Step Up & sign to save lives

21/09/2020

 When you are living on limited time there is a really strong urge to look inwards and just focus on yourself. . . .But the more I learnt about my cancer, the more I realised I couldn’t do nothing. The treatment I take belongs to a class of drugs approved for breast cancer 43 years ago. For forty years it was sitting on a shelf but no one knew it could help women with my cancer because the research wasn’t funded. This isn’t just about me, though yes I really want more time because I don’t have enough. But it’s also about the women who aren’t here to use their voices, and the women who will sit in that doctors office in ten, and fifty years time. And whether they get told you’ll likely die, and I know how awful that is to hear, or if their doctor will be able say we can get you through this. I can’t do this on my own but together we can

These were my daughter’s words in conversation with Jim Mora yesterday.

 

Jane has low grade serous ovarian cancer.

She was told, when she was diagnosed, that her likely life expectancy was five to 15 years.

That was three and a half years ago.  A young woman diagnosed at a similar time with a similar stage of the disease died earlier this year.

Given her prognosis, Jane could be focusing only on herself. Instead she’s fighting not just for herself but for all the other women who have, or will get, this dreadful disease.

You can help her by signing the petition.

It is non-partisan. This isn’t about politics, it’s about women’s health and lives. The four gynaecological cancer organisations behind it have worked across parliament to get cross-party support.

You don’t have to be in New Zealand, or be a New Zealander to sign.

The other way to help is by donating to Cure Our Ovarian Cancer.

To mark Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month, Jane has launched a Step Up challenge.

I’ve joined it and will be walking the Millenium Track from Wanaka to Glendhu Bay and back (it took about six hours last time I did it).  You can donate here  .

If you want to go further, you can join the campaign and Step Up yourself.

A Canadian is cycling 1000km, a kiwi is climbing a small mountain, an Australian is running his own race for an hour – as far as he can go, a woman from the UK is going for an 8000 step stroll, and an American is dedicating her birthday. It’s completely up to you.

But if you’re stuck for ideas:

  1. Choose an activity – walk, run, cycle (or something else!)
  2. Measure your activity – in time, or steps or distance or destination
  3. Decide if you’re going to do it one day, some days or every day in September
  4. And remember – it’s not what you do, but why that matters the most. You’ll be helping fund crucial research to help women live longer.

You can also follow Cure Our Ovarian Cancer on Facebook and  Twitte and Instagram.

Jane’s personal blog is janehascancer.com

You can catch up with her in the media here.

I wrote about living under the cancer sword here.


Blinded by the halos

18/08/2020

A very angry tweet demanded to know which journalist at a weekend briefing had the temerity to ask Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield if he would resign.

The journalist in question, Michael Morrah has broken several important stories over short comings in the response to Covid-19, most recently the ones telling us nearly two thirds of border staff hadn’t had Covid-19 tests; that the Health Minister admitted a tracking system for border workers wasn’t in place before ‘testing strategy’ announcement  and following revelations on The Nation he tweeted:

In response to the angry demand to know who asked the question about the DG, Morrah responded:

That resulted in more tweets:

 

Sometimes people in the media are guilty of bias. That is not the case in this instance.

Morrah has done what a good journalist should do – researched, found inadequacies and told us about them.

He is not the only one who is highlighting serious failings:

On Friday Pattrick Smellie wrote:

There is plenty of evidence in the bizarrely vague testing regime applied to New Zealanders working at the border that Pike River levels of incompetence and dysfunction lurk in the public health system and could yet be fatally exposed.

And in discussion with Jim Mora on Sunday Morning, both Jane Clifton and Richard Harman discussed the seriousness of the shortcomings: (3:34):

Clifton: . . . I think it’s pretty clear now that the Health Ministry has a pattern of, if not outright lying, then failing to supply the right information at the right time and I think it would defy belief to most people that testing wouldn’t be absolutely automatic and regular among border staff . . . I was against having a sort of witch hunt into what had gone wrong but . . . I think this is the last straw and I think we do need to have a few serious questions and consequences. . . 

Harman:  . . . If he’s (the Minister)  getting incorrect information he doesn’t need to resign surely, the person who needs to resign is the Director General of Health because he’s misleading his Minister and that is one of the most serious crimes that a senior civil servant can commit.  . . there’s been a pattern of this happening . . think about PPE, the original businesses about testing, Shane Reti again exposing the different versions of the truth that the Minister of Health presented over flu vaccines. It goes on and on and if you read again this excellent piece that Derek Cheng wrote this week about the difficulty of getting information out of the Minister of Health it seems that the Ministry of Health prioritises spin ahead of performance. . . 

This discussion sparked some very indignant responses from listeners, many of whom suggested that no-one should be questioning the DG or the government.

Perhaps these people have been blinded by the light from the halos some have put over the heads of both the DG and the Prime Minister which doesn’t allow them to see that there have been serious and repeated failings in performance.

Kate Hawkesby is one who has not been blinded:

. . . The left have mobilised into a tribe of such determined one-eyed acolytes, that their entire focus right now is to hunt down anyone daring to question the PM’s moves or decisions, and basically to eviscerate them.

Questioning the government makes you either a hater, a conspiracy theorist, a troll, or quite simply unpatriotic.

This venomous lobby group – includes many across social media but most of the mainstream media – has fallen under the spell too. The press gallery are most glaringly the people holding the government to account the least.

You’d think the media and government had almost forgotten about the existence of the silent majority. Those not on FB or Twitter, those not doing Instagram selfies with the PM, those regular everyday working mum and dads who’re looking down the barrel of an extremely grim economic future and are worried sick.

If people were allowed to dare question the PM, without the rabid left calling for them to be cancelled for doing so, here’s what needs answering;

Should Chris Hipkins be running Health, when he is also the Minister of Education, State of Services, and Leader of the House? We’ve already been through one incompetent Health Minister, have we not learned by now that it’s surely a fulltime job needing his full attention? And could I suggest may even be a contributing factor as to why the ball was so badly dropped on the border testing.

Why isn’t our contact tracing gold standard? They’ve had months to get it right.

What’s our Plan B beyond elimination?

Why aren’t we tougher at quarantine hotels?

Why have we come so late to the mask party?

Why is the chain of information from officials to government to public so slow?

How can we trust a government who got the availability of flu vaccines, testing kits and PPE gear so wrong first time round?

I’d also question the North Korea vibe coming from the 1pm pulpit. “There is only one source of truth,” Hipkins keeps reiterating in the manner of annoyed Dad. Unfortunately, not all their facts are accurate, just ask the seething Principal of Pakuranga College.

Likewise, many of the ‘we’re the first/best/only’ in the world’ statements, are not quite accurate either. It’s a tad Trump-esque. But it does play to an adoring base programmed not to question anything. . . 

Exactly who is responsible for the shortcomings will no doubt be uncovered when a journalist finds out through an Official Information Office request exactly what Ministers asked of the Ministry, what the response was and when all that happened.

Regardless of the answers, thanks to the work of Morrah and other journalists, we do know that we have been let down by lax practices at the border and if in the process they’ve tarnished the halos, that’s all to the good.

Many of us are biased, but that should not lead us to blind acceptance of whatever suits our partisan positions nor should it lead us to criticising the messengers when we don’t like their messages.

P.S.

What’s happened to Megan Woods? She’s the Minister in charge of managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) but has made no comments on the lack of testing of staff at the facilities.


How Do I Love Ewe?

15/02/2018

Jim Mora mentioned the anniversary of the first shipment of frozen meat on the Pre-Panel this afternoon and read a snippet from my ewenique rewriting of Elizabeth Barret Bronwing’s poem:

How Do I Love Ewe? (With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love ewe? Let me count the ways

That lamb tempts the taste buds and any hunger stays.

Of course I love ewe roasted, but still a little rare.

And I love ewe butterflied, from all the bones carved bare.

I love you chopped or diced and threaded onto sticks,

With capsicum and onion to get my vege fix.

I love you minced with salad in a burger bun

And chewing on the chop bones is always lots of fun.

I love ewe tender barbequed, the smokey taste sublime,

And shanks cooked long and slow for flavour that’s divine.

I love ewe marinated, with mint or coriander,

And many other ways my appetite ewe pander.

Though, proud Kiwi that I am, would be hard to find one keener,

My favourite way to cook ewe is how it’s done in Argentina:

 

The sheep for that first shipment came from, and were slaughtered at, Totara Estate in North Otago.

It’s now owned by Heritage NZ and is open to the public.

NZ History tells the story of that first shipment here.

 


Age of umbrage

10/05/2016

Example  1:

A businessman posted a photo on Facebook with a comment. Twenty minutes later he realised it was a stupid thing to do and took down the post.

He also contacted the people to whom it referred, admitted he’d made an error of judgement, accepted responsibility for it, apologised, and made amends by refunding the money the people had paid him. They accepted his apology and the refund.

It should have ended there but someone had a screenshot of the offending post and it went viral on Facebook then became a news not-news story in the mainstream media.

Example 2:

A business sent an email with “your mother sent us her wish-list” in the subject line. A couple of hours later it sent a second email apologising after some customers, including one whose mother had died 16 years earlier,  had contacted them saying they’d been upset by it.

I got the email in a week when Mothers’ Day was going to be particularly poignant owing to the death of a dearly loved friend who was a second mother. I treated it like the marketing exercise it was and deleted it.

I haven’t named either business deliberately because they’ve had more than enough publicity over matters that should have had none.

Jim Mora referred to this being the age of umbrage on The Panel on Friday,

He was right. Too many people are taking umbrage at things which aren’t, in the grand scheme of things, important and because of social media they get far more attention than they deserve.

These two examples are relatively petty but there’s a third more serious one:

One Seven Sharp, host Mike Hosking added his opinion to a clip on the abuse New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd received for proposing a Maori ward for local government councils.

“Sad to say I’d never personally attack him obviously but he’s completely out of touch with middle New Zealand,” Hosking said. 

He went on to say: “There’s nothing wrong with Maori representation on councils cause any Maori that wants to stand for a council is more than welcome to do so and you can sell your message and if you’re good enough you’ll get voted on.”

You can agree or not with his view but several took umbrage at it:

In a statement Radio New Zealand received from TVNZ, a spokesperson for the broadcaster said a formal complaint had been laid against Hosking and a committee would review the complaint in the coming days.  . . 

One complaint on Seven Sharp Facebook page came from a medical student called Kera May. 

“Deeply offended by the racism exhibited by Mike Hosking on your show tonight. If anyone is “out of touch with Middle New Zealand” (which includes many Maori like myself thank you very much!) it’s you Mike.” . . .

Offended by a comment that disagreed with the mayor’s proposed policy without in anyway criticising Maori?

Hosking’s comments have been condemned by his own colleagues Miriama Kamo and Scotty Morrison on TVNZ show Marae.

Kamo said the comments had upset her and told of her own struggles with a previous employer firing her when she corrected him on the pronunciation of her name. 

Sacking for that would be grounds for unjustified dismissal but the example as explained here is not in itself racist.

Lots of people find lots of names difficult to pronounce but that’s nothing to do with racism.

I’m called Ele because it’s preferable to dealing with mispronunciations of Elspeth which have ranged from, and I kid you not, albatross to Elizabeth.

Racism is abhorrent and anyone is justified at taking umbrage at it.

But attempting to stifle debate by taking umbrage at someone’s opinion, correct or not,  and calling it racist is ridiculous.

I think Maori seats in parliament have generally served Maori poorly and I would oppose any attempt by a local body servicing an area where I was a ratepayer, to give seats with voting rights to anyone who hadn’t been elected democratically.

That is an opinion with which some may agree or not, but it is not a racist statement.

Taking umbrage rather than countering an argument is yet another example of emotion replacing reason.

 


Dot, Queen of Riverstone Castle

17/05/2014

When Neil and Dot Smith chose to move their family from the top of the North Island to well down the east coast of the south is was Northland’s loss and North Otago’s gain.

They were among the first dairy farmers to see the opportunity irrigation on the Lower Waitaki plains presented.

They bought one of the worst, stony, barren, wind swept properties and with hard work and skill have turned it, and other blocks they subsequently purchased, into some of the best.

One son followed his parents into farming, the other Bevan and his wife Monique established the award-winning Riverstone Kitchen on the farm.

The Smiths are not just good farmers, they’re good community people and entrepreneurs too,

They know how to work hard and save hard and nowhere is that better illustrated than in the time and effort they’ve put in to fulfilling Dot’s dream of building a castle.

Now Dot can add author to her long list of accomplishments.

 

dot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pink, flowery cover shouldn’t put off men, Dot Queen of Riverstone Castle isn’t a “women’s” book.

It’s an easy, entertaining and inspirational read which covers her modest, but happy, childhood; overseas travels; marriage; farming, including  through the ag-sag;  other business ventures; more travel, the development of the Riverstone complex and the castle.

Dot’s always worked hard and she’s faced tough times, including the loss of most of her savings in the collapse of Hubbard Management Fund. But in life, and through the book, her irrepressible spirit and sense of fun shine through.

Dot Queen of Riverstone Castle, written with Nathalie Brown.

Published by Random House also available as an e-book.

Graham Beattie posts:  Dot – She’s a visionary, an entrepreneur and dreams big in North Otago’s Waitaki Valley  and talks to Mark Sainsbury about the book here.

In other media:

* Dot talks to Jim Mora.

* Dream of living in castle comes to life

* Dot’s castle inspires dreams.

* And TV3’s 3rd Degree featured Dot’s building a castle.


Losing and keeping friends

30/04/2014

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass yesterday was sparked by:

* Time magazine’s list of 10 ways to lose friends

and

Kevin Roberts’ much more positive 10 ways to keep your friends

 


Facebook fears, food fads and a furious pear

15/04/2014

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* Here’s what Facebook’s doing to your brain: it’s kind of shocking

* The Most Challenging Dinner Guest Ever: And 5 Delicious Meals To Feed Them (and yes I do understand that allergies aren’t fads, but let’s not the facts get in the way of an alliterative headline) from The Kitchen.Com

And

* The Furious Pear Pie

 

 


10 words to live by

18/03/2014

Conversation with Jim Mora on Critical Mass this afternoon was sparked by:

Ten words everyone should live by at MindBodyGreen.com


Grammar no-nos and gadgets

04/03/2014

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

These Famous Authors Made It Okay To Commit Grammar No-No’s among whom is one of my favourite poets, e.e. cummings.

and

What We Can Expect in Gadgets This Year  – I covet the solar rocking chair and the in-wall extension cord.

 


Sol3 Mio

01/03/2014

Interview of the week

Jim Mora in conversation with Sol3 Mio  and obviously enjoying their music and humour.


Uncommon thoughts on common things

18/02/2014

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* 50 Reasons We’re Living Through the Greatest Period in World History by Morgan Housel at The Motley Fool.

* Robert Fulghhum’s Journal – he’s the author of All I really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten at the start of which you’ll find the Story Teller’s Creed which he posts here.

and

* A working mother writes to a stay at home mother and a stay at home mother writes to a working one by Carolyn Ee at Healthy Doctor.


Fake signs & two types of people

04/02/2014

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked off by:

 Fake signs in the London Underground

And

There are two kinds of people in the world

 

 

 


Arguing better, Good Wolf & dullest blog

21/01/2014

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked off by:

*   Three destructive behaviours we all fall back on when arguing and how to fix them.  The suggestions solutions sound easy in theory, the challenge will be to remember and apply them in practice.

* The Good Wolf Manifesto – food for mind, body and spirit (check out the story behind the blog name on the about page and what success looks like on signing off the Good Wolf for 2013).

* The Dullest Blog in the World – 393 comments on tidying some pencils – I can only shake my head in wonder.


Critical Mass

17/12/2013

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked off by:

* A Peculiar Christmas Feast and the 4th Wise Man from Valerie Davies, one of my favourite bloggers.

* Pixar’s 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling

* What 120 things you should do every day to improve your life

And:

* If you need some inspiration for your resolutions try the New Year’s resolution generator.


Grammar test, Food Switch & buy-nothing Christmas

03/12/2013

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

You can’t write proper English under pressure – which tests your grammar, spelling and reactions.

Food Switch – an app for your mobile phone which scans bar codes of food products, gives you their nutritional value and suggests healthier alternatives for those higher in fat and sugar.

Buy Nothing Christmas – suggestions for gifts using your hands, heart and imagination rather than money.


Lessons & quotes

19/11/2013

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* What we can learn from tradies.

And

100 quotes about women.

I especially liked:

Women like silent men. They think they’re listening. Marcel Archard

It was a man’s world. Then Eve arrived. Richard Armour

Even if man could understand women he still wouldn’t believe it. AW Brown

 


Vocab test, weird food and Daily Oats

05/11/2013

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass this afternoon was sparked by:

* Vocabulary test.

I thought I was quite smart until I got to the end of the fourth column and came across legerdemain  which I recognised but couldn’t define and sparge which was totally unfamiliar.

I scored 33,300  when I did it first last week and 33,500 today – not sure why I’d improved. Perhpas my subconscious had mulled over some of the words I’d met the first time or maybe I wasn’t as tough on myself the second time.

* 10 of the weirdest things eaten by travel bloggers.

The weirdest thing I can claim to ahve eaten was what my host in Argentina called small bowel – I decided he meant small intestine but it didn’t make it any easier to eat.

I also ate viscacha in Argentina. It’s a small burrowing animal which looks a bit like a cross between a possum and a rabbit.

* Daily Oats – this was chosen for the tenuous link with the Melbourne Cup though the blog author is a horse lover rather than a racing aficionado. It includes:

How bad is your horse addiction?

You are Very Bad if!

 *if you have hay under your hat as you walk in the house.
*If you examine every piece of rope or twine for its halter potential.
*If you take someone’s temperature and think 102°F is normal.
*If you always keep carrots, apples, and sugar cubes in your refrigerator and ginger snaps on the shelf.
*If you prefer the smell of stable to perfume. . .

and All I’ve learned in my life I’ve learned from my horse:

• When in doubt, run far, far away.
• You can never have too many treats.
• Passing gas in public is nothing to be ashamed of.
• New shoes are an absolute necessity every 6 weeks.
• Ignore cues. They’re just a prompt to do more work.
• Everyone loves a good, wet, slobbery kiss.
• Never run when you can jog. Never jog when you can walk. And never walk when you can stand still.
• Heaven is eating at least 10 hours a day… and then sleeping the rest.
• Eat plenty of roughage.
• Great legs and a nice rear will get you anywhere. . . .

 

 

 


Nerdy book club, face recognition and annoying husband

01/10/2013

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* Nerdy Book Club – by and for people who love reading, and reading books for children and young adults in particular. The post heartprints by JoEllen McCarthy resonated in particular because I love Peter H. Reynolds’ books too.

He blogs at Stellar Cafe and Creative Juices and you’ll find out more at his website.

* Thanks to Richard, who comments here, for pointing me to the Mail Online’s story on Scotland Yard’s elite squad of ‘super recognisers’ and this test to determine how good you are at face recognition.

* My Husband is Annoying – she stated the blog in 2009 to vent. Her marriage has survived the blogging  so the vent must work and he mustn’t mind.

 


Last words & water blob

17/09/2013

Conversation with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* Famous last words.

And

* Paging Fun Mums, a site with a wealth of inspiration for anyone who wants to entertain children.

Among the posts are one with instructions for making a water blob.


Go boldly girls

29/08/2013

Victoria University student Katherine McIndoe, won the senior prize in the Royal Commonwealth Society’s 2013 essay competition.

Her essay was a letter to the lost girls.

Commonwealth Essay Competition 2013

“To boldly go”: a letter to the lost girls

To the lost girls,

My name is Katherine. I’m a girl, just like you. I have grown up in New Zealand, and I go to university. Ever since I was little, I have had this feeling that I can do whatever I want to do, that my future is not my fate but something that I can choose. I see no obstacles, only opportunities. No one can force me to do anything that I don’t want to do, no one can tell me how to live my life. I am my own person, and I am happy.

Your lives have not been so lucky. For you, there were no opportunities, only obstacles. No excitement at the idea of an unknown future, only hopelessness. You have suffered more than I can possibly imagine, and the difference between us? None. There is only a similarity: we were all born girls. For me, it’s just part of who I am. For you, it was a death sentence.

This is a letter to the lost girls of the world. I’m writing to the girls whose lives are taken as babies because their families don’t want a “useless” female child. I’m writing to the girls whose childhoods are taken from them in the form of trafficking, forced prostitution, and forced marriage. I’m writing to the young mothers who die all too frequently in childbirth, whose deaths are preventable and pointless. I’m writing to the girls who are denied sustenance in times of hunger, while their brothers are given the scarce food. I’m writing to the girls who are beaten in their own homes, and whose governments don’t recognise their right to safety. I’m writing to the women and girls who die from HIV Aids, contracted after they are sold, coerced, and tortured into the sex trade. I’m writing to the girls who have acid flung in their faces for perceived insubordination and faithlessness, and to those who douse themselves in gasoline and set themselves on fire to escape institutionalised domestic abuse. I’m writing to the silent girls, the voiceless girls, the lonely girls, and the lost girls – and there are more every day.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen told us in 1990 that over 100 million women are “missing” from the world, and today, 2 million more vanish every year. Throughout Asia, the ratio of men to women is disproportionately high (in Pakistan, for example, there are 111 men to every 100 women). This sort of disparity belies biology and reason, given that in many places women are proven to live longer and healthier lives. There is a huge gap where, logically, millions of women should be. But they are not there. Where do these women go?

The simple answer is that these “lost” girls go missing because of gender discrimination.

Every year in China, 39,000 baby girls die before the age of 1 because they are denied the same medical attention as baby boys. Sex-selective abortion, too, is a common practice that contributes to skewed sex ratios. Globally, maternal mortality is responsible for the preventable death of one woman per minute, and widespread trafficking of women and girls also robs communities of their women. And for those who make it through early childhood, normalised rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence await many girls as they grow up – for example, 21% of South African women are raped by the age of 15, while a woman or under-age girl is raped every 20 minutes in India.

This is “gendercide”, an undeniable, calculated attack on the women of the world, and it needs to be addressed. Undoubtedly, the only way that humanity can address it is if we “boldly go”. This requires us to display something abstract and intangible – courage.

Courage, to me, is at the crux of any true societal change, because problems like gender inequality are not easy to solve – they require us to be bold enough to ask difficult questions and to acknowledge awful truths.

The fact that so many girls are being lost to gender discrimination is utterly wrong. Every once in a while, when the world’s leaders come together, the “gender issue” is raised, and these statistics are read and sighed at. Undoubtedly, nearly every person who reads about the preventable death of babies or the sexual assault of young girls is disgusted and saddened, and rightly so. And yet strangely, gendercide – one of the most shocking, widespread, and fatal examples of discrimination in history – is not front page news every day. It takes a particular incident, like the horrific rape and murder of a woman on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012, to raise international interest. So the problem is twofold: firstly, women are treated as inferior all over the world, and secondly, this violent form of discrimination is so commonplace and ingrained that it is enormously difficult to make society see it as the emergency that it is.

In the face of such inertia, what we need is courage, passion, and a willingness to confront unflinchingly things that we would rather ignore. We can’t be measured and reasonable, and we can’t drag our feet, claiming that a problem of this magnitude demands distant solutions decades down the track. We have to be unreasonable,we have to be angry, we have to be uncompromising, and we have to be bold. The time has passed for incremental, unhurried development: there is a need now for courageous action. We need to go boldly in the face of those who accuse us of naivety, shout down all those who laugh at our idealism. Yes the “gender issue” is ingrained, multi-faceted, hugely problematic – but that is precisely why it must be addressed urgently. Frankly, I don’t think that it is naive or ignorant to suggest that we hurry up and start fixing it.

There are some bold people endeavouring to do just that. Maria Bashir, a prosecutor in Afghanistan, goes boldly in the face of death threats to herself and her family in order to fight corruption and the degradation of women in the country she loves. She fearlessly prosecutes those guilty of crimes against women, day after day, because she knows that courage and a single-minded refusal to back down are the strongest possible tools in the fight against institutionalised discrimination and violence. Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban on her way to school in 2012, exercised her right to education and continues to do so with bravery and pride, showing the world that she is not afraid and her voice will not be silenced. EdnaAdan, a lifelong advocate for women’s health, campaigns for the abolition of female circumcision and pours her own resources into the maternity hospital that she built in an area of her native Somaliland devastated by civil war. She fights for safety and adequate healthcare for girls and mothers because she refuses to accept any violation of women’s bodies and the preventable death of so many women.

She is unflinching and uncompromising, and her courage saves lives. These women truly epitomise what it is to be bold.

One hundred million women are missing, if not more.Millions of women who did not have the chance to be bold, who can no longer raise their voices in bravery and defiance.

However, it is not these women – those who are the victims of violence or assault or trafficking – who are not being brave enough. It is the rest of us, those who have the opportunity, education, and freedom to use our voices without fear of persecution and violence, who need to be bold on their behalf. We need to be bold so that they, and we, can live in a world where girls don’t need to be so brave, where there is no gender discrimination for us to fear.

I’m sorry that the only thing that separates you and me is luck, an accident of birth. I’m sorry that you were not cherished as the extraordinary girls that you are. I’m sorry that there are hundreds of millions of you, and I’m sorry that your numbers continue to grow.

The poet Carol Ann Duffy wrote about a poker game between some tough women, figures drawn from history and literature. She describes how, even as these women played their game and made their moves, standing behind each was“a line of ghosts unable to win”. You and your predecessors are these ghosts, these women standing behind us as we hold the cards. But it’s time that you won. It’s time that your silent screams were heard and acted on with the courage they merit. It’s time that we go boldly, so that you are the last girls to be lost to your families, communities, and the world.

Jim Mora interviewed Katherine on Afternoons today.


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