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The Action Thread Part Two


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GIRLS & WOMEN Stunning photos from a place where women rule

By Hans Glick|

 June 10, 2015
khasi-girls-hero.jpg__1500x670_q85_crop_Karolin Klüppel, "Anisha by the window"

In a world where girls and women are all too often denied the same opportunities as their male counterparts, it’s hard not to see planet Earth as one big boys club.  

But did you know that, for a handful of societies around the world, that script is actually flipped? In parts of Canada, Indonesia, China, and West Africa, among other places, women run the show to varying degrees.

Some cultures give women exclusive rights to own property. Others look to their women for leadership and decision-making. Still others, known as matrilineal societies, trace descent through the mother’s side of the family.  

If you’re having trouble picturing such a society, you’re in luck: Karolin Klüppel, a photographer from Germany, recently spent 9 months living with, and visually documenting, the Khasi people, a small, matrilineal society in north-east India. Her photo series, titled “Mädchenland” (“Kingdom of Girls”), offers a vivid depiction of matrilineal culture through the eyes of its youngest matriarchs-to-be: Khasi girls.

In an email Q&A with me, Karolin shared stories about her experience working with these girls, as well as what those of us living in more male-dominated societies can learn from her images.  After the Q&A, scroll down to view a selection of images from the series. 

(Editors Note: Karolin’s responses are presented here in their entirety, with minor edits for clarity.)

Hans Glick: Gender has been a recurring theme in your work. What was it about the Khasi and their unique regard for women that drew you to this project?

Karolin Klüppel: I have been interested in matriarchal and matrilineal societies for a long time. The Khasi caught my attention because of many different aspects, but also simply because they live in India. I traveled through India some weeks before I came to Meghalaya and I must admit, it was a challenge. Shillong was then the first place where I felt totally safe as a single female traveler. The atmosphere is totally different and I could feel that people respect one another regardless of the gender. What drew me to the project was to experience this contrast to show another side of India.

HG: Did the experience of photographing these young girls present any unique challenges? Any unique rewards?

KK: Most girls of Mawlynnong loved to be photographed, otherwise it would not have worked out so well. I would say it was very rewarding to spend so much time with them. A bit challenging was the language barrier during the first weeks but we always managed to communicate.

HG: Some of the photos seem posed, others more spontaneous. Did any of the girls take an interest in how they were photographed? Or did you have to prompt them to do most things?

KK: Many girls definitely had an interest and came up with their own ideas of how they wanted their picture to be. Often we worked together. Many pictures are not staged, although it seems so, like the picture of Yasmin combing her hair in front of the mirror. Then it was like I was involved in their game. Also lacamti, when she was diving. She definitely wanted her picture taken. If I had a very special idea in mind, like the picture of the kwai on Anisha’s head, I asked for the girl to pose for me.

HG: Can you give an example of how the girls you spent time with behaved or carried themselves differently than they might have if they grew up in a patrilineal culture?

KK: For me, girls were more present in Mawlynnong than boys—same for women and men—and they are very self assured. It would make sense to draw a comparison between the behaviour of the girls of Mawlynnong to girls of other indian villages. I can just guess that it must be different because I have no experiences. To draw a comparison to western patriarchal societies would not make sense because character is influenced by so many aspects.

HG: What do you think other societies can learn from a matrilineal culture like the Khasi?

KK: Well, the Khasi culture also has its contradictions. There is definitely no gender equality here. Men usually do not own any property in the Khasi society, and their children do not belong to their clan. As a result, men sometimes feel unimportant and not very responsible for their families. There is even a group of men waging a battle for ''men's liberation'', the Syngkhong Rympei Thymmai (SRT) with 4,000 members.

What really impressed me—and what I miss very much in Germany—is how much the Khasi and Indians generally care about their family and friends. Human relationships seem very strong there, which seems reasonable, because of the poverty and the little support from the government. If you do not help each other, you are lost. In the Khasi society, I am sure, no one would ever feel lonely because people just need each other. Whereas, in my society, loneliness is something that a lot of people suffer from. Every culture has its tradeoffs.

khasi-girls-body-1.jpg__620x620_q85_cropIbapyntngen with bugs

khasi-girls-body-2.jpg__620x620_q85_cropIbapyntngen with lipstick

khasi-girls-body-3.jpg__620x620_q85_cropAnisha with Kwai

khasi-girls-body-4.jpg__620x620_q85_croplacamti, diving

khasi-girls-body-5.jpg__620x620_q85_cropPhida with balloon


khasi-girls-body-7.jpg__620x620_q85_cropYasmin in her bedroom

khasi-girls-body-8.jpg__620x620_q85_cropYasmin with mug

To see more of Karolin’s work, visit her website or follow her on Instagram. Tip of the hat to the New York Times’ always excellent photojournalism blog Lens, which first alerted me to Karolin’s work.



Written by Hans Glick


Hans is an Audio/Visual Content Creator for Global Citizen. He loves telling stories and making killer content regardless of the format, but holds a special place in his heart for documentary filmmaking. He's a proud native of Buffalo, NY.

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Poland Refuses to Give Up Coal. Now Its Smog Levels Rival China

By Joe McCarthy| Jan. 12, 2017


AP Photo/Alik Keplicz

All across Poland, anti-smog masks are becoming a new norm. The country’s dependence on coal is swamping the air with pollutants, so much so that 33 of Europe’s 50 most polluted cities are in Poland.

The country’s capital, Warsaw, has air pollutant levels eight times greater than normal limits set by the EU. On Tuesday, the country had nearly the same levels of harmful air pollutants like sulfur and carbon monoxide as Beijing.

Read More: These 6 Cities Are Trying to Give Up Cars Entirely

Across southern Poland, schools were closed this week to keep children from breathing toxic clouds, and public transportation was made free across parts of the country to discourage car use.

Other cities around the world have targeted cars when pollution gets too extreme, but deeper structural problems are to blame in Poland.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter


 Marta Zaraska @mzaraska

My throat burns from horrific smog in Polish mountains. 43,000 die/year due to coal #pollution here #Poland #AirQuality #beskid

4:56 PM - 30 Dec 2016

  14 14 Retweets   7 7 likes

Read More: China Unveils Blockbuster $361 Billion Plan for Clean Energy

In 2016, coal production hit its lowest level in 35 years in the US, China has more than halved its coal production since 2013, and the rest of Europe is eagerly investing in renewable energy. But not Poland. As the rest of the world runs from coal, Poland is gorging on it.

Poland gets nearly 90% of its electricity from coal and the country is building new coal plants. The government insists that the economic benefits of coal outweigh any of the negative consequences and has vowed to create up to 100,000 coal-related jobs.

During the winter, many Polish people still burn coal in old stoves inside their homes.

Read More: 90% of People Breathe Dangerous Air, WHO Reports

In some of the heavier coal regions, the smell of burning coal is familiar. In the popular tourist town Krakow, lung diseases, heart attack, stroke, and much more are burgeoning. Carcinogens from cheap coal are so pervasive that pollution-induced nosebleeds are a common occurrence. People stay inside rather than face the unfiltered air.  

A backlash is slowly forming. A ban on coal and other solid fuels for home stoves comes into effect in 2018 for Krakow. But even as persistent health problems grow and citizens are driven to the streets to protest, the government is holding fast to its commitment to coal.

“We’re not a country where the sun shines and wind blows all year,” said Jaroslaw Grzesik, head of the mining division of the Solidarity union, to Bloomberg. “We’re a country rich in coal, and we should care about our economy and our citizens.”


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

Get Involved

TOPICSEmissions, Air pollution, Renewables, Pollution, Coal, Fossil Fuels, Poland

Joe McCarthy

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.


Via Global Citizen

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What a Kenyan community can teach us about menstrual hygiene and human rights


September 23 2016  | By: GUEST BLOGGER
IF YOU CARE, ACT. ADD YOUR NAME TODAY International Womens Day 2017

By Ash Rogers, executive director, Lwala Community Alliance

The conversation surrounding women and girls’ is certainly changing.

2016 marks a real turning point — a year that ended the tampon tax in several cities across the United States, and saw an Olympian speak openly about her period. It is fitting that during the UN General Assembly, we reflect on menstruation in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals and its impact on a young girl’s development.

Let’s start with a story of a Kenyan girl, Grace*. She is 13 years old. Her father died of HIV and her mother struggles to maintain a household of five children. Grace is bright, but has less time to study than her brothers because of expectations that she help with chores.


Photo credit: Lwala Community Alliance

One day, Grace stood up in her class to answer a question. Students around her began snickering and pointing. The teacher shouted at her to leave immediately. She looked down to realize, in horror, that she had blood on her uniform. She ran home, humiliated and concerned that she might be very ill. Later that day, she learned about her period for the first time — not from a parent or teacher, but from a classmate. This same friend pointed out that, since there aren’t latrines or water at school, the simplest option is to stay home while on her period. She also told Grace how some of the older girls would “play sex” with local taxi drivers to get money for sanitary pads.

Around the world, adolescence is a time of crisis and indignity for girls like Grace. In Kenya alone, nearly one million girls miss school because of menstruation, 25 percent of girls do not know that menstruation is connected to childbearing, and very few girls know that it is their human right to refuse transactional sex or that rape is a crime.

In rural Western Kenya, Lwala Community Alliance (Lwala) — in partnership with Johnson & Johnson, Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation, and Blood:Water Mission — has developed community-led solutions to the challenges faced by girls like Grace.

First, school management committees across 13 government primary schools created Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene plans, which made it possible to install latrines, water catchment tanks, and hand-washing stations — all of which are critical to helping girls manage their monthly cycles.


Photo credit: Lwala Community Alliance

Education is also key, and as such, communities formed sexual and reproductive health committees that address rights issues, including child protection, gender inequity, transactional sex, and rape. Simultaneously, Lwala trained teacher-mentors to offer education on leadership and reproductive health to boys and girls.

Lwala spurred a spin-off social enterprise called New Visions, which produces uniforms and sanitary pads, and with Johnson & Johnson’s support, Lwala can now provide pads and uniforms for adolescent girls across 13 schools. A partnership with our friends at Afripads allowed Lwala to expand this program in 2016.

Through these initiatives, the ratio of girls graduating from primary school increased from 37 percent in 2009 to 44 percent in 2015. Communities themselves are ensuring that no girl drops out of school or becomes pregnant because they lack the tools to navigate adolescence.


Photo credit: Lwala Community Alliance

Menstruation does indeed matter. It is a healthy, normal part of being a woman, and as such, all women and girls should access all of the interventions needed to manage their cycles and continue life normally. Lwala’s hope for the UN General Assembly is that issues surrounding menstrual hygiene are discussed openly, and that we see more focus on community-led, holistic solutions that keep women and girls safe and healthy.

Ash Rogers is the Executive Director of Lwala Community Alliance, a community-driven innovator in Western Kenya. Learn more here. Ash previously served at the Director of Operations for Segal Family Foundation.



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Via Global Citizen

HEALTH India Celebrates 6 Years of Being Free of Polio

By Colleen Curry|

 Jan. 12, 2017
india-_polio_free.jpg__1500x670_q85_cropLaura Sheahen/CRS

Happy anniversary, India.

Six years ago today, you became polio-free, bringing the world that much closer to eradicating the crippling childhood disease altogether.

India was once considered the most challenging country in the world for eradicating polio because of its incredible density: it has a population of more than 1 billion and critical sanitation issues.

Read More: Polio: Why It Hasn’t Been Fully Eradicated — Yet

Thirty years ago, before the Global Polio Eradication Initiative began its effort to rout out polio around the world, 200,000 Indian children were diagnosed with polio every year. And just a few years ago, in 2009, India was responsible for over half of all polio cases in the world.  The challenge was enormous.

The first polio immunization campaign took place in 1995. Since then, more than 2 million volunteers have swept across the country immunizing India’s next generation, providing

some 12 billion doses of the polio vaccine to Indian children.

Read More: Nigeria Polio Outbreak: Global Citizen Calls on World Leaders to Act

In 2011, India had its last case of polio.

Ending polio in India was no easy task; it took a joint effort between government and civil society groups like WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The CORE Group Polio Project, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the US and Japanese government aid agencies.

Take Action: We’re 0.1% Away from Eradicating Polio for Good

Today, newborns in India receive routine vaccines, a critical step to helping rout out the disease from the population and prevent its reemergence. And now India serves as a model for the three countries where polio remains: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

So congratulations, India, and polio, take note: we’re coming for you in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan in 2017.


Written by Colleen Curry


Colleen Curry is a senior editor at Global Citizen. She has covered domestic and international news for outlets including ABC News, VICE News, and The New York Times, with a particular focus on women's issues, criminal justice, and LGBT rights. She is also pursuing her Master's in Creative Writing, and has had nonfiction published by Sports Illustrated and Marie Claire.

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AGRICULTURE Surviving on Sand


9 January 2017 1:01PM UTC  | By: GUEST BLOGGER
JOIN Join the fight against Extreme Poverty

In partnership with One Acre Fund, ONE will follow a small community called Luucho in Western Kenya through the agricultural season.

A sense of anxiety looms large in Luucho village. A months-long drought wiped out more than half of the village’s crops, leaving many homes in desperate need of food.

DSC0337-1024x680.jpgLike most villages in western Kenya, Luucho plants two times a year. Farmers who lost their crops during the first season, when rains failed to arrive between May and June, banked their hopes on the second harvest. But another wave of drought has struck again since last October, dashing all their expectations. Now, withering plants covered in brown dust dance lazily in the light wind, thirsting for the return of rain. There is not much hope to save them – farmers normally harvest their second-season crops in December, and the damage has already been done.

“This has been the strangest year of my life,” says Mary Nekesa, a 55-year-old mother of five. “I depend on farming, but now how am I going to feed my family?”DSC0411-1024x743.jpgAt the start of the season, Mary had huge expectations. She planted a half-acre plot of maize, and like in the past, she hoped to harvest at least 12 bags of grain. Thinking she’d have plenty of food for her family, she had even planned to sell a few extra bags of maize to buy a dairy cow, which she had been longing after for years. But because of the drought, she only harvested two bags—hardly enough to feed her children for two months, let alone buy a cow.

On this morning, Mary is standing in the shallows of Khalaba River, half a mile away from her home. The Khalaba flows between two deeply eroded banks covered in thick vegetation. It’s a tributary to the River Nzoia, which pours its waters into Lake Victoria. The river is Mary’s last lifeline. She swings a small bucket in and out of the water, spewing a blast of wet sand on the river bank with each wave.

“I couldn’t sit and watch my children starve,” Mary says. “The only other way I could provide food for them is by harvesting sand.”


Sand is used for all kinds of things in Kenya’s construction industry, including making bricks and concrete to build houses, bridges, and roads. Drawing sand from the river is backbreaking work for Mary, who needs to fill up a whole truck in order to find customers. She usually sells each load to a middleman for a throw-away price of $10. It’s a lucrative business, but not for Mary. Those middlemen can resell what she has collected for $40 to $50 per truckload.


Harvesting sand is a difficult job, especially in drought. During the rainy season, the waters usually swell up and sweep sand down the river, so that it only takes about a day to draw enough out to fill a truck. With this year’s dry weather, it now takes Mary three days, working from morning until evening.


“I’m not able to sleep much nowadays,” says Mary, who rises as early as 3 a.m. each day, because the thought of her hungry children disturbs her sleep. “Every evening at dinner, I sit and watch as my children eat. The thought that if I don’t work harder the following day my children might sleep hungry fills me with fear. I will do anything to make sure my children have food.”

Sand harvesting is an activity mostly carried out by men, and as the only female sand harvester in Luucho, Mary has raised mixed reactions in the village. While some men respect her courage and strength, others feel she is competing for a man’s job, or that her body will soon fail from exertion. However, most women in Luucho are motivated by Mary’s willingness to take up this kind of work.


“We were all shocked when we saw Mary harvesting sand. She is like a man!” says Felistus Nanjala, Mary’s friend and neighbour. “I feel very encouraged by her commitment to take up this work in order to take care of her family.”

Mary says she won’t stop her work, even when the rains return. With her children in school, she is in need of money all year round, and she hopes her new job will provide enough to supplement her income from farming.


After a full day at the river, Mary walks along a narrow dirt path to her home. She picks up a hoe and starts clearing weeds from her farm. Although it is still some time before her next planting season, Mary wants to be ready when the next drop of rain lands in Luucho.

One Acre Fund supplies smallholder farmers with the financing and training they need to grow their way out of hunger and poverty. Instead of giving handouts, they invest in farmers to generate a permanent gain in farm income. One Acre Fund provides a complete service bundle of seeds and fertiliser, financing, training, and market facilitation—and delivers these services within walking distance of the 400,000 rural farmers they serve. They measure success in their ability to make farmers more prosperous and they always put Farmers First.



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Following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 2,000 towns and villages were evacuated. Many residents who had to make a hasty departure had to leave behind their most personal belongings. They were told they would be back within days but they would never return.
This Exclusion Zone around Chernobyl is known locally as ‘Death Valley’.




Via Chernobyl Children International

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Celebrating Irish Music Therapy: A One Day Symposium
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Event Information

This event will celebrate the professional practice of music therapy in Ireland. The MA Music Therapy at UL is the only qualification in music therapy in Ireland and this event will present the diversity of music therapy practice being delivered across Ireland and abroad, featuring well-established and high quality evidence based work. Research excellence in Ireland in the field of music therapy will also be featured. Keynote speakers include Dr Wendy Magee and Dr Julie Sutton.

This symposium will appeal to anyone interested in the profession of music therapy. It will service as continuing professional development for music therapists, health and social care professionals and community musicians and will also be of interest to researchers and academics interested in the role of arts on health and well-being.





Via Music Generation

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