Agra, India, the home of one of the largest and extravagant symbols of love, The Taj Mahal. Most travellers avoid spending the night in this part of India’s golden triangle, given that there is almost nothing to do. Recently I spent six days in Agra, a fact that astonishes other travellers. The reason – Sheroes Hangout. A local hangout for the rehabilitation and empowerment of acid attack survivors.
India’s Hijras became officially recognised by law in 2014 as ‘The Third Gender’, despite a 4000-year history in the country. Historically, Hijras were most commonly recorded as eunuchs, neither man nor female, which is how the term Third Gender came about. However, in modern times Hijras have since expanded to become a sect of the LGBTQ community and now include persons who identify as transgender or intersex. While some Hijras are happy to be in an anonymous gender category, other wish to identify as their chosen gender. With an estimated 2 million Hijras living in India, the complexity and diversity of understanding the needs and protecting the rights of this gender-variant subgroup continue to grow. Once celebrated in ancient Hindi texts such as the Kama Sutra and Mahabaratha, the existence of Hijras as empowered beings with special powers of luck and fertility can be traced back for centuries in India. Hijras traditionally played a valued role in their communities, using their powers to perform blessings at many sacred occasions, from births, weddings, and deaths.
Rebecca Lolosoli grew up as part of the Samburu tribe in Kenya. Gender relations are complicated in this traditionally patriarchal society, which sees the men as warriors and protectors of women. Gender-based discrimination and violence in the area continue to place women in the status of second-class. Samburu culture has no age-regulation in marriage, which sees girls as young as 11 being sold for a dowry (of between 2-5 cows), to men as old at 70. Female Genital Mutilation is rife, and girls who refuse are outcasted and not allowed to marry. There are many harmful cultural practices that girls and women are subjected to in this male dominated society.
Everyone can agree that Christmas time is equal parts exciting and exhausting. The working year is winding down, the hangover from the Christmas party has started to heal, you’ve booked in some quality R&R and you’re running around like crazy on the hunt for the perfect present.
Working in the not-for-profit and social enterprise space means I get to meet some of Australia’s most inspiring thought leaders and world changers. A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to sit down with Natalie Isaacs, the CEO and Founder of 1 Million Women. 1 Million Women is Australia’s largest women’s movement acting on climate change. Their aim is to engage 1 Million female members globally, each committed to cutting 1 tonne of carbon in their daily lives.
“Happiness based on aesthetics will suffocate your potential” – Essena ONeill. Up until about a week ago, I never thought I would mention Essena ONeill on Omology. Essena is a 19-year-old lifestyle blogger from the Sunshine Coast who has built an online empire of over half a million followers on Instagram alone. Following Essena has been a very mixed experience. Whilst she shared her genuine journey of veganism and conscious consumer choices, these messages were shared amongst a gallery of her rock hard stomach and a life that seemed almost attainable if one was to take just enough selfies and drink the right tea.
Opening up a book, switching off from the world and absorbing knowledge from my most-loved authors, is easily one of my greatest pleasures. Today, I’m celebrating a few of my favourite books written by and about girls. All three of these books tell triumphant tales of girls who show immense strength against boundless barriers. The blessing of reading, particularly in the week we’re recognising International Day of The Girl, is something worth celebrating.
There’s no denying that sports luxe is in. The aesthetics of yoga is unavoidable nowadays with pretzel-shaped yogis all over our social pages, and everyone trading in their skinny jeans for yoga tights. I remember feeling a sense of pride when I purchased my first Lululemon mat to take with me to yoga teacher training. I absolutely loved it. Before I even had a chance to practice on my gorgeous new mat our teachers handed us a permanent marker and asked us to draw alignment marks ALL over our mats. I quickly had to learn that attaching to material items only causes misery.