Saturday, November 6, 2010

Challenge to list Feminist and Women's Human Rights Organisations on Their Website

this tiny image is from here
Forbes is fascinated with and profits from a certain kind of power: the white het male supremacist kind. They exemplify a major media publication that celebrates men who commit atrocities without noting what those atrocities are--against women. But occasionally they and other WHM supremacist media will toss women an acknowledgement or two. Please click on the title just below to link back to that request from Forbes to its readers.

Vote For The World's Most Powerful People

Nicole Perlroth, Taylor Buley and Kevin Adkins, 09.17.09, 06:00 PM EDT

In November, Forbes will publish its ranking of the world's most powerful people. But first, we want to see what readers think. Use the drag-and-drop poll below to register your ranking of who wields the most influence in the nine categories listed. Final scores will be posted in November.

And here's Forbes magazine's online categories offered to us to choose among, Note how many votes there are for celebrities, and how they don't have "human rights activists" or "feminist activists" listed as choices. I guess those come under the category "Do-gooders".

Who are the Most Powerful People?
I am publicly challenging to list as many feminist and women's rights organisations on their website as they can. What follows is an article by Caroline Howard who discusses the problems with how thus far has chosen to acknowledge--or not--feminists doing human rights work globally. Please offer your comments to this important discussion. There is also a conceptual and political problem with listing "the most powerful women" without noting which men are the most powerfully engaged in making sure no women rise to social, religious, or national power. You can also link back by clicking on the title just below.

Thank you, Caroline Howard, for opening up this conversation! -- Julian Real


The World’s Most Powerful Feminists And Least Powerful Women

Nov. 4 2010 - 5:00 pm | 2,173 views | 0 recommendations | 8 comments
Dilma Rousseff, minister chief of staff of the...
Dilma Rousseff, President-elect of Brazil. Image via Wikipedia

As part of the Forbes The World’s Most Powerful People package, my colleagues sought out playwright, performer and activist Eve Ensler, best known for The Vagina Monologues and founder of V-Day, to name who are the world’s most powerful feminists.

“It is actually an oxymoron to identify the world’s seven most powerful feminists–the exclusionary nature of that determination is a patriarchal construct in itself,” Ensler said. “Still, I simply couldn’t resist the chance to highlight the great and often invisible work of grassroots feminists.”

Here, her list of seven:

Rada Boric, Croatia: A key European activist and a co-creator of the Center for Women War Victims.

Malalai Joya, Afghanistan: A writer and outspoken activist who has risked her life to demand justice for the ongoing oppression of Afghan women.

Stephen Lewis, Canada: The co-director of AIDS Free World, former deputy executive director of UNICEF and the U.N.’s first Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Pat Mitchell, U. S.: President & CEO of the Paley Center for Media and the former head of PBS, she is an advocate to move women forward in front of and behind the lens.

Agnes Pareiyo, Kenya: Works on the front lines in Africa to end the practice of female genital mutilation and early childhood marriage.

Christine Schuler-Deschryver, Democratic Republic of Congo: A powerful grassroots activist for women in the Congo, and the director of V-Day’s City of Joy–a center for survivors of violence.

Vandana Shiva, India: An environmentalist, she puts women front and center to solve the issue of food security in the developing world.

This is Ensler’s list, but it would have been nice to see the names of more younger feminist activists, such as Iranian women’s legal rights attorney Shadi Sadr, 36, who is part of the “Stop Stoning Forever” campaign, and Somaly Mam, about 40 (her birthday is unclear), a Cambodian who was trafficked into a brothel as a little girl, escaped and now fights the brothels and works to help other girls escape.

The most powerful feminists feature is a sidebar to the World’s Most Powerful People list of the 68 “who matter” most. There are just five women on that list: Angela Merkel (No. 6), Sonia Gandhi (No. 9), Dilma Rousseff (No. 16), Hillary Clinton (No. 20) and Oprah Winfrey (No. 64).

That’s 7% of the list. A small number with a strangely familiar ring to it:
  • 3%: The 13 CEOs running the country’s largest 500 publicly traded companies are female.
  • 4%: The U.S. has one four-star military general, Ann E. Dunwoody, nominated in 2008 and who serves as head of the Army’s supply arm, and a total of 57 active-duty women serving as generals or admirals out of 1,536.
  • 9%: There are 18 female world leaders who are in power (including Rousseff, come 1/1/11) out of the world’s some 195 nations.
  • 11%: Of the Forbes 400 richest in the world, there are 42 women billionaires.
  • Less than 0%: Female religious leaders.
It’s easy to resent the Forbes’s Most Powerful for knighting just five women. Not because the list was NOT researched exhaustively or vetted rigorously. It was. Or that it is biased. It’s not. It’s because while highlighting those with global juice, it also throws into stark relief all those without (just two black faces, both Americans). We are reminded (as if we need to be, thanks much) of the 3%, 4%, 9%, 11% and the zero–and how very far women still are from power parity.

Julian Real's comment:

The idea that feminists ought to be recognised only as individuals or ranked as "most powerful" is a particularly U.S. American idea which seeks to create personal heroes not to support social justice for women globally.

Perhaps we ought consider "some of the feminists who should be recognised and supported for their human rights struggles for women" and "feminist organisations you should know about and financially support". Here's a very partial list, to be added to people named above. In it, there is recognition that most women's rights activists will never be named or recognised, don't speak English, are women Western reporters don't shine any light on, and are usually fighting in extreme poverty, with on-going death threats and attempts against their lives, and perpetually in a context and crucible of men's terroristic wars against women: physical, psychological, sexual, spiritual, social, environmental, educational, economic, religious, and always terribly political.

Yanar Mohammed:
Daw Aung Suu Kyi: and
Ruchira Gupta:
Andrea Smith:
Catharine A. MacKinnon:
Antiporn Feminists of London:
Apne Aap:
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter:
Black Women's Rape Action Project:
COAL: Coalition of Activist Lesbians, Australia:
CodePink--Women for Peace:
Indigenous Women for Justice:
JCP--Jerusalem Center for Peace:
Sista II Sista/Hermana a Hermana:
Prostitution Research and Education:
SisterSong--Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective: regard féministe sur le monde:
WIDE Network:
In memory of Wilma Mankiller, tribal leader of the Cherokee Nation,
Women for Wik:

In memory of three Haitian Women's Rights Activists killed in the Earthquake:
Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin, and Anne Marie Coriolan:

and in memory of feminist theologian, professor, and author Mary Daly:

and in memory of Wilma Mankiller, tribal leader of the Cherokee Nation:

All five great women died in 2010. I regret that I am leaving out so many more great feminists and women activists who died this year. And please, once again, support the organisations in ways they welcome your support.

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