Aborto si, Aborto no, mi decisión

Yo decido sobre mi cuerpo.

El pasado 28 de septiembre en varios países de América Latina y el Caribe se celebró el día de la despenalización del aborto. En este día y en otras ocasiones es cuando usamos nuestro pañuelo verde que simboliza la lucha por el derecho al  aborto legal, seguro y gratuito en América Latina y el Caribe. 

En Latinoamérica y el Caribe hay varios países donde las mujeres mueren por no poder practicar el aborto y existe violación de sus derechos sexuales y reproductivos y la violación física y psicológica.

Según el Center for Reproductive Rights en América Latina y el Caribe el mapa del estado ilegal o legal del aborto se ve así:  

El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Suriname y República Dominicana es prohibido por completo. El Salvador es uno de los países más rígidos, por ejemplo la condena a “Las 17” por más de 40 años de cárcel. 

Mientras que en las anteriores es un delito en otros el aborto es permitido bajo causales como: cuando el embarazo pone en riesgo la vida y salud de la mujer,  en caso de violación, estupro, incesto y deformación o inviabilidad del feto. Entre los países donde es permitido el aborto por uno o más de estos causales tenemos a Belice, Brasil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Perú, Panama y Venezuela. 

México es particular ya que opera bajo un sistema federal, donde cada estado es independiente y por lo tanto ejerce las restricciones de acuerdo a las leyes del estado. Sin embargo, en todo el país es permitido en caso de violación, pero muchas veces no se accede porque hay obstáculos para la ejecución. Un ejemplo claro de ello se dio en junio de este año en Morelia cuando se le negó el aborto a una menor que fue violada por su padrastro. 

En Cuba, Guyana, Guyana Francesa, Uruguay y Puerto Rico y Argentina es permitido el aborto sin condiciones en las primeras semanas de gestación y bajo el plazo establecido por la ley. 

Reconozco que no es la primera vez que abordo este tema, sin embargo considero que no podemos dejar de hablar de ellos mientras nuestras madres, tías, primas, hermanas, vecinas, amigas y conocidas de nuestra comunidad mueren por estas leyes obsoletos y patriarcales.

Hay que seguir demandando que las mujeres tengamos derecho a un aborto seguro y gratuito.

Photo by Jaqueline Fritz on Unsplash

Our Menstrual Cycle is normal

Even though I have paid during my menstrual period, I am proud of it and I am not ashamed to talk about it.

In an article written two years ago, I expressed how I feel while experiencing my menstrual cycle. My body, emotions, and feelings vary according to the stage. During the first semester of this year, I experienced another phase when I missed my period for over 4 months. It was a bumpy ride; however, once more I learned about my body, my cycle and how to embrace it.

In our society, a lot of times we don’t talk about these issues openly because we are ashamed of being judged, or think it is something mainly private. However, what I learned is that it’s better to talk about it because it feels good to express your feeling and thoughts as an individual no matter your age, race, religion, nationality, and so on. As well, this can also help us to learn from someone else’s experience.

After facing those difficult months, I thought it was necessary to write about this topic once more because it’s something normal that occurs to each girl and woman. I believe we need to break the silence, tabu, and myths that society have been built concerning this topic. The menstrual cycle is not an issue to be ashamed of; on the contrary, we should be proud to talk about it because it is one of the rights girls and women have.

A woman’s menstrual cycle is a natural biological experience that occurs every 28 or more days and involves changes in two organs: the ovary and the uterus. The menstrual cycle varies depending on the process of neuroendocrine functions (Boron, 2017).

Moreover, the menstrual cycle is the process “where women are tightly controlled by endocrine, autocrine and paracrine factors regulating ovarian follicular development, ovulation, luteinization, luteolysis, and remodelling of the endometrium” (Mihm, Gangooly, & Muttukrishna, 2011).

The menstrual cycle has four phases:

  • Menstrual
  • Follicular
  • Ovulation
  • Luteal

These phases vary for each woman. Unfortunately, the menstruation phase is what is more commonly discussed in our society; however, each one is important for women’s mental and physical feelings. In a workshop about our menstrual cycle with Carmen Lorenza, a menstrual educator I learned that each phase is like one of the four weather seasons of the year: winter (menstrual), spring (follicular), summer (ovulation), and autumn (luteal). Each season has charms, temperature, light, darkness, and benefits. Likewise, the menstrual cycle phases also have.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

“Menstrual bleeding is the external symptom of cyclicity in women and occurs at the end of the luteal and the beginning of the follicular phase” (Mihm, Gangooly, & Muttukrishna, 2011). This process has a length of 3-6 days. During this period the woman liberates blood, cells, and mucus.

The follicular phase occurs during the first period of the day and ends with ovulation. Next, is ovulation, where the matured egg is released from the ovary. It occurs around two weeks or just before the menstruation phase. The last stage is luteal, which is the stage where the egg bursts from its follicle but remains on the surface of the ovary. This follicle is transformed into a corpus luteum. 

As how I mentioned before, many times we hear and read about myths related to the menstrual phase. In many cultures, girls and women are isolated during their menstrual period because they are considered impure and ill, which does not permit them to interact with the rest of the society, such as not attending school, doing home duties, exercising, and so on.

Several articles from the WaterAid Organization reveal that girls who have their period in Iran, Nepal, and other countries are not allowed to go inside their house, touch their sister or grandmother, and so on. However, the articles also show that girls are more aware of their rights and are working to end the stigma about their period.

To break some of these myths and raise awareness of menstrual rights, Rebeca Lane, who is one of my favourite singers, has a campaign for girls to know about their menstruation. Along with other artists, she wrote and animated a music video titled Flores Rojas, where she stresses that our period is normal and thus, we don’t need to hide it, be ashamed or be punished. Besides the music video, the project also includes murals in public spaces and other activities, which are organized by non-profit organizations.

We need to talk about our menstrual cycle as a natural topic, it needs to be included in the education system curriculum, but most of all we need to stop stereotypes and assumptions about the entire process.

It feels good to regain my regular menstrual period after experiencing a temporal absence of it. Today I am in my autumn season. In what stage of your cycle are you now?

Photo by Monika Kozub on Unsplash

Six Colour Flag

Who created the rainbow flag?

In many countries, June is marked as the month of pride celebration. In countries where LGBTQ+ rights are not forbidden, you can see flags displayed on the streets, parliament houses, companies, balconies of houses, etc. They can also be seen in demonstrations, parades, and other events that take place during the whole month. But have you stopped to think by whom and why the rainbow flag was created? I was curious myself, so I thought that it would be interesting to learn together.

Gilbert Baker is the creator of the rainbow flag. Barker was a vexillographer (flag maker), a political activist, a drag queen, and a designer. Besides, he enjoyed watching movies, dancing, loving fashion, and other leisures he practiced with his friend Artie and Cleve.

He was talented in designing banners for anti-war and pro-gay protests; thus, many friends and colleagues including Harvey Milk, who was the first gay politician elected in San Francisco motivated him to create a symbol for the gay community.

Baker knew that the symbol needed to be something new and beautiful. He wanted to strip off the painful stigma that was created by the Nazi in the concentration camp, where gay men were marked out by wearing a pink triangle that was tagged on their clothes.

One night, he was out at Winterland Ballroom dancing with Cleve. Both were moving their hips, snapping their fingers, and dancing to the music. Everything and everyone that surrounded them were flashing, glittering, and colourful. At this point, Baker knew he had the main idea, the rainbow flat emerged. So, on the 25th of June, 1978, Baker raised the flag for the first time at the United Nations Plaza in San Francisco to commemorate Gay Freedom Day Parade.

“We were all in a swirl of colour and light. It was like a rainbow. A Rainbow flag was a conscious choice, natural and necessary. The rainbow came from earliest recorded history as a symbol of hope,” describes Baker on his website.  

The rainbow flag that is raised today has six bans from top to bottom:

Red represents life

Orange stands for healing

Yellow means sunlight

Green nature

Blue meaning serenity

Purple spirit

However, when it was created it had eight colours.  Pink represents sexuality and turquoise magic.

Even though there is a dispute about the right of the rainbow flag from different parts, Baker was clear before he passed away in 2017 that the flag is public and free to use by anyone. It is a gift for everyone since it was created with that purpose.

Today as we raise and see the rainbow flag, let’s have in mind that the LGBTQ+ are part of our community, thus remember that inclusion is our duty. 

References

https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20160615-the-history-of-the-rainbow-flag

https://academic.oup.com/jiplp/article/15/9/727/5917767?login=true

May Pole

May is the month for rain, dance, fertility, and planting.

May Pole is in honour of the God Maya Ya, who embraces fertility, mother earth, and the beginning of the rainy season. During the entire month of May, each neighbourhood in the city of Bluefields and Bilwi in Nicaragua prepares dances that are performed around a decorated tree with colourful costumes and some good vibrating musical rhythm. Games, food and drinks are also prepared. 

In 2011, I was part of the production team of the documentary titled Al Son de Miss Lizzie, which describes the artistic life of Elizabeth Nelson Forbes, who is a pioneer of the Maypole dance in the Caribbean of Nicaragua. 

I invite you to watch the documentary and learn about the mixture of cultures. I hope you can feel the spirit of the God Maya Ya. 

Documentary Al Son de Miss Lizzie

Photo cover: May Pole painting by Nydia Taylor

Working Market: An Inequal place for Women

Have you experience inequality in the labour market as a woman?

In some countries, the 1st of May was the celebration of Labor Day. Globally, men and women have different experiences in the labour market. Today, employed women are still under-representation since they receive less pay, some work more hours, few hold key positions, and there is a gap regarding social and retirement benefits.

According to a report from the European Commission gender, the gap in employment between men and women is 11.3%. A total of 66.8% of women is currently in employment, whereas men’s employment rate stands at 78.1%.

A friend, who is a mechanical engineer experienced a gender wage differential. While she was working at a company, a male engineer was hired and received a higher salary even though he had less work than her. I am sure that my friend’s case is something that happens regularly. Have you experienced something similar?

What should be done to stop these disparities? I think we should:

  • Speak out. Don’t stay silent.
  • Report any inequality to your union.
  • Promote re-structuring of labour laws and increase political pressures.

What else will you add to this list?

We need changes!

Photo by Jens Maes on Unsplash