International Woman’s Day…

Today is International Woman’s Day.

I wondered about the need for a day to celebrate half of us- seems a wee bit of an over generalisation. Perhaps it might suggest too that all the rest are ‘men’s days’.

But then again perhaps they are right;

  • Women make up half of the world’s population and 70% of the world’s one billion poorest people.
  • Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half of the world’s food, but earn only 10% of the world’s income.
  • Of the 500,000 women who die in childbirth every year, 99% live in developing countries. In other words, in developing countries, a girl or a woman dies every minute giving birth.
  • Two thirds of the 800 million adults who lack basic literacy skills are women.

(Figures from Traidcraft. You can donate a few quid towards their work to support women to help themselves here.)

I can change little about the justices and injustices of this wonderful broken world we live in, apart from little bits of money here and there, and perhaps some words.

Because I still hope that poetry might find cracks and widen them.

I read an interview in which the opening lines of this poem were spoken by a mother over her daughter, and they did something to me. I hope that you will forgive this white, middle class man for presuming to use the voice of a woman in this way- as some of the words were hers…

I have a dream for my daughter

That she may live a life

Better than mine

That this plastic bowl I fill with water

Might one day be plumbed-in porcelain

That the cotton dress worn thin by the rocks I wash it on

Might become a pressed skirt and blouse all office white

That these Flip Flops sewn with telephone wire

Might be breathed upon by some God-mother

And become instead

An English bicycle

.

I have a dream for my daughter

That she may not be owned

Or used

Or victimised

She will be strong

Like bright green bamboo

She will speak

And men will listen

A few alternative Christmas links…

The Christmas madness is fully on us- particularly now the weather has turned for the better.

Most towns have a few houses like the ones above, which always cause a little incredulity, but at the same time serve as a metaphor for what this season can often become- overly consumptive, tacky, competitive and rather vacuous.

But there I go again, sounding like a bit of a misery monger.

Because Christmas is lovely- not just for the kids either. The simplicity of the stable, a family staying together through the mess of mixed loyalties and the strange feeling that everything- everything– is about to change…

But if like me, you are looking to find ways of celebrating Christmas in simpler way more befitting the story we remember, then you might find some of these things useful-

Generous have a list of suggested actions/activities to here.

Then there is the rather hard core buynothingchristmas

You might like to check out the film What Would Jesus Buy, featuring Rev Billy, mentioned on this blog last year…

You might like to think about a fair trade Christmas, courtesy of Traidcraft.

And you could also come over to join Aoradh at their mass sky lantern launch in Dunoon at 5PM on Sunday- a great way to make some prayers of hope visible.


Fair trade and recession…

fairtrade

Michaela and I have been interested in fair and ethical trade practices for some time. As a student, my final year thesis dug into this area. For some time we were Traidcraft representatives also.

In earlier times, fairtrade production was low scale and marginal. Who can remember the early instant coffees that tasted slightly like a mixture of sludge and gravy?

Fairtrade produce has become much more mainstream in the last few years. The supermarkets use Fairtrade as a niche selling strategy, and large companies like Cadbury’s, later followed by Galaxy have bowed to pressure and started to use fairtrade materials in their produce. Whilst the edges of what constitute ‘fair trade’ seems to be as fuzzy as ever, these larger scale moves towards breaking down the power of the multi-nationals and giving producers in the South a fair wage are great.

And then came recession.

Logic would suggest that during periods of recession people look to make savings on household bills. They are less willing to pay premiums for quality, and more likely to buy budget products. We might expect too that people will give less to charity, and buy less fair trade produce.

It is encouraging then to read this report from the Ethical Corporation Institute, which suggests that interest in ethical and fairtrade products is soaring.

I wonder why?

Is it possible that the aftermath of the consumer driven credit crisis has led to people examining again the lack of sustainability of our lifestyle? And the inequalities we depend on to maintain it?