“Caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
A Burst of Light: Essays
This is a long-time-coming letter, erupting like a dormant volcano, stirred and spurred by a convening of women’s human rights activists in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and held in Batumi on the edge of the Black Sea.
It’s a surreal series of flights on smallish planes hopping from London to Riga to Minsk to Batumi that brings me to the convening.… Continue Reading
Arriving into Cairo I catch my first sight of the Nile: ancient, flowing, mythical … There is something about the energy of this place – in the old city, in the alleyways and souks…in spite of the violence, the riots and the crackdowns…and I am so glad to be here.
The ancient rhythms are still much in evidence, even in Zamalak quarter, home to embassies and expats. I can see the Nile from my hotel room – it feels like a mystic river thread unspooled, weaving under Qasr El Nil Bridge with the humdrum of local life there and then so far beyond.… Continue Reading
The stories of women who had escaped ISIS from when I was in Istanbul were still very much on my mind as we flew into Beirut. My sense of the city was a place under siege, in spite of a vibrant café culture. At this stage the elections were still to take place and the outcome – a continuation of repression – was still a possibility rather than reality.
We arrived in Beirut late in the afternoon and walked the tiny curvy lanes and steep steps past smashed stone buildings bumping against elegant frames.… Continue Reading
I woke up on my boat the day of my departure for Ankara in Turkey to news that two bombs there had killed almost 100 people and caused horrific injuries to hundreds more. With Ankara in chaos I instead flew into Istanbul with a colleague in order to meet with women’s groups in Turkey, and to join a convening of Syrian women activists that Global Fund for Women co-funded with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and MADRE.
Arriving into Istanbul, we heard the call to prayer as we drove alongside an ancient stone wall.… Continue Reading
I left the joyful energy of my houseboat in Sausalito to catch a flight to Mexico City.
This was around the time President Obama was preparing to head to Alaska and to hike the peaks to provide a dramatic visual backdrop to his message about the need for urgent international action on climate change.
I was headed to the International Meeting on Campesinos Economy and Agroecology in America as a gathering designed to strengthen the movement of campesinos (peasants) fighting for food, water and land sovereignty through agro-ecology, the science behind sustainable agriculture.… Continue Reading