Lupita Nyong'o's moving speeches, the Dark is Beautiful campaign in India, and Anita Majumdar's play, Same Same But Different, have me in a different frame of mind as we approach International Women's Day. I'm not just thinking about women's rights and battles. I'm thinking about what it means to be a woman of colour in Canada.
An article published in the Globe and Mail last week lulled readers into thinking that India is struggling to contain a growing Hindu fascist movement, carelessly employing reductionism and omission to present a distorted view of a country that is gaining economic and cultural importance for Canada.
Early last month I was on an airplane to Mumbai. As the plane descended, I tried to imagine 20-million people living in a single city. As an Olympian, I'd been to a lot of places in the world, but never anywhere like India. I'd also never travelled the way I was about to: over 230 km by bicycle from Bangalore to Vellore, in three Indian states over rough, dusty roads.
Only days ago, news leaked that Penguin Books India had quietly settled a 2011 lawsuit filed against it by a conservative Indian education reform group, which required the publisher to withdraw and destroy all available copies of the Indian edition of University of Chicago professor Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History.
Recently I had an awesome opportunity to go to Australia and speak about GMOs for the Uplift Festival. After our 23-hour flight, it finally hit me. We're really here. My life may be changed forever. It was so refreshing to be around other like-minded youth who believe you are never too young to change the world!
This time when I practiced yoga in Bombay, the honking actually relaxed me. I could feel the city's pulse as an insider and wasn't from the outside looking in. When I stood on my yoga mat high above the city, warm smoggy breeze in my hair, I felt as at peace with the honking as I would practicing yoga to the sound of crickets in a field.
From amidst the carnage, an epidemic of heroism emerged that should be remembered along with those who lost lives and limbs. In stark contrast to the pitiless resolve of the killers who combed the halls of Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel and executed its guests, the hotel's employees refused to abandon the iconic edifice.
The breakthrough cases where traffickers have been sent to jail, send ripples and will continue to send ripples through the red light district in Kolkata and through the justice system in India. These ripples are starting to change attitudes and beliefs regarding the acceptability of human trafficking in India. The more traffickers we can hold to account, the more they will realize that they cannot continue trafficking within India.
When I met with the girls, it was as if I was meeting with young girls anywhere in the world. We all sat down on the floor in a circle and they would ask me questions and I in turn would ask them questions. Their questions were like questions my own daughter has asked me... about clothes, food, Bollywood movies and popular songs. I nearly forgot what these girls had been through, what they had experienced.
Teenage sex trafficking is a worldwide problem and therefore all governments need to be involved. That is why I believe I need to be involved as a law maker from Canada. I need to do my share in raising awareness of trafficking of children and being a force in changing Canadian laws so that we can help those abroad.
International Justice Mission Canada, in partnership with the U.S.-based International Justice Mission (IJM), is a human rights organization that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression. More specifically, IJM focuses on forced labour, slavery, illegal property seizure, sexual violence, sex trafficking, illegal detention, and citizenship documentation. IJM does great work. Their team of lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure that victims are rescued immediately, that perpetrators are persecuted, that victims have access to support and resources following a rescue, and that the public justice systems (police, courts, and laws) effectively protect the poor.
I miss my dark skin. I have Vitiligo -- an auto-immune disease where the body creates antibodies that destroy the pigment, melanin, leaving patches of white pigment-less skin, which spreads over time. So when I see girls electively going through various beauty treatments to achieve that sort of lightness of being, my blood boils. It took me up to a year to go completely white, and that was 10 years ago. So for those who voluntarily want to go lighter, I know deep down, even fifty shades won't make the least bit of difference for them.
How the mighty are falling. Resilience was a word used liberally to boast of the BRICS countries' staying power in the post-crisis period. Many even ascribed global-growth-engine status to these rising powerhouses. But 2013 has been a second tough year for the August group, even as OECD nations are steadily returning to growth.
On July 30, the International Day of Friendship celebrates unlikely friendships with the power to change the world. Children's empowerment is exactly the kind of thing UN leaders had in mind, when they said "yes" to the idea of an International Day of Friendship. The date places particular emphasis on involving young people as future leaders.
We've all been there. A question arises and you know the answer and yet, even though it might be on the tip of your tongue, you just can't seem to grasp it. Unveiling how memories are formed, retained and recollected has been one of research's greatest challenges. Germs however, may have already solved the riddle.
It was around 10:30 a.m. on a Friday this past June that a close friend and wildlife enthusiast, Mohan was driving me down the winding hills of Ooty -- a hill station in southern India. Suddenly, there was a distress call from a forest warden desperately trying to save an elephant. It had slipped and fallen into a two-metre deep trench.
I believe that women entrepreneurship will not only give a boost to the economy by increasing the number of employed people and leading towards a more gender-equal growth. Not being financially independent is one of the main factors that prove as a hindrance in self-empowerment of women, especially in patriarchal societies like India.
In India, a five-year-old girl was kidnapped, raped, tortured and left for dead. This, on the heels of the brutal gang rape in India that happened back in December. And a story about a six-year-old Indian girl who was raped. And a story about 11- and 13-year-old sisters who were raped by their mother's boyfriend. All of these rapes happened within a week's span. Rape culture knows no borders. We all live in it. We all participate in it.