Kenyan women’s rights leaders feature in special cover series for latest Positive News magazine

Lucy Purdy

The new issue of Positive News magazine – with four special portrait covers – tackles sexual rights, mental health first aid, gun politics and explores: what makes Brits optimistic?

“The oppositional age simply does not reflect the wishes of voters: the majority of UK adults (76 per cent) want to see politicians of different parties collaborating more to solve the issues the UK faces.”

While politics and much of the media are stuck in cycles of aggressive blame, on the ground many people want to see collaboration and dialogue. This finding comes from refreshing new research into what makes Brits optimistic.

Many of the stories in this issue of Positive News show optimism in practice. It’s the kind that Bill Gates once described: not a passive belief that things will get better, but “a conviction that we can make things better”.


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Our four front cover portraits are of women who are working to improve sexual and reproductive rights in Kenya. Though illegal, female genital mutilation is deeply instilled in the culture there, but these inspiring leaders are carefully bringing the community along with them in their efforts to create safe alternative ceremonies.

In the US, we meet teenage survivors of the Parkland shooting, who are channelling their pain into a courageous fight for a reform of gun laws.

I love the story about a Swedish orchestra that transformed homophobic hate mail into beautiful music. And I’m inspired by the people in our feature about men and women working in jobs traditionally done by the opposite sex: the male early years teacher whose joy in his work shines through, and the female wilderness survival expert who thrives on testing her limits – those inside her own mind as much as in tough landscapes.

Movements arise like swellings in the ocean, the sum of millions of ripples that feed back on to and excite each other

Change often begins, of course, within. We explore ‘habits for happiness’ – small ways we can boost our own wellbeing. Liz Zeidler from Bristol’s Happy City believes that happiness matters more than economic growth, and in her interview, she explains why wellbeing should be upmost in policymakers’ minds.

But are any of these things enough given the scale of the challenges we face: global political tensions, climate change, war, economic meltdowns?

“Many people say, ‘we need to create a movement,’” wrote author Charles Eisenstein. “I think that is mistaken. We don’t create movements; if anything, they create us. They arise like swellings in the ocean, the sum of millions of ripples that feed back on to and excite each other.”

By reading this magazine, you are among these ripples. I hope it leaves you with reasons to be optimistic.


 

This article is featured in issue 94 of Positive News magazine.

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