Category Archives: World News

Her name was Jyoti Singh Pandey


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On December 16th in Delhi, India, a 23-year old female student and her male companion boarded what they thought was a public city bus. The unauthorized driver and his five friends were the only other people aboard, and they are now being charged for the brutal assault, rape, and murder of the woman. The details of the attack were beyond gruesome, and this case has sparked public outrage in India as people have taken to the streets by the tens of thousands to demand justice and equality. As sickening as this individual case is, it has thrust women’s issues to the forefront and has forced India to search internally for why the rape, violence, and sexual assault on women is something to be put up with rather than reprimanded and prevented. Here are some of the issues that one will find.

Patriarchy – India is a deeply patriarchal society, and women are viewed as lesser value than men. As proof of this, sex-selective abortion and female infanticide are widely practiced and have skewed the gender ratio in India significantly. This can have dire consequences, as having fewer women causes increased trafficking for forced marriage and prostitution – and so the cycle of abuse continues. As an article in The Guardian put it, “There is therefore a huge need for a change of attitudes across society starting, with how families regard and protect their women and how old traditional societies can be weaned away from male domination. That will take a long time.”

Blame the victim – It is common in India for the media and government officials to blame the recurrence of rape on the decisions of the victim. For example, a state legislator from Rajasthan suggested that one way to stop rapes would be to change girls’ school uniforms from skirts to pants. Many have also said that women should know better than to be out so late at night. Since women are now becoming more economically equal with men in India, they are showing new independence in their careers and liberated private lives – yet they should be covering their legs and staying inside after dark? These are the types of conflicting messages that are finally being questioned.

The “Shame” factor – Due to the patriarchal attitudes and traditional caste hierarchies present in India, when a woman is raped she is viewed by society as used, ruined, and a disgrace to her family. As a result, sexual assault is often minimalized and goes unreported. In 2011, 80,000 rape cases were reported in Great Britain, population 62 million, where 24,000 rape cases were reported in India, population 1.24 billion – You do the math.

On that note, the victim’s father bravely decided to release her name to the public yesterday, with this statement: “My daughter didn’t do anything wrong. She died while protecting herself. I am proud of her. Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter.”

Her name was Jyoti Singh Pandey. She is a symbol for this movement, but one of many. And we can only hope that her case has been the desperately needed spark that can ignite true, deep, thorough change in gender equality in India. Time will tell.





Political Power of Women


Whether or not women voted for red or blue this past Tuesday, the 2012 Election showed that women were a tremendous force to contend with in this country. Making up 53% of the electorate , the women’s vote was hard fought and hard won. It is the opinion of every talking head, pundit and speculator that President Obama’s victory was carried, in part, by women. The Guardian calls the 2012 election “[a] decisive a moment in feminism as there has been.” Throughout the campaign the candidates were clamoring for our vote, hoping to sway us one way or another, finally realizing that our opinions are worth the fight.

On the global scale, this is not the case. Rarely do women enjoy the same consideration as we did during this election cycle. And while the participation of women in politics is growing, their leadership and contributions go mostly unrecognized. The gains that women have made on the global political stage are largely uneven. While women represent half the population, they only hold a fraction of the political positions worldwide. It is common for decisions that will affect women and their families to be made without their input.

“When women are discriminated against in the political arena, their experiences, talents, and perspectives are shut out of the policy decisions of our democracies, and prospects for a better world are shortchanged.” – Melanne Verveer

By investing in the education and empowerment of women, Anchal takes a stand to make sure that women have the tools to make their voices heard. Anchal’s work is taking on the Millennium Development Goal #3 to “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women” by providing a decent livelihood, educational training, and healthcare. Who knows how far a woman can go with these opportunities!

As this election shows, when women come together they have a huge impact in national decision making. I am excited to be a part of an organization that is fostering the potential for our artisans to make changes in their communities, states, and country.


1. “Exit Polls anatomize Obama win”, The BBC, 07 Nov. 2012, 07 Nov. 2012, <>
2. Brockes, Emma “Why Obama Won The Women’s Vote” The Guardian, 07 Nov. 2012, 07 Nov. 2012, <>

3. Verveer, Melanne. “Women as Agents of Change: Advancing the Role of Women in Politics and Civil Society.” U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, 09 June 2010. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <>.

The Faces of Modern Day Slavery


There are 27 million slaves in the world today: That’s more than double the number of people taken from Africa during the entire transatlantic slave trade.

These are the faces of the modern day slavery, captured by Lisa Kristine.

Lake Volta, Ghana: There are triumphs, too. Meet Kofi, a young boy who was rescued from slavery in a fishing village. I met Khofi at a shelter where Free the Slaves rehabilitate victims of slavery. He was bathing at the well, pouring big buckets of water over his head. Thanks to the efforts of organizations like Free the Slaves, today Kofi has been reunited with his parents, who were provided tools to make a living and to keep their children safe from human traffickers.

Lake Volta, Ghana: Child workers usually work from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on cold, windy nights to reel in nets weighing as much as 1,000 pounds when they are full of fish. Skeletal tree limbs submerged in Lake Volta frequently entangle the fishing nets, and and slave masters will throw weary, frightened children into the water to free the trapped lines, sometimes drowning them. I didn’t meet one child who didn’t know another who had drowned.

Uttar Pradesh, India: In India I visited a village where whole families were enslaved in the silk industry. This is a family portrait. The father (hands in black) and his sons (hands in red and blue) are held captive in a “silk dyeing house.” The dye they work with is toxic. It’s common for entire families to be enslaved for generations. My translator told me their story. “We have no freedom,” they said. “But we hope, some day, we will be able to leave this house and make dyes in a place where we actually get paid for it.”

Kathmandu, Nepal: A worker blends in with the bricks at a Nepalese kiln. Workers mechanically stack 18 bricks at a time, each weighing four pounds, and carry them to nearby trucks for 18 hours a day without any payment or compensation.

Accra, Ghana: These gold miners have just come out of the shaft, their pants soaked from their own sweat. Most had spent all their money coming from the north hoping to strike it rich in legal mines. But legal operations require certifications. When they can’t get a job, the men take high-interest loans or join groups of slaves in mines abandoned by legitimate operations.

Kathmandu, Nepal: For this photo, I was escorted by women who had previously been enslaved themselves. They brought me down a narrow set of stairs leading to a green fluorescent-lit basement. This wasn’t a brothel as such; it was a “cabin restaurants,” as they are known in the trade — venues for forced prostitution. Each has a small private room where slaves, some as young as seven, entertain and serve the clients, encouraging them to buy alcohol and food. These cubicles are small, dark, and dingy, each identified with a number painted on the wall, and partitioned by plywood and a curtain. The workers here often endure sexual abuse at the hands of the customers. Standing in the near darkness, I realized there was only one way out — the stairs where I came in: no back doors, no windows large enough to climb through, no escape at all.

In the Himalayas I found children hauling stone for miles down steep mountain terrain to trucks waiting at the road below. These huge sheets of slate were heavier than the children themselves. The kids hoisted them with their heads using handmade harnesses made from sticks, rope, and torn cloth.

Looking into the Faces of Our Products


I recently read a fantastic article in New York Times, Looking into the Eyes of ‘Made in China.

The article uncovers the mystery behind the anonymous people who produce our imported goods. The photographer, Lucas Schifres, created a series of typological portraits looking at the workers inside six Chinese factories, which resulted in “Faces of Made in China.”

While browsing through the portraits, I was struck by how much the images resonated with me. Their eyes tell a story of hard work. Their smiles speak to the pride in what they produce. But why was I so moved by portraits of people I had never met?

“Looking at a human face mobilizes more brain cells than looking at anything else, “ said Lucas Schifres.

This got me thinking about people’s growing desire to know where their products come from and who makes them. The days of knowing your dressmaker and milkman may be over, but it is clear that as consumers, we crave a personal connection to the people that make our goods.

I turn to the local food movement as an example, where communities are choosing to reclaim responsibility for the food they put in their bodies. After years of relying upon the convenience of the industrialized food system, people are increasingly concerned with the health risks behind what they consume and a desire to know who grew their food.

Whether you are buying a tomato or a scarf, Anchal believes that consumers should feel good about what they are buying. When you purchase an Anchal product, you not only know where it comes from, you can see the artisans name stitched on that product and you can feel good that it is assisting a woman into economic empowerment.

In the future, maybe not every single thing you purchase will have a face to it, but I do belief that socially and environmentally conscience products will soon be mainstream, to the point it becomes hard to find products that don’t give back. Or at least I can dream…


We are all Malala


Last week on October 9th, when Malala Yousafzai was returning home from school on her school bus in Pakistan, masked gunman boarded the bus, shouted for her to reveal herself, and proceeded to shoot her in the head and neck. She is now in a critical care unit in Great Britain and is said to be in a stable condition.

Why would the violent Islamic extremist group, know as the Taliban, target one single teenage girl? What could have demanded their attention to this degree? Why do they feel so threatened by a young girl?

Malala’s transgressions against the Taliban were simply this: openly advocating for a girls right to attend school and receive an education.

Here is brief timeline of Malala’s fight for education:

January 2009: Malala began writing an anonymous blog for BBC in which she recounts the Taliban practicing full control over her home in Swat Valley, and the forcing shut and blowing up of hundreds of girl’s schools.

March 2009: Malala went against Taliban law and continued to pursue her education, and utilized the media that reached out to her to give education for girls a voice in Pakistan. She and her father participated in a documentary for New York Times called Class Dismissed.

Summer 2009: Malala, age 11, committed to being a politician and not a doctor like she had planned.

“I have a new dream … I must be a politician to save this country. There are so many crises in our country. I want to remove these crises.”

November 2011: Malala was awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize for continuously speaking out for girl’s education. She became more nationally recognized, and both she and her father received multiple death threats from the Taliban if they did not stop speaking out against them.
“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.”

Summer 2012: Taliban spokesperson said they are “forced” to act, and the leaders unanimously agreed to kill Malala

October 9, 2012: The assassination attempt of Malala

It is an utterly tragic chain of events, and it’s sickening to think that this is the extent to which some will go to keep women from their basic right to education. But Malala has ignited a fire. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week, Malala is “very brave in standing up for the rights of girls” and that the attackers had been “threatened by that kind of empowerment.” The assassination attempt of this teenage girl has sparked worldwide sympathy and outrage. On October 15th the United Nations launched a petition using the slogan “I am Malala”, demanding we call on international organizations to end gender discrimination and ensure the world’s 61 million out-of-school children are in education by the end of 2015.

By advocating for educational rights for women, Malala has turned a small problem for the Taliban leaders into a much bigger one. And if you don’t believe me, you can ask Malala’s former classmate:

“Every girl in Swat is Malala. We will educate ourselves. We will win. They can’t defeat us.”


**As of this morning it was reported that Malala is now able to stand with help, and is communicating by writing. Though not out of the woods yet, this is tremendous progress for an incredibly brave young woman.

More info here:
Pakistani Schoolgirl Shot by Taliban Is Showing Progress, NY Times
Her ‘Crime’ Was Loving Schools, NY Times
Malala Has Won, NY Times
Malala Yousafzai will ‘inspire a new generation’, BBC
A 14-year-old Pakistani girl’s brave fight against the Taliban: A timeline, The Week

International Day of the Girl


“Girls are the future of the world and we definitely need a day dedicated to their issues,”
– Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee

Tomorrow, October 11th, is the first ever International Day of the Girl. Last year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to establish a day to recognize the unique obstacles girls face around the world and galvanize worldwide enthusiasm to better girls’ lives. It is a day to not only celebrate girls, but a day to create action.

“The Day of the Girl puts a special focus on the needs of girls throughout the world. We know that in many countries girls get left behind in all areas of life from school to work and in the worst cases aren’t even allowed to be born,” said Plan Chief Executive Officer Nigel Chapman.

Now why is this day important? Why is there not a day of the boy? The reality is that tens of millions of girls face daily discrimination, violence, and economic inequality simply because they were born female. Girls confront challenges such as early marriage, forced marriage, child labor, and education inequality. They are especially vulnerable due to their age and complete lack of power and control over their lives.

Here are some of the staggering statistics:

• One in nine girls, or 15 million, has been forced into marriage between the ages of 10 and 14.

• ½ of girls in developing countries become mothers as children.

• Child brides are treated as property – they are bought, sold and thrown away at the whims of their husbands.

• Girls who complete secondary school are 6 times less likely to become child brides.

The artisans of Anchal are these statistics. They were born into this inequality that led them down the path of forced prostitution. One of our artisans was forced to marry at only the age of 14. Her husband later threw her out and divorced her at 17. With no education and little skills, she turned to the sex trade just to stay alive.

This is why tomorrow is so important, why an urgent response is necessary to harness girls potential by creating and designing a better life for them and future generations. Because when you educate a girl, you can break cycles of poverty in just one generation.

Help us celebrate our didi sisters around the world and end girls inequality by taking action now!

Here are so ways to get involved with Anchal’s women and girls:
Become a didi to our Artisans here.
Help us start an education fund for the daughters of our artisans. Donate here.

See what are partner’s are doing:
New Light

Also visit:
The Day of the Girl Website
Girl Effect
Plan International