What if finding the perfect wedding dress had a lot more to do with how it impacted the world than it did in just making someone feel and look like a bride? The Feminist Bride aims to help fiancés bring more meaning to their wedding through better social practices, so when I met founder, Marcie Muehlke at (un)convention Brooklyn last fall I had to share what amazing things her wedding dress company, Celia Grace was doing. Celia Grace is a women-led wedding dress company that helps impoverished women abroad (fair trade) and brings handmade, environmentally friendly and sustainable gowns to the wedding industry. If brides want to really wow guests on their wedding day, a Celia Grace dress adds an extra layer of eco-feminist thoughtfulness, empowerment and compassion that is hard to come by in the wedding dress industry.
Discrimination against women is a global crisis. There is not one place in the world where women experience complete equality. The belief that women should access education, which leads to better physical and financial health, intellectual fulfillment and professional opportunities is not evenly held across the globe either. A lot of this has to do with the idea that a women’s place is only in the home and not as an outside member of the community. This is why many individuals in certain countries have practiced sex-selected abortions or infanticide if they find out they are having a girl (and for the record, while the video below focuses on India and China, those are not the only two places where these practices exist). Boys are socially allowed to get educations and be income earners and therefore can contribute to the family unlike women, who are not given the same opportunities or social stature. This is why many cultures see men are the more valued gender.
Emma Watson’s impassioned United Nation’s speech seeking both sexes to peacefully unite in order to achieve women’s equality has touched a nerve. Inaugurating the HeForShe campaign, Watson went on to explain that fundamental feminism “… by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”
Ladies, it’s been a tough year for us. I feel your pain, not in an our-periods-are-synchronized way, but in a “This-is-2014, but-it-feels-like-the-stone-age!” sort of way. Before we celebrate Women’s Equality I think it’s imperative to review how we’ve been treated this year.
Hundreds of schoolgirls were kidnapped in a school raid in Nigeria on April 14, 2014. The kidnappers are from the Islamist group Boko Haram, which means, “Western education is sinful.” Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been unable to retrieve the girls and he is seeking internationally assistance.
US Secretary of State John Kerry promised help. “The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice,” Kerry said from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The international community is right to respond cooperatively, but what about addressing why the girls were kidnapped in the first place?
A terrible step backwards in women’s fight for equality overseas. Iraq’s Council of Ministers has drafted a law, The Jaafari Personal Status Law, which will be voted on April 30. If passed the law would:
This law was formed to appease the Shi’a Muslim community in Iraq, which have a stronghold majority in the country at 36 million. It’s argued that Iraq’s current law that women can only marry at the age of 18 religiously discriminates against the Shi’a Muslims. As it stands, UNICEF estimates that more than 24 percent of Iraqi women are married by age 18, and nearly five percent are married by age 15.
If passed before Iraq general elections, the law will violate the UN Convention on Rights of the Child, which Iraq signed and its own constitution.
To understand how widespread this issue is in the world and not just potentially in Iraq, here are some facts:
To read more about global child bride issues:
Information originally appeared in: Iraq Wants To Legalize Child Marriage – The Daily Beast.
What a powerful presence, speaker and inspiration! Feminist Bride fact: As women’s access to education increases, they end up marrying later in life. This occurs because educated, professional women need marriage (or a husband) less as a means of support. Marriages to highly educated women are more likely to succeed because of their financial independence and more developed conflict resolution skills. Educating women is a no brainer!
Her book, I am Malala is available on Amazon.
For more awesome speeches from inspirational people and on marriage equality:
In what is considered another great feat for same-sex couples, England and Wales ended their
ban on gay marriage today (Saturday, March 29)! The only downside is that wedding guests will have to eat more fruitcake/bride’s pie at British weddings. Some sacrifices are worth making for equal rights.
The first couple in England to marry will be Peter McGraith and David Cabreza. All major parties in England’s parliament (including the conservative majority) supported the change. Prime Minister David Camerson shared these words,
“It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth. It also sends a powerful message to young people growing up who are uncertain about their sexuality. It clearly says, ‘you are equal’ whether straight or gay.” (PinkNews)
Unfortunately, in Ireland and Scotland same-sex marriage is still illegal, though that could change in Scotland in the coming year.
Congratulations to our oversea neighbors who now get to walk down the aisle with the same pomp and circumstance as the royal family. We look forward to even more fancy weddings with exotic headgear and perchance now a modernized Jane Austen film featuring a same-sex couple that ultimately tie the know!
Other related Feminist Bride same-sex marriage articles:
To read more from the Washington Post: Gay marriage ban ends in England and Wales as marriage bells toll – The Washington Post.
Dahiney Ghuri in Pul-i-Kumri, Baghlan Province, Afghanistan: Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan, outlawed forced marriage and acid throwing on December 11, 2011. Unfortunately for Afghanistan, a similar story has gained huge international attention as well, but for opposite reasons. 15-year old bride, Sahar Gul, who after refusing to become a prostitute by her in-laws was severely beaten and locked in a dirty basement bathroom for several months with barely enough necessities to survive. Her in-laws of seven months pulled out her nails, clumps of hair, burned her with cigarette butts, and tore pieces of flesh from her body. Gul, in critical condition, will be transported to India for serious treatment and recovery.
A historical moment for Pakistan, whose Senate passed two new bills: The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010 and The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill 2008. This makes the following illegal in Pakistan.
An amazingly powerful speech that should be shared and heeded. Hillary Clinton speaks to the United Nations about how LGBT rights are human rights. Clinton explained that LGBT legitimacy does not differ from the civil rights issues that other groups experienced throughout history. She stresses that to make sure LGBT members are not discriminated or abused we all need to recognize the need to accept and protect – that they should be as free as the rest of us to live in peace, expression and lifestyle without condition.
“It proclaims a simple, powerful idea: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them.”
“I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time. I speak about this subject knowing that my own country’s record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many LGBT Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect human rights at home.”
“It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.”
Click to here to read full transcript.
More Feminist Bride articles related to gay rights:
While many of us fret over unimportant issues related to our own weddings or believe that our freedom of choice on how to marry is a sign of progress, we must remind ourselves that equality and humanity in marriage is seldom enjoyed in other parts of the world. From the denial of gay marriage to the following issue of child bride, we must remember that many existing forms of marriage violate basic human rights. It is up to us who are privileged enough to enjoy healthier forms of marriage to not turn our backs on those who still need help.
On August 18th, women celebrated the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920 stating that is is unlawful for any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. Women have been enjoying the right to vote for 91 years. And today, women are celebrating Women’s Equality Day, which honors not only the 1920 amendment, but also “calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.” But don’t pop that champagne just yet, we haven’t accomplished full equality yet.
Yes, Virginia [Woolf] dowries so still exist! The writer who insisted women must have their own income would be upset about this law decision and the culture leading up to it in all capacities. Our Canadian neighbor’s B.C. Supreme Court turned down a petition for payment of a dowry under a marriage contract authorized in a sharia court of Amman, Jordan. Seems that the dowry and sharia were contracted by the bride’s uncle, leaving her to live in poverty after her divorce.