Changing The World, $5 At A Time

May 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Inspiring People

5for-bodyAnna McDonnell had always felt that the odds were tipped in favor of men in this world and had wanted the “challenge” of raising a daughter to overcome these odds.

She had three sons instead. So, years later, after she left the television business and returned to school for her master’s degree in social work, the 51-year-old California woman decided to take up the cause again.

“I just believe that gender inequity is probably the greatest single cause of the imbalances on our planet,” McDonnell says. “When women and men are not valued equally, there’s less education and more violence.”

In 2009, she started a social networking site, 5 for Fairness, to raise funds and awareness for causes that benefit at-risk girls around the world. She asks donors to contribute $5 via a PayPal button on the site. McDonnell’s motto: “If you want to catch a lot of rain, put out a lot of teacups.”…Continued


International Women’s Day

March 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Today is International Women’s Day. I have to confess I’ve never paid much attention to this day or what it meant until recently.  I’ve always been aware of differences between men and women when it came to earnings or in work situations, where women have to assert themselves to survive in the “boy’s club”.  But my thinking was very limited.  It lived in a developed country and in a middle class environment. International Women’s Day is not about men opening doors for women or who is picking up the check, or our right to wear short skirts without being bothered. International Women’s Day is about the discrepancy between the percentage of women in the work force and the percentage of wealth we hold.  It is also about our right to make decisions on how to live our lives, our rights to our bodies and education.

With all the advancements in communication and the interconnectedness of the world, we are now fully aware of how women are treated in many parts of the world and it is hard to fandom and impossible to accept.  No woman should be stripped from her sexual pleasure.  No woman should be made into a slave. No woman should be made into an object and every woman is entitled to an education.

I know it is a huge issue to tackle.  Centuries of behavior that needs to change but we can do it; one step at a time.

Tonight, I’m one of the organizers of an event which will have a number of actors reading the writings of Afghan women who are stripped of every liberty awarded to men and are under complete control of either the Taliban or their own family. Tonight we will read their words and thus give them voice and hope the more we hear their voice the more we will empower them and us to make a change.

Let’s do something meaningful today to let the world know we care. Bringing freedom and equality to women is at the center of our survival.


Afghan Women Writers

February 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

The Producers Guild of America, Women in Film and the women’s committees of the Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Writers Guild of America West, have organized a night of dramatic readings of blogs, essays and poems written by Afghan Women living in Afghanistan who are mentored by American novelists, screenwriters and journalists. This mentoring program, Afghan Women’s Writing Project, was started by novelist and journalist Masha Hamilton, whose efforts have given Afghan women something to hold on to – their voice.

In supporting their right to think, speak and write, nationality and religion are not important; we are human beings reaching out to one another.

It is hard for us Americans to understand that there are women in other parts of the world who are victimized on a daily basis simply because they are women. It is hard for us to grasp that a young woman not wanting to be married off, has no recourse.  Or that education is denied to women and that often they are treated as no more than possessions.

We are astonished when we read: “When I open my eyes to this world, everyone turns sad. When they learn of my gender, people say; oh my God. When I am small and need my father’s love and kindness, he turns his back on me, giving all his love to his son instead”.  And our hearts ache when another woman writes: “…Suddenly the blast took all my happiness and its grimy smoke brought darkness into my life. When I opened my eyes everything seemed in disarray. I checked my American watch.  I found my hand full of blood”. And our hearts beat with theirs when we read: “I am fifteen and the boy I cannot forget waits on the street to see me with my burqa…he knows my smell, love is blind for him”.

So on March 8th, Jennifer Beals, Summer Bishil, Nadia Bjorlin, Conchata Ferrell, Jodi Long, Nichelle Nichols, Teal Sherer, Bahar Soomekh and Marcia Wallace will read the words of these brave women who risk their lives every time they put a pencil to a paper and we will listen to their voices with compassion, admiration and exhilaration.

In helping produce this event it is my sincere hope that we can continue to find ways to support the rights of women to thrive – at home and abroad – independently of political and socio-economic interests; just human beings reaching out to one another.

The program, “Out of Silence” will be held at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance on March 8, 2010 – International Women’s Day, and is directed by Frederick Ponzlov.