The Cause – Celebrating and Seeking Freedom

“The young women of today, free to study, to speak, to write, to choose their occupation, should remember that every inch of this freedom was bought for them at a great price. It is for them to show their gratitude by helping onward the reforms of their own times, by spreading the light of freedom and of truth still wider. The debt that each generation owes to the past it must pay to the future.”
Abigail Scott Duniway” (1834 – 1915)
American women’s rights advocate, newspaper editor and writer


It is fitting that we begin this post with a quote from a woman who fought for equality in Portland, OR. Can’t Stop the Serenity was born in Portland, and it is because of women like Abigail Scott Duniway that we have the freedom today to continue to spread the light of freedom, truth and equality. In a time when women did not have the right to vote or own property, Abigail began publishing a weekly newspaper, The New Northwest. The paper was promoted as a human rights advocate, supporting education and women’s suffrage.

Recognised by the The National Women’s Suffrage Association as a leading women’s advocate in the American West in 1886, Abigail faced numerous challenges in spreading her message and creating change. Among her opponents was her own brother, Harvey W. Scott, who edited another local paper, the conservative The Oregonian. But throughout all, she maintained her fierce determination and never gave up. Her persistence paid off in 1912 when Oregon became the seventh state in the Union to pass a women’s suffrage amendment. Abigail was the first woman to register to vote in Multnomah County.

But while we celebrate our freedom to vote, to become educated and our right to make our own choices, we must remember that not all women share these rights. Around the world, every day, women are oppressed. They are denied the right for political expression. Forbidden opportunities to seek an education. And they are prevented from making their own choices. This is why we need Equality Now.


This week, we’d like to draw highlight the challenge faced by women around the world who seek political expression and the right to represent others in government.

On 21 May 2007 Malalai Joya, a woman Member of Parliament (MP) and defender of women’s rights, was suspended from the Afghan parliament for strongly criticizing warlord fellow MPs and comparing them in a television interview to being worse than a stable of animals. Her suspension was against the Wolesi Jirga’s (Lower House of Parliament) Rules of Procedure, which only allow for a one day suspension or for suspension for a further unspecified number of days if requested by the Administrative Board and approved by the Wolesi Jirga. This procedure was not followed. In addition, Malalai Joya has been widely reported as having been threatened with rape and murder by fellow MPs yet to date no action has been taken against any MP for threats made against Malalai.

Women in public life are being increasingly targeted for defending human rights and taking a public role in society in Afghanistan, such as Commander Malalai Kakar, Afghanistan’s most senior policewoman, who was shot dead outside her home on 28 September 2008. Commander Kakar was head of Kandahar city’s department on crimes against women and her adherence to the rule of law in combating violence against women resulted in daily threats and a number of attempts on her life before she was fatally gunned down. On 25 September 2006 Safia Ama Jan, the southern provincial head of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs, was murdered outside the front gate of her Kandahar home. Like Malalai Joya, fellow woman MP Shukria Barakzai has also been targeted with death threats. Her office has been attacked a number of times and it has been reported that her name is included on a list which also included the name of Commander Kakar as a target for assassination. In June 2007 two women journalists were murdered with many others receiving death threats.

Increasingly schools for girls have been forced to close after being attacked. In November 2008 suspected Taliban militants used water pistols to spray acid on teachers and girls walking to school in Kandahar. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) states that, as of mid-November 2008, there have been 256 violent school incidents resulting in some 58 deaths and 46 injuries.

Since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, women have been calling for equal rights and highlighting the need for human security. Yet those who assert these rights, such as Malalai Joya, continue to be threatened, abused and even killed.

However, despite Afghanistan’s ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in March 2003 and the adoption of a new Constitution in January 2004 (which provides for equal rights for women and men before the law and protects freedom of speech), women continue to be violently targeted in Afghanistan and denied equal rights and equal protection of the law and Malalai Joya remains suspended from parliament. Malalai Joya was duly elected to Parliament and has been consistently and courageously speaking out for human rights, recognizing that respect for human rights is fundamental to peace and security. Her suspension undermines democracy in Afghanistan and is a violation of her rights, as well as the rights of those she represents.

This Women’s Action will show you how you can add your voice to the global call for the right of women to help shape change in Afghanistan. Visit Equality Now for more information on this campaign.


While the majority of profits from a screening go to Equality Now, organizers can choose to donate up to 25% to other charities of their choice. Many choose to give to local charities or other global charities that have special meaning to Browncoats.

This week, we’d like to tell you about The Greater Boston Food Bank, which is being supported by CSTS Boston.

The Greater Boston Food Bank is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping end hunger in eastern Massachusetts. The Food Bank feeds more than 320,000 people annually in nine counties, hleping poor to middle-class people who can’t make ends meet. They’re our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. In addition to raising over $6,700 for Equality Now, the New England Browncoats held a food drive as part of their Boston CSTS events, and collected an astonishing 1,500 lbs. of food for this very worthy organisation.


Once again, we want to take this opportunity to thank you. Yes, you. By supporting your local events, by encouraging your friends to attend, by spreading the word and by giving generously, you are helping the hundreds of volunteers who form Can’t Stop the Serenity to raise much needed funds and awareness for Equality Now and other worthy charities.

And to all the dedicated volunteers who have given their time, energy, creativity and hearts to help create such wonderful events, and to all our amazing sponsors and supporters… Thank you!!

Posted by Jen on July 07, 2009 in CSTS Global, Equality Now tagged with

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