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,” a 132-page document detailing a commitment to women’s equity that was adopted by all 189 countries in attendance. One of the results of that declaration was the eventual establishment in 2010 of UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.  http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/



The 7 Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP)

The Women’s Empowerment Principles (subtitled “Equality Means Business”) are the result of collaboration between the UN Women and the United Nations Global Compact. They are adapted from the Calvert Women’s Principles®. The development of the WEPs included an international multi-stakeholder consultation process, which began in March 2009 and culminated in their launch on International Women’s Day in March 2010. http://www.weprinciples.org/
1     Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
2     Treat all women and men fairly at work –
        respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination
3     Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
4     Promote education, training and professional development for women
5     Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing
       practices that empower women
6     Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
7     Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality


WEP Leadership Awards 

The WEP Leadership Awards salute business leaders for their exceptional championship of gender equality and support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles. Some weeks ago, my partners Tresa Eyres and Nebahat Nebahat Timur Tokgöz, and I were discussing the WEP Leadership Awards and one organization in particular came to mind: B-fit
B-fit is Turkey’s first chain of women-only gyms. It was founded in 2006 by Ms. Bedriye Hülya. B-fit does more than promote physical health. It is a women-owned and operated business that implements WEP principles and raises gender equality by: (1) promoting women’s entrepreneurship, (2) increasing women’s employment, (3) improving the health of women through exercise and education, and (4) providing a safe and supportive environment that increases women’s self-esteem and social well-being. 
B-fit’s 230 franchises and services are available to women of all ages and socio-economic levels in many geographic regions in Turkey. B-fit engages its franchisees and customers in developing social projects that benefit communities in the 48 cities, large and small, that it serves. We are incredibly impressed by B-fit’s mission and vision: 
B-fit’s mission is

  • To enable women at every age group and income level to develop the habit of engaging in sports activities as a way of helping them increase their physical and mental powers
  • To increase the power of women in their economic lives by promoting women’s entrepreneurship and creating employment for women
  • To motivate and enable women to create and engage in social activities and community projects and to increase their awareness about their own lives and environment

B-fit’s vision is

  • To create a platform where women can freely use their power to create a better world for themselves, their families, and their communities
  • To grow by giving women the opportunity to exercise and to learn and practice business, entrepreneurship, and life skills
  • To create a platform where women can become more aware of their own lives and environments and use their power to be equal with men
Ms. Hülya’s passion for helping women and her commitment to advancing equity are contagious! Upon learning about the WEP Awards, she enthusiastically signed the WEP CEO Statement of Support – bringing the total number of Turkish Corporations to 16.  [The total number of U.S. corporations that have signed is: 17.] One of the B-fit partners submitted the nomination of Ms. Hülya for a WEP award in the “Community Engagement” category.
We now eagerly await the judges’ decisions.
To learn more, please visit the WEP and B-fit websites!
Onward!
~ Wendy

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