Focus on Women

Poverty, Greed, Taxes and the Throwaways

January 28th, 2012 . by Cathy Standiford

Essays and stories about teenage foster girls always catch my eye.  This one is a powerful story–about a girl who was born poor, was raped (along with her mother), was ultimately placed in the foster care system, and has managed to educate and make something of herself in spite of it all.  It’s long–and sometimes the language is a little rough.  But it’s worth reading every word to get to one very powerful point at the very end.

I don’t know about you, but after reading this, the Occupy Movement is starting to make more sense to me.

Access to Education Makes the Difference

January 23rd, 2012 . by Cathy Standiford

Here’s an inspiring story about a young woman, who at the age of 23, is one of Nigeria’s youngest female pilots.  Imoleayo Adebule describes her educational journey, how she made the switch from mechanical engineering to aviation technology to her current job as a pilot.  Not only is she clearly very smart, she is persistent!

But here’s the thing.  Were it not for the willingness of a private company to sponsor her and pay for her courses, Imoleayo would not be where she is today–high in the sky.

Access to education is one of the biggest barriers to overcoming poverty.   Sadly, if a child is not in school today, she is probably a girl, denied access because of her gender.  Stories like this one give me hope for the thousands of other girls in the world have the potential to live their dreams–with a little help from Soroptimists and people like us.

Where in the World Are Women Economically Empowered?

January 12th, 2012 . by Cathy Standiford

As a former city manager, I love Richard Florida.  He believes in cities.  He studies cities.  And he always makes me think.  He’s got a new article on the Atlantic Cities website that maps the economic progress of women around the world based on several international metrics and indicators.  In it, he (correctly) asserts:

Societies that empower women tend to be open to other kinds of diversity as well, which enables them to more fully utilize the talent and human capital of their people – foreign born, religious and ethnic minorities, gays and women alike. The treatment of women reflects a society’s commitment to equality and social justice. But it also reflects its ability to harness human capital, advance to innovative frontiers and generate higher levels of economic prosperity for all members.

To see where your country rates on five different empowerment indicators and read the rest of Florida’s article, click here:

Soroptimists Stop Trafficking

January 11th, 2012 . by Cathy Standiford

Today is the National Day for Human Trafficking Awareness in the US.  In recognition of this day, Soroptimists will be out in the community raising awareness about this form of modern day slavery, advocating for better laws to protect victims, and having courageous conversations with the men and boys in their lives about the demand for paid sex and how it fuels trafficking both in our country and all over the world.  Today and throughout the rest of this week there will be conferences, film screenings, community forums–all kinds of activities to bring the faces and voices of women and girls who are being sexually exploited out of the shadows and into the light.

I’m going to be with my club at a local train station during this evening’s “rush hour,” distributing flyers about this issue.  What will you be doing?

Monday Morning Inspiration

January 9th, 2012 . by Cathy Standiford

Fawzia Koofi is one inspiring woman.  From almost being killed as an infant (because she was a girl) to becoming an outspoken advocate for women in Afghanistan, her story is worth reading.  Could she become Afghanistan’s first female president?  Who knows, but after what she’s been through, I wouldn’t bet against her.  Learn more about this amazing woman here:

Lessons About Beauty from Luann

January 8th, 2012 . by Cathy Standiford

Luann is one of my favorite comic strips.  Lately she’s been skeptical that a Quill, cute exchange student from Australia,  could be more interested in her than the school’s model/cheerleader/beauty queen Tiffany. The last couple of days the strip has drawn attention to the different definitions of “beauty.”  Finally, Luann talks her to mom about it.

Sadly, girls are more likely to believe the media.  Thanks to Luann creator Greg Evans for drawing attention to the impact of media on girls’ self esteem and their perceptions of whether or not they are beautiful just the way they are.

I can’t wait to see what happens to Luann next!

Some of the Most Offensive Ads for Women

January 5th, 2012 . by Cathy Standiford

Advertising that is offensive or demeaning to women is not limited to the US (sad to say).  Over the weekend I came across a a listing of the most offensive ads for 2011 as rated by Kherr Berr, a Lebanese-based media monitor that watches for signs of gender discrimination and bias.

When Jobs Are Tough, Women Opt for Education

January 3rd, 2012 . by Cathy Standiford

As the US economy continues to struggle along, women are responding to it differently than men.  The New York Times reports that younger women are leaving the workforce in large numbers so that they can improve their skills and their chances for better employment when the economy recovers. In the following graph, the darker, downward line represents the percentage of women ages 16-24 in the labor force; the upper, lighter line is the percentage enrolled in school.

Economists say the long-term implications are that “the next generation of women may have a significant advantage over their male counterparts, whose career options are already becoming constrained.”  But will that be enough to reduce the wage gap that persists between men and women?  Only time will tell…..

Read more about this phenomenon and its implications for the future of women in the job market here: