International Women’s Day as well as Women’s History Month

International Women’s Day, as defined on their website, “is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”

A number of multinational corporations have made an effort to acknowledge the significance of March 8th, otherwise known as the International Women’s Day. For instance, the KFC divisions in Malaysia have replaced Colonel Sanders with his wife, Claudia as the face of the company for the day. This is an illustration of the appreciation towards hardworking women as Claudia played an integral role in the success of the fast food chain. In addition, the company behind Brawny paper towels have been leading a #StrengthHasNoGender campaign. They have recently announced their decision to switch their famous red flannel-wearing male representative for a female figure in celebration of Women’s History month.

Mentioned in this month’s issue of the New Yorker magazine, Johnnie Walker Black Label, the well-known whisky brand has introduced a new and limited (only available during Women’s History month) edition. Johnnie Walker Black Label the Jane Walker Edition has a unique selling point. Their marketing strategy involves the donation of $1 to a non-profit organization that supports women’s progress initiatives, such as Monumental Women, for every bottle of the Jane Walker Edition sold. The donation could reach a sum of $250,000, depending on the sales.

“Important conversations about gender continue to be at the forefront of culture, and we strongly believe there is no better time than now to introduce our Jane Walker icon and contribute to pioneering organizations that share our mission. We are proud to toast the many achievements of women and everyone on the journey towards progress in gender equality.” – Stephanie Jacoby, the Vice President of Johnnie Walker.

These companies are not the only ones who have made some changes to their iconic elements for the course of Women’s History month to advocate for feminism.

It seems that McDonald’s has just joined the party following recent events. A source from Business Insider reveals the approach taken by the international fast food chain.

“The golden “M” will be flipped into a golden “W” in celebration of women everywhere… We have a long history of supporting women in the workplace, giving them the opportunity to grow and succeed. In the U.S. we take pride in our diversity and we are proud to share that today; six out of ten restaurant managers are women,” communicated by Lauren Altmin, a McDonald’s representative in an exchange with CNBC Make It media outlet.

When the change was first implemented in the Lynwood, California branch, many have assumed that it was an unintentional shift; Some thought it was a prank. However, Patricia Williams, the owner of that particular branch, along with other representatives have stood out to clarify the movement.

“For the first time in our brand history, we flipped our iconic arches for International Women’s Day in honor of the extraordinary accomplishments of women everywhere and especially in our restaurants. From restaurant crew and management to our C-suite of senior leadership, women play invaluable roles at all levels and together with our independent franchise owners we’re committed to their success,” quote Wendy Lewis, McDonald’s Chief Diversity Officer.

McDonald’s is extending their effort by producing the new golden “W” on “packaging, crew shirts, hats and bag stuffers” in addition to the replacement of the former logo on their social media pages. The special edition packaging and products will only be present at exactly one hundred McDonald’s branches.

It is always heart-warming to see our favorite brands advocate for gender equality as well as women’s rights. While many corporations are making a change, it is obvious that some are extending more efforts than others.

Let us come together and celebrate the month of March, Women’s History month in honor of all the women out there.

Featured Image via Flickr/Mike Mozart

KFC Malaysia shows support for International Women’s Day

It is always nice to receive news regarding events that celebrate and demonstrates appreciation towards women. In celebration of International Women’s Day, the KFC divisions in Malaysia have appointed a female figure as the new face of the company. The guest of honor in the discussion is Claudia, Colonel Sanders’ second wife whom he met through their former employment relationship. She was employed as a server at Sanders Café, Colonel Sanders’ first dining establishment – as revealed by Business Insider. Subsequently, Claudia became a prominent figure due to her contribution and role in the success of the fast food franchise that is now available across the world.

 “Mrs. Sanders played a very important role in the success of KFC. While the Colonel was busy promoting his chicken and running the company, she took orders in the restaurant, mixed the secret blend of herbs and spices, and as you know, in those days there were no courier services, so she had to take the orders to the train station for shipping,” Merrill Pereyra, the CEO of QSR Brands, the corporation that KFC establishments in Malaysia ultimately belongs to, conveys to audience in a video posted on Youtube.

This video, aside from justifying the move, serves as an introduction to Claudia.

Claudia played an integral part in the business and is no stranger to the general public. As a matter of fact, she has had previous encounters with the media.

In an early interview with Claudia, the Associated Press quoted, “While he was out selling, I was home doing the work.”

Claudia’s significant contribution is clearly acknowledged and illustrated in her obituary produced by the Associated Press back in 1997.

”We could not have been the company we are now without Claudia’s contributions,” David Novak, KFC’s president and chief executive expresses with gratitude.

No matter how far women have come in terms of achieving equal rights in legal proceedings, the progress in society and political aspects remain ostensible. We have arrived at an era in which women are contending for equal treatments in our daily lives. This is an aspect that does not have an exact standard of measurement, which is why an event like this is significant.

“To all women of KFC and the world out there, we would like to say that your future is always bright, equal, safe and rewarding. Keep inspiring us and impacting lives and thank you for all your hard work and contribution to our community, family and this organization,” Pereyra coherently articulated the firm’s attempt to show appreciation and gratitude towards women’s effort in the workplace and domestically in an interview with Marketing magazine.

This, nonetheless, is not the first demonstration of female appreciation by the KFC branches. Prior to the appointment of Claudia as the face of the company, the role of a female Sanders had belonged to another. Reba McEntire the mascot was the first appointed female counterpart of Colonel Sanders. This evidently shows KFC’s effort in advocating for gender equality. Following closely behind is another fast food chain, Mcdonalds. In honor to the International Women’s Day, McDonalds have decided to rotate the prominent ‘M’ in its logo into a ‘W’. This advertising strategy centers on the idea of ‘W’ for women.

Amidst of these strategic marketing move (and as a tribute to Claudia), many have criticized the inadequacy of their efforts. They feel that the one-day occurrence is not sufficient for the advocacy of women’s rights. Be that as it may, we should all appreciate the effort involved. Much like the fight for every other cause, we need to take it one step at a time. Regardless of the extent of a move, some is always better than none.

Let us continue to advocate and contend for gender equality and look forward to making more progress.

Featured Image via Flickr/whologwhy

Women are People, Not a Commodity

An extraordinary event transpired amidst the 19th and 20th centuries which altered the course of the history and transformed the world into life as we know it today. This century-long struggle has come to be known as the period of women’s suffrage movement. Prior to that time, long before any of us were born, women were once considered as a mere commodity just like a property. In fact, the United States in the early 1800s marked the era of white male dominance. It was a time when women were not permitted the same rights that men did, such as the right to vote as well as the right to own property.

Nonetheless, many women in countries all over the world are still considered inferior for the most part. Some examples of these places are Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the most infamous of all, Egypt. The society within these countries has an ostensibly innate gender-biased predisposition towards women that still subsists today. Frequent cases of domestic violence and the little to zero number of women in business and politics can be seen as the supporting evidence for the statement above, which is why an event hosted by Saudi Arabia recently has received worldwide attention.

With the rest of the world progressing so rapidly in terms of gender equality, it should come as no surprise that the women who are residing in Saudi Arabia, one of the countries in the Middle East are making an effort to improve women’s rights. The recent event is a clear illustration of this endeavor; Their first and foremost women marathon that lasts for nearly two miles. Fifteen hundred women participated in the run, ranging from professionals such as Mizna al-Nassar to other laypersons, who are there to show their support to the cause – all age groups included. Mizna al-Nassar, a twenty-eight years old prospective Olympian who, since then, has announced her plans to enter the 2020 Olympics that will be located in Tokyo, as a representative on Saudi Arabia. She is currently pursuing a career in the line of graphic design.

She successfully crossed the finish line of the al-Ahsa run within fifteen minutes, an impressive achievement that is backed by her,

“regimented food program and training schedule supervised by professional trainer,” in addition to past experience, “I have participated in the Islamic Sport Games in Baku Azerbaijan in 2017 and in the Ladies Sport Games in Sharjah in 2018,”

– she informed Al Arabiya, a news outlet that is based in Saudi.

The “al-Ahsa Runs” took place in the Eastern province of al-Ahsa, as reported by the Anadolu Agency.

Nonetheless, all participants in the run were reported to have their abayas and hijabs on in accordance with the Sharia law. Needless to say, this was not an easy race for the women, but their determination is both admirable and inspiring for all female across the world. Several months prior to this run, these women had just overcome the law that inhibits them from driving on the streets in the country. All in all, the Middle Eastern countries are really making progress towards gender equality in recent months.

While we are extremely proud of them, we cannot help but wonder why we have to fight for these entities in our lives. Why are female frequently considered as the inferior counterpart, when we are able to perform miraculous tasks such as reproduction, in addition to bearing the astronomical amount of pain that follows. Even so, women’s rights are still on the brink today in the United States as we approach the subject of pregnancy.

If we are as far ahead as we are led to believe, why do we still have to fight for Pro-Choice?

Featured Image via Flickr/Hernán Piñera

Japanese Artist Arrested for ‘Distributing Indecent Material’

Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, 42, was arrested for obscenity charges due to her art that explores female genitalia. The artist vowed to challenge her arrest and declared from behind bars to defy a culture of “discrimination” against openly acknowledging the vagina in Japanese society.

On July 12, Igarashi was arrested for distributing indecent material with a potential sentence of up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. According to reports from the Kyodo News Agency on Saturday, July 19, Igarashi has been released from jail.

“That was an unjust arrest. I don’t think my genitals are obscene. My body is mine. It’s not acceptable that something is determined to be ‘indecent’ from a purely male point of view,” Igarashi stated upon her release. Although she has been released from jail, the charges still remain a possibility if she is found guilty in court.

via Megumi Igarashi
via Megumi Igarashi

Igarashi worked under the name “Rokudenashiko,” meaning “good-for-nothing girl.” The artist built a kayak that was shaped like her vagina after she managed to raise around $10,000 through crowdfunding. As a thanks to her donors, Igarashi sent 3D-printer data of her scanned vagina, which had been the digital basis for her kayak project. Igarashi has described her work as a pop-art exploration of the manko, which is Japanese slang for vagina.

Upon her arrest, Igarashi recalled that about 10 police officers appeared at her home. Initially, she thought they would only want to confiscate her work.

From across a plastic security divide in a central Tokyo jail, Igarashi could not help laughing a little during her conversation with officers who she described as “grim-looking.” Igarashi described how shocked she was about the arrest saying, “I did not expect to get arrested at all. Even as they were confiscating my works, I thought to myself, ‘This will be a good story.’ Then they handcuffed and arrested me. Now, I just feel outraged.”

Over 17,000 people signed an online petition for Igarashi’s immediate release on the website, a source for grassroots petitions.

Japan’s definition for “obscenity” is ambiguous. Thereby, the biggest issue in court will be determining if the vagina falls into this definition. According to the artist’s defense lawyer, Kazuyuki Minami, “It will be a difficult battle.” Minami, has also noted, “Igarashi has sparked a debate about women’s rights and the freedom of artistic expression.”

Japan’s pornography industry is regulated by a section of the criminal code dating back to 1907. To avoid obscenity charges, video pornography in Japan frequently applies digital mosaics in order to distort the images of genitalia in sex scenes. The vague description for obscenity was defined by a supreme court case in Japan in 1951. This definition stipulates that obscenity is something that, “stimulates desire and violates an ordinary person’s sense of sexual shame and morality.”

Igarashi’s original intention with her work was to challenge the double standard of female and male genitalia that is prevalent in Japan. On her website, she explained how the vagina has, “been such a taboo in Japanese society. It’s been overly hidden, although it’s just a part of a woman’s body.”

India’s Prime Minister Addresses Women’s Rights Issues

Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, addressed parliament this week to urge politicians to work together to provide greater legal protection and treatment to women in the wake of various horrific gang rape incidents this past month and in past years.

Poorly handled incidents such as the gang rape and lynching of 12-year-old and 14-year-old girls last month in Uttar Pradesh, and the fatal gang rape of a student in Delhi in December 2012 stirred up outrage. Women’s rights groups and other advocates claim these attacks have reached epidemic levels.

The prime minister calls for action against the “politicizing” of rape. According to The Guardian, he told parliament: “Governments will have to work strictly against this, else our own souls will not forgive us. That is why I appeal to all state ministers, all ministers please stop politicizing rape. Does it suit us to make comments on such incidents, can we not be quiet? We are playing with the dignity of women.”

The statement comes in response to the various insensitive comments from a string of officials surrounding the rape and murder of the two young girls last month. According to The Guardian, a minister from central Chattisgarh state minimized the tragedy, stating that these rape “incidents happen accidentally.” Another minister from Madhya Pradesh state was quoted in The Guardian arguing that rape is “sometimes right, sometimes wrong.” In the region where the rapes occurred, Uttar Pradesh, the chief minister’s father even defended the rapists, asserting that “boys will be boys.”

“Respect for women, their security – it should be the priority for all 1.2 billion people,”Modi asserts, starting the fight back against defenseless abuse against women.


Photo: Arjit Sen DNA

India’s Police Neglectful of Rape Victims

Poorly handled recent rape and assault incidents in India have left people wondering just how corrupt and insensitive the Indian police forces are in regards to the treatment of women.

It was 8 pm, on May 27th, when two cousins, a 12-year-old and 14-year-old, went outside to use the bathroom, as they did not have a bathroom in their northern Indian home. Suddenly, the uncle of one of the girls heard the two screaming, and rushed outside to see four men dragging his daughter and niece away. When demanding the men return the girls, a suspect held him at gunpoint and commanded that he leave. The children were raped and hung from a mango tree about 1 kilometer away.

Sohan Lal, a father to one of the girls, unaware of the fate of his abducted daughter and niece, went to a police station the next day to inquire about the search. Upon his arrival, the officers on duty mocked him, asking him of his caste, or position in Indian society. They called him “filthy” and a “street dog,” among other insults, and ripped up his complaint, ordering him to come back another time. The man would not let up and continued to beg for help. Hours later, he was informed of the girls’ fate.

In order to avoid a suicide ruling, villagers from six surrounding towns contributed in a silent protest, guarded the small girls’ bodies. These individuals preventing the removal of the bodies for up to 12 hours, until the suspects were taken into custody.

The crushed father has “no faith left in the police” who have left him with “nothing but grief.”

“This is a case that has disgusted people because of the brutality of what they did but also because it highlights how the police treat people. Generally in India the police look down on the poor or those from a lower social status,” states Naresh Saxena, advisor for the United Nations on Indian governance and former senior government official in the state of the attack, Uttar Pradesh.

This horrific incident demonstrates the marginalization of both women and those of lower socioeconomic statuses in India. In a police force comprised of less than 5% women, according to data from the ministry of home affairs in India, the insensitivity and unjust treatment of abused women has far surpassed startling.

After this incident, and another this past week where a woman was gang raped, strangled, and had acid pour on her face, Bharatiya Janata Party protestors gathered outside the Chief Minister’s house in the state capital, Lucknow, to demand better treatment and greater action in regards to women’s safety. Police forces met the protests by firing water cannons.






Photo: AP