A Banker You Can Love

Ela Bhatt walks quietly...

Sat, March 07, 2009

The paper may be in financial straits, but today the New York Times deserves a shout out for featuring the work of humanitarian Ela Bhatt who started the revolutionary labor union SEWA (the Self Employed Women’s Association) decades ago in India. When the AD crew and I met and interviewed her for our India show, she told me, “Poverty is a matter of power, and as long as the poor remain powerless, poverty will never be removed from our country. The poor are not idle, they are all economically very active, otherwise they won’t survive. We don’t have a welfare system, so they have to work. They will work harder and harder, and they try to make any activity productive and try to make money off it so that they can survive.” We were enamored by how such a soft spoken, gentle person was also an extraordinary powerhouse.  Read more about our time with her here, and also check out today’s Times.

by Holly | Comments | posted in:

Gang of Pink

Mon, November 24, 2008

Check out the BBC’s report on The Gang of Pink, an amazing story of vigilanteism by women in India.
Unlike the late Bandit Queen, Phoolan Devi, who was purportedly more bandit than queen, these women dressed in pink saris
are taking matters into their own hands and fighting on behalf of the disenfranchised by any means necessary.

by Divas | Comments | posted in:

Cud, Sweat and Fears

Tue, September 09, 2008

Since Holly Morris’ GlobeTrekker show about crossing Niger is airing now on PBS, we thought a dispatch about her misguided entry into a camel race (adapted from her book) was in order...  - the eds.

update 12/16/08:  Tuareg rebels kidnap UN envoy. Tensions high in region.

A Day at the Races
My thighs grip the ornate tamzak saddle and sweat soaks its brightly colored leather fringe as I line up, atop a fifteen-hundred-pound leggy white camel, with 90 other competitors - men wrapped in indigo-pounded cheches and hollering to one another in Tamachek.  We are all aggressively jockeying for an inside position; crops are gripped as tight as the tension in the air. A blacksmith raises his glistening takouba silver sword, poised to begin the race.  My armpits tingle and my guts suddenly flood with nausea.
I’m in Niger, West Africa, making a film with the nomadic Tuareg people, a disenfranchised tribe who’ve been the independent warriors of the trans-Saharan highway for a millennium.  These camel races, called cavalcades, are part of a centuries old tradition, and my fellow competitors have walked for days or weeks to enter the race in hopes of taking home both status and cash.
I wasn’t supposed to enter the race.

by Divas | Comments | posted in:

Global Fund Gets Jiggy!

20 Years of Supporting Women

Sun, June 08, 2008

Last week the Global Fund for Women celebrated 20 years and $65 million of grants to divalicious organizations around the world - and they threw a shindig worthy of such an astounding accomplishment. The classy joint, the excellent eats and the presence of Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, were enough to send the night into pro-woman orbit, but here’s what stole the show: the presence of the grassroots activists whose spirit and work trumped the pomp.

Below, a shout out to just a few of the women and their causes:

Zainah Anwar : Malasia Sisters in Islam
Patricia Guerrero: Columbia League of Displaced Women
Prudence Mabele: South Africa Positive Women’s Network
Taida Horozovic: Bosnia and Herzogovina CURE
Hoda Elsadda: Egypt, Women and Memory Fund

We tip our tiara to the Global Fund which helps ignite the words and deeds of these women who dance, fight, sing, organize and strategize all over the world in pursuit social justice.


by Divas | Comments | posted in:

Reporting back from Rajasthan

Diva Tour 2008

Tue, March 25, 2008

Well, the state of Rajasthan, as well as the cities of Delhi, Varanasi and Agra. All 10 of us on this year’s India DivaTour are still shaking the magic dust off our boots and remain bedazzled by all that we saw and experienced. Our trip was chock-a-block with Maharajh history, the Colors festival of spring, mind- boggling old forts, village time, and of course, Divas.  We got to meet with the Bal Rashmi Society, who we first connected with while shooting our India documentary a few years back. Their great work against caste oppression and the disenfranchised communities of Rajasthan continues. Fate got us all doing downward dogs along the holy Ganges in Varanasi (god ground zero) with an amazing yogi who took pranayama to new levels; Ruchira Gupta, and her organization Apne Aap – which combats sex trafficking and the exploitation inside prostitution – welcomed us to the opening of a school in a red-light district on the outskirts of Delhi. One of India’s premier chefs exercised her – and our - culinary prowess with delectable Dahi murg and Aloo jeera, among other dishes.
Hard to capture the complexity, the camaraderie, and the richness of the last two and a half weeks in a single blog, but suffice it to say, there’s already chatter about a next trip….South India, 2010 anyone? 
p.s. Stand by for photos.

by Holly | Comments | posted in: India | Pakistan | DivaTours | Feminism

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