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The Action Thread Part Two


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Music Generation Wicklow are starting a series of Samba Drum Workshops next week in St. Peters Primary School, Hawthorn Road, Bray.

Day and Time: Tuesday’s after school from 3.30 – 4.30 and 4.30 – 5.30
Start Date: Tuesday 17th January 2017 for 10 weeks. 
Age groups: 8 – 12 and 13 – 17
Fees: 10 weeks for €50

Booking: Enrolment through Music Generation Wicklow – Ann Catherine Nolan @ 086 7909887 or musicgeneration@wicklowvec.ie

A great way to start the New Year!




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GIRLS & WOMEN Pants or Skirts — Regardless of Gender, Students Should Have a Choice in School Uniform

By Marnie Cunningham|

 Jan. 11, 2017
fox_schumacher.jpg__1500x670_q85_crop_suFlickr - Fox Shumacher

There has been a long tradition of school uniforms in Australian schools. But it’s only been recently that there has been discussion about why in many schools, it is still mandatory for girls to wear skirts or dresses.

It's exactly this topic that Amanda Megler's debating in a recent column in The Age.

In her op/ed, she runs through the various factors as to why girls should have the choice between wearing skirts or shorts.

Wearing skirts can restrict movement, and studies have actually shown that girls do significantly less physical exercise while wearing a skirt.

While Australian state education departments require schools to comply with anti-discrimination legislation, it is largely left up to schools to form individual uniform policies and a large amount still require girls to wear skirts or dresses.

A Melbourne mother recently started a petition after her daughter was refused the right to wear pants at her school. The amount of signatures shows growing support and concern for uniform equality in Australian schools.

Read more: Texas Pushes Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill, Says it's 'Right Thing to Do"

Two years ago a Brazillian transgender school student Maria Muniz was fined for wearing a skirt to school.

"For me, wearing a skirt was about expressing my freedom over who I am inside and not how society sees me," Muniz told Orange News. In protest all her classmates — both boys and girls — decided to wear skirts to school on the same day. After the protest the fines were dropped and the school’s principal announced they were considering changing their strict dress code.


While examining “unconscious inequalities” in schools, in an article for The Guardian, Laura McInerney said, “Uniforms should do what their name suggests: unify students, instead of dividing them.”

She recalls the moment when new uniforms were announced including different colour ties for male and female students. McInerney points out that for students struggling with gender identity, it would not have been as simple as buying a red or orange tie but rather an excruciating and perhaps embarrassing process.

Read More: Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes Speech Perfectly Captures the Mood of 48.2% of America.

Evan Rachel Wood wore pantsuit #GoldenGlobes 2017, #Shehttps://t.co/JvZU2wNdgehttps://t.co/llQ6wD9weHpic.twitter.com/r6HvXXF5Qo

— World of Fashion (@FashionNewsbit) January 9, 2017

This week we saw a new trend continuing to emerge at the Golden Globe awards — women rocking the pantsuit.

"I wanted girls and women to know that [wearing a dress] is not a requirement," said Evan Rachel Wood. Hopefully this trend of dressing for oneself rather than for the expectations of others will spread more widely.

Regardless of their gender, it’s time both male and female students were given the freedom to choose between pants and skirts.

Uniform equality is not just a fashion choice, it’s about teaching girls they are no different from boys and have as much right to play sports, move freely and not be restricted by their clothes.

How we treat girls throughout their education sets the tone for how women are treated in the workforce, boardrooms and government.

If we are going to end extreme poverty by 2030, achieving Global Goal No. 5 — gender equality and empowering women and girls is a must. And that starts by allowing girls to have the same freedom as boys, at school.


Written by Marnie Cunningham


Marnie Cunningham is a content creator for Global Citizen. With a background in media, photography and international development she has worked in Tanzania, Vanuatu and her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Marnie is passionate about the environment and runs a sustainable business of her own - seasonal floral and botanical design for weddings and events.

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GIRLS & WOMEN My Name Is Brooke Axtell and I Was Sex Trafficked at Age 7 in the US

By Brooke Axtell|

 Dec. 12, 2016



This post is the first in a series called "Real Women Real Stories,"a social project designed to promote awareness of the often unseen hardships women face in different professions and places around the world. The project highlights women who fight their battles and are persistent on achieving what they have set out for. 

Last year, at the 2015 Grammy Awards, I collaborated with pop singer Katy Perry and President Obama to address the issue of gender violence. After the President highlighted the White House “It’s On Us” campaign, I was invited to speak.

I shared my personal story of overcoming domestic violence and how I found healing. I encouraged those struggling with the pain of abuse to reach out for help. But what I didn’t share that night was how my history of early sexual assault and child sex trafficking prepared me to accept partner violence as an adult.

Like many survivors of domestic violence, my abuse started long before I met my then-boyfriend. Sexual exploitation trained me to believe I was unworthy of the love I so desperately craved.

I was 7 years old when I was trafficked for sex.

My favorite color was pink and I loved to dance. My room was filled with books, dolls and art. I read for hours on my white chair surrounded by stuffed animals, listening to my white music box with the delicate roses and gold edges.

When I took baths, I would rest on my back and sing my first song, “Flying wings, angel sing, strawberry dreams.” Over and over I would sing the same chorus, moving my arms like an angel. Hanging from the bathroom wall was a framed scripture from the book of I Samuel. It is known as Hannah’s Prayer, but in this version, my name replaced the son she prays for. The calligraphy read, “I have prayed for this child, Brooke, and the Lord has granted me what I have asked of him, so now I give her to the Lord for her whole life she will be given over to him.”

My mom taught me God is love. But she was in the hospital and I feared she would never return. My dad traveled for work to take care of our family, so I also had a nanny.

My nanny talked about God, too. He said it was God’s will for him to punish me for my sins. What punishment did I deserve? He did not say the word and I did not have language for what was happening. I could not tell anyone what his deity demanded on my white iron bed with the pink sheets.

He called me a “worthless whore” and said I made him do this to me. When he raped me, repeating the Lord’s prayer, I flew outside my body. Sometimes his voice still echoes within me, “Deliver us from evil. Deliver us from evil.” A part of me split off to survive, to guard the truth, to carry the unbearable weight of this. I multiplied and disappeared.

The first rape was my initiation, my rite of passage into his underworld. A place filled with secrets and shadows, people with dead eyes.

From that initial violation, he secretly took me to houses, hotels, and parties to sell me to men for sex. I was forced into pornography with adults and other children. I was caged and taunted like a trapped animal.

When they filmed me I flew outside my body to take refuge in the beautiful worlds I created: one with a white horse, one where I danced with the angels. Each time they invaded me, I soared above them. I was passed from man to man, hand to hand, like a doll. My soul traveled and retreated, crossed oceans, centuries. I lived a thousand lives in a single night.

This rhythm continued. During the day, I attended school. At night, I belonged to him — and whoever was interested in buying me.

The buyers were always wealthy white men who were insatiable in their appetite to inflict pain. I numbed myself, circling my life as if it belonged to someone else. I became a spectator of the abuse. This is happening to some other little girl, the evil one, who needed to be punished, I told myself. I created a wall, so I could live on the light side, be the good one and continue without pain.

Finally, my mom came home from the hospital in a wheelchair. I was too terrified and ashamed to reveal the abuse, but she sensed something was wrong. She listened to her intuition and fired my nanny.

The exploitation ended suddenly, but my shame did not. No matter how much I accomplished in life, I was still haunted by his lie about me, “Worthless, worthless, worthless.”

I lived for many years concealing the secret of my trauma. What I witnessed felt unspeakable.

Faced with an abusive boyfriend as an adult, I sought out help from a brilliant counselor specializing in sexual violence and resolving developmental trauma. It was there, with her, that I finally felt safe enough to admit what had happened to me — beyond the domestic abuse— and find my healing path.

Eventually, through therapy, an inspiring community of other survivors, and my own creative expression through poetry and music, I found my way back to my original worth. But my recovery has also given me a greater understanding of sex trafficking and how it’s perpetuated.

We live in a culture where women and girls are reduced to sexual commodities, where sexual and domestic violence are not aberrations. For many of us, they are rites of passage, the training ground for internalizing our own oppression.

Child sex trafficking is part of this continuum of violence. It is rape for profit. The appearance of consent is merely a performance the child must enact to survive. Even if a child is actively trading sex for money, food or shelter to survive, this still qualifies as statutory rape. There is no such thing as a child sex worker or child prostitute. There is only child rape.

It is easy to blame those who profit from the exploitation of children — as well we should. But they are not the whole problem. In a country where one out of six American women are survivors of sexual assault and one out of four women are survivors of domestic violence, traffickers are simply monetizing a culture that normalizes violence against women and girls at epidemic rates. This brutal reality along with the pervasive cult of victim-blaming has created the perfect marketplace for the buying and selling of children.

In my work as an advocate, I’ve learned that facing the truth is the beginning of freedom. To be free, we have to bring everything into the light, so our shame and our secrets no longer have power over us. As survivors, we may never see our perpetrators held accountable for their crimes, but we are creating our own justice. Our justice is to overcome, to know our worth, to rise up as leaders, transforming pain into the power of compassion.


Written by Brooke Axtell


Brooke Axtell is the Director of Communications and Survivor Leadership at Allies Against Slavery, an organization dedicated to ending human trafficking.


Via Global Citizen

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The 21-year-old who is fighting for women’s education in Malawi


1 April 2016 9:27AM UTC  | By: JOY ELLIOTT
JOIN Join the fight against Extreme Poverty

We first heard of Ellen Chilemba when writing our feature ‘7 African entrepreneurs to watch out for‘ in October last year.

Chilemba is a 21‐year‐old entrepreneur from Malawi. She is the founding director of a social enterprise called Tiwale which means “let us shine/glow” in Chichewa.


Ellen Chilemba from Overture on Vimeo.

In Malawi, girls often face the same fate: early marriage and insufficient schooling. Over time, this cycle has created a substantial population of women who are undereducated, jobless and facing extreme poverty with few options to pull themselves out. Ellen has been tackling this inequality head-on – starting when she was only 17.

Tiwale started out by teaching Malawian women how to make dye-print African fabrics. The money generated from sales has then financed female entrepreneurs and provide school grants to programme participants interested in going back to school. To date, the project has trained more than 150 women.


Trainees at Tiwale with their hand-dyed fabrics. Image: Ellen Chilemba

Ellen has featured on Forbes most promising entrepreneurs under 30, and was also spotted and featured on the popular photo-documentary project Humans of New York, gaining lots of well-deserved exposure for her venture.


But since we last wrote about her, Ellen has not rested. She is now hoping to build a women’s centre in the Ntsiriza Community, Lilongwe, Malawi.

Tiwale has acquired a plot of land to construct an education centre. Funding permitting, the centre hopes to provide secondary education classes to help women attain the Malawi Secondary Certificate of Education (MSCE); as well as further vocational skills training. These options will enhance the women’s prospects greatly, and address gender inequality in the country head on.

Ellen took some time out of her busy schedule recently to answer a few questions for us. Check out the interview:

What initially inspired you to set up Tiwale?

I was frustrated at how common the idea of a girl leaving school at a young age for dowry benefits had become. Looking at our leadership, in a country with a history of government monetary scandals, I recognised that young people shouldn’t wait to try to change things. When 5 youths between 14 and 19 years old agreed to initiate Tiwale and 150 women showed up, there was no turning back – we had everything.

What’s the best part of your job?

It is the ideas that burst up once we get together. It’s amazing the strength we find in a community. Whenever our community meets, business ideas and education aspirations are always floating around. We are a positive group. My favourite moments are when a member has an idea and another member suggests a connection or supplier. Even though money is essential to sustain our opportunities, the biggest benefit is mobilising each other.


Ellen presenting to the women at Tiwale. Image: Ellen Chilemba

What do you think to our Poverty is Sexist campaign?

It is absolutely awesome! I love it. Poverty is Sexist investigates and challenges structures such as inadequate health access, poor nutrition, environmental and legal injustice that are core determinants of a woman’s wellbeing. It is important to change social systems that inhibit access to resources for women. The call to action is powerful! I am also grateful for the opportunity to Stand with Eva.

Once your women’s centre is set up – what’s next?

We are sourcing collaborations with organisations that recycle hardware in order to get computers donated to the centre. In the future, we intend to host an annual summer code academy for 50 young women from around the country. And as the space we have purchased already has a small home in need of repairs, we would like to improve this structure and turn it into a refuge for women who are temporarily homeless.


The Tiwale team and students. Image: Ellen Chilemba

What advice do you have for young African entrepreneurs?

Often we blame insufficient opportunities as hindering us from entrepreneurship. Poverty is our challenge to be true creative innovators. If you have passion and make sure it is infectious, small steps will become a wider vision.  We need to be at the forefront of taking care of our communities.

We can’t wait to see what’s next for Ellen, but one thing’s for sure – there’s no limit to her ambition and dedication to the women of her community – and beyond.

Support women like those at Tiwale by standing with ONE on International Women’s Day 2017!



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Friday, 13 January 2017, 5.00pm

Newpark Music Centre (“NMC”) is a private, “not for profit” organization providing both part-time and full-time music education. 

Applications are invited for a suitably qualified person to manage and develop the part time courses. The position of Director will report to the Board of NMC and will carry overall responsibility for: (i) the ongoing management and administration of the part time courses; and (ii) the development and implementation of a strategy for the future of the part time courses to ensure their continued success at a time of exciting and dynamic change in music education. The position is critical to the future development of NMC and will include the following responsibilities: 

– Managing the delivery of quality teaching and learning for part time students.
– Providing proactive leadership and hands-on operational and financial management of the part time courses.
– Leading administrative staff and teachers to develop and position the part time courses to meet the music needs of the community.
– Developing a strategic plan to ensure the continued success of NMC as a significant provider of music education.

The successful applicant will have:

– A minimum Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field
– A strong background/experience in educational management and administration (including financial)
– A clear vision for the future of music education
– A solid background in music
– Computer skills (Word, Excel, Outlook)
– The ability to solve problems and execute tasks. 

Applications to be forwarded by email or post by Friday 13th January 2017 and to include CV with cover letter together with the names and contact details of two referees. 

Please send to:
Mr. Derek Lowry, The Secretary of the Board of Newpark Music Centre, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. derek.lowry@newparkschool.ie.

Shortlisting will apply. Newpark Music Centre is an equal opportunities employer. 

For more, visit http://newparkmusic.ie/


Via Music Generation

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Via Global Citizen

GIRLS & WOMEN 100 Years Ago, Women Sat Silently Outside the White House for 6 Months in Protest

By Meghan Werft |

 Jan. 10, 2017

Brought to you by: CHIME FOR CHANGE

On Jan. 10, 1917, long before the days of MegaBus or a quick, casual drive to a place where women could collectively voice their opinions, 12 women silently gathered in Lafayette Square in Washington, directly across the street from the White House’s north lawn, and sparked a protest that would later contribute to granting women the right to vote. 

The women were known as the “silent sentinels.” As part of the National Women’s Party, they organized the Grand Sentinels Protest — which included the first picket line to ever take place at the White House. 

Read More: Meet Emmeline Pankhurst, a Rowdy Social Activist Ahead of Her Time

During the protest, women stayed through the bitter cold, taking up residence across the White House lawn with signs reading “How Long Must Women Wait For Liberty” and “Mr. President, What Will You Do for Woman Suffrage?" And they didn’t say, or shout, a word.

They literally lit bonfires of President Woodrow Wilson’s speeches in plain sight of the him. 

Their actions and banners cried out for equal voting rights from Wilson who ignored protests as the US entered WWI in April 1917. 

Read More: 7 Most Important Protests of 2016

Still, suffragettes and the NWP did not give up. With sharp lines such as “Democracy Should Begin at Home" and “Kaiser Wilson” their banners pointed out the bitter irony that Wilson was fighting for democracy abroad while women still had less rights domestically. 

The “Kaiser Wilson” sign was a jab at Wilson, likening the U.S. President to the Wilhelm II, the German ruler America was engaged in war against at the time. The sign specifically ignited tension between anti-suffragettes who allegedly tore up the sign and physically attacked the NWP members picketing. 

grand_picket_at_the_white_house_159040v.1,000 women gather in the rain for the Grand Picket on March 4, 1917 to protest women's suffrage.
Image: Wikimedia Commons: Library of Congress

Members of the NWP continued the protest six days a week in front of the White House through the summer of 1917. And over 500 women were arrested between 1917 and 1919 for picketing across the nation. 

On Jan. 9, 1918, Wilson publically claimed support for the suffrage movement — pushing Congress to grant women the right to vote. 

Read More: What to Learn From Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy of Peaceful Protest

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” was amended in the Constitution, Aug. 18, 1920, after failing in the Senate two years earlier

national_womens_party_picketing_the_whitImage: Wikimedia Commons: Library of Congress

At the time, the acts of the NWP, which also included hunger strikes, the burning of presidential speeches on democracy and liberty, and getting arrested, were considered “unladylike” by their sister suffragette champions the National Women Suffrage Association. 

Today, those acts of the Grand Sentinels Protests are regarded as paramount to passing the 19th Amendment landing women the right to vote in the U.S. 

And in the past 100 years, women have gained the right to reproductive rights, legislation on Equal Pay, and women hold 20% of seats in Congress

Now is not the time to let this progress slip away. 

Let the women who fought courageously for the right to vote 100-years-ago act as inspiration to press forward and continue advocating for women’s rights everywhere. 

In just 11 days, 100,000 women (and men) including celebrities such as Olivia Wilde, Scarlett Johansson, Katy Perry, Amy Schumer, Zendaya, and Cher will attend the Women’s March on Washington ensuring feminist voices ring out and clear for an incumbent Trump administration. 

In past years, Trump spewed an array of sexist jargon providing an arsenal of reasons for women to fume over. While we can use this as fuel to stoke the fire that is the fight for women’s rights, let’s also recall the dauntless nature of the women like Alice Paul, Emmeline Pankhurst, and others. These women are the true badass feministas to follow on Jan. 21. 

TAKE ACTION Send petitions, emails, or tweets to world leaders. Call governments or join rallies. We offer a variety of ways to make your voice heardGet Involved

Written by Meghan Werft 


Meghan is an Editorial Coordinator at Global Citizen. After studying International Political Economy at the University of Puget Sound she hopped coasts to New York. She is a firm believer that education and awareness on global issues has the power to create a more sustainable, equal world where poverty does not exist.

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Via Global Citizen

HEALTH Russia Wants to Fully Ban Cigarettes for Anyone Born After 2015

By Joe McCarthy|

 Jan. 11, 2017
8794792151_7e63421f38_z.jpg__1500x670_q8Flickr / Dmitriy Fokeev

Russia’s Health Ministry is considering a bold and unusual measure for ending cigarette use: prevent citizens born in 2015 and after from buying cigarettes.

"This goal is absolutely ideologically correct," said Nikolai Gerasimenko, of Russia’s health committee, to The Times.

The law wouldn’t have an effect for more than a decade, but this cut-off point could dramatically curb addiction in the future. The inability of a smoker to buy his or her own cigarettes would almost certainly discourage use, because nicotine addiction is dependent on the mundane purchase and use of cigarettes throughout a day. Having to rely on other people to buy cigarettes or solely going through unregulated channels, especially if that means potential penalties, would most likely deter potential smokers.  

Russia already has some strong anti-smoking measures in place: people can’t smoke in workplaces, bars, restaurants, ships, trains, and many public places.

Read More: Will Tough, New Laws Cut Smoking Rates in India?

However, the country doesn’t tax cigarettes, which is one of the most effective ways to reduce cigarette consumption. In parts of the country, a pack can be bought for around $1.

And Russia has one of the highest rates of smoking in the world. More than 59% of Russians 15 and older smoke and the average Russian adult smokes about 2,700 cigarettes a year. (Indonesia has the highest above-15 rate of smoking in the world at 76.2% and Panama has the lowest rate at 10.6%.)

Read More: How the Ugliest Color in the World Might Save Lives

The kind of prevalence in Russia makes it hard for young people to avoid influential exposures — parents, friends, or role models who smoke and explicitly or implicitly encourage the practice. But if future generations are simply unable to buy cigarettes, then use rates will eventually drop. Over time, the government will also be able to pair this ban with other measures that may be hard to enact today, such as larger taxes or outright bans on cigarette production.  

Other countries have gotten creative, if gross, with anti-smoking campaigns — creating packaging and advertisements that illustrate in lurid details the harms of smoking. Like with higher taxes that cut into paychecks, anything that makes the act of smoking less pleasurable is an effective deterrent.

Read More: India’s Capital Bans All Forms of Chewing Tobacco to Reduce Mouth and Throat Cancer

Tobacco use kills more than 6 million people each year, and many millions more experience all sorts of severe health complications such as cancer, stroke, and heart attacks.

In 2012, more than 400,000 Russians died from smoking-related diseases.

Youth are especially prone to marketing from tobacco companies and peer pressure, and are, therefore, more prone to forming an addiction to nicotine.

Russia’s latest proposed measure may seem heavy-handed, but it’s long past due that people across the world accept the hazardous effects of cigarettes.  


Written by Joe McCarthy


Joe McCarthy is a Content Creator at Global Citizen. He believes apathy is the biggest threat to creating a more just world and tries his hardest to stay open-minded and curious. Living in New York keeps him aware of how interconnected our world is, how every action has ripples.

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