The other side of the rose

Hello everyone!

As you know, today is Valentine’s Day, a special day where we share lots of love, laughs and gifts with our loved ones or friends. This day has undeniably become a billion dollar industry for love celebration, and flower offering is one of the most appreciated gestures – only in the U.S., an estimated number of 244 million roses were sold specifically for this day. These astonishing numbers made me smile, while thinking: “how many women should be smiling and hugging their loved ones today? How amazing is the power of a flower! It’s like magic!”

Well, it’s not. For the smile of millions of women around the world, there are hundreds of other who are suffering every day, in flower fields, struggling with alarming working conditions, while being prevented from spending quality time with their children.

Right after Hollande, Colombia is the world’s second largest exporter of flowers and it’s the only industry in the country dominated by female workers, corresponding to 65% of the workforce on the flower fields. Women are frequently exposed to dangerous chemicals – 2/3 of Colombia’s flower-workers suffer from problems associated with pesticide exposure, ranging from nausea to miscarriages; they also suffer from heavy workloads which result in repetitive stress injuries, and are frequently victims of various forms of sexual harassment. Research done by an Ecuadorian NGO show that over 55% of women flower workers had experienced some form of sexual violence. It also unveiled a staggering 19% of women who had been forced to have sex with a coworker or superior and 10% had been sexually attacked. In the interest of keeping their jobs, by fear of losing their jobs or ending their marital relations, they try to ignore it. And you may ask: why in the flower fields? Because they are totally unprotected – cultivation areas promote a solitary environment and long working hours that extend late into the night encourage these type of behaviors.

Yes, long working hours. LONG working hours. During the high season, workers report working 14 or 15-hours a day. Most of the times, they usually wake up at 3 a.m., in an attempt to drop their kids at school and catch the bus that will them to the field (sometimes one or two hours away from home). They start working around 6 a.m. and often stay until 10 or 11 p.m. At the end of the day, the workers return home, and do all the domestic work. Not rarely, they are mothers of +3 children and if it was not for their little daughters, they would hardly get any support.

In terms of salary, they generally earn Colombia’s minimum wage, which is approximately $7 a day, when the daily living expenses account for around $15. That’s true: these women do not earn enough to face their expenses. In fact, they earn 45% less than their estimated basic living expenses, which contrasts dramatically with the retail value of the flowers that only one woman picks daily – $600 to $800. To facilitate the numbers: if you would buy 3 roses on Valentine’s day, you would cover the price a woman is payed on the field.

But we can stop it. No, we will not invade flower fields and get them out of there. Only if it was that easy! We can start by raising awareness, by sharing this reality with our family, our friends and within our social networks. Also, watch videos, read testemonials, stay informed!

Empowering women is also thinking before acting. It all starts with us. And I don’t mean we should stop buying flowers. But before buying a 12-flower bouquet, we can opt for a 6-flower one. Or purchase/read about fair-trade flowers, in which (at least) workers are payed fairly. Let me give you some hints:

United States (stores):
– FTD Flowers
– One World Flowers

Europe (since it is so big, I’ll give you a website where you can read about it):
http://wfto-europe.org/

Have a great weekend and, remember, by reading this post and watching the video, you are already helping!

You can look, but you can’t stare.

Hello ladies!

First of all, let me apologize for having been absent for so long, but school has been very absorbing… My idea is to post regularly, so you don’t lose pace of the great efforts people out there are accomplishing for a fairer and, most of all, more respectful world to women!

Thumbs up for the Whistling Woods International, an art institute located in Mumbai, India, for the release of an eye-opening video meant to show men how ridiculous and disrespectful they look like when staring at a woman in a public space. The video/ad was released in December 2013, exactly one year after one dramatic event in Dehli, where a horrific and deadly gang lured a 23-year old girl and her male friend into boarding a bus, helding her down and taking turns raping her to death.

The event triggered a sense of solidarity throughout the country and encouraged the institute to stand up and fight against the gender inequality that still remains, not only in India, but all around the world. The 90-second ad, called ‘Dekh Le’ (meaning “look”), depicts how the public behavior of men make women uncomfortable, everywhere: in the traffic, on the bus, in a caffe. I am sure that everyone of you have already dealt or are dealing with behaviors like this in your life – how absurd do men look in our eyes, don’t they?

Empowering women is also respecting their space, their privacy and their right of being left alone. Is not about men looking at us, is about them leering and staring at our body, or commenting between their buddies or, worst, asking us awkward questions/proposals.

Personally, I have been addressed or looked at by men I didn’t know, and my solution was to either stare at them, too (so they would feel ashamed and look away) or ignore them. What about you? Have you ever gone through an experience like this? If so, how did you react?

Enjoy the video and stay tuned for more news and inspiring histories I have to share with you 馃檪

Pantene fights against sexist labels

Good evening ladies!

Hope you had an amazing weekend and that you had the opportunity to dedicate some minutes to yourself…

I spent mine working, which is not necessarily bad; I was just busy preparing myself to be one of the next female CEO and show men how much a woman can work her ass off in a job 馃槈

Speaking about women in the workplace, Saturday I bumped into a video that really struck my attention for its strong message: the new Pantene commercial created by BBDO Guerrero in Manila (Philippines). The video illustrates how the same professional behaviors are interpreted differently depending on whether it is a man or a woman, in a world that has still not reached a stage where women are not bossy, they too can be the BOSS.

Empowering women is also spreading the word, and Pantene was master doing it. And don’t get me wrong: I don’t have special contracts with the shampoo brand nor it is my favorite brand. Still, it used its power, resources and influence to have a positive impact on society.

One last remark: the music (Mad World) is magnificent and is originally sung by R.E.M. How beautiful is it in a female voice?

“The girl effect”

Hi sweet girls from all over the world!

This is a post for everyone of us – 聽moms, grandmas, daughters, sisters, friends – so read it carefully 馃檪

Empowering women is also giving them hope and providing them the right tools to emancipate themselves. Today I will show you one of the most inspiring videos I have ever seen, produced by “The girl effect”.

“The girl effect” was created in 2008 by the Nike Foundation and this movement is based on the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world. Women are such inspiring and powerful human beings, they can can actually drive to lift themselves and their families 聽out of poverty, having a multiplier effect within their villages.

“The girl effect” also has a website聽[www.girleffect.org]聽more than worth seeing. When I first bumped into it, I was surprised by the cheerful colors and the happiness it transmits – I didn’t feel sad, or guilty, or indiferent. I had to see it. I actually felt quite good. The first impact was brutal: “This is the moment to make girls impossible to ignore”. I kept looking at this sentence and I knew I had to share it with you.

Through this website I discovered two important things:

– Adolescent girls play a crucial role in solving the most persistent development problems facing the world today

– By delaying child marriage and teen pregnancy, HIV and AIDS can be resolved and the cycle of poverty can be broken

This only reinforces my idea that girls (and future women) are essential for a balanced and happier world!

If you agree with me, you would like to watch the video – 聽it takes you 3 minutes and, I promise, it will make your day!

Wow, they also have a “Girl Declaration”! Take a look and “Read It. Support It. Make It Famous.” –聽http://www.girleffect.org/media/139917/declaration_document_web_v6_26_9_13_copy.pdf聽–

Have an amazing week! And, don’t forget, take time for yourself 馃檪

 

“Women and Rights” Campaign – Brazil

Empowering women is also giving them a chance to have a voice.

Domestic violence has always been in the spotlight, and generally people associate it with physical assault or sexual abuse. Today, I’m going to talk about Emotional Abuse, which can be even more harmful than the physical one, since it can undermine what we think about ourselves.

Emotional Abuse is a behavior that is rarely percepted when it first happens and leads the victim, in this case, the woman, to allow something untrue to define her. There are typical behaviors that define if you are being a victim of emotional abuse:

– Humiliation and Degradation: “What you’re saying is completely stupid”, “No one told you your brain is supposed to think?”

– Domination and Control: “I don’t like when you wear that dress”, “You went shopping again?!”, “I would have done it, it was not that great”

– Accusing and Blaming: “You are the reason for all my frustrations”, “Sorry, I didn’t mean it, they pushed me to do it”

– Emotional distance and Isolation: “Go away, you made me feel awful”

– Codependence and Enmeshment: “I thought it would be best for you if I said that”, “I need you to come with me [everytime]”

Be alert to the signs and defend yourself from these type of toxic and unhealthy relationships. And remember:聽no one owns you!

Watch this 2-minute video and share with us what you think about the topic and how would you behave in a situation of Emotional Abuse.聽

**”No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleonor Roosevelt**

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“Women and Rights”, a Brazilian campaign raising awareness about reducing violence, promoting gender equality and women’s health.

Why we have too few women leaders

Ladies and… ladies!

Yes, this is our secret spot, where I will be sharing with you everything you need and want to know about being a woman!聽As you know, society tends to expect 聽too much from us and that can be overwhelming and is not healthy for us.

Raise your hand the first woman who never heard these words or felt like she should have done this: “You have to be a good mother!”, “You have to fit in these pants!”, “You have to take time for your children!”, “You have to cook!”, “You have to look beautiful!”, “Have kids!”, “Don’t have kids!”, “Marry!”, “This guy is not good for you!”, “Ugh, put some make up on!” – Ok,ok… Maybe I got a bit too excited about this, but, in fact, that’s what happens in a society that has still not reached a stage of equality between men and women.

No, don’t run away – this is not a feminist blog. Men can and should totally be a part of this. Sharing with them our hopes and fears can be good for us, as it is for them, as they know us even better and are able to help us when we need.

In my first post, I will be sharing with you a TEDx video that really impressed me by its honest and inspirational words. You are welcome to share with us what you think about the subject and if you ever felt you were not recognized enough or were called “bossy” at some point of your life 馃槈

Enjoy it!

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Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook and successful writer of “Lean In”, highlights some differences between men and women in the workplace, giving women some actionable tips to take their career to the next level.