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Period form conception to child birth is called pregnancy. Its range about 280 days or 9 month and seven days. The estimate date when baby’s natural birth takes place is known as expected date of delivery (EDD). It is calculated by adding 9 month and 7 days to the date of last menstruation.

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So quite often being a lesbian I hear, “so are you the boy or girl in the relationship?” I have a rather great sense of humor so I laugh and explain that I chose to not live with stereotypical gender roles. My girlfriend and I are the same. We dress the same, talk the same, we just have very similar characteristics. Being characterized by our community of friends as “tomboys” neither of us play a role. I grew up with mainly guys so you could imagine that most of my friends are guys, and when I look to them for advice I am told the same thing, “See you’re lucky you’re a girl who likes girls, you two could just fight forreal about anything.” I hear this way to often. Just because I am in a same sex relationship does not mean I have the right to hit my spouse, nor does she have the right to hit me if we are in a domestic dispute. The stereotypes associated with same sex relationships are becoming more and more ridiculous as well as insulting and its come a time where us as young people need to show that LGBTQ youth was not made out of a sack of stereotypes.

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We’re all just human, right?

When you live in the US, from the time you are born, you often hear messages about our nation’s obsession with equality and justice.

America is a melting pot.

We all bleed red.

Freedom and justice for all.

We take pride in our country because it is so diverse, and because we have overcome challenges related to race. Lincoln freed the slaves, and Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks ended whatever racism was left over from that. We have come so far that even our president is Black, and white folks are scared of minorities rising to power.

Freedom. Equality. Justice. Tolerance. Diversity. America.

When you hear this rhetoric for your entire life, it’s difficult to think any other way. You start to internalize these beliefs because they feel right. It’s easier to believe that there is racial justice in our country because there is a black president in the White House, than to know that a black person is killed by a police officer or vigilantes every 28 hours. It’s more comfortable to see Oprah, Pharrell, and Tyler Perry’s success than to think about how the wealth of the average white person exceeds that of a black person by $80,000. It’s even less comfortable to think about the policies that were put into place by the US government that kept black people from accessing wealth. It feels better to believe in the great melting pot, than to recognize a history of genocide, slavery, eugenics, medical experiments, internment camps, and mass incarceration that have plagued people of color for centuries.

Several months ago, Pharrell received much criticism from the black public for talking to Oprah about what he calls the New Black. According to him, the New Black doesn’t blame other races for the problems that black people face, and he explains that he also doesn’t want to be given a handout based on his race. Recently, Raven-Symone received backlash for saying that she rejects labels, and would rather not be called African American. Instead, she says, “I’m an American, and that is a colorless person.” And last year, actress Zoe Saldana said in an interview that “people of color don’t exist.”

When young people such as Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown are being murdered because of their race, it is useless, and even counterproductive, to downplay the role that race has in our lives. When young people of color are being discriminated against because of their race, they aren’t able to choose to be colorless. The path to justice for youth of color is through confronting racial issues head on, and to do this we must recognize the importance of race.

As comfortable as it must be for the followers of the New Black to ignore racial oppression, pretending that racial justice exists, and that racial identity does not matter, does not make it so. The problem with the New Black is that it’s about colorblind racism, or using ignoring racial injustice under the guise of accepting racial differences. The New Black doesn’t do anything to improve race relations in our country. Because as much as we are all human, we are not yet all equal.

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Like a shark, I am a person who must constantly be moving. In high school I had the access and ability to be incredibly involved in LGBTQ activism in my state and my life became a blur of committee meetings and organizing. I am so thankful for that part of my life but in retrospect there are some things I wish I could go back and tell myself.
Organizing might be empowering and fun, but it’s not necessarily the same as self-care. For a long time, I refused to admit that my schedule had a problem. Yes I was busy and stressed all the time, but did it really count if I loved every minute of it? In my senior year of high school, I realized that my hectic schedule was beginning to take a serious toll on my mental health. I encourage you to find out what you need to feel healthy and stable and to schedule as much time as possible to take of yourself.
It’s ok to turn down engagements. Your health always should come first, and while it’s fine to have a three week period where you have back-to-back meetings and protests, continuing with that lifestyle for years is not always sustainable. Take a moment to evaluate each group you’re involved with and how much time you dedicate to that work. If you see that something isn’t a great fit or an area where you can step back, do it.
Being a token isn’t healing. I have frequently been the only young person (and the only transgender person) at the table. It took me a long time to realize how unhealthy some of those interactions were. I recommend looking critically at your relationships with adults and other organizers. If they value you as representing an identity and not as an organizer, working with them can leave you exhausted and unhappy.
Leaving toxic spaces doesn’t make you a failure. In November of my senior year of high school, a good friend and I both resigned as a youth leaders from a queer youth support group I had been leading since 10th grade. In the five months leading up to that decision, I felt so conflicted. Leading this group was such a big part of my life, even though I had grown to hate every moment of interacting with the deeply problematic adult leadership. My friend and I both decided that as young trans people we were not safe in that space and we didn’t have the power to change it. And we resigned.
Leaving that group was one of the best decisions I ever made for my mental health. If you are constantly disrespected and belittled, making the choice to leave can be so empowering. In organizing you will come across organizations and spaces that you cannot fix. It’s ok to step back and take of yourself. And, my friend and I went and started a cooler less racist/transphobic queer youth group! Closing one door isn’t the end of the world.
Remember that you have time. Sometimes organizing can feel like if you miss one meeting or one event that you are being left out of the loop. Believe me, the movement will wait. If you need a week or a year to take care of yourself, everything will be ok.

Categories: Young People
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As an Asian-American person, particularly a South Asian-American, I often find myself fighting an internal battle with the part of myself that still clings on to the idea that any representation is good representation. I grew in the early 2000s, when the only Indian on TV was Apu from The Simpsons, and when post-9/11 fear sometimes makes living in this country with brown skin a fatal experience. Despite the fact that Indian-American representation in the media has dramatically increased in recent years, I often get the feeling that Indian-America is highly misunderstood. So, when I heard that the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center had an exhibition called “Beyond Bollywood”, I was excited to finally see myself represented in the media I have always felt excluded me. The actual results, however, were incredibly disappointing.

What I expected was an in-depth look at one of the largest immigrant populations in the United States, stories of immigration starting in the late 1800s and leading up until today. I expected documents from the first Indian-Americans to claim citizenship in the US. I expected objects from interracial Punjabi-Mexican households in California. Instead, what I saw was an that exhibition features a wall of Indian-Americans that somehow prove that we have “made it” in this country – Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, spelling bee winners, a former NFL player. There is also a section on occupations typically performed by Indian-Americans, all of which help to feed into the model minority myth, that Indian-Americans are hardworking (motel owners or taxicab drivers) and intelligent (doctors and engineers). The exhibition did have some high points, though they were few and far between. The most poignant of these was a display case containing a turban worn by Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man who was murdered in the weeks following 9/11. This part of the exhibition, on oppression and violence faced by the Indian-American community and what we have done to combat it, was tucked into a corner, far away from the larger wall of our “successes.”

Indian-America deserves better than to be reduced to these few images of our successful assimilation into this country. We deserve better than to make our 200-year history in this country palatable to the average visitor, than to talk about Kal Penn but not Jamil Singh, the first queer Indian-American in official records. Most of all, we deserve better than to try to forget the violence that happened and is still happening to our communities, no matter how hard it may be at times.

Categories: Racism
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When we invest in the education of young girls, we invest in families, in communities and in a brighter future. That is the message of the “Let Girls Learn” campaign. #LetGirlsLean is a movement to invest in the 62 million girls in the world who are currently not in school.

 

 

 

Currently, there are 250 million adolescent girls living in poverty today. While there have been important strides towards increasing access to education for girls, there are still 31 million girls who are denied education. The lived realities of young girls in northern Nigeria or the South Sudan is that they are more likely to be sold as a child bride or die in childbirth then they are to get a secondary school education. The investment in girls, and in all children’s education, needs to be more of a global focus, with special attention paid to education in refugee camps. But this focus cannot just be money thrown at various causes and governments; it needs to be tailored to the country, to the region and to the population. The Finance Minister of Nigeria, Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala echoed these priorities earlier late last month while in DC.
As Africa’s largest and most diverse economy, Nigeria has been working to end the inequality gap men and women, specifically with regard to finanaces. Minister Ngozi discussed in length the controversy over Nigerian’s reaction and intervention to the 300 school girls taken this past April, specifically highlighting that the government did not handle the situation well. The main goals of the Nigerian government are to increase the safety and security of girls in schools, through school quality and safety and economic incentives.
This event at Georgetown university, was put on the by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. It began with Dr. Shah of USAID talking about the recent developments in the UN Human Rights Forum around changes for the girls of the world, in direct connection to the USAID Let Girls Learn Campaign. After his introduction of the campaign, whose efforts are towards the education of girls in the global south supported by a $250 million dollar endowment, with specific efforts in Nigeria, the South Sudan, Guatemala, Afghanistan and Jordan. With the announcement of “[with the] $91.3 million program [USAID] will partner with the Government of Nigeria to strengthen the education system, increase enrollment and improve early-grade reading for at least 500,000 children, including 250,000 girls in Northern Nigeria,” in conjunction with a specific focus on the math and reading courses for the children in traditional Qur’anic schools. This led to the introduction of Minister Ngozi, who then discussed how this program would specifically impact her country, and the wider world.

The event coincided with the UN General Assembly Special Session last week and the work on the Girl Declaration. The Declaration highlights the need for the investment in girls globally. “The best investment in the developing countries is in girls,” the World Bank so famously declared—with research to back it up!

 

“Bringing together the thinking of 508 girls living in poverty across the globe with the expertise of more than 25 of the world’s leading development organizations, the Girl Declaration is our tool to stop poverty before it starts.”
The Goals:
1. Education
2. Health
3. Safety
4. Economic Security
5. Citizenship

 

 

 

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In commemoration of the International day of the girl child I say congratulations to all girls in the world for keeping their heads above the waters in this male dominated world and of gender inequality. In Northern Nigerian states to be precise it has been an alarming concern at the rate in which girls lack access to quality education. In most families, the girl child is seen as a “kitchen figure” and the boy a “head figure”, in other words the girls are meant to end up in the kitchen while the boys go to school so as to get a job to make ends meet for the family.

It’s alarming to note that the girls now tend to embrace marriage as the fulfilling reward of their being and purpose. Due to their lack of adequate information and ignorance unprotected sexual intercourse is on the increase, teenage pregnancy rising constantly and child marriage is rooting itself among the people.

It is therefore imperative that we join hands in gradually putting a stop to gender in-equality and thereby fostering a world were girls have the same rights as the boys because educating the girl child is not just one of the strongest ways to end gender-inequality but promotion of healthy development of families, the community and the world at large.

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Catcalling and street harassment is an act of sexual violence that is often forgotten in the greater discussion of sexual violence. While there has been much more work in recent years to shed light on his issue and fight back, the Hollaback! campaign is a great example, but the issue remains and is getting worse in my community. Mississippi University for Women is not, as the name suggests, an all woman school. It was created as the first public university for women only, but has been coed since 1982. However, its population is still 85% women. One would think that a school with mostly women would be something of a safe space from the daily struggles and harassment that women face every hour, every day. It seems that this is really just wishful thinking as the recent surge in harassment on my campus shows. The difference between my freshman year two years ago and now is stark. Young women are now reporting incidents of harassment at unprecedented levels. Many of the people I know no longer feel safe to walk on campus alone or even walk in groups at night. Many don’t feel safe at all. The impact of having men follow you, laugh, yell at you, is hugely influential and a key, if often forgotten, part, of rape culture.

There has been much debate on my campus about the cause of this recent surge in harassment. Could it really be men on our campus? Students? Trusted staff and faculty? This notion has largely been dismissed as ridiculous by those in power who now turn outside our campus gates to the community at large to seek an answer and possibly, a scapegoat. While there is a good argument to be made that much of this harassment is likely coming from men who have made it past our lax security onto our campus, all to taunt and bully the young women here seeking an education, it also shows a common mindset among school administrations. The problem couldn’t possibly come from within, they say. No, we must turn outward, they say. I disagree. We must look at our campus and our culture first to understand these problems. How do we foster this kind of unsafe environment for our female students? I’ve heard administration and staff in the past warn women never to walk alone at night, to avoid certain areas of campus at certain points, to watch our alcohol, to do this, not do this. How can we be surprised when some men take it upon themselves to harass women when it is our fault for walking at night, for being alone, for daring to feel safe on our campus, what should be our second home. But what women know is that no where is safe for us, not our homes, not our schools. Not even the Mississippi University for Women can really be relied upon to provide a small safe space in a world of fear. This realization extends to my trust in all supposedly safe spaces.  It is not enough for me for an institution to call itself a safe space. Being a safe space is a process, a continual act of proving to individuals that yes, you will be there, you will be a small refuge. While I can say with some pride that I do see action being taken on my campus to remedy this issue that has ballooned in recent years, I also know that it was partly complacency that led to this. The idea was that our school was unique, that issues like rape culture were, if not nonexistent, then simply not an issue like other schools. That our status as a largely women’s college made us immune to these problems and thus, no action was needed. Unfortunately, it has become obvious that this is simply not true. No space is safe unless we keep putting in the work of making it safe.

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Last week’s episode of Doctor Who, ‘Kill the Moon,’ was blatantly anti-abortion.

The episode begins with Clara confronting the Doctor about being rude to one of her students, Courtney, by telling her that she isn’t special. Even to the girl’s face he won’t apologize. We’re left to wonder what happened to the Doctor’s old belief, voiced by Matt Smith, that in 900 years he’d never met anyone who wasn’t important before. Seemingly to appease them, he asks Courtney if she’d like to be the first woman on the moon. (Why you would take a child to the moon on a trip that has good precedent of turning out dangerously, I don’t understand.)

 

So they get to the moon and surprise surprise they’ve accidently jumped 35 years into the future and something has gone terribly wrong; the moon has “put on weight.” There’s some killer bacteria spiders, a few people die, and then we come to the big moral dilemma. Turns out the moon is actually a giant egg that’s about to hatch some kind of brand-new, winged, moon-sized beast. Luckily, the one remaining astronaut, Lundvik, happens to have 100 nuclear bombs.

The options:

  • Use the bombs to kill it and prevent apocalypse-sized moon-chunks from destroying life on Earth and keep the creature from attacking Earth.
  • Let the “innocent baby” hatch and see what happens.

Clara asks the Doctor for help, but he refuses, being a huge, insensitive jerk about it. He says it’s their moon; their decision; and he gets in the TARDIS and disappears. Not feeling qualified to make the decision herself, Clara sends a message to Earth: Turn your lights off if we should use the bombs; keep your lights on if we should do nothing. She gives them one hour to decide. Not surprisingly, due to the time of day, they can only see responses from Western Europe and the eastern United States. (I guess Asia’s opinion doesn’t matter and let’s not bother to look at the Southern hemisphere.)

So Earth clearly votes to use the bombs. Lundvik goes for the button, but half a second before she can press it, Clara presses the other button to end the detonation countdown. Immediately, the Doctor shows up again and rushes them all into the TARDIS. He flies them to a beach on Earth and tells Clara that he knew she would make the right decision. They then watch as the creature hatches, the rocky moon shell disintegrates, the creature lays a new moon-sized-egg (from its moon-sized body- don’t ask questions) and then flies away.

The Doctor then explains that this moment, instead of being the end of mankind, is actually the moment that our sense of wonder and exploration of space is restored and we go on to develop technology that enables us to travel the universe once Earth is no longer habitable and thereby ensures the continued existence of human beings until the end of time.

Well! Good thing we didn’t abort that baby which had a 99% chance of destroying all human life, huh?!

This is the science-fiction version of “What if the baby you aborted had cured cancer?!” And this wasn’t even a human baby! It was a moon-sized creature! Yet the episode made it painfully clear that even though Earth chose “abortion,” Clara’s decision to risk the lives of 7 billion people was the right decision. Anti-choicers always try to bully and guilt pregnant people into continuing their pregnancies, no matter the consequences to anyone. This episode went so far over the top to say that this “pregnancy,” this “baby,” would save the human race from extinction, conveniently forgetting after-the-fact the reality that allowing this “pregnancy” to continue had a much higher chance of causing the extinction of the human race. Doesn’t that matter??

If even in this situation, with such clear and high risks of everything going wrong and people not being able to handle the outcome, abortion is still the wrong choice…when is it the right one?

Outside of the world of science fiction, many countries in the world today have laws which agree that abortion should never be an option. As of June, 2013, abortion is illegal in all circumstances in 29 countries and in 37 countries it is only permitted to save the life of the pregnant person. Just over 25% of the world’s population live in these 66 countries. (Guttmacher has more detailed information on the legality of abortion in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.)

Rates of abortion are not lower where it is illegal, though a much higher percentage of these abortions are unsafe. In 2003 and 2008, unsafe abortions accounted for 16% of all maternal deaths. In 2005, it was estimated that 8.5 million women suffered serious complications from unsafe abortions, and that 3 million of them never received the aftercare they needed.

When a popular show like Doctor Who, then, sets up a plot line where abortion is the wrong choice- even when the “pregnancy” risks the lives of an entire planet- it sends a deeper message that mere entertainment. Illegal abortion and abortion with heavy restrictions hurt families every day and in too many cases lead to death. It’s not entertaining. When people are not able to safely end their pregnancies, it doesn’t lead to expanding technologies in space travel. There are extremely serious consequences to people not being in control of their reproductive functions.

It was irresponsible of Doctor Who to send such a harsh anti-abortion message. Access to safe abortion will always be a necessity and no one should be made to feel guilty for needing one. No one needs an alien who looks like an old, white man to make them doubt their carefully considered decision; they get more than enough of that as it is.

Anti-abortion rhetoric is harmful no matter where it comes from, whether it’s Congress, Parliament, or a fictional character. In fact, messages like this from popular culture may cause an ever deeper impact on the way we think about abortion. Abortion is not a topic that comes up much in pop culture, so those of us who are pro-choice need to use this as a tool to discuss abortion access and reproductive justice.  Where media gets it wrong, it’s up to us to make it right!

Categories: Abortion
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Today the world celebrates the third annual International Day of the Girl Child, a day to recognize the position of the girl and her unique challenges she faces around the world. This year, the focus is on ending the cycle of violence.

But why focus on violence? Don’t girls face other problems around the world?

Yes, they do. Girls lack access to basic rights, such as education, access to health, political and economic opportunities, amongst others. However, violence against girls intersects all other disparities girls may face. As the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action states, “violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms…In all societies, to greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture.”

Unfortunately, girls around the world face violence every single day. The UNFPA estimates that about 1 in 3 girls and women have experienced violence at least once in their lives. Much of this violence stems from the socialization of the boy and the reinforced societal position of girls and women; girls are taught to keep quiet while boys must dominate and treat girls as their inferiors.

Fortunately, there are ways to stop and prevent violence against girls. All across the world, creative solutions are not only protecting girls, but empowering them.

Boys- and Girls-Only Discussion Groups, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

The DRC currently faces an ongoing humanitarian crisis. The conflict has excited the problem of sexual violence, genital mutilation, and other forms of gender-based violence. Within displacement camps, UNICEF and Association of Volunteers in International Service have created Adolescent Discussion Groups to give young people a safe place to discuss violence and gender equality. Girls discuss issues pertaining to safe sex, healthy relationships, and sexual violence. Boys are empowered to act as allies in the fight against gender-based violence. Since 2009, the program has supported about 2300 participants. To learn more about the program, watch this video.

Engaging Girls in Sports, Multiple Locations

Engaging girls in sports gives girls a safe place. While playing a sport, girls gain confidence, they learn how to use their voice and they become more aware of their bodies. Coaches can sit with girls, talk with them, and provide counseling for survivors of gender-based violence and can provide girls with any other resources they need. Currently, programs exist in all over Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Australia and the United States. For more information, watch this video.

HarassMap, Egypt

In Egypt, 83 percent of women have been sexually harassed and 67 percent of men admit to being harassers. The growing social acceptability of the problem led to the creation of HarassMap, an online and mobile system that maps reports of sexual assault submitted by texts. In addition to the reporting system, volunteers are trained to go into their communities and talk to people, such as kiosk and shop owners and doormen, about standing up to sexual assault and harassment. HarassMap also helps communities develop safe zones for girls and women. Safe zones can be shops or entire streets where sexual assault is not tolerated. Here is a video to learn more about HarassMap.
As you can see, all around the world people are working hard to ensure the safety, security, and equality of girls. Let’s take this day – and everyday – to reflect on the issues girls face and continue to take creative approaches to end the cycle of violence against girls.