From the May-June 2014 issue of News & Letters:
On Feb. 14, the 23rd annual Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, was also held in 17 other cities in the U.S. and Canada. The march demands justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women, crimes often ignored by law enforcement and the media. Lauren Chief Elk and Laura M. Madison, who formed the Save Wiyabi Project a year ago, stated they already tracked 1,050 incidents. When victims are mentioned in the media, they are often misidentified as white or Latina, obscuring the problem of racism against Native women. They are also often identified or misidentified as sex workers or substance abusers, turning public sympathy against them.
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April 11 was the online premiere of the short docu-drama film “¡PODER!” Filmmaker Lisa Russell had Emelin Cabrera and Elba Velasquez act out their own story of how, at the ages of 11 and 14, they were inspired by the international Let Girls Lead foundation to change conditions in their town of Concepcion Chiquirichapa in Guatemala. In their Mayan community, only 10% of girls complete primary school, and half become pregnant before the age of 18. Braving misogynist discouragement, they convinced the mayor to open a Municipal Office of Childhood and Adolescence and create public policies addressing girls’ needs in the areas of health, education, HIV and family violence prevention. Russell is screening the film for girls’ organizations in the U.S., Chiapas, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
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In April, artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh brought her “Stop Telling Me to Smile” project to Atlanta, GA, at the invitation of students and professors from Georgia State University, who, along with local artists, helped wheat paste her posters in public areas. The posters of women are captioned: “My Outfit is Not an Invitation” and “Women Do Not Owe You Their Time or Conversation.” She has brought her campaign to Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. “This is all about how women’s bodies are consumed and are considered public property for display, comment and consumption. Women need to start talking about their daily moments because it’s the smaller stuff that affects the larger things, like rape, domestic violence, harassment in the workplace.”