31 January 2011

beauty in change

I think that the life of a caterpillar/butterfly is a wonderful reminder to us of our potential. Some days we may feel like a slimy worm or that we're stuck and unable to move in our cocoon, but through all the uncomfortable feelings and the stress and the strain of life, we are transforming and growing and becoming the beautiful butterflies we were intended to be.

27 January 2011

Provo Canyon, December 2010
By Allison

24 January 2011

Women Abroad Take 1: Fatima Moukela

Hello to you all! I’m Julianne and so so happy to be adding posts to this wonderful blog and project. I’ll be writing for the next few months while working at a rehab center for teenage moms in Brazil, and decided that perhaps my best contribution would be to share the stories of phenomenal and inspiring women I have met throughout my work and travels abroad. Sound good? huzzah!

To start off this little series then, I thought that I would zero in on a very appropriate issue for We Are Women: obstetric fistula. I have such a passion for this cause, having written my Masters thesis on the presence of fistula in the West African nation of Niger. To conduct research for the thesis, I spent some months in Niger´s main hospital doing research and working with/befriending a load of fistula patients and doctors. As obstetric fistula is 100% preventable with the presence of emergency obstetric care, the story of every fistula sufferer is filled with needless tragedy, frustration, and sorrow. I saw and heard so many heart-wrenching tales while in Niger, but one of the women I met profoundly touched me above all others. Her name is Fatima Moukela, pictured above.

By now Fatima is 35 years old. She lives in a rural community in western Niger that possesses a staffed (!) health clinic, a true rarity in that country. She frequently attended the clinic for pre-natal visits, and when labor pains began at the delivery of her second child, she went immediately to the clinic to have the child under medical supervision. Now you have to understand: in Niger over 90% of births are conducted with no trained medical personnel at hand. The rates of pre-natal visits for women are dismally low, as they are in many impoverished countries. Fatima therefore showed extraordinary initiative in seeking out medical care when many around her see no point.

It's not too surprising why: although Fatima was at a health facility, the personnel were not equipped for surgical procedures, and as the labor stretched on and on past three days, Fatima's options had run out. In her fourth day of labor, she finally arrived at a medical facility where they could perform a cesarean and her stillborn child could be removed. Yet the brutal effects of the prolonged labor had left their mark: a fistula (hole) had developed between Fatima's vagina and bladder, rendering her completely incontinent for the next two years until she was able to save enough money for the long journey to the capital city's hospital for a surgical repair.

Obstetric fistula should not happen to any woman, period. But what broke my heart in Fatima’s case is that she had taken all the steps in her power to prevent it. She was literate and had seven years of education, she had done her pre-natal visits and sought out medical care at the onset of her labor. Sometimes prolonged and obstructed labors simply happen. It can happen to any woman at anytime in any country. I am certain you know someone yourself who has undergone such a grueling labor and delivery! But in Fatima’s case, without emergency services readily available, this natural event caused her such needless pain and hardship.

So this is where the Campaign to End Fistula comes in. Or OperationOF. Or the Fistula Foundation. Fantastic organizations that are working to train health personnel on the ground to not only treat women like Fatima, but to prevent such cases from ever happening again.

I love this dear woman. She is so beautiful and unbelievably strong. She undercut so many vicious stereotypes of fistula patients and African women as voiceless sufferers. Fatima is eloquent and determined. Capable and intelligent. It was this broken health system that had failed her, and such cruel injustice is truly criminal. I'm thrilled that Allison decided to dedicate this project to helping women like Fatima. In the next months I will share a few more women whose lives and causes have touched me greatly. Women helping women, mothers helping mothers: is there anything more powerful, more beautiful? :)

beijos to you all,

17 January 2011


“Most women don’t do well in this class.” He said it as a matter of fact. Not condescendingly but just as the way he saw it.

It was enough to wake me up. It was a challenge. A call to arms. And I would do it for all women everywhere.

At least, that is what I told myself. In reality, it was more to prove to myself and anyone else who was paying attention that I was smart too.

Silly. I knew that I was intelligent. I didn’t need this class to prove anything, to validate myself in the eyes of others. But I did it anyway.

It would be years later when I realized that my worth as a woman was in no need of validation. I possessed qualities that made me unique and helped me play an important role in the lives of those around me. Eventually I would begin to learn not to hide from who I was but to embrace those feminine qualities that I had so easily mistaken as weaknesses.

And slowly, steadily, I began to see and understand what it meant for me to be a woman. That understanding would not come from any single source, but a slew of people and experiences that would more fully help me define myself as a woman.

There are the women who have changed the way society has accepted and viewed women. These women, both the well-known and the obscure, sacrificed their time, and abilities, and dedicated their lives to bettering the lives of women then and now. Because of them, we enjoy the rights (and ultimately the responsibilities) of voting, receiving an education, using that education to influence for good, stopping domestic abuse, and receiving the needed help for female specific health issues. Obviously the list continues. The lives and words of those women are inspiring and point to the divinity and power that women have, both individually and collectively.

My understanding has also deepened through the men in my life who openly show love and respect for the women who have influenced them. I have learned it from my father and my brother, who encourage and support their wives; from my mission presidents and church leaders who, through their words and actions, declare the important role of the women in their lives and throughout the world. Ultimately, I have felt the power and divinity of womanhood through my husband. Through my husband’s eyes—his love, devotion, patience, his words of encouragement, and his belief in me—I have discovered and felt the power of my own potential: My potential for influence, charity, intelligence, and so much more. Through him I see what I can become and with his help, I feel the purpose of the feminine attributes that I possess.

And finally I have felt the power and deepened my understanding of what a woman can be through the many women who surround me. I see that power in my mother’s kindness to her neighbors, in my grandmothers unending charity to her family, in my sisters’ and aunts creativity and innovation, and in my friends excitement for education. Through them I see talent, compassion, love, understanding, and unwavering devotion to the things that are right. I am continually influenced by their dedication to one another, their families, their communities, and to fulfilling their purpose in life.

Ultimately my understanding expands with every decision I make. It grows with the child that grows within me. It deepens as my relationships deepen. It changes and evolves as my life continues to change and evolve.

Thanks for reading! I am Alicia and I am so excited to be guest posting here for a while!

14 January 2011

BeeAndNie 2011 Downloadable Calendar

We're a couple weeks into January already, but if you still haven't gotten a 2011 calendar, or if you want another one, I just came across my favorite calendar yet (see above!) -- and it's only $4! It was created by BeeAndNie, and 50% of all sales go to the Maricopa Burn Foundation. A gorgeous calendar and a good cause? Yes, please. I ordered it, and you should to (if you want to, that is).

The calendar includes 27, 8.5 x 11" printable pages. A link to download it will be emailed to you when you purchase it. Then you can head over to Kinkos to get it printed and bound however you'd like it to be.

- Allison

13 January 2011

Domestic Violence PSAs

I think these are very well made-- obviously due to good funding and celebrity power for at least one of the videos-- but also because they connect with the viewer's emotions. Check them out, then let us know what you think.

*Has anyone seen any commercials about domestic violence against men? I couldn't find anything, and that's a shame. It's definitely a problem that should be addressed more often.

10 January 2011

artistic inspiration

Hello!  I'm Jessica, and I am excited to share with you some of my own thoughts on womanhood.  Although I'm currently immersed in a branch of the social sciences studying the family, I am also a lover of all things art.  One of my greatest inspirations (and favorite artists) is the renown female impressionist

Mary Cassatt.

She was born in Pennsylvania with a determination to accomplish her dreams, even if it meant traveling across the world to find a way.  After studying art as an American student, she traveled to Paris where she hoped to find further opportunities for aspiring female artists.  Although she was not permitted to study in the major art academies in Europe, her goal of becoming a career-artist was unhindered.  She applied to study privately with the masters in Paris and was accepted.  Today, Cassatt is recognized as an impressionist master.  She is truly an example of the potential and determination of women to succeed in early America.

Cassatt was prone to study the role and nature of women.  Much of her work focuses on women in the home and in society, bringing the divine nature of women to light in early media in a beautiful way.

Who is your favorite female artist?

03 January 2011

Women in Literature

Hi! I'm Emily, and I think that the "We Are Women" project is so great. 
I usually blog over at emilymcb.blogspot.com, but I'll be guest posting here for awhile!

I loooove books. I especially love books featuring strong heroines.

Here are a few of my favorite leading ladies.
(Yes, they are sort of cliché. But, I think they're sort of cliché for good reason.)

Elizabeth Bennet (Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice)

Elizabeth is confident, smart, independent, and she has incredible self-worth. She doesn't follow the silly examples of her mother or her sisters. By turning down two engagements, she shows that she'd rather be alone for the rest of her life than married to someone she doesn't love—a pretty innovative idea for her time. 

Jo March (Louisa May Alcott's Little Women)
Jo is smart, independent, and incredibly loving. She sells her hair (her "one beauty") to help her family. She moves to New York, all on her own, to chase her dream of being a great writer. She is out to achieve her dreams, no matter what other people think.

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre
Jane had a really tough life, but she never let that be a reason to give up. She supports herself as a governess, and then runs from the only man she has ever loved (and thinks she will ever love) because of her morality and integrity. 

Honorable Mentions
Skeeter (The Help)
Esther (The Old Testament)
Katniss (The Hunger Games)
Hermione (Harry Potter)
Antonia (My Antonia)
Margaret (North and South)
Anne (Anne of Green Gables)

Who are your favorite literary heroines?

01 January 2011

The First Female President of Brazil: Dilma Rousseff

"I am committed to honoring women,
to protecting the most vulnerable and to govern for all."

Read CNN article here.

about the writers

Emily (from emilymcb.blogspot.com) grew up as the only sister to four younger brothers. She graduated with a degree in English and a minor in music, and she is currently working as an editor and writer. Always up for a travel adventure, Emily spent a few summers doing humanitarian work in Africa and a summer studying abroad in London. 

Jessica is a health-nut, yoga-doing, painting, farmers-market-going, sewing, church-attending, family-missing, dancing, music-loving, tree-hugging, sticky-note-posting, color-categorized girl. Her major is family science, and she loves being a woman, as is evident in her personal blog. Check it out!

Hello! I am Alicia Fish. I am a wife and soon to be mother, living in a colorful little home in Eagle Mountain, Utah. I am a perpetual multitasker and am terrible at it. I buy too many books but I justify it by using them not only to read but as décor. About a month before I graduated from Utah State University, I finally admitted to myself that I had no idea what I really wanted to do with the degree I had worked so hard for. I still don’t know. What I do know is that I love to write about and take pictures of the world around me and my experiences. I post most of them on my blog Darling Duckie. My ideas, feelings, and understanding of what it means to be a woman is ever changing and adapting. I fully expect this discovery process to continue and that it will expand my appreciation not only for myself and what it means for me to be a woman, but also for the other women and men who believe in the divinity of women and their essential role in the world. And I am terribly excited to hear about others experiences and share my own!

Julianne is currently living in Brazil working at a small NGO that rehabilitates adolescent mothers as they recover from drug addictions. She loves women and is tired of them being disproportionately beaten down by economic poverty or cultures of violence the world over! She's worked all over the place: at UNICEF, the UNFPA, Oxford University, and many other NGOs in Africa, Europe, and the USA that fight for the safety and well-being of women in various circumstances: obstetric fistula sufferers in Niger, Darfuri and Liberian refugee women in Brooklyn, domestic violence victims of Utah, and military-led rape campaigns against women in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. She's excited to be part of this awesome conversation by women, for women, of women! 

And lastly, I am Allison. I won't be a writer here for much longer due to other commitments, but why not introduce myself anyway? I currently study family science and english, and briefly studied theatre and playwriting in the past. I have the sense of humor of an adolescent boy.  I enjoy film, listening to and making music, writing, and knitting. Creating is my happiness. In 2009, I thought up and eventually compiled the We Are Women book with the help of about 40 women worldwide. Other places: an apple a day; holly in the tree house doing yoga; kindred spirits and i. I will soon be leaving on an adventure, passing the reigns of the blog to these lovely women. You will love them!

Check back every Monday for a new post by one of the writers. It's going to be a great year!