Monthly Archives: August 2015

Japanese Students Demonstrate for Peace

The issue that galvanized the largest Japanese student protests since the 1960s was a proposal to beef up the military. Aki Okuda, age 23, co-organized Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs).[i] At demonstrations he led chants in hip-hop style, “No War,” “Protect the [pacifist] Constitution”, “Abe – Quit!” He wore a T-shirt stating “Destroy Fascism.” Another funder was young woman Wakako Fukuda. These activists reject the stereotype of Japanese students ad apolitical introverts. They were also motivated by the inability of large protests to prevent restarting nuclear reactors. Okuda said, “This is not a top-down movement, mobilized by the leaders of certain groups. No one can stop people who have begun to think and take action as individuals.” Students worked to influence July 2016 upper house election when the voting age lowered from 20 to 18. A professor noted, ““SEALDs projects the image that you can be normal and fashionable and political at the same time.

[i] Linda Sieg and Teppei Kasai, “SEALDs Student Group Reinvigorates Japan’s Anti-War Protest Movement,” Japan Times, August 29, 20115.

US Middle East Policy Fails

Richard Falk, UN “Special Rapporteur” from 2008 to 2014, commented on the rise of nonstate actors such as ISIS (that US policy helped create) and Hezbollah after the Arab Spring, the lack of democracy except in Tunisia and Turkey and the survival of the old bureaucracies after dictators were overthrown.  He faults the US for adding to the turmoil in the region with its reliance on air strikes rather than diplomacy: “’Democracy’ and Washington’s policy agenda in the region are irreconcilable.”  Tunisia has been spared intervention because it lacks oil reserves. He wrote, “It is hard to find a war that Republicans won’t endorse,” especially if oil is involved. NATO was involved as well; “nothing can be much worse that what Western intervention produces…the wheels of violence turn with accelerating velocity.”
Richard Falk. Chaos and Counterrevolution: After the Arab Spring. Just World Books, 2015.

Afghan Young Woman Cyclist

Salma Kakar, 17, is the lead rider on the co-ed Afghan National Cycling Team. She wants to show the world Afghan women are progressing, stating “We are changing minds,” despite being harassed and verbally abused.  A bike shop owner said, “Women should be in the home, in the kitchen and if they are outside, their faces should be covered.” Her well-educated family supports her; her mother is a pediatrician and her sister publishes the first Afghan feminist magazine. A video of Kakar riding is included in the NBC news clip mentioned here”
“Teenage cycling Prodigy Leads Afghan women to New Freedoms,” NBC Nightly News, March 28, 2013.

Current Sexism–Donald Trump

The crude vulgarity manifested in the popularity and media coverage of presidential campaign of tycoon Donald Trump, who has referred to women as dumb bimbos, losers, dogs, fat pigs, and disgusting animals and then described himself as smart, good-hearted, and popular, a savior correcting the country’s problem with political correctness.[i]  Other Republican candidates opposed women’s right to choice.

[i] Madeleine Morenstern, “Donald Trumb Goes All-Out Against Megyn Kelly Over Alleged Debate Bias,” The Blaze, August 7, 2015.

Scholarship to travel on a UNESCO research project

Hello GirlWire,
I am writing about a funding opportunity that may be of interest. The Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship provides funding for American college students travel abroad. The fellowship helps fund a proposal designed by the applicant to conduct brief work (4 to 6 weeks) in a foreign country related to the mandate of UNESCO – using education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, and culture to build strong ties among nations. Given these flexible guidelines, the fellowship is a great opportunity to work on issues related to girls’ engagement, education, rights, and health.

To learn more about the fellowship and to apply, please visit this page. Applications for travel in the winter/spring are due September 28.

Best wishes,

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Black Women Lead Black Lives Matter

Black Studies Professor Cornell West aims to link his generation of older civil rights activists with younger activists. He said the new militancy characterizes young people of all colors who are breaking out of the look at me neoliberal “peacock syndrome” of the 1960s and 70s in the “culture of superficial spectacle, driven by money.” The young activists are “disproportionately black, disproportionately women and, significantly, disproportionately black, queer women.” Keys to movement success are breaking out of fear and focusing on the “love ethic” of caring about other people.


George Yancy and Cornel West, “Cornel West: The Fire of a New Generation,” New York Times, August 19, 2015.

Young women’s leadership

Twenty-one “feisty” young women graduated from the Leadership Scholars program at Rutgers University between 2000 and 2008. They learned that they could be taught how to be leaders and identified women’s leadership as “collaborative, community-based, intergenerational, and fueled by passion and humility.”[i] “I learned the value of collaborative leadership and its strength to facilitate positive change,” wrote chapter author Courtney Turner. In contrast they defined traditional masculine leadership as aiming for personal power and the cult of the individual leader. They embraced the feminine tradition of nurturing disadvantaged people including children and the poor, influenced by role-models of their female relatives and by intersectional university women’s studies to do “local problem solving” in teams. Ten of the young women are immigrants or have immigrant parents. They also sought allies in young male peers, disavowing stereotypes of their generation as apathetic and aiming to transcend identity politics.

[i][i] Mary Trigg, editor. Leading the Way: Young Women’ Activism for Social Change. Rutgers University Press, 2010, pp. 1-16.