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Posts Tagged ‘equality’

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Photo: Library of Congress
This powerful image symbolizes the awakening of the nation’s women to the desire for suffrage. The torch bearer is striding across the western states, where women already had the right to vote, toward the east where women are reaching out.

This month I’ve been enjoying a different tea every day after my daughter-in-law had the kind thought of giving me a teabag-a-day Advent calendar. I do like trying new teas. Today I’m thinking about the role tea has played in American history. No, not just when men threw tea into Boston Harbor to protest “taxation without representation,” but when women urged people to buy Equality Tea.

Janelle Peters writes at the Atlantic, “Access to daily necessities has long been a priority for social-reform movements. … When it came time for women to get the vote, tea played a role, too. Women such as the wealthy Alva Vanderbilt-Belmont held ‘suffrage teas,’ where support for the cause was proclaimed. The tea parties also served as fund-raisers, a practice that extended to the teas themselves.

“In California, suffragist women showed how both tea and the national movement of women’s suffrage could be democratized at the state level. Two suffrage teas generated revenue for political organizing in the run-up to the 1911 election. … Equality Tea sprang up in Northern California and spread throughout the state. In Southern California, Nancy Tuttle Craig used her position as one of the only female grocers in the state to package a ‘Votes for Women’ tea. …

“By the late 19th century, the suffragette cause had stalled in the Golden State. … It took a decade and a half for California women to prove that they had a broad base of support to gain the right to vote in state elections. The 1911 vote was hard-fought. Suffrage leagues and reform-minded women organized feverishly, but women’s suffrage still did not pass in San Francisco. This time, the rest of the state made up the difference. Tea smoothed over the gap between San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego in supporting women’s suffrage.

“Equality Tea was based in Northern California. Distributed by the Woman’s Suffrage Party, it spread through the state. San Francisco storerooms served the tea in tearooms decorated with a Chinese theme. Suffrage-minded consumers could purchase Equality Tea in half-pound, whole-pound, and five-pound boxes. Varieties included Ceylon, English breakfast, young hyson, gunpowder, and oolong. Some suffrage organizations, like the Club Women’s Franchise League, served Equality Tea at their headquarters in the St. Francis Hotel on Saturday afternoons.

“[Equality Tea] was also sold at regional fairs and by mail order. Ads appeared in venues ranging from local newspapers to medical journals. Some grocers carried the tea, and

there were women who refused to pay their grocery bills if their grocer did not carry Equality Tea.

“The ability to order by mail assured that the tea’s purveyors did not discriminate against rural or lower-class residents, groups of the population with stronger support for women’s suffrage.

“Tea became a central feature of the political strategy of San Francisco suffragists. On August 22, 1911, The San Francisco Call reported that the Votes for Women club had prepared a ‘suffrage special’ train that would carry feminist speakers to the state fair in order to be heard by people from all parts of the state. … By emphasizing tea on the suffrage train, the Votes for Women club focused on how accessible the basic civic right could be.”

Read more at the Atlantic, here, while I head off for tea at Pamela’s home.

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Today let’s hear from Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), who gave this speech extemporaneously at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio. She begins by addressing two parallel causes: the fight for freedom of “the negroes of the South and the women at the North.” Then she goes on to say that as a black woman, women’s rights are her cause, too.

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man — when I could get it — and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman? …

“Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

“Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.” Except she’s still saying it: that the rights of one group are inseparable from the rights of all.

More here.

Photo: Biography.com

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In Tanzania, women farmers appearing on a TV show called in English “Female Food Heroes” are bringing attention to the importance of their work and the barriers to expansion.

Oxfam America reporter Coco McCabe writes about contestant Edna Kiogwe, “She grew up in a farming family and knows well the hurdles they face, especially women farmers who, in her country, own only a small fraction of the land. …

“It’s that inequality — and the lost opportunities buried beneath it — to which Kiogwe and 14 other women farmers helped to bring attention this year as contestants in the fifth season of a highly popular reality TV show shot in Tanzania and aired across East Africa. Called Mama ‘Shujaa wa Chakula ,’ or ‘Female Food Heroes,’ the Oxfam-sponsored show celebrates the vital contributions women farmers make in feeding the planet, and highlights the challenges many encounter on a daily basis, including limited access to land, credit, and training opportunities. …

“In the village of Kisanga, where ‘Mama Shujaa wa Chakula’ was filmed [in 2015], the 15 contestants learned a great deal about the struggles local farmers face in feeding their families. Each of the women stayed with a village family for the duration of the three-week shoot, and daily contests included designing tools that could be useful to Kisanga farmers, interviewing them about their agricultural challenges, and putting together skits to help bring attention to those hurdles. …

“Kiogwe [now] spends most of her time in Dar es Salaam, a coastal city about a two-and-a-half hour drive away, where she lives and works as a civil servant. But her city life belies her village roots — and her keen interest in farming. Unlike most women in Tanzania, Kiogwe owns her own land, given to her by her forward-thinking father on her wedding day. She harvests corn, cassava, rice, and sugar cane, carefully aligning her 28 days of annual leave from her city job with peak work times on her small farm in the Morogoro region. …

“ ‘I want to make agriculture like a business,’ says Kiogwe. … With a little effort, greater value can be added to the fruits farmers grow, for instance.

“ ‘Change it from fruit to juice, we can sell it … We can add value to maize — maize flour for porridge — and you can have a good label and good packaging and compete with international businesses. That is my dream.’ ” More here.

According to OXFAMCloseup, the nonprofit’s quarterly magazine, the episodes shot in Kisanga, Tanzania, aired in five countries and had 14 million people tune in. The magazine adds, “Versions of the program are now being produced in Ethiopia and Nigeria, and some finalists have become involved in local, national, and even global farmer advocacy.”

Photo: Coco McCabe / Oxfam America
Edna Kiogwe helps her host family with the morning chores in Kisanga, where the TV show “Female Food Heroes” was filmed in 2015.

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