Monday, 27 October 2014

The Womans Changing Role in Society

 Letters to Ms. 1972-1987

This post was written by Stefani via UN Volunteers

Throughout history the role of women has changed a lot. About 100 years ago women were not allowed to work, study, vote, drive and many other things depending from country to country, or from religion to religion. Women were or are associated with domestic duties such as housekeeping, food preparation, and child care.
After reading a very interesting article on I decided to share some interesting things with you. It is about a book called Letters to Ms. 1972-1987 edited by Mary Thom with an introduction by Gloria Steinem.
I chose this because the letters that were shared in the book were written by regular everyday women during 70s and 80s. I will share some of the most interesting one's with you so you can see for yourself the differences between the woman from past times and today woman or even find something that is still the same.
I always insist that women should always stick together, and always trust each other, but this woman was mostly mistrusted by women. This is something most women can still relate to today. This is her letter:

“I work part time at a gas station in Oakland. I pump gas, wash windows, put air in tires, check and charge batteries, check transmissions, change oil, hub jobs, and other basic things. I don’t claim to be a mechanic; I’m not. But I’m getting a little tired of women asking me to get “one of the men” to check their tires, water, and oil. I have been trained on the job to do these things. 
Men seem to trust and accept my service much more willingly than the women. One woman asked me to check her transmission. I did and found that she was completely empty and suggested she add a quart of transmission fluid. She didn’t believe me and asked that I get “one of the men” to check it out. So I did, and he told her the same thing. 
This happens every day. I wish there was something that could be done. It is hard enough for women to seek positions in fields that are dominated by men without having to deal with mistrust and lack of support from other women.

Name Withheld
September 1973

I believe this story tells us a lot and I believe that even today they are things that we would still trust men men that we would women. Why is that? Does that actually mean that we do not trust ourselves?

The next letter is about a woman who decided to change her work environment. Let’s see what she did:

"I finally got up the courage to challenge an old established male tradition in my office. I do telephone sales. Our working area in the office has always been covered with “girlie” pictures and photographs of devastating (and devastated) maidens. This made us few women in the office feel terribly uncomfortable.
When the majority of the male staff was out to lunch, we proceeded to rip the latest issue of Playgirl of its best. Over my desk now hangs one gorgeous specimen of the male species, the centerfold. Everywhere there was a girlie picture there are now beautiful stud photographs.
I think the reactions of the men in the office could best be summarized in terms of shock. Although everyone tried to be good humored about it, jokingly or otherwise, they all compared themselves in some way to the models. 
It was a marvelous experience to see super-duper macho stud types go all to pieces when confronted with the same thing we have had to face for years — images of ourselves as we could never hope to be, images of ourselves as seen only in the minds of men.

Name Withheld
October 13, 1975

This one was my favorite, because as she said in the last sentence of the letter it clearly shows images of woman seen only in the minds of men.

I shared these two letters with you girls because I wanted you to see and realize that changes are being made and we are making them. Even a small thing can change the whole course of the history. 

You should all know Rosa Parks and how important she was in the world of human rights, and what she did was simply refuse to stand up from her seat reserved for white people. From today’s perspective the action seems too simple, but from the perspective of that time it was a huge step that has made a difference even today. 

Each day I see women are no longer willing to be silent and sit in the back of the room, but slowly are coming forward and speaking out, and that makes me so proud. I’m proud of all of you and I’m encouraging you to share stories of yourself and the positive changes that you made in your own environment. 

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Written by Stefani Marjanovic via UN Volunteers

Stefani Marjanovic

Stefani Marjanovic, 24, lives in a small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has studied International Law at the American University in Bosnia and this year is starting her Masters in Human Rights and Environmental Protection. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Stress Affects your Health

Image from:
This post was written by Diana via UN Volunteers

Women’s stress

Has it happened that when someone tells you that you are stressed you get defensive like “No I’m not stressed, I have no worries (I mean I have… but I can manage them, they do not affect me). But believe me somehow, although you do not “feel it” this is not always true. 

Last year I was diagnosed with "Arnolds neuralgia," a medical condition characterized by chronic pain in the upper neck, back of the head and behind the eyes. Ways in which they can be damaged include trauma (usually concussive), repetitive neck contraction, flexion or extension, and all these are as a result of - guess what: Stress. It was only then that I decided to accept that I was stressed! But up to what point do we let the stress progress in our bodies and our lives that it causes disease?

Stress is a feeling you get when faced with a challenge. In small doses, stress can be good for you because it makes you more alert and gives you a burst of energy. But feeling stressed for a long time can have a toll on your mental and physical health. 

Stress happens when people feel like they don’t have the tools to manage all of the demands in their lives. Missing the bus or arguing with your spouse or partner can cause short-term stress. Money problems or trouble at work can cause long-term stress. Even happy events, like having a baby or getting married can cause stress and even though it may seem hard to find ways to de-stress with all the things you have to do, it's important to find those ways because, as in my case, your health depends on it. 

Do Women React to Stress Differently than Men? 

One recent survey found that women were more likely to experience physical symptoms of stress than men. We do know that women often cope with stress in different ways that men. Women "tend and befriend", taking care of those closest to them but also drawing support from friends and family. Men are more likely to have the "fight or flight" response. They cope by "escaping" into a relaxing activity or other distraction. 

Can Stress Affect my Health?

The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones, These hormones make blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar levels go up. Long term stress can cause a variety of health problems including: Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart beats, menstrual problems, acne and other skin problems. 

How Can I Help Handle My Stress? 

Everyone has to deal with stress. There are steps you can take to help you handle stress in a positive way and keep it from making you sick. Try these tips to keep stress in check:
  • Develop a new attitude. Become a problem solver, be flexible and get organized (set limits). 
  • Relax. Take deep breaths, stretch, massage tense muscles and take time to do what you want to do. 
  • Take care of your body. Get enough sleep, eat right, get moving, don't deal with stress in unhealthy ways (alcohol, peels, drugs, etc.) 

Finally, I will add a personal recommendation based on my own case and how I am dealing with stress: "Connecting with others." Just share your stress! I mean with your friends, with your friends and family, spend time with them and enjoy those moments. 

Also get help from a professional if you need it and take time to help others as well. Volunteering in your community can help you make new friends and feel better about yourself. I am volunteering right now and I do feel less stressed already!

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Written by Diana Huaman via UN Volunteers

About Author
Diana, 21, from Peru is an International Business student and a teacher too. She would love to travel the world, study translation to learn different languages, start her own company one day and contribute to society through education.

Diana Huaman
IN HER OWN WORDS: " My name is Diana and I am 21 years old. I have a small family I love: mum and brother, and a boyfriend I adore.  I’m Peruvian and I have lived all my life in Peru and haven’t finished knowing it. My country is so big, so beautiful; I’m so in love of my country! – think you could notice that. I’m studying international business administration, although in fact I always wanted to study translation since I love learning languages, but I decided to do business because someday I want to start my own company so I can show everybody what beautiful things we have here and travel and travel around the entire world doing that, while at the same time I can help my compatriots by giving them work. I could define myself as a woman committed to every goal she sets, that loves meeting new people and very competitive!  In addition to my studies I am a teacher, which I discovered it’s kind of my real vocation. I teach children and adolescents and I believe it’s the best contribution I can make: education."

Friday, 10 October 2014

Tell-tale Signs of An Abuser

This post was written by volunteer blogger Karin via UN Volunteering Service.

Meeting a new potential partner is always exciting and emotional. You meet this guy/girl and s/he is THE perfect one. You don't see anything wrong in them because you just met a couple of weeks ago. But sometimes those new relationships with people you just met can go in the wrong direction and soon you find yourself in an abusive relationship. Before getting into a relationship ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does s/he always blame you when there is a problem?
  1. Is s/he going through your phone without asking and without reason?
  1. S/he doesn't want you to meet up with your friends and doesn't want to meet them.
  1. Is s/he calling you up multiple times a day to know where you are?
The questions may seem simple but if you have answered "yes" to any of those questions, it is important that you take a lot of time to evaluate your partner to be sure you are not in an abusive relationship.


Abuse is defined as the systematic pattern of behaviour in a relationship that is used to gain and/or maintain power and control over another. Someone who uses you in every possible way or form to attain happiness or satisfaction at your cost.

A lot of people perceive that an abuser is a mean looking man who physically abuses his girl when comes home and pushes them around. That is abuse but there is much more to abuse than that. Abuse can be verbal, mental, emotional as well as physical.


  • The most obvious abuse is physical abuse. The abuser is hitting, punching, choking or pushing the victim. 
  • Emotional abuse which involves an attack on self-esteem, blaming, cursing and criticizing the victims feelings among other forms. 
  • Psychological abuse involves threatening the victim, throwing and smashing things, punching walls and hiding things. 
  • Any non-consenting sexual  act or behavior falls under sexual abuse.


JEALOUSY: The abuser will question you on who you are going out with, who you are talking to, accuse you of flirting and becomes jealous when you spend your time with other people.
Never let anyone control what you are allowed to do and who to meet.

CONTROLLING: In the beginning the abuser will attribute controlling behavior to concern for you. For example, wants to make decisions for you because s/he's highly concerned about your safety.
Be wary of situations where your significant other controls all your decisions.

QUICK INVOLVEMENT: Often the abuser wants the relationship to progress very fast and before you know it, you are living together. Once you live with the abuser, it is easier for him/her to isolate you from your friends and family. 

Take your time to know someone in and out.

PUTTING BLAME ON OTHERS: The abuser will blame everyone else, including you, for all his problems. Someone is always an obstacle in the abuser's achievements. 
You should be concerned if your significant other is always blaming you and others for his personal failure.

BREAKING OBJECTS: Everyone can lose their temper every now and them, but most abusers will break things because they view this behavior as punishment especially when breaking items of value. This behavior may come up after a while but in stressful situtation, it is important to observe your significant other. Is s/he breaking the pen s/he's holding in their hand? Is s/he slamming their hands on the table? Do they exhibit road rage?

BEFORE INVESTING IN A RELATIONSHIP sure to know the person. If your partner does or says something that makes you feel weird, take time to talk about it. Even after you've known each other for a couple of weeks, your partner should never disrespect you or make you feel worthless. Don't fall for the "I am sorry, this is the first and the last time this happened" trick because the abuser perceives that once you forgive once or twice, they can do whatever and you will tolerate it and forgive them anyway.


It is hard to make the first step and reach out to people - and most importantly, the right people. But wherever you are there are people willing to help you, it could be a neighbor, a support group online or offline, an organization and yes, even the police is their to help you.

Silence protects the perpetrator and imprisons the victim. Break the silence.


Karin Philippczyk
Karin, 23, is a world traveler currently on search of a new travel goal. She is bilingual, having been raised by a German dad and a French mom - also reason for exceptional and unnecessary strict table manners. She is studying International Business Administration.

In her own words: "My friends would describe me as spontaneous, happy and highly organized. These traits are probably a consequence from being a full-time nanny in addition to my studies. I use a calendar meticulously; however, my calendar is my brain, which I carry around like a holy book.  Every event/birthday/random appointment will end up in there. I love nights out with friends and reading for hours on rainy days. Additionally, I am a Quarterback on a local American Football Club."

Feel free to Contact Us if you have any question, queries, suggestions or criticisms.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Women Inspiration Series: Lou Xiaoying

This article was written by Zenith via UN Volunteers

Chapter 3 – Lou Xiaoying (China, Eastern Zhejiang)

In this series, we move back to Asia, and in specific, China, the country who has been branded by both positive and negative tags. Beyond the strong economic growth and huge potential as a country, many around the world has also raised concern regarding the huge inequality gap that has become impossible to ignore over the years. 

The inspirational woman of this series has come from probably the least expected background; a rubbish collector. Ms Lou Xiaoying has been hailed a hero by media and many people around the world, after several reports sprung up around the world 2 years back, carrying her story of how she and her late husband having saved more than 30 orphaned babies.

“…I realized if we had strength enough to collect garbage
how could we not recycle something
as important as human lives?” — Lou Xiaoying

Lou’s journey of saving orphaned children began back in 1972 when she was out collecting rubbish and there she found a baby girl lying amongst the junk on the street, abandoned. Lou brought her back home and raised her as her own. To Loy, watching the young girl grow and becoming stronger brought immense happiness and made her realize her real love of caring for children.

Lou and her husband kept 4 of the children they rescued, and the rest were passed onto friends and family members to start new lives. Her youngest son Zhang Qilin was rescued by Lou when she was 82. In Lou’s words, “Even though I was already getting old I could not simply ignore the baby and leave him to die in the trash. He looked so sweet and so needy. I had to take him home with me.”

Though Lou could not afford to send her eldest 3 children to school, she managed to send Zhang Juju and another daughter through junior high school. Zhang Juju, one of Lou’s adopted daughters, said that despite her mother’s extreme poverty, she has always tried to provide the best life possible for the children she rescued.

So often we’ve heard the excuse or reason that people give for not giving – “I am not rich enough”, or “When I get richer, I will give more”, or simply, “I am not free”. Lou, being a garbage collector is definitely not someone who will be ranked anywhere near the “well-to-do” category of society. But nothing has stopped her from saving these children off the fate of dying in dumps. She may not have been able to provide them with a life of riches, but has definitely gave them a second opportunity at living.

Despite being old, ill and poor, even at 82 years old, Lou still rescued Zhang Qilin off the streets. Despite the one-child-policy and social norms of gender inequality, neither has stopped Lou from doing what she finds right. In her life, she has become a hero not only of the children she rescued, but also as society hero to show that through human determination and love, nothing is impossible.

Lou’s story reminds me of Mother Teresa’s quote: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” All big change begins with a small step, and every step matters. 

Written by Zenith Chua, UN Volunteers

About Author

Zenith is in her senior year at Singapore Management University, majoring in strategic management and organizational behavior & human resources. Beyond school, she learns from various MOOCs (massive open online courses), so as to satisfy her seemingly ever growing desire for knowledge. Setting academics apart, she is an active UN Volunteer with various NGOs around the world, as well as a dragonboat paddler. 

Firmly driven by her life motto, "To Live, Not Just Exist", Zenith is always on the move for new ideas and opportunities to fulfill her not-so-humble ambition of changing the world to be a better place for all.


DAILY MAIL: 88 Year Old Saves Dumped Babies

HUFFINGTON POST: 30 Babies Saved by One Woman

ASIA STUDY: Lou Xiaoying and One Vile Woman - A Study in Contrasts