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April 2013

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SEWA and Indian businesswomen

The impact of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is visible in villages across the country. Women who can’t read or write and have basically no real rights learn how to sign their names, read a document, open a bank account, start a business, commit to a loan and secure something quite unthinkable: a home in their names. No sorcery, just empowerment and an infrastructure to support and sustain it. SEWA does it with full permission of the men in the villages. SEWA’s organic, vertically-integrated structure lets it be an academy for teaching, a bank, an insurer, a housing developer and a trade co-operative for hundreds of thousands of women textile workers.

As a Canadian woman entrepreneur, the opportunity to watch SEWA in action and to meet with women participating in SEWA programs in small villages outside of Ahmedabad, in the western state of Gujarat, is a privilege with some irony. A 2012 Reuters TrustLaw survey of G20 countries identifies Canada as the best place for a woman and India as the worst.

What makes India the worst? Child marriage, feticide and infanticide, sexual trafficking, domestic slave labour, domestic violence and high maternal mortality are the reasons India wins the title as worst of the G20 countries for women. But another 2012 study, this one conducted by DELL, ranks India as the best place in the world to be a woman entrepreneur. There’s the clash again. That’s the essence of the two-world reality for Indian women.

Forbes recently profiled India’s top 10 women and the role they play in India’s economy, from high-tech and banking to newspapers and hotels. These are Indian women with degrees from Harvard and Yale. SEWA can share the profiles of women who in less than three years go from illiteracy to employing the majority of the women in their village, having hard assets in their own name and starting a pension plan for when they can no longer be self-employed. These are socio-economic bookends from the two extreme ends of the spectrum: extreme wealth and extreme poverty. These are the women who are stopping child marriage. These are the women who are changing the balance of power in their homes and communities. These are the women who will no longer be silent about gender related violence and injustice.

Women’s work as entrepreneurs is a UN-recognized tool for sustainable development. India is at the forefront of this seismic shift. A study of gender-related development (GRD) has created a GRD Index linked to a nation’s Gross Domestic Product. It clearly captures that in nations where women are advancing through entrepreneurship economic growth is steady and in countries without women’s economic participation economic growth is stagnant. India’s prime minister and government will respond swiftly to this latest incident of violence against women because the world demands it, but also because women are no longer invisible since becoming economic drivers, helping drag India into the 21st century.

The magic of women’s work in India is that while it has always involved heavy lifting, it’s been made to look effortless because of women’s resilience, resourcefulness and resolve.

 

DATING: When is it over?

By Jen Kirsch

“We’re so over, we need a new word for over.” These are the harsh words of Carrie Bradshaw, of the biblical Sex and the City. She said them to Mr. Big in season five of the show.

The relationship of Carrie and Big is what off-and-on dreams are made of.  Carrie was always within arms reach, but after each split and after she would finally pick herself up in her Manolo’s, he was always back. It’s as if Big would be alerted that she was OK and would return, begging for her back.

Well, life sure has a funny way of imitating art, doesn’t it?  Why is it that whenever we get over past hurt, whenever we finally come to terms with the fact that it is over and build up the strength to open a new door, that our former flames seem to come back around?

Often after a break up, people don’t allow for natural and needed space. Being alone again is a life change, and there are often a handful of uncertainties that come with a break up. People often linger around in their ex’s life, unwilling to accept the inevitable. Having so many forms of communication doesn’t help. How many times have you found yourself on Facebook, stalking your ex? We cling onto our ex, initiating messages here and there or responding to theirs. These little forms of communication give us a piece of mind that is so unwarranted. Yet we feel that because we still communicate, that things are OK. That they are still within arm’s reach.

But an amazing thing happens over time, that thing being time itself. As cliché as it sounds, time allows for reflection; it allows for a fading of feelings. It lets you to take a step outside of yourself and look at what was as an observer.

So as we embrace time, the messages (and trips to your ex partner’s bed) become fewer and farther between. And then, they die down altogether. You no longer have that same need you once had to have contact with the person.

But why do they come running back once you hit that sweet spot, you ask?  When they come running back – though I’m sure the odd time it may in fact be genuine – it’s usually a sign of a bruised ego, and not the sign of a bruised heart.  Think about it: the “why isn’t she responding to me” drives him mad and as he lets his imagination wander on where you went, it finally sinks in for him that he may have lost you for good. Gulp.

The flaw most of us make when it comes to our past relationships is staying in touch with an ex immediately following a break up. I get why we do it, but if you ever want to get back together with this person or alternately, if you ever want to move forward, you need to give the situation a chance to breathe. With that you give yourself and the guy a chance to experience what life is like without one another.

I’m convinced that whole “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” quote was created by someone who was going through this exact scenario. Just get over it. Be done. Things have a way of working out. After all, season five of Sex and the City wasn’t the end for Carrie and Big. In fact, we all know where they stand now.

If you have that I can’t live with you/can’t live without you type of attraction to someone and they do come back in your life, make sure it’s heart over ego, and until you’re certain which it is, watch out for both of yours.

THOMSON: Compromise, consensus and casinos

In Toronto, political ambition and partisanship  get in the way of our ability to unite around anything truly visionary or significant. There is  a growing division between suburban and downtown, between wealthy and poor, between drivers and cyclists. But there is also an opportunity to end the division, and it rests in the shared issues that arise as Toronto grows as a city and urbanism reaches out to the suburbs.

It is hard for politicians to step out of the divisive political arena, but compromise is the key to uniting the city, and to compete on the world stage we must have a strong, united city or risk falling behind.

I thought about this when studying the casino proposals for Toronto. The casino issue is working as a wedge to divide our city. It has strong support among the suburban councilors and strong objection from many in the downtown wards. Support is focused on the jobs and income potential the casino complex could bring to the city while objection aligns around the evils of gambling and the harm a casino complex could bring to the surrounding community.

I, for one, don’t support either position. I understand the positive arguments suggested by the pro-casino advocates, but I also worry about the negative aspects pointed out by those in opposition.

Looking closely at the jobs that an entertainment resort and casino might bring to Toronto one might think it fantastic — but the sales pitch around the project sounds a little too good to be true. For example MGM’s proposal is suggesting its entertainment resort and casino on the Exhibition grounds will bring thousands of “high-paying jobs” in the hotel and services industry. But resort casinos in other cities often reduce the price of hotel rooms and meals in order to attract customers into their casino. If a resort casino at the Exhibition grounds did this, it would very likely cannibalize from existing hotels and restaurants in Toronto’s core, drawing customers to the resort for cheaper meals and rooms. This means job loss in the core – which translates more to a shift in job location rather than a large gain in overall jobs. As well the average wages being bandied about in the discussions seem inflated, with suggestions of approximately $60,000 average wage, but the average wage casino workers in Toronto earn closer to $25,000.

While I don’t buy into the casino sales pitch I do see the potential, and the positive impact such huge investment could have on Toronto. But there is also a huge risk that a box-like casino would turn the area into a slum. The only solution is a tight and stringent design plan that recognizes the importance of the surrounding community.

With an issue like the casino it is easy, and almost second nature for some politicians, to jump to partisan positions in order to create the political controversy needed to unite supporters in time for the next election. The lines are being drawn, the insults are starting to fly but now is the time to tread carefully. There are a core group of councilors who are weaving their way carefully through this minefield. They see the political posturing for what it is, and they want to have more insight into the actual casino proposals. It is these Councillors who can and will set the stage for a new approach to city building — they have the opportunity to unite the city through their actions, their words, and their ability to compromise.

Nobody can ignore the huge empty parking lots at Exhibition Place and the need for redevelopment. Investment dollars could turn the space into a hub of activity.  Instead of trying to shut the entire project down, we should focus on creating strict design requirements to gain as much as we can from the investment dollars brought to the city, and provide the best possible outcome for all residents in Toronto. The first step is to outline conditions for consensus and I recommend each and every councilor write out the conditions that would allow them to support the huge investment that an “entertainment resort and casino” would bring to our city.

For example would they support a resort casino complex if it had these conditions:

  1. The resort would be built at Exhibition Place and the first requirement before any buildings go in would be to tunnel Lakeshore Road and create a park and pathways over it from the Exhibition grounds to Ontario Place.
  2. The land would remain under city ownership with a long-term lease issued to the developer. Exhibition Place is one of the most valuable pieces of property that Toronto owns and ownership of the property must be kept for future generations.
  3. A height limit of 10 stories on all buildings so that sunlight and views to the lake would not blocked to residents in the Trinity-Spadina area.
  4. All parking to be built underground.
  5. Toronto is losing too many historic buildings (100+ years) and the design requirement for the casino resort must be unique and stand out from all other resorts. Each structure built must reflect design features of the Beau Arts style of architecture (Liberty Grand) or the Art Deco Style (Horse building) that were originally built on the Exhibition grounds.
  6. The resort would have to have mixed use and allow 7% space for artists studios and start-up offices for tech/media at significantly reduced rents to create an arts and innovation hub for the city.
  7. The casino portion of the resort would not exceed 7% of the entire complex.
  8. All work (construction) to be done by trades registered in Ontario.
  9. A community garden with fish pond and greenhouse, producing local food demonstrating cutting-edge green technology, should be part of the resort complex, kept and maintained by the resort.
  10. Full accessible transportation must be provided around the resort complex and tie into the transit already coming into Exhibition grounds.
  11. All historically significant buildings must be kept and maintained.

Creating requirements like those above are a small step toward building consensus. There will be councilors from both sides who oppose but it is those willing to enter into the discussion who show their true leadership

50 most disgusting responses to Toronto’s male rape victim

This article was originally published on April 8, 2013.

Over the weekend a young man came forward to the police to file a report of a sexual assault that occurred early on March 31. The 19 year old told police that he had been out and upon leaving a club in Toronto’s Entertainment District he was offered a ride from four women. Instead of dropping him off, the four women took him to a parking lot and each sexually assaulted him. The police are looking for four white women between 30 and 36 around 5’4″ and between 190 and 200lbs who were out in a Honda SUV on the night of March 30.

The story has made the rounds of all the major news outlets.

The response from some cretins on social media has been jaw-droppingly ignorant and abusive towards the victim.

One might think that, with the Steubenville rape case barely gone from the cultural rearview mirror, in 2013 people may have learned how to better approach rape cases in a helpful and supportive way. Instead the young victim is being told:

1.       It is funny that he was raped.

2.       He should consider himself lucky.

3.       He wasn’t raped because men can’t get raped.

4.       It is his own fault and he is to blame.

These attitudes are not only disgustingly ignorant and wrong, but they perpetuate these same dusty old antiquated ideas for future generations and prevent victims from getting help and keep them suffering in silence.

It is hard to think of a famous case where a man was sexually assaulted because people — society, the media — openly laugh at male victims of sex crimes and these cases don’t make it to light. We don’t need to look any further than Adam Sandler’s recent attemptThat’s My Boy to see an example of a male victim of sexual assault being treated as lucky and the situation as a funny non-issue. It is no wonder that it took this young man until April 5 to go to police: there are almost no resources for male victims of sex crimes and everything out there on the matter completely delegitimises his experience.

Even Nicole Pietsch of the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres took the opportunity while being interviewed by the Toronto Sun about this case to say that “statistically and anecdotally [rape] is a crime experienced mostly by women, and the offenders tend to be male.” Her statement has no bearing on the case of the young man who was raped other than to reaffirm notions that this case is an oddity and men aren’t victims, notions that keep victims (like this young man and others) from coming forward and seeking justice for their rape.

This young man is so amazingly brave to go to police with his story.

The reaction on social media has been downright disturbing, with a limitless number of heartfelt LOLs and LMAOs from people like this, who seem to think it is totally okay to laugh at a real human person being gang raped:

To ignorant misunderstanding of the basic idea that men can be victims of rape from people like AHL defenseman Mike Banwell from the Springfield Falcons:

 

The chatter is easy to breakdown into the four basic categories of dismissal listed above, along with a category specific to this case where we are told that the rape victim wouldn’t have been “raped” when the four attacked abducted him and sexually assaulted him in a secluded parking lot if they weren’t as fat.

Here are some of the most retch-worthy tweets, responses, and Reddit comments.

It’s funny that he was raped

He’s lucky!

Men can’t get raped

Old fashioned victim blaming

 

This guy, who manages to be offensive to gays, women, and the victim, really takes the cake:

 

It wouldn’t have been rape if they weren’t chubby

If you’ve made it this far down just be warned that after reading all that garbage it may take some time for your faith in humanity to return.

Join our conversation on Twitter and Facebook about why these attitudes are bad and rape is not okay, regardless of the sex of the victim.

Hot New Things: Summer Shoes

Step into summer with a spring to your step. These shoes will be a great addition to any summer night and will be sure to keep you stylish on vacation or weekends.

FiveFingers

These vibrant coloured shoes are great for the beach or a casual night out. They are certainly unique and will allow you stand out from the crowd.
Available at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Prints

These pretty blue paisley ballet flats are perfect for a casual office or after work on summer evenings. The pattern will complement any outfit.
Available at Joe Fresh.

Bejeweled 

These eye-catching jeweled pumps will add elegance to any outfit. They are perfect with a skirt, dress or pants.
Available at Holt Renfrew.

Bow Ties

These cute light blue sandals are the perfect addition to any wardrobe. They are classic while still being modern.
Available at Browns.

Win tickets to the Stratford Festival 2013 season!

Do you love theatre? Do you annoy your friends by randomly quoting the best writer ever, William Shakespeare? Well, you’re in luck because Women’s Post is offering one reader the chance to win tickets to Stratford’s 2013 season. Soak in the atmosphere as you watch performances of Romeo and Juliet, Othello and The Merchant of Venice, then expand your theatre palate with productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Blithe Spirit, Tommy, The Three Musketeers, and other classics. Enter today for your chance to win.

 

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Tuesday, May 7th, at 5 p.m.

 

CONTEST CLOSED

Ontario’s Budget Set to Arrive May 2nd

Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Finance Minister, has announced his first budget will be delivered on Thursday, May 2 at 4:00 pm.

It is expected this budget will include new funding to expand public transit in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA).

Minister Sousa has promised the coming budget will show what new taxes, tolls or levies the province will use to pay for public transit expansion.

In a speech to the Economic Club today (Monday, April 22), Sousa revealed that the Liberal Party has cut $5 billion off the deficit in the last year; revising the provincial deficit to $9.8 billion, down from the projected $14.8 billion.

Minister Sousa also went on to give Ontario a bit of insight into what Thursday will bring. He promised the government will hold program spending to just 1% growth, maintain current level of corporate taxes, and possibly introduce income walls to the clean energy benefit.

However, it was transit that will be front and centre when the budget is tabled later this week.

Sousa reiterated Premier Kathleen Wynne’s promise that any taxes or tolls to fund transit in the GTHA would only apply to the applicable region.

“This budget is going to be just. This budget is going to be fair. This budget is going to be right,” Sousa said.

It is with that in mind that Sousa has pledged to incorporate the ideas of the other parties. Given the minority standing of the provincial legislature, Wynne and Sousa will have to secure the support of at least two additional votes to ensure passage of the budget.

The Progressive Conservative (PC) Party has already stated they will vote against the budget regardless of what it contains. This leaves the government dependent on the votes of the New Democratic Party (NDP). The NDP has given the government a list of five demands, with a cut to auto insurance rates and additional funding for home care being first and foremost.

“This won’t be a budget that reflects only our government’s priorities,” Sousa announced.

Will this proverbial olive branch be enough to maintain this government in the wake of rumours the PC Party is hankering for an election?

Only time will tell.

Both the PC Party and the NDP have come out against the creation of new revenue tolls for transit. Sarah Thomson, CEO and Publisher of the Women’s Post and previous candidate for Mayor of Toronto, has been leading the Toronto Transit Alliance in its call for a 1% regional sales tax.

Man Sues Gym Over Gender Exclusion Hours

Peter Lloyd is upset with his gym over the hours scheme that he feels is an example of sexism towards men.

The Kentish Town Sports Centre in North London currently bans men and boys from working out for 442 hours every year. According to Lloyd, who wrote an editorial in the Daily Mail on the subject recently, these hours are not only sexist for being exclusionary, but they also create an unjust system where men are paying the same full price for a membership that is inactive for 442 hours a year.

Lloyd suggests that the gym should offer men only hours to balance out the exclusion, to abolish the women only hours, or to charge men less for their membership to make up for the hours they cannot use.

“But, finances aside, the Kentish Town Sports Centre has a social responsibility to encourage equality as well as physical health. Forcing men – whether 70 year-old pensioners or 13 year-old boys who attend with their mothers – to leave a room because of their gender, rather than their behaviour, is degrading. It’s also eerily reminiscent of when African Americans were separated from their caucasian peers in 1940s America.”

What do you think. While it is obviously unfair for men to be paying the same price as women for less time, is canceling women’s hour the best way to correct this? Should men also be afforded their own time, free of women?

 

VIDEO: “Protecting and Maintaining Your Heterosexual House of Cards”

Writer, director, producer, and former PEIslander Kirby Ferguson is here to tell you about the dangers of homosexuality.

What most straight guys don’t know, according to Fersguson, is that their heterosexuality is teetering on the brink of collapse at any given moment. One wrong move and homosexual madness will break loose.

Some of the basic ground rules he sets out in his video “Protecting and Maintaining Your Heterosexual House of Cards” are as follows:

— Always remember WANGZ: We Are Not Gay Zone to keep a safe distance from other guys and prevent yourself from accidentally making out with them.

— No eye contact, this could lead to an intimate encounter

— Keep a two foot buffer, this will save you from romantic situations

Check out these hilarious tips and more in Ferguson’s video above so that you too may be protected from the dangers of accidental homosexuality.

 

A Liberal Defence of Mark Warawa

Debate recently broke out in Ottawa over a motion pet forward by Mark Warawa, Member of Parliament for Langley (BC), that would have the Government of Canada take an official position on gender selection termination of pregnancy. This piece is not an attempt to endorse his motion. Frankly, I’m not sure how much this is an issue in a country like Canada, nor do I ever think it is advisable for a government to open doors to legislating on question of morality such as abortion. That said, Warawa has never made a secret of his perspective. He has long identified as ‘pro-life’. Where I will attempt to defend him is under the notion of free speech.

Warawa has been driven underground by a government that has embraced partisan interests over that of Canadians’ and that of democracy. First, his motion was denied at the subcommittee level, thus denying him the right to bring his motion before Parliament despite parliamentary experts testifying that there was no reason to prevent the action.

When Warawa attempted to protest in Parliament or petition the Speaker, he has been prevented and denounced as “rogue” by officials within his own party. The situation surrounding Warawa is not new. Parties of all stripes have long held the divisive opinions of back benchers down in the name of party unity. Earlier this year Bruce Hyer, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North (ON), was ejected by the New Democratic Party after choosing to vote in favour of ending the long-gun registry. However, in both the cases of Warawa and Hyer, their constituents were fully aware they held these positions. They were expected to take this message to Ottawa. The heavy-handed leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Leader of the Official Opposition Thomas Mulcair was not what the electorate voted for their individual ridings.

For the Liberal Party this has not been a great problem during the course of this sitting. That has more to do with the ability of Bob Rae than it does a lack of internal division. This previous weekend Bob Rae’s tenure as interim leader came to an end. Taking over is Justin Trudeau, who has signaled a similar position to that of the Harper and Mulcair. However, during the leadership contest, fellow candidate Martha Hall Findlay took a decidedly different approach. While she declared her opposition to Warawa’s motion, she said she would allow it to come before the house, because that is the job of an MP. As an individual who has always believed that the first job of a politician is to represent those that elect them directly, I welcomed Hall Findlay’s far more ‘liberal’ approach to back bench opinions. Closing up government further will only serve to alienate more and more Canadians. I sincerely hope that Trudeau heeds Hall Findlay’s advice. It could go a long way in helping re-unite a party coming off a contested leadership race.