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Psychology student Aleksandra Chichikova crowned first Miss Wheelchair World

A psychology student from Belarus, Aleksandra Chichikova, has been crowned Miss Wheelchair World in the first-ever edition of the beauty pageant held in Warsaw, Poland on Saturday.

“Fight your anxiety and your fears,” the 23-year-old Chichikova said at a gala evening, after the contestants had presented themselves in national costumes and evening dresses in elaborate choreographies.

Lebohang Monyatsi from South Africa was the runner-up ahead of Poland’s Adrianna Zawadzinska in the first contest of its kind on a global scale, which brought together 24 young women from 19 countries.

The goal of the contest was to “change the image of women in wheelchairs so they would not be judged solely by this attribute,” contest co-founder and jury president Katarzyna Wojtaszek-Ginalska told AFP.

Miss Belarus Aleksandra Chichikova greets the audience after she was crowned Miss Wheelchair World.

The pageant organised by the Poland-based Only One Foundation also seeks to show that a wheelchair is a luxury in many parts of the world, she added.

The contestants were chosen either in national rounds or, in countries with no such pageants, by non-governmental organisations addressed by the Polish foundation.

“It is not the looks that matter the most,” said Wojtaszek-Ginalska, who is also confined to a wheelchair.

“Of course, a good look counts but we have focused especially on the personality of the girls, their everyday activities, their involvement, social life, plans,” she added.

Miss Belarus Aleksandra Chichikova greets the audience.

The contestants spent eight days in the Polish capital, busy with rehearsals, photo sessions, conferences and visits.

The inaugural Miss Wheelchair World attracted contestants from Angola, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Guatemala, India, Italy, Mexico, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine and the United States.

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Henry Sapiecha

‘We will stop the next war’: Watch Women march for Israeli-Palestinian peace

About 5000 Israeli and Palestinian women, calling for peace, have marched through a desert landscape down to the Jordan River where they erected a ‘peace tent’.

Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women have trekked through a biblical desert landscape, converging on the shores of the Jordan River in a march for peace.

The women, many of them dressed in white, descended through the arid hills leading to the river, where they erected a “peace tent” named for Hagar and Sarah, scriptural mothers of Ishmael and Isaac, the half-brother patriarchs of Muslims and Jews.

“We are women from the right, the left, Jews and Arabs, from the cities and the periphery and we have decided that we will stop the next war,” said Marilyn Smadja, one of the founders of the organising group, Women Wage Peace.

Israeli and Palestinian women march in the desert near Beit HaArava in the Jordan Valley, Israel, near to Jericho, in the West Bank, 08 October 2017.

The organisation was established after the 50-day Gaza war of 2014 when more than 2100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.

About 5000 women participated in Sunday’s march, organisers said.

It began last month at several locations across Israel and will culminate in a rally later in the day outside the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian and Israeli women take phone photographs of thousands of women taking part in a Peace march in the desert near Beit HaArava in the Jordan Valley

The march comes at a time when many analysts see little hope for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is 82 and unpopular, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads what is seen as the most right-wing government in his country’s history.

In 2015, Women Wage Peace members fasted in relays over 50 days, the length of the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

“The men who have power believe only in war, but with the strength of women we can bring something else, something new,” said Amira Zidan, an Arab Israeli mother of one of the organisation’s founders.

Sunday’s arrival in Jerusalem coincides with the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which commemorates the Jews’ journey through the Sinai after their exodus from Egypt.

Earlier Sunday, thousands of Jews gathered at Jerusalem’s Western Wall for a priestly blessing held during the holiday each year.

Henry Sapiecha

This 17th-Century “Women’s Petition Against Coffee” Probably Wasn’t About Women, or Coffee

It probably wasn’t written by angry, sex-deprived wives–although stranger things have happened
In the late 1600s, London coffeehouses were a preferred hangout for political men and writers.

“Unlike the tavern, the alehouse or the inn,” writes historian Brian Cowan, the coffeehouse “was a novel institution.” Although coffee-oriented gathering places had been common in the Arab world for hundreds of years, coffee was a new arrival to Britain in the 1600s. The first coffee-houses opened in the 1650s. By 1663, writes Matthew Green for The Telegraph, there were 82 coffeehouses in central London. Part of the reason, he writes, was their novelty. But with this rise came a backlash: In a hilarious pamphlet published in 1674, a group of women came out against the “newfangled, abominable, heathenish liquor called coffee.”

It’s difficult to tell if the writers of the The Women’s Petition Against Coffee were actually women, writes historian Steve Pincus, or if they were representing what women actually thought about coffeehouses. More likely, he writes, the satires were written in order to help make coffeehouses unpopular as they were perceived as sites of political unrest. (Charles II tried to ban the establishments in a year later.)

In the Women’s Petition, the supposed wives of coffee-drinkers bemoaned the fact that coffee-drinking was such an intellectual, effeminate pastime that it had rendered their husbands impotent and “as unfruitful as those deserts whence that unhappy berry is said to be brought.” (Coffee-growing lands are generally very rich and fertile.)

“For can any woman of sense or spirit endure with patience,” they wrote, “that when…she approaches the nuptial bed, expecting a man that … should answer the vigour of her flames, she on the contrary should only meet a bedful of bones, and hug a meager useless corpse?”

The women’s petition also complained that coffee made men too talkative: “they sup muddy water, and murmur insignificant notes till half a dozen of them out-babble an equal number of us at gossipping,” the anonymous authors write.

The writers of The Mens Answer to the Womens Petition Against Coffee, tongue firmly in cheek, noted that far from making them impotent, coffee actually made them better husbands by “drying up” the “Crude Flatulent Humours” that caused them to fart in bed. Besides, they added, “the Coffee house is the Citizens Academy,” the writers pleaded, “where he learns more Wit than ever his Grannum taught him.”

It was just this facet of the coffeehouse that Charles II was afraid of. By this time, coffeehouses had been around in England for a few decades. Spreading from London, Pincus writes, the institution had made it as far as Scotland. During these decades, the British monarchy had been deposed during the English Civil War when Charles I was executed in 1649, and restored when Charles II was placed on the throne in 1660. It was a time when politics was a huge and touchy subject for everyone in English society, and the new king–mindful of what happened to his father–was eager to promote a return to old ways. Coffeehouses, to the king and his supporters, represented a new form of sociability that rose up in the years when England had no king, and should be stamped out. But in the 1600s, as today, it takes a lot to separate anyone from their coffee.

There was probably never a genuine war of the sexes around coffee houses. For women, historian Markman Ellis writes, coffeehouses offered a business opportunity. While it is true, as the satirists of the time wrote, that sex workers used coffeehouses to solicit work, they were far from the only women there. A number of coffeehouses were run by women, he writes, often widows, and women worked in them as servers or in other capacities.

Historians differ in their opinions as to whether women attended coffeehouses as customers–for instance, while Ellis does not believe they did, Pincus writes “there is little warrant for the claim that women were excluded from coffeehouses.” Although there may have been no hard-and-fast rule excluding women, obstacles such as public perception that linked women in coffee houses with sex work may have helped keep women from attending coffeehouses as guests in the same number as men.   However, as Pincus writes, the fact that women could and sometimes did attend these places just shows how much they were places of exchange between people of different backgrounds, leading to the creative and transgressive spread of ideas by these caffeine junkies.

Henry Sapiecha

Empowering women in advertising – ‘SheSays’ launches awards

SheSays-Jane-Steph-Kara image www.goodgirlsgo.com6

Global networking group SheSays is launching a new awards program in Australia to recognise the best female talent in the advertising industry.

The SheSays Awards are open from now until 13 October aimed at women across Australia. They will be judged by a panel of male and female industry figures including Isobar CEO Konrad Spilva, Venus founder Bec Brideson, Isobar creative director Carmela Soares, Reactive creative director Prue Jones and BWM creative directors Jon Foye, Denny Handlin and Amy Hollier.

Other judges include Hardhat Digital creative director Beth Walsh, MASS founder Tim Kotsiakos and Charles Grenfell group creative director Emma Hill, and AdNews editor Rosie Baker.

SheSays Melbourne director Kara Jenkins says the awards aim to challenge and inspire women in the industry.

“Through the SheSays Awards we want to empower women in the creative marketing industries to be more confident and therefore more ambitious,” Jenkins says.

“We’re challenging women to think about their current position in the industry, and where they want it to be in the future. We’re publicly recognising the future and current female leaders who we hope will be role models for all women within the industry to aspire to.”

The inaugural awards have three categories including an Industry Award which recognises a female creative that has shown to have played a key role in producing an idea which has no limits.

One is a Woman of the Year Award which recognises a woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the creative industries.

To shine a light on the next generation of creative women, the program also includes a Student Award for a female creative or creative team (which includes at least one female) who produces an idea in response to a student brief, which involves creating a campaign for SheSays.

Melbourne’s RMIT University has partnered with SheSays for the Student Award, providing a venue for the awards night and exhibiting student work.

Winners will receive an awards trophy and a hand crafted necklace created especially for SheSays by London-based jewellery designer Clarice Rice Thomas.

In addition, the winner of the Student Award will be offered a two-week placement at Isobar.

Spilva says Isobar is excited to be part of the first awards program.

“We’ve been a supporter of SheSays since it’s launch in Melbourne and we’re excited to be one of the official partners of the upcoming SheSays Awards,” Spilva says. “These awards can make a genuine difference through encouraging women in our industry to share their great work.”

The Award Night will be held in Melbourne on Thursday 17 November from 6pm, with tickets on sale closer to the event.

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Henry Sapiecha