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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 1 March 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Afghan Women Accused Of Adultery Face Invasive Virginity Tests: AIHRC

New Age Islam News Bureau

1 March 2016 

Photo: Afghan women accused of adultery face invasive virginity tests: AIHRC


 Man Guns Down Daughter for ‘Honour’ In Pakistan

 Governor Signs Women’s Protection Law in Pakistan

 Young Female Boxers Punch through Gender Barriers

 Peshawar's All-Girls Science Teams Propose Six Bizarre but Totally Viable Ideas

 Finding Saba: How a Brave Honour-Killing Survivor's Story Came To Win an Oscar

 #31Days of Feminism: Fierce Feminists Fighting for Equality Everyday

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Afghan women accused of adultery face invasive virginity tests: AIHRC

By Khaama Press - Tue Mar 01 2016

The Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan (AIHRC) has voiced concerns regarding the invasive virginity tests the Afghan women and girls are going through after they are accused of adultery.

In its latest report, AIHRC said the women are subjected to the invasive tests after accused of moral crimes by the judiciary institutions of the country.

The report further added that the victims are subjected to the tests without their consent which are usually accepted by the judiciary institutions, making it a basis for the trial of the accused.

AIHRC questioned the method of the tests, saying the tests are being conducted without considering the scientific basis of such tests, persistent corruption in government institutions, and technical insufficiency.

The rights organization also expressed concerns regarding the eloping of the women, saying the majority of the women are fleeing from the houses due to growing domestic violence with forced marriages remaining a top motive for the girls to abandon their families.

The girls are often accused of adultery while the men are accused of kidnapping and are tried by the judiciary institutions, AIHRC said, adding that the security institutions are introducing the girls to Forensic where they undergo virginity tests to confirm they were not involved in adultery.

The 17-page report by AIHRC has been prepared based on findings and interviews of 53 women serving in jails on adultery charges in 12 provinces, the rights organization said.

AIHRC also added that the prisoners interviewed by the rights organization were between 13 to 45 years of age with 45 of them jailed over adultery charges, 8 others were accused of eloping and adultery, and 2 of them were accused of adultery and alcohol consumption.

The women are serving in jails in Badakhshan, Bamyan, Daikundi, Ghor, Herat, Nangarhar, Kabul, Kandahar, Kunduz, Faryab, Balkh and Paktia provinces, AIHRC added.



Man guns down daughter for ‘honour’ in Pakistan

March 1st, 2016

LAHORE: A teenage girl was shot dead allegedly by her father for ‘honour’ in Burki on Monday.

Police claimed Komal, 18, of Burki Road had gone out of the house without informing her family. When she returned, her father Rehmat questioned her over going out without seeking their permission.

Quoting victim’s mother Razia, police said Komal could not respond to her father’s query at which he went to his room, brought out a gun and shot his daughter dead. He then fled from the scene.

Police shifted the body to the morgue for autopsy and registered a case against Rehmat on the complaint of Razia.

Station House Officer (SHO) Inspector Naveed Azam said raids were being conducted to arrest Rehmat and initial investigation revealed the girl was killed for ‘honour’.

FOUND DEAD: A 45-year-old unidentified man was found dead in Nishtar Colony on Monday.

Passersby had spotted a body in the fields near Azam Chowk and alerted police. Police reached the spot and recovered the bullet-riddled body of a man, who was yet to be identified.

Police collected forensic evidence from the crime scene, recorded statements of witnesses and shifted the body to morgue for autopsy.

Nishtar Colony SHO Muhammad Raza said the man had been shot dead by unidentified person(s) and thrown in the field. He said investigation had begun to establish the identity of the man.



Governor Signs Women’s Protection Law in Pakistan

March 1st, 2016

LAHORE: Governor Rafiq Rajwana signed on Monday the Protection of Women against Violence Bill to make it a formal law.

The bill had been unanimously passed by the Punjab Assembly on February 24.

The law prohibits torture of wives and bans expulsion of the woman from home in case of a clash with her husband and instead the husband could be banished from home for two days.

The violators will be awarded jail terms and fine, besides installation of trackers on violent husbands on court orders.




Young female boxers punch through gender barriers

March 1st, 2016

Students posing with their boxing gloves at the first women's boxing coaching camp in Pak Shaheen Boxing Club in Karachi. — Reuters

In a dense and dusty neighbourhood in Karachi, eight young girls lined up against a cement wall, touching their hands to their faces in prayer before boxing practice began.

For the last six months, these athletes-in-the-making have been training at the Pak Shaheen Boxing Club in Lyari, a packed ward known more for its internecine gang warfare than for breaking glass ceilings.

Urooj, 15, spits water between rounds in her bout during the Sindh Junior Sports Association Boxing Tournament. — Reuters

During the week, a dozen girls, aged eight to 17, go to the club after school to practise their jabs, hooks and upper cuts for hours in the hope of one day bringing a medal home to Pakistan.

“I have been training since I was a child,” said Urooj Qambrani, 15. “Insha’Allah, I will become an international boxer. ... I will make Pakistan’s name famous.”

Arisha, 9, punches Misbah during an exercise session at the first women's boxing coaching camp in Karachi. — Reuters

Pakistani women have been training as boxers in small numbers and competed in the South Asian Games last year, said Younis Qambrani, the coach who founded the club in 1992.

The growth of the sport for both men and women in Pakistan has been dogged by a lack of equipment and adequate facilities, but the situation is slowly improving, he said.

Aamna, 11, waits for the start for her bout during the Sindh Junior Sports Association Boxing Tournament. — Reuters

In Pakistan women and girls face additional obstacles — both from Taliban threats for going to school and also violence from family members, including so-called ‘honour killings’ in which male relatives kill girls deemed to have brought shame to the family name.

In October, the Sindh Boxing Association organised a camp for female boxers in Karachi, the first time that a government-supported event for women in the sport was held in the country, according to media reports.

Tabia (L), 12, fights against Aamna during the Sindh Junior Sports Association Boxing Tournament. — Reuters

Some of the girls in Qambrani’s family, who had taken up practising at home, participated in the camp, and came to Younis afterwards to ask why they couldn’t train at his club as well.

“A number of girls were keen on training, but due to social pressures, I had been avoiding the issue,” Younis said.

Anum, 17, punches padding with her coach Younus Qambrani while others observe during an exercise session.  — Reuters

“Last year a girl came to me, asking why girls couldn’t train. I was moved when she said, ‘No one teaches us how to defend ourselves,’” he said.

Since then, some of the girls have begun to participate in tournaments, at home in the ring in white track suits, head scarves and boxing gloves.

Misbah, 17, takes part in warm up exercises. — Reuters

For Anum Qambrani, the coach’s 17-year-old daughter, getting the chance to train formally in the club was nothing short of fulfilling her birthright.

“My two uncles are international boxers, and my father is a coach,” she said. “Boxing is in our blood.”



Peshawar's all-girls science teams propose six bizarre but totally viable ideas

Mar 01 2016

PESHAWAR: As Pakistani entrepreneurs hop around incubators and release one app after another, it feels like the field of science is missing from the innovative action. Dr Faisal Khan at the University of Peshawar — where the student body consists of 90 per cent girls — felt similarly, and decided to do his part by introducing a new course last year.

He planned a course that would help students bridge the gap between academia and industry, by undertaking practical scientific applications through entrepreneurship. His course was offered to final year bio-technology students, who were taught relevant skills for life-sciences start-ups. To get them interested, Khan split the students up into teams, and each was asked to brainstorm a project that solved a real-life problem through a science start-up.

A judges panel of academicians, government officials and people working in the private sector, was asked to select projects that could move on the second stage: implementation. The judges selected 21 start-ups for their creativity and viability, out of which, here are six particularly bizarre but completely viable ideas.

Students working on 'Electro-Marvel': a battery powered by bacteria. — Photo by author

Electro-Marvel: Bacteria-charged battery that lasts for years

Imagine having to charge your UPS’ battery only once in a year. No, really. One all girls-team from the university wanted to solve the country's loadshedding woes, and has deviced an alternative charging mechanism for UPS batteries, which they call ‘Electro-marvel.’

The basic concept consists of a battery — similar to the ones already available in markets — except that it will be powered by bacteria instead of electricity, and will last a whole year instead of just a few hours.

Aside from the UPS, Electro-marvel will also work with heavy household appliances.

If the girls pull this off, it might be an expensive investment — costing Rs40,000 per battery — but it will last for years. Think of all the money saved on replacing chargers and batteries.

One of the biggest problems plaguing the agricultural industry is pests, which can reduce a farmer's crop yield significantly. In rural areas, farmers use pesticides to avoid pest attacks. Unfortunately, chemicals in pesticides are the source of multiple environmental problems, including soil pollution affects the food being grown and leads to health problems in the animals and humans consuming it.

One team is proposing an unconventional but simple solution, by growing seeds that glow in case of a pest attack. Genes from a fish (which has glowing qualities) will be added to plant seeds, so when the altered seeds grow, the plant will also be able to grow in case of a pest attack. A kilogram of these seeds could be available in the market for Rs2,000, and a farmer would only need to plant a few of the seeds special seeds throughout his fields.

Shatoosh shawls are made from the wool of a rare species of Tibetan antelopes, Chiru, known as the ‘King of wool.’ These shawls are banned in both India and Pakistan, but because they come from a rare, endangered animal found in the hills of Kashmir, owning them has become a status symbol.

Since they are sold and worn illegally, Shatoosh shawls are expensive. One student team wants the shawl to be common commodity that can be worn by people belonging to middle and lower classes to. In order to create a cheaper shawl of the same material — which they will call 'Alpine' — the students will transmit the genes of a Tibetan antelope into sheep and lambs. Once the animals breed, their wool will grow similarly to that of the Chiro without causing the endangered species to go into extinction.

Students will transmit the genes of a Tibetan antelope into sheep and lambs to grow wool similar to that of the Chiro. — Photo by author

Culture-hub: Self-producing chemicals used in medical sciences

According to one student’s research, Pakistan imports different chemicals worth $330 million each year from countries including the United States, Germany, Sweden and Finland. It might serve the country better to produce these chemicals locally, and to finally build a hub that could serve as a resource for science and medicine research and diagnostic labs.

One team wants to do exactly that. They have drawn up a blueprint for a factory that will produce all the chemicals used in life sciences in Pakistan, and is ready to kick-start their idea. For the project's first phase, a pharmaceutical company’s laboratory will be sufficient, as soon as they find one. The production, the team estimates, could potentially profit $400 million to the country’s exchequer each year.

Draculin, which is commonly found in vampire bats, can help with the thinning of blood. If it is combined with a commonly available herb to create a new bio-herb, the new concoction can be injected into a patient suffering fro a stroke. Essentially, this bio-herb works as a blood thinner or an anti-coagulant.

A local chemical laboratory and hub could profit the country $400 million each year. — Photo by author

The team chooses to call their bio-herb 'Dracu-stroke' because of its effectiveness in treating stroke patients. The brilliant thing about Dracu-stroke will be its minimal after effects when compared to other available thinners like Aspirin and Warfarin. Its after effects will last for only eight hours, and it will also be cheaper from other options in the market at a cost of Rs2,000.

BioLamp and bacteria-powered uses

Bio-lamp’s idea is simple: a bulb that glows in the dark and dims in daylight without using any electricity. Such a bulb is possible, according to one student team, by using bio-luminescent bacteria to make bulbs and energy savers. Their idea is similar to the team proposing to build bacteria-powered batteries, except in this case, the bulbs will be auto-regulated, without any need of human intervention.

The team also wants to build a long-lasting charging device called BioVolt. Using a mechanism similar to that of a power bank used to charge cell phones and laptops, BioVolt will work for years on end.

Unlike regular power banks, once again, the BioVolt will be powered by bacteria instead of electricity. The BioVolt will also be smaller in size compared to power banks, and will emit a pleasant smell to users because of the bacteria.

21 teams were selected by the judges at Peshawar University this year, compared to last year's 14 teams. — Photo by author



Finding Saba: How a brave honour-killing survivor's story came to win an Oscar

March 1st, 2016

Tauseef Razi Mallick

A Girl In The River's co-producer Haya Fatima sheds light on how Saba shared her struggle with the film team

It was this time of the year in 2012 when I met Haya Fatima Iqbal after a long time.

She had just returned from her Masters in New York, so we had a lot to catch up on, gossip included. But what Haya really wanted to talk about was her options as a documentary filmmaker in Pakistan.

Little did we know back then that she will make it to the Oscars, just four years down the line. Haya worked as a co-producer on Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short yesterday.

Haya Fatima Iqbal, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Asad Faruqi at the Oscars ceremony

The documentary, a joint production of SOC Films and Home Box Office, follows the life of 18-year-old Saba, who is a survivor of an honour killing attempt — by her father.

Finding Saba

It started from a news story published in a local Urdu daily in June 2014.

“It said that a girl named Saba had miraculously survived an attempt on her life in Hafizabad. Her father had reportedly shot her for marrying a man of her choice against the family’s will,” Haya began.

“We read the news and decided to pursue the story. I, along with Sharmeen and crew, reached Hafizabad the very next day, where Saba was currently in intensive care at the district’s hospital.”

Inspired by Saba's miraculous survival, Haya set out to chronicle her story with Sharmeen and the rest of the crew

After a few initial inquiries, the team went to the police station to get more information.

Seeing the police in action

Haya said they assumed that the police would be reluctant in providing the specifics of the incident and would have to be forced to arrest the accused.

“But to our sheer surprise, the arrests had already been made and a case was filed. The SHO of Saddar police station in Hyderabad, Ali Akbar Chattha, was a principled man with clear perception about the case,” Haya shared.

He said in clear words that a crime has been committed and that “no one holds the right to take someone else’s life”.

Chattha was under no pressure and the only thing he was concerned about in this case was serving justice. “The SHO once said to us that Islam gives everyone the right to marry the person of their choice, so who are we to interfere.”

Hospital care

Haya said that Saba, the victim, had been very lucky. Not only did she survive the attempt on her life, but she was provided legal and medical aid by good, honest professionals.

“Dr Shahid Farooq was the Medical Superintendent of DHQ Hafizabad at that time. He and surgeon Dr Atif provided the best possible medical care to the injured Saba.”

Haya found the police as well as the legal and medical aid providers to be honest and professional

Throughout her hospital stay, Saba was kept in a private room and provided special security, considering the nature of the crime committed against her, shared Haya .

When Saba survived, her husband Qaiser Ali, a Gujranwala-based generator mechanic, was informed and the news spread to Saba’s family as well.

Court dealings

While both families approached Saba, the legal battle had begun.

Saba’s father confessed to attempting to kill his daughter in court. “But he [did] not [feel] guilty [about his actions]. He appeared a humble person but he was anything but guilty for attempting to kill Saba.”

Haya covered many of the court hearings, running to and fro between Karachi and Hazfizabad. “There were times when we travelled all the way for a court hearing, but it got cancelled for some reason as odd as bad weather.”

We interviewed Saba’s father behind bars and during court proceedings, but he was never ashamed of what he had done, tells Haya Fatima.

“Instead, he mentioned proudly that his act had [earned] him more respect and now people called him ‘ghairatmand’ (honourable). Saba’s father also told us that more suitors were coming to marry his other daughters, because he was a respected man.”

“Such people are more threatening than the suicide bombers," says Haya. "They are set to take the life of anyone and yet they don’t feel a thing about it. And the worst thing is that society also accepts and approves of them.”

Getting Saba to talk

Interviewing Saba was a tough job in the beginning, narrates Haya Fatima. “She was badly wounded and was weak too. She had problems while speaking and we had to switch off the fan [to record her clearly]. This irritated her as it gets very hot in Punjab in the summer.”

Recording Saba was one of the toughest parts of the documentary's making

“We had to do the recordings in small bits due to Saba’s medical condition. But she had nerves of steel. At times I used to think that other than the physical pain, one can’t imagine the level of mental trauma she has been through. How can you get over with the fact that your own father shot you and left you for dead? I still can’t get this but supposedly Saba was asked to do so.”

The court proceedings of the case went on for about four months. In the end, Saba pardoned her father.

Haya Fatima listed several possible reasons for Saba's decision, but halfway into the discussion she herself started to question them.

Saba forgave her father after she was persuaded by her family elders, said Haya Fatima.

“'You can’t go against your own family.' 'You have to live with them no matter what.' That’s what they said to Saba.”

A Girl In The River: The Price of Forgiveness shows that even if the state awards punishment to criminals, they do nothing to change the mindset of people who glorify criminals and murderers.



#31Days of Feminism: Fierce Feminists Fighting for Equality Everyday

1 March 2016

Throughout the month of March, the Ms. Foundation for Women will partner with NBCBLK, NBCLatino, and NBC Asian America to spotlight women of color who, through their actions and words, lead the way toward a more equal world. This multimedia digital campaign will feature the voices and stories of 31 women of diverse identities, races, ethnicities, cultures, and ages.

Conversations about women too often obscure the differences between women and the richness and complexity of women's lives. This Women's History Month, we aim to lift up all women's histories and shine a light on those that are not normally told.

The women of color featured are not just living women's history — they are making history in their communities. Their work as activists, artists, writers, organizers, entrepreneurs, and athletes is changing lives and will have positive ripple effects for women for generations to come.

While this is an opportunity to honor women trailblazers, it is not only a celebration. It is also a call to action. We encourage everyone to join the conversation using the hashtag #31Days. Share what it means to you to be a feminist and why it is critical to lift up the voices of all women. Tell us about women of color doing amazing work in your community.

Teresa C. Younger has served as the President of the Ms. Foundation since She most recently served as the executive director of the Connecticut General Assembly's Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), where she has spearheaded successful campaigns for women's health, safety and economic empowerment.

Ai-jen Poo is the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and a 2014 MacArthur fellow. She has been named one of Time Magazine's most influential people for her work in organizing immigrant women workers nearly two decades ago. She has been a vocal advocate for the rights of domestic workers, and spearheaded the successful passage of New York's Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010.

Adrianna Quintero is the Director of Partner Engagement for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Executive Director of Voces Verdes. She currently runs NRDC's partner outreach and engagement efforts. Adrianna founded and leads Voces, a national coalition of Latino business, health, community leaders and organizations representing millions of Latinos, joined together to advocate for action on climate change and the development of our country's renewable, clean energy sources.

Charon Asetoyer (Comanche) is the Executive Director and Founder of the Native American Community Board and the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. The Resource Center addresses issues of reproductive justice, violence against women, and environmental justice and is a shelter for battered women. She just released the The Indigenous Women's Health Book - Within the Sacred Circle, the first Indigenous women's reproductive health book.

Mynette Louie is the president of Gamechanger Films, a company that invests in women-directed narrative features. Louie is a filmmaker whose work has been screened at Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, and various international film festivals. She is also an adviser to the Sundance Institute, SXSW, Independent Filmmaker Project, and A3 Asian American Artists Foundation.

Rebecca Saldaña is the Executive Director of Puget Sound Sage. She builds affordable housing, clean and healthy environment, and strong communities for families. Previously, she led Sage's equitable development and community benefits program and organized the South Communities for Racial/Regional Equity. Before joining Sage, Rebecca served as the Community Liaison for Congressman Jim McDermott.

Tracee Ellis Ross is an actor, model, comedian, producer and television host. In 2014, Ross began starring as Dr. Rainbow Johnson in the ABC comedy series "Black-ish."

Tanzila Ahmed is an activist and writer, and currently serves as the campaign strategist at 18 Million Rising. She is the co-founder and co-host of "Good Muslim, Bad Muslim," a podcast that examines the American Muslim female experience.

Tannia Esperanza is the Executive Director at Young Women United (YWU), where she makes sure organizing, policy, and culture shift strategies continue to uplift all people in making real decisions about their bodies and lives. She is a Queer Xicana from Santa Barbara, CA who has been active in social justice movements working on racial justice, immigrant rights, gender justice, and LGBTQ liberation.

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is a trans woman activist and community leader for transgender rights, with a particular focus on women of color. She serves as the Executive Director for the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project, which aims to assist transgender persons who are considered to be disproportionately incarcerated under a prison-industrial complex. Griffin-Gracy has participated in a wide range of causes throughout her lifetime, including the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City.

Tracy Chou is a software engineer at Pinterest whose work has brought attention to the need for more representation of women in tech. She has also been part of the movement to pressure larger tech companies - such as Facebook and Google - to release diversity reports.

Angeline Echeverria is the Executive Director for El Pueblo, an organization for Latinos to achieve social change and community action. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, she moved on to bring her commitment to social justice to non-profit organizations in Arkansas, Costa Rica, Alabama, and New York. Prior to joining El Pueblo, she spent four years at La Fuente, an organization dedicated to empowering immigrants and workers in New York City and Long Island.

Cherisse Scott is Founder & CEO of SisterReach, a grassroots organization in Memphis, Tennessee, focused on empowering, educating, organizing and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health.

Jenny Yang is a comedian and writer, and co-founder of Dis/orient/ed Comedy, a nationally-touring comedy showcase of Asian-American women. Yang is also known for her appearances in viral BuzzFeed videos about the Asian-American experience.

Cristina Aguilar is Executive Director for Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), Colorado's only reproductive justice organization. Previously, she worked in early childhood education at Community Development Institute, directing national Head Start Pilot Innovation Projects that included supporting language and culture retention for immigrant, migrant and refugee children and families.

Animatou Sou is a digital strategist, leading all Politics and Social Impact Marketing for Google's Brand team. She is co-founder of the Tech LadyMafia, a support network for women in tech and she co-hosts the podcast Call Your Girlfriend. Prior to this Aminatou was the Digital Engagement Director at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America [IAVA].

Shiza Shahid is the founder and CEO of the Malala Fund. She is outspoken in the areas of women's rights and education, and is a vocal supporter of startups and entrepreneurs that are creating positive global impact.

Andrea Serrano is Deputy Director of OLÉ, a non-profit that organizes and strengthens working families in New Mexico. Her experience includes Community Educator at the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico; program coordinator at South Valley Academy as well as extensive involvement in community organizing and activism with various community organizations. Andrea was a panelist at the Tucson Festival of Books in 2013.

Anika Campbell is the Executive Director of the Center for Frontline Retail (CFR), where she guides the strategic 'services to organizing' vision. With over ten years of experience in workforce development, program management, organizing and employment in the retail industry, Anika fights against unfair scheduling practices, low wages and racial and gender discrimination

Jenn Fang is the founder of the blog Reappropriate, one of the web's oldest and most popular blogs dedicated to Asian-American feminism, pop culture, and politics.

Marissa Nuncio joined the Garment Worker Center as Director in February 2013. She has been an advocate of worker's rights for over 15 years, including as a Program Coordinator for Sweatshop Watch. She earned a Loyola Law School Post-Graduate Fellowship to work as a staff attorney with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network in 2006. In 2008, she joined Bush Gottlieb Singer López Kohanski Adelstein & Dickinson as an associate.

Winona LaDuke is an American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer, known for her work on tribal land claims and preservation, as well as sustainable development. She is the Executive Director of both White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth. In 1996 and 2000, she ran for vice president as the nominee of the Green Party of the United States, on a ticket headed by Ralph Nader.

Kristina Wong is a comedian known for her solo theater performances. Her nationally-toured show "Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" dived into the issue of depression and suicide among Asian-American women, and she is currently on tour with her solo show "The Wong Street Journal."

Isa Noyola is Director of Programs at the Transgender Law Center. She was born in Houston, Texas and comes from culturally rich indigenous roots from Comitán, Chiapas and San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Isa identifies as a translatina, gender fluid, activist, two-spirit, queer, jota, pastor's kid, muxerista, and cultural organizer. Isa is passionate about abolishing oppressive systems that criminalize trans & queer immigrant communities of color.

Cassandra Overton-Welchlin is the Child Care Matters Director for the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative and Director of the Mississippi Women's Economic Security Initiative. A licensed social worker, she works with organizations to develop strategies and create opportunities to address the social, political, economic and ecological injustices in low wealth communities of color.

Mari Matsuda is a lawyer and law professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. Formerly, she taught at Georgetown University Law Center and at the UCLA School of Law, where she became the first tenured female Asian-American law professor in the United States in 1998. Her work is often quoted by Supreme Court justices, and she serves on the national advisory boards of several organizations such as the ACLU and the National Asian Pacific Legal Consortium.

America Ferrera is an American actress and producer. She is known for her leading role as Betty Suarez on ABC's comedy-drama television series Ugly Betty. In 2015, Ferrera marked her return to television as a regular and co-producer on the NBC's Superstore. Ferrera has been a longtime activist and supporter of Voto Latino. In July 2015, she wrote an opinion piece titled "Thank You, Donald Trump!" for Huffpost Latino Voices that was received with widespread praise.

Mary Ignatius is the Statewide Organizer of Parent Voices, a parent-led grassroots organization fighting to make quality child care accessible and affordable for all families. Under her tenure, Parent Voices has won campaigns to update income eligibility guidelines to qualify for subsidized child care, restore a child care program that was eliminated, and protected child care subsidies for thousands of families.

Miriam Yeung is the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum. She has been recognized for her work by the Ms. Foundation, the National Council for Research on Women, and has also received a special recognition from the New York City Council for her work with the LGBT youth community.

Dr. Ellen Ochoa was the first Latina astronaut in history and current Director of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She has flown in space four times, logging nearly 1,000 hours in orbit. Prior to her astronaut career, she was a research engineer and inventor, with three patents for optical systems.

Roxane Gay is an award-winning and prolific author and essayist, most recently publishing the essay collection "Bad Feminist" (2014). She is the author of the short story collection "Ayiti" (2011), the novel "An Untamed State" (2014), and "Hunger" (forthcoming 2016). In addition to her regular contributions to Salon, her writing has appeared in McSweeney's, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Nation and The New York Times Book Review.




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