Lucy Report — april 17, 2016

For this week, I offer a “Women Gettin’ it Done” listicle:

Warmth for the homeless: I have watched the above video of this young woman in Detroit at least a dozen times, and it always gives me the chills. Take 2.5 minutes and listen to Veronika Scott tell her story of how listening for a class assignment in college lead her to launch an innovative product, created by those who needed it for those who need it. It is a win-win-win. All the women in the video are testimonies of strength.

Breaking up child marriages: Theresa Kachindamoto, senior chief in the Dedza District in Central Malawi, was tired of seeing 12-year-old girls walking around with babies in their hands, rather than school books. Read how she took action to break up more than 850 child marriages in her area. Read the faces in the slideshow of child brides The Huffington Post paired with Theresa’s story to understand how radical her work to end child marriages is for each and every girl saved.

Never too late for justice: In 2009, thousands of rape kits stacked on shelves of the Detroit Police Department storage facility were “discovered.” Kym L. Worthy, the head of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office “knew that they had to be tested, even the ones that were beyond the statute of limitations,” she told the New York Times. “I wanted to try to bring justice to each and every one of those victims that I could.” The cost to process the rape kits, though, was astronomical. The resources Worthy could gather from governments and philanthropists wasn’t enough, even though she had negotiated down the price for processing the kits. In stepped a group of Detroit women business leaders, organized by Joanna Cline. I know there are networks of women in every community who can ­­– and do — solve problems like this every day.

Setting the record straight: On a monthly basis, dozens of people gather in Harlem for an “edit-a-thon” an initiative organized by AfroCROWD and its founder Alice Backer (photo below). AfroCROWD is working on Wikipedia’s diversity problem. Since its beginning, most of the volunteer editors of the online encyclopedia have been predominately white men. Surveys suggest fewer than 16% of editors are women, and, like many other online enterprises, female editors have encountered chauvinist hostility. But that hasn’t stopped Backer and her group of volunteers, who are determined to rectify the lack of articles about black history and culture, as told in Women in the World. Emily Temple-Wood has similar motivations. The molecular biology major at Loyola University of Chicago has written nearly 50 articles for Wikipedia chronicling the achievements of women in science. This has, of course, exposed her to relentless harassment by internet trolls. She told Susie Nelson of Nautilus.com that she often is deluged with “cruel message about her body, intelligence, and sexual decision-making.” She used to ignore the comments; but when they numbers jumped, she decided to “fight ignorance with enlightenment.” For every harassing email she receives, she has pledged to write another entry about a female scientist. At the rate she is harassed, she admits she now has a back-log of 120 or so.

Photo credit: Katie Booth/Women in the World

Living poor, dying young: To follow up on last week’s look at the shortened lifespan of rural, undereducated women — an unheard of declined for a developed nation. The Washington Post on Monday published a graphic the visually shows death rate trends by age, gender and race since 1990. And the Post provided analysis of the trends, noting that white men also are seeing unexpectedly high death rates in midlife.

And to be clear — and this is important — white women overall still outlive white men and African Americans of both sexes. In the US, race, gender, level of income and education, as well as geography (rural vs. urban, coastal v. inland) all are factors in longevity. Overall, almost every trend line has improved between 1970 and 2010, according to CDC data. For white people as a whole, life expectancy has increased from 71.7 years to 78.9 years, a 10% increase; and for black people from 64.1 years to 75.1 years, a 17% increase and a closing of the gap between rates for black and white people from 7.6 years to 3.8 years.

It is the rate of lifespan decline of middle-aged, white women, particularly those who are undereducated and living in rural areas, that is the noticeable trend. Joel Achenbach gathered up reader comments following last Sunday’s story. As you can imagine, there’s a good bit of conversation about behaviors and choices, since the leading causes of the increased early death rate are overdoses and cirrhosis of the liver.

It is simple to blame the victim. But those of us who know women struggling in rural areas — or teenagers trying to make it in tough urban environments — know better. Said a 56-year-old woman struggling in a job that never pays more this year than last: “We aren’t all lazy, drug and alcohol addicted worthless human beings. We are molded by environment and family history, race, and education. Loss of compassion for our fellow man, narcissism, and greed are what this country is about today.”

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-Editor, Reagan Walker


Originally published at lucyreport.tumblr.com.