Wonder Women everywhere !

The Amazon River, is just a bit shorter than the Nile but in terms of quantity of water, it is the largest river in the world. It was the Spanish conquerors who named the river after they were soundly defeated by a tribe of female warriors there from the Icamiaba tribe, reminding them of the Amazonian women.

Greek mythology tells us the story (myth?) about a race of female warriors called the Amazons, who dwelt in the region of modern-day Ukraine. There were no men allowed to live together with them but in order to continue their race, once a year, these women would visit a nearby tribe called Gargareans. After having sexual intercourse with them, the women would return home; they would keep all baby girls that were born, but the male babies were either killed, sent to their fathers, or left in a forest to die.


The latest brilliant superheroine movie Wonder Woman had me thrilled to bits. I went with a tentative enthusiasm, tinged with a lot of wariness that this movie would also have tokenistic and one dimensional female characters as is usually the case and it was all I could do to stop cheering in the theatre when my fears did not come true!

wonder woman

It is not a perfect film (and many reviewers have rightly pointed out its lack of intersectionality and a very limited view of feminism).



However, just its existence is such a breath of fresh air! I remember literally cringing at Gwyneth Paltrow’s Ms Pepper in the Iron Man series. X Men was somewhat better with Storm and Mystique and Jean Gray, but I have not seen a film named after and centered only on an empowered woman in a very, very long time ! The last Hollywood movie I saw that was even named after a woman was probably Mrs Doubtfire. And that as you may know is the name taken by Robin Williams when he is in drag pretending to be a baby sitter.

The white man in the movie is an ‘almost woke’ man. Still doing a bit of mansplaining, ‘let me protect you and tell you what to do’ stuff, but getting to the right place soon.

The actress Gal Gadot was apparently 5 months pregnant during the shooting of some scenes and had to use a green screen on her abdomen. It would have been interesting if they HAD showed her pregnant though, or choosing not to be. Hmm, a whole new movie is possible already !


Yes, I did have a small nagging doubt that like #femvertising maybe they are just pandering to a growing demand for women empowerment tropes or situations for the sake of the audience.


But even if so, I think it opens a door that will not be easy to close again.

No matter how cheesy, but seeing the old white male War God being defeated by this fierce- -yet- kind new feminine order was a real thrill. They might as well as done some sky writing there saying “Smash the Patriarchy!”


The young women I have the privilege of working with, across Asia, in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Iran, Indonesia, Nepal, Lebanon, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam who are speaking out against controls on women’s bodies, who are helping other women find safe options, are all wonder women too, leading the rising tide of Wonder Women, saving the world, one action at a time.


Wonder women. May we be them, may we know them, may we raise them !




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Every woman on every planet should have the right to choose !!

-Rajvi Goradia, Youth Champion

It has been my strong belief that every woman present on earth or any other planet for that matter should have the right to choose what she can do with her body.

After attending the ASAP Youth Advocacy Institute and learning about the exact difference between unsafe and illegal, my desire to advocate for Safe Abortion Rights has increased all the more.

Why should any government body or a religious dictator attempt to force their beliefs on her??

Abortion is a taboo word in society which is what leads to its “unsafe” and illegal practices.

That is why women are forced to visit quacks who don’t care about sanitation, hygiene, even something as important as anaesthesia! That is why women are not be able to freely make a choice, without worrying about ‘what society might think’.

When she does make the choice, she should be able to go to any health practitioner and obtain a SAFE abortion without any unnecessary pestering or useless paperwork procedures which have nothing to do with her abortion. As a doctor, their first priority should be only and only the woman’s health and safety, which includes mental as well as physical health.

The issue not only lies in the taboo of abortion, but also in the gross misjudgment of having any kind of consensual sexual relations. Many women are forced to go through with an unwanted pregnancy because “Why did she have sex if she didn’t want to face the consequences?”

But, what if the woman used protection and did everything right on her part? Is she really supposed to live a life she never asked for or could be prepared for, just as a “punishment” for having sex?

So then she is forced to seek the termination of her pregnancy through unsafe means where the work will be finished undercover without any judgment or care. I, for one, believe that a woman deserves more than that. A human deserves more than that. No cluster of cells should be able to decide what an actual fully developed human being should go through.

A baby is so much more than just the 9 months of pregnancy that the woman has to go through. It’s an entire lifetime commitment. It is unfair to both the baby AND the mother to live a poorly led life just because she wasn’t given an option to choose whether to have an abortion or not.




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Male inclusion in sexual and reproductive health initiatives: A training approach to involve more men from conservative Asian societies

Guest Blogger- Sarmad Muhammad Soomar

While working in the field of sexual health I used to reflect on a statement learnt in Urdu literature during my college days. It stated that men and women are the two wheels of the life. And this journey of life carries with harmony and understanding in relationships. The idea always connected with the work in which I used to get involved. I social boundaries of Asian countries we always have seen men as dominant personalities and as decision makers. I used to observe and think over it, whenever I am involved in any activity that relates to sexual health, abortion, harassment or puberty, I see less or no men involved. Initially it felt me that its part of their interest and no one can be pressurized to come but later on I realized that its very import to encourage male inclusion in sexual and reproductive health. If they don’t feel coming in so they should be motivated to become part of it.


Reflecting and pondering on the previous trainings or sessions that I have attended or facilitated I see some men were working along with the larger group and only few of them persistently involved in advocacy or service provision. But whoever is still continuing that zeal is giving their very best towards the outcome. Even than why we have fewer males to become part of this very primary and provoking discipline. Are men less comfortable in this field or they are not much competent to deal the situations related to these sensitive themes. Is sexual health only related to women?

17888962_1308822592527690_1963931340_nThe answer to above discussion would be probably no. men are confident, comfortable and competent like women to cover audiences for sexual health advocacy, referral and services as well. Men can also deal situations pertaining to this very delicate issue of the era. And yes sexual health is equally related to men alike women. The issue is about values which women also face when they start addressing sexual health concerns of community. Also, men are less encouraged because of prejudice that men won’t be comfortable talking or discussing sexuality.

And we thought instead of believing on a pre develop concept, lets by own practically experience that are men really not interested in sexual health or they feel discomfort in discussing sexuality on broad platforms. Due to time constrain and maintaining quality of training we approached the men who were educated and were in the vicinity. Total twenty five men committed because of various motivating factors and after interviewing and knowing about them many were selected. Among all these selected only twelve men showed up. But in even a smaller group the outcome was extra ordinary and all our assumptions were faded. Initially many of them were quite but as the values were transformed, the discussion went on fire. All participants were eagerly questioning and discussing about themes like masturbation, contraceptives, abortion, incidents of harassment and changes during puberty. Many of them are in process to share the planning of how they can reach their own communities so this information could be disseminated to a larger group.

Yet this short training helped us to understand how necessary it is to include more men in spreading sexual health information.



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Mother’s mother’s mother’s Day

One more Mothers’ Day comes and goes with the usual messages, reminders, stories, interviews with new moms and old, and the inevitable advertisements (you are precious to her, now give her something else that is precious….fade out to a stunning diamond set, or a luxury holiday etc.)

There are those who will say the glass is half empty and ask why this tokenistic remembrance of mothers only on one day of the year when they are giving up their bodies and minds and emotions and ambitions and often entire lives to take on this role.

There are those who will say the glass is half full and say, well, at least on this one day the kids and society will wake up from their stupor and be conscious of the role you play in their life and acknowledge and appreciate it.

Someone like me will say, that’s all well and good, but step back and see that the glass is an illusion and find out who is holding it !!


Motherhood comes in so many shades–biological, adoptive, foster, surrogate, planned, unplanned, unwanted, step mother, sometime ex –mother. (Sometime ‘mother’ is a large pod in a battery farm like the Matrix !!)

Being a mother is so glorified in our cultures that anyone who cannot be one due to infertility is subjected to awful treatment. In the villages in India a childless woman will not be invited to any functions in case her shadow falls on someone’s child and it takes ill. That is involuntary; so imagine how society treats those who want to actually choose to be child free (I came across this way of wording it rather than childless and thought it so much more empowering!).

happy to not be pregnant

Someone who does not want to get pregnant or someone who has an abortion are seen as an insult to the motherhood concept and become the outliers. But the reality is that not every woman is cut out to be a mother, and the vast majority of abortions everywhere are carried out for women who are already mothers and recognize the price to be paid for bringing another child into this world, who they have to give themselves up to raise.

Of course we should recognize that while motherhood is glorified it is done so only if it is within the confines of a heterosexual marriage. Anything before, after or beyond, is again looked upon askance! As though the same rules of biology, physical and emotional issues don’t apply any more.

Have you ever wondered why other mammals seem to do fine in labour and humans have so much trouble? Evolutionary biology explains that the various changes in the pelvis that took place as a result of becoming an animal that walked on two feet and then more or less upright, combined with a growing larger brain in the neonate, led to a greater potential for cephalo-pelvic disproportion (CPD) than in any other mammals (with the exception of some higher order monkeys and apes). This illustration makes it totally clear.


Read this brilliant article in full if you are interested in knowing the details:


Since CPD and obstructed labour continues to be among the biggest killers of women in labour in our part of the world, I guess women are continuing to pay the price for the evolution of humankind. Perhaps the original sin’ was not eating the apple nor sex, but standing upright!

Speaking of our common ancestral ‘Eve’ you probably remember your mother’s maiden name really well now cos it’s usually a bank password question! But do you know your mother’s mother’s maiden name? And her mother’s maiden name?

So while your Mitochondrial DNA has kept the genetic memory very much alive, those names are lost in the mists of the patriarchy.


As much as 50% of your personal family history is missing vital information! Maybe this mother’s day you should write up a family tree and find out those names and make your children learn them too. That is what will make not just your mother’s day a special one, but also the mothers mother’s mother’s day!





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Every Day is Labour Day for Women !!

Today, 1st May is celebrated internationally as Labour Day. It is an annual holiday in many countries to celebrate the achievements of workers.


Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.

But today let us also take a moment to reflect on the role of women’s labour –both for production and reproduction.


Women have always contributed to the reproduction role in our civilization through the contribution of their bodies being used (and taken over really) for the purpose of growing and nurturing the pregnancy and then after delivery for breast feeding as well as child care and rearing.

So what is different from other animals you may ask ?

Well nothing really, except that humans are clearly higher on the evolutionary scale and we like to believe that we are different/ superior/ more intelligent/ civilized and so on.

So then why are women still saddled with an unequal burden of child rearing while men have the option of exploring different frontiers and can also continue to have a family and children ‘on the side’ so to speak, without any interference with the trajectory of their careers and lives ?

Half the pregnancies worldwide continue to be unplanned and half of these are also unwanted. Women die both times—to continue the pregnancy to term or to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

maternal mortality

Women also contribute to labour and always have done so.


During the two World Wars, it was women workers who kept the factories running, cities functioning, secret codes unravelling.

Across Asia, women farmers make up half the agricultural workforce.


The mega cities in our part of the world are being built by women manual labourers working on building sites.


Women make up more than half the migrant labour workforce, sending precious foreign exchange back to the home countries.

factory eye

White collar workers, doctors, firefighters, office workers, teachers, everywhere.

For this contribution to labour what do they get ?

They get paid less


They get less leisure time http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/10/another-gender-gap-men-spend-more-time-in-leisure-activities/

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 12.43.42 pm

and also have to bear the added burden of managing home and children.

A woman worker concentrating on her work with her baby on her side in the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate for working women is higher particularly among those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

A woman worker concentrating on her work with her baby on her side in the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate for working women is higher particularly among those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

Women have been increasingly sharing the burden of labour outside the home for decades now.


It is time for men to move in and start sharing in the domestic unpaid and thankless labour also !

he can do it


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