International Women’s Day 2015: Make It Happen

Today is International Women’s Day.

A little girl I know has made a poster that reads:

Today is…

International Women’s Day! Go Women!

She drew pictures of girls around the words: one with a bun and glasses, one with curly hair, one with straight hair, and one with a head covering. It’s absolutely beautiful. ❤ But all she knows is that it’s awesome to have a special holiday all to herself, and that she will be carrying that sign around proudly the entire day. She doesn’t know about everything women have been through.

Violence against women is so prevalent, even in our “modern age”. One in three women will be abused in their lifetime. And the worst part about it is that this is accepted. Women are told to be quiet, to hold their tongues. (“Do you really want to cause someone to go to jail?” “Come on, you must have provoked him somehow for him to resort to that.”) And that’s not all. iwd_long

Women still do most of the world’s low-paid— or even un-paid— labour and work. In places such as Africa, women harvest and work the land yet own less than 2% of the land. Even in “first-world” countries such as the United States of America, the average white working woman is paid 78% of what a man with the same job earns; Hispanic or African-American women are paid even less.

In many countries, girls who have every right to a good education are being prevented from going to school and learning. This leads to much of the female population in some countries being uneducated and limiting their opportunities for a better life and supporting themselves economically, which in turn, leads to men and more privileged people judging them for their lacking education.

International Women’s Day, or IWD, is a day for awareness— awareness of the injustices women around the world are suffering, awareness of what must be done, and awareness of speaking out and rallying together in demonstrations, conferences, government activities, and social media campaigns. It is an official holiday in places such as Afghanistan, China, Cuba, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Mongolia, Nepal, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. (But here’s the funny part— IWD is a legal holiday in many of the so-called “third-world” countries but not in “first-world” countries such as the United States or the United Kingdom. Yes, there is still sexism in these countries.)

So speak out. Don’t hold your tongue. Say what must be said, and as urged in this year’s International Women’s Day theme, Make It Happen. ❤


(Here is the link to the International Women’s Day website.)

Book Chat #2: Musings About My Second-hand Book

Some years ago, I took a plane to my mother’s homeland. It was an amazing trip, but there is one day that I will never forget. We had gone to an artisan’s town by the sea. Quirky little cafés, lots of cats lounging about, friendly hipster-ish people. (Is that even a word?) 😉 Above all, there was a street market with stalls full of hand-made crafts— jewelry, painted scarves, little framed drawings of beautiful, everyday life. And, of course, a few second-hand book stalls that I was immediately drawn to. My mother being the local, she asked the wizened old man behind the stand if there were any good English books for me to read over the summer. He smiled and took out a couple of short, easy books. My mother and I laughed and told him that we would prefer something a little bit more complex. So he went over to the back and brought us some classics and other books. Around the World in 80 Days caught my eye. So we bought it, along with a few other books, all published by Oxford.

I loved the books. I read them over and over and over for the entirety of the summer. In my copy of Around the World in 80 Days, there was a post-it note on the first page translating some of the words. I never took it out. On the inside of the cover, there was a stamp marking it as an imported book, and some of the words in the story were underlined in pencil. The cover was a bright orange, faded only at the binding, hinting that it had been sitting on a bookshelf for a long time. I also realized that this particular copy had been published in 1982. It was as if it had been handed to me from a time machine. Who had owned this before me? Why did they buy it? Did that post-it note mean they were studying for an exam? I was glad that they hadn’t simply thrown the book away. Instead, it had ended up with me. It had left a mark on their life first, and they had marked the book— underlining and fading and noting. And now it leaves a mark on my life, and I will leave a mark on it. And who knows? Maybe it will end up with another person in the future.

I felt like a book detective, and I liked it.


Book Review || Finally

Rory Swenson has been waiting forever to turn twelve years old. Literally, all her life. And finally, the day has (almost) come. Luckily, Rory is prepared— she has a to-do list.

Big Things

1. Get a cell phone.

2. Stay home alone.

3. Get my own screen name so I can IM.

4. Shave my legs.

5. Go to the mall with Annabelle and no parents.

6. Wear makeup.

7. Get a pet.

8. Babysit.

9. Get my ears pierced.

10. Get contact lenses.

11. Attend Natalie Karp’s boy-girl birthday party.

Smaller (But Still Very Important and Worthwhile) Stuff

1. Get my own house key.

2. Go to bed at 9:30 pm.

3. Drink coffee.

4. Watch Friday the 13th Part IX.

5. Sit in the front seat of the car.

6. Do my homework without anyone checking it.

7. Pick out my own clothes.

8. Use electrical appliances without permission or supervision.

9. Walk home from school.

10. Buy lunch in the cafeteria.

11. Ride an upside-down roller coaster.

So how does Rory’s birthday go? Well, not exactly the best. She drinks coffee for the first time, and— oops— caffeine overload! But then her parents allow her to get a phone (albeit “the lamest cell phone in the history of cell phones”)! In less than fifteen minutes, Rory manages to lose it. Thank goodness her father forced her to buy insurance policy. When she gets her second phone, she receives quite a few calls— but not from the people she expected. All of that, however, is minor compared to the fact that she’s 12! In no time, Rory starts her quest: completing her list. However, things do not turn out exactly as planned. Turns out she’s allergic to make-up… and earrings… and eye-contacts are more dangerous than they seem. Her bunny, Kyle, tries to murder her. She stars as an extra in a movie being taken in her very own hometown (!) but keeps on showing up either hurt or swollen up. She gets a locker slammed in her face by a famous movie star. And maybe boy-girl parties aren’t what they’re all cracked up to be. But Rory makes quite a few friends— including the eccentric Amanda and Leo, a clever ten-year-old, a ballerina, and a wise old woman with a duck-shaped birthmark, and sees that the road to your goal is not as rewarding as helping those you meet on the way.

Yup, this is the sort-of sequel to 11 Birthdays. Wendy Mass is at it again, writing touching but funny stories about growing up. Rory is an awesome character: she’s sweet and down-to-earth but really, really clumsy. She’s just trying to make the best of her newly-gained independence and her crazy mistakes. Her parents are also pretty cool, I must say. They may be overprotective but they are understanding and actually have a sense of humour. The ending is absolutely amazing, I won’t spoil it but I think it’s my favourite part of the book. To quote Angelina, who is the duck-shaped birthmark woman by the way, “You won’t get what you want until you see what you need.”