100 years of women voting

Today marks 100 years since women in the UK were given the right to vote.

Actually they weren’t ‘given’ this right, they had to fight for it. Women who were involved in this movement were called the suffragettes and many made tremendous sacrifices for this cause. At its peak, a suffragette named Emily Dickinson died for the cause, prompting parliament to pass the People Act of 1918 allowing women to vote.

However the Act did not grant voting rights to all women, it only allowed women over 30 years old and who were home-owners the right to vote. It was a decade later, in June 14, 1928, that ALL women over 21 years old were allowed a say in the political process.

Sadly, Emmeline Pankhurst, the founder of the suffrage movement, was not alive to witness this monumental occasion. She had died just eighteen days earlier.

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Today it’s easy to take for granted this right that women a century ago fought so hard to attain. The very thought of an all male voting system seems almost mythical to my imagination. Yet, it was real once upon a time.

I am so grateful for the women (and men) who sacrificed so much so that I too can have a voice. It’s now up to us to carry that torch forward, to dismantle more barriers that are in the way of full gender equality.

Don’t rest on past triumphs; we still have work to do.

Here are some interesting links on women’s voting rights around the world:

  1. A timeline of women’s voting rights around the world. New Zealeand was the first country to allow women to vote (1893), Saudi Arabia is the latest country to allow women to vote (2011).
  2. Suffregette, the movie.  My personal best quote: “All my life I’ve done what men told me. Well I can’t have that anymore.” Maude Watts
  3. Six amazing voting facts from around the world. The Vatican is the only country where women still can’t vote.

 

 

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3 things I loved this week

1. Today we live in a world obsessed with the idea of purity: a ‘clean’, un-adulterated version of who we are as a species, and at its core, the driving force behind popular political, religious and social agendas such as nationalism and radical fundamentalism. In a recent op-ed piece featured in The Guardian, Mohsin Hamid, the award-winning author of ‘Exit: West’ and ‘The Reluctant Fundementalist’ argues that there is no such thing as ‘pure’. We are, in essence, by-products of a mixture of atoms, blood-lines, and diverse histories. The author makes a persuasive call-to-arms summoning us to be of the impure, a fitting response to this destructive idea of purity.

“Climate change. Mass migration. Rampant inequality. None of the most pressing and daunting problems today facing humanity have simple answers. As a species, we require creative new approaches, yet-to-be-imagined leaps forward. But while we might not yet know what the solutions to these challenges are, we should already suspect from where the breakthroughs are most likely to come. They are likely to come from mongrelisation. From profound impurity. From people and ideas at risk of being suppressed and marginalised in our purity-obsessed age.”

I am sold.

2. I am only a few two chapters into this book but I am already really excited about it. Published in 2015, Stuffocation is a book that addresses the social, psychological, and environmental dangers of excessive consumerism and offers solutions to this. Drawing examples from research studies and personal testimonies, the author, James Wallman, makes an important case for living more with less.

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3. A display commemorating the Holocaust Memorial Day at the library

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This year’s theme of the HMD is ‘The Power of Words”. This display at my local library examines the impact that language has on influencing our lives and serves as a powerful reminder to choose our own words wisely.

The Holocaust and the recent genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, and South Sudan grew from propaganda machines that incited hate and violence towards specific groups of people of a certain ethnicity and/or religion. The oppressed were given labels (vermin, cockroaches) to dehumanise them. These atrocities grew because words were used to perpetrate evil.

However words are also powerful agents of the collective good.

‘I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I am so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s in me. When I write I can shake off all my cares; my sorrow disappears; my spirits are revived.’  Anne Frank

Read more stories from Holocaust and genocide survivors here. Their words offer so much hope despite the horrific evils they have faced in the hands of their oppressors.

 

 

 

On purpose

“In the end, people don’t view their life as merely the average of all its moments—which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people’s minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life maybe empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves.”
― Atul GawandeBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

 

3 things I loved this week

1. This week’s episode of Modern Love, one of my favorite podcasts, is one of the best that I have listened to from the series.  “A Dose of Empathy from My Syrian Doctor” is the story of Randi, a woman with incurable motor neurone disease, and her Syrian doctor. Years after Randi’s medical diagnosis, the disease hasn’t progressed, yet she constantly contemplates her death. This thought scares her but she finds steady comfort in her doctor who constantly reassures her “You are fine.” When three Muslim students are killed in North Carolina and  a Muslim couple opens fire in San Bernadino, California, her doctor worries. Being Muslim, it’s becoming increasingly unsafe for him and his family. The doctor worries about his family left in war-torn Syria. Yet with the face of danger looming over his life, he is the epitome of hope. Randi is grateful:

“But if had taught me anything, it was that comfort resides in the rituals of care. The steady application of optimism, the shivering light of faith, and the fact that I was still ok.”

2. This magnificent tree in my neighborhood. The web of branches looks like it holds so much wisdom.

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3. I found a new Youtube channel that I love. Lavendaire is a lifestyle channel hosted by the charming Aileen Xu. Aileen obviously puts a lot of effort into her videos: they are aesthetically pleasing and packed with valuable information. It helps too that her voice is so soothing. I often find myself relaxing into sleep with her speaking in the background (free therapy for stressed-out moments!)  Check it out and let me know what you think.

5 best romantic relationship tips according to my husband

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(He’s not just a pretty face)

I hear about relationship advice from women almost all the time. From men? Not so much. I decided to ask my husband for his top five pieces of relationship advice. The last one is pure gold.

  1. Be yourself– Don’t pretend to be someone who you aren’t. Celebrate your strengths but learn to embrace your weaknesses. Allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to show your true self to your partner. True love is based on authenticity, not pretense. This is the only way to have a truly rewarding relationship.
  2. When you so something for your partner, do it out of love-Instead of doing things for your partner with the aim of getting something in return, do them because you love them. Acts of love, no matter how simple or mundane they may be, benefit the receiver BUT they benefit the giver even more. I feel good when I do good unconditionally.
  3. Every once in a while, shake up your routine– If familiarity breeds contempt, then the best antidote to this is to engage in new activities and experiences every so often. Routine is important in establishing security but a break from routine keeps the sparks flying. Travel somewhere new, take your partner to a restaurant that you’ve never been to, go dancing, wear a new outfit to your date, etc. New experiences present an opportunity for you to see your partner in new light, making the relationship more interesting and exciting. They give a relationship extra mileage.
  4. Sex is important, but affection is vital-Great relationships are built on a foundation of great friendship. (At this point he smiles and quips: you can get sex anywhere, but love? That’s hard to find. Ha!) Sexual intimacy is of course important in almost all relationships, but I think that the feelings that you have for each other carry you through thick and thin. Sex is like a fast burning matchstick-quick to light up, quick to burn out. But a affection-a feeling of devotion and tenderness-is the slow-burning log that gives off warmth and light steadily through the darkest night.
  5. Love yourself– This, I believe, is the core of healthy relationships. If you treat yourself right, you will always treat your partner right. If you have issues with self-esteem, you will have behavioral problems which will negatively affect how you connect with your partner. Generally speaking, people who don’t love themselves are challenging to be around: they tend to be unhappier, constantly seeking external validation and affirmation. People who love themselves naturally seem to have a happier disposition and are therefore much more pleasant to be around.

What’s your best romantic relationship advice?

I asked my kids some Big Life Questions…

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I love getting a kid’s perspective on life, so I often chat about this vast topic with my little ones. I recently asked them some Big Life Questions:

What’s the purpose of your life? What’s the reason you are alive?

Sakina (5 years): To go on holidays.

Muhammad (3 years): To fix trucks.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Sakina: A mummy.

Muhammad: A grown-up.

If you could ask God for anything, what would you ask Him for?

Sakina: I’d ask Him to give me lots of toys…oh, and to give Muhammad lots of toys too.

Muhammad: I’d ask Him to fix everybody’s car.

I’d love to hear about your stories. What smart things do your little ones say?

3 things I loved this week

1. On Friday night, my local library hosted an acoustic night featuring young, up and coming musicians from the area. The crowd of attendees- a mixture of people of different ages and cultural backgrounds- squeezed into the small area of children’s section. Books, twinkling fairy lights, happy company, and amazing music, ‘SR Library Acoustic Nights’ was the perfect recipe for a perfect evening.

One of the musicians summed up the event so well: “There are a lot of nasty things going on in the world, but there are a lot of lovely ones as well if you look in the right places. This night at the library is one of those lovely things.”

Check out the musician’s online accounts below and send a little love their way.

Tom Heath

Amy Victoria

Changing Colour

2. This vlog of Mombasa, Kenya by talented photographer/videographer, Haytham Bhalo. The aerial views starting from 3:48 are AMAZING. Check out his website for more remarkable shots (like the one below) of the Mombasa life at at www.haythambhalo.com

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3. Our non-profit, Donge La Mombasa Welfare Group, visited an orphanage this weekend. Our team of medical volunteers gave the resident orphans a check up and treated them for parasitic diseases and malnourishment, while our team of volunteer builders helped repair some structural damage on the grounds and built an extension for the kitchen. They also delivered new mattresses, toys, and books. Way to go, team!