Even paradise has its seedy side, a fact that comes through clearly in Louise Brown's important book, Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia (Virago, 2000). Examining the region's sex trade and shedding light on its abuses and exploitations, Brown's book is a wake-up call and a condemnation. But mostly it is a chronicle of commodification, filled with very sad stories about the lives of innocent girls and women forced to sell their bodies as if they were just so much meat.
Worldwide, women are changing the face of philanthropic giving with a collective vision that is global, innovative, and strategic. Personal stories are beginning to transform public policy, and social change is becoming key as women move away from deficiency models of passive grant seeking to power-based, progressive action.The Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer (Mexican Society for the Rights of Women), or Semillas (Seeds) as it has come to called, is a perfect example. Founded in 1990 by Mexican feminists with support from the California-based Global Fund for Women, Semillas was one of four recipients of this year’s “Changing the Face of Philanthropy Award,” given by the US-based Women’s Funding Network at their 17th annual conference in Philadelphia.
In a climate of growing private investment and free trade worldwide, combined with shrinking international foreign assistance budgets, women have more reasons than ever to understand and be concerned about macroeconomic development. So says Ritu Sharma, director of the newly organized Women’s EDGE: The Coalition for Women’s Economic Development and Global Equality. A revitalization of the former Coalition for Women in Development, Women’s EDGE was started in Washington, DC, last March to take on global macroeconomics. As Sharma explains, “We felt that it was important as a women’s community to essentially put our mouths where the money is. And the money is in private investment and trade.”
Thirty years ago, when the late Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias exposed the forced sterilization of Latina women, the international women’s health community sprang into action to end medical abuses that impinged upon women’s reproductive rights. Now that community is being called to act again.
A report, released jointly in January by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights and the Center for Civil and Human Rights in the Slovak city of Kosice, alleges that Roma, or Gypsy, women in Slovakia are being subjected to forced sterilization. The report, Body and Soul: Forced Sterilization and Other Assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom, claims that “coerced and forced sterilization practices continue in Slovakia,” along with other forms of discrimination against Roma women in Slovak maternal health services.