“Women don’t need a ministry to represent us. We need effective women in every ministry of the country. Women in political posts need financial support and commitment from the government.”
Sameera al-Moussawi, Head of the Department of Women’s Affairs, Parliament of Iraq
Women candidates are expected to fill many of the seats on the provincial governing councils when results of last month’s nationwide elections are certified later this week. But winning public acceptance in this male-dominated society is another matter. Iraqi law requires that about 25% of the 444 seats on the 14 new provincial councils go to women —-even if it means giving a position to female candidates who didn’t win as many votes as men in the January 31 balloting. The quota, which already gave 75 women seats in the national parliament, was established under US pressure to open the door to political representation by women and encourage a new generation of Iraqis from all sectors of society. But female candidates say they experienced wide rejection.
An expert on girls’ education became Saudi Arabia’s first woman minister on Saturday as part of a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle by King Abdullah that swept aside several bastions of ultra-conservatism. Nora bint Abdullah al-Fayez, a US-educated former teacher, was made deputy education minister in-charge of a new department for female students, a significant breakthrough in a country where women are not allowed to drive. “This is an honour not only for me but for all Saudi women. In the presence of a comprehensive operational team, I believe I’ll be able to face challenges and create positive change,” she told Arab News. Fayez said she would study the state of girls’ education in Saudi Arabia before commenting on the task before her.
Female legislative candidates and activists remain pessimistic that their representation at the House of Representatives could drop drastically. The concern stems from the fact that the State seems unwilling to guarantee an increase in House seats for women, while political parties have been stripped of any internal mechanism to ensure more female legislators represent them, politicians say. The Constitutional Court’s ruling to scrap Article 214 of the 2008 Legislative Election Law—-which allowed parties to determine their representatives in legislative bodies based on a hierarchical system of the seat distribution, rather than giving seats to candidates who win the most votes—–has been deemed a huge blow for female candidates.
A prominent Malaysian opposition legislator resigned on Tuesday after photographs of her sleeping naked were circulated to the public by cell phone, an embarrassing disclosure that she slammed as a plot to discredit her party. The People’s Justice Party, however, told 37-year old Elizabeth Wong to go on extended leave, and said it would decide later whether to accept her resignation from the Central Selangor state assembly. It is the latest incident in Malaysian politics featuring the private lives of politicians, most of whome have been opposition figures. Among them was the leader of the People’s Justice Party, Anwar Ibrahim, who has twice been accused of sodomy. The government has denied a role in the scandals.
HH Sheikha Mozah Nasser al-Misnad, the consort of His Highness the Emir of Qatar, has called for joint projects betwen women in Qatar, Turkey and Palestine, which could lay the groundwork for fruitful cooperation and future development, with Gaza as the priority. ” Let us endeavour to include our sisters in Gaza so that we can learn from their experiences, knowledge and desire to build a better future,” she urged. HH Sheikha Mozah was delivering the opening speech of the First Qatari-Turkish Workshop on Women and Development. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s wife Emine Erdogan was also present on the occasion. HH Mozah observed that there was much that united Turkey and Qatar. “This is why we need to combine our efforts so that we can benefit mutually and invest our efforts and skills for the future,” she maintained.
When Manitoba’s legislature reconvenes next month, almost one in every three MLA’s taking their seats in the House will be female. more than in any other provincial or territorial legislature in Canada. “Wow,” said Raylene Lang-Dion, chair of Equal Voice, an organization dedicated to getting more women elected to all levels of government. “That’s where you really want to be, where you have a critical mass.” The roster of one-third of Manitoba’s MLAs as women is a step forward for both politis and women’s equality in Canada, where women make up more than half of the population but have generally made up less than one fifth of political leaders. Eighteen women were elected in Manitoba on Tuesday—13 NDP and 5 Tories—five more than were elected in 2003 and the most ever elected in the province. They make up 31.5 % of Manitoba’s 57 MLAs.
The long-awaited special law against Gender Based Violence (GBV) is expected to be published in the next two weeks, Cabinet Affairs Minister Charles Murigande revelaed yesterday. The law of prevention and punishment of GBV is now in the phase of promulgation after both chambers of parliament passed it last year. Many activists have been pushing for its publication to reduce cases of gender based violence in the country. Murigande said that the reason that delayed the publication of this law is that it took time for the Ministry of Justice to review and translate into different languages all the laws that were passed by parliament before the dissolution of its lower Chamber last year.
While the bushfires which ravaged parts of the state of Victoria earlier this month—the most devastating in the nation’s history—are not being blamed directly on the effects of climate change, it is clear that global warming was indeed a factor. “In terms of the temperature component of the fire weather on February 7, I think we can say that increases in greenhouse gas conditions are partly responsible,” says Kevin Hennessy, leading climate scientist. Hennessy, who is principal research scientist with the climate change risk, adaptation and policy team at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, said that the fires were due to the extremely hot, windy and dry conditions of early February.
Farmers battling drought conditions have destroyed lines of sandbags in an irrigation canal, upsetting a rival group of upstream farmers who also want access to the water. Skirmishes over water are likely to escalate, local authorities fear, as the dry spell in this and other northern provinces spreads. In Phichit’s Sam Ngam district, the dry spell has hit 4,643 villages in 19 provinces. More than 20 farmers in tambon Nern Por in Sam Ngam district yesterday tried to destroy lines of sandbags placed near a weir in an irrigation canal to allow water to flow downstream. They accused farmers in tambon Nong Son of blocking the water from flowing to their paddy fields. The two groups had agreed to share water in the canal equally.
Well, the technology is closer than you think. A professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is set for six months of overseas research aimed at making it a reality, now. UAB Associate Professor of Engineering Nasim Uddin, PhD, and his collaborators are behind the innovative work. Beginning November 22, Uddin will spend 6 months in Bangladesh as a visiting lecturer and researcher at the BRAC University. Uddin will work to strengthen the university’s post graduate program in disaster mitigation while he furthers his ongoing research into natural fiber-based composite technologies for low-cost residential coastal housing engineered to withstand hurricane strength wind and storm surge damage.
Given that temperature is an important factor in the spread of malaria, a Penn State entomologist has warned that global climate change may affect daily temperature variations, and thereby have a more pronounced effect on parasite development. ” We need need higher resolution environmental and biological data to understand how climate change will affect the spread of the malaria parasite. We need to understand temperature from the point of view of the mosquito,” says Matthew Thomas, professor of entomology. Female anopheles mosquitoes spread malaria by biting infected humans and ingesting the malaria parasites along with the blood they need to reproduce other mosquitoes.
In India, agriculture is the largest user of water, using more than 80% of usable freshwater, and a large proportion of the population derives its livelihood directly or indirectly from it. As concerns over water scarcity have mounted, accentuated by possible impacts of climate change like general reduction in the quantity of available surface water and unanticipated alterations in the hydrological cycle with an increased severity of droughts and floods, there is a growing realization that water resource management focused on food security is urgently needed.
New research by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) with responses from 80 of CPD’s signatory investors across the globe revealed that three-quarters factor climate change information into their investment decisions and asset allocations. Of these more than 80% consider climate change to be important relative to other issues impacting their portfolio. Interestingly, some of the institutions surveyed revealed a willingness to go beyond requesting disclosure on climate change, such as asking companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Uganda is to form a national disaster management center that will enable the country to handle emergencies with precision and effectiveness in the wake of increasing disasters, a top government official has said. Tarsis Kabwegyere, minister of disaster preparedness and refugees told reporters that the country lacks the capacity to coordinate and handle emergencies without mainly depending on regional or international support. He said witht he increasing population, booming construction industry and effects of global warming like floods and drought, the country can not continue using old methods to handle disasters.
During the Iranian revolution of 1979, millions of women from all walks of life took part in rallies and strikes—helping to topple the Shah’s regime. They joined the revolutionary tide for a number of reasons. Some had their own religious and/or political demands, while others simply supporting their husbands and brothers. Even those women from traditional or poor families who previously had no opportunity to engage in social activities were motivated to play a part. These women, who had been mostly deprived of education and employment opportunities and were learning about politics for the first time, became politically active in mosques and other religious centres. There, as pious women were hailed, they discovered a new identity. Their demands differed from those of their modern, urban and educated counterparts who were fighting for more liberties and equal rights.
In the Philippines, women have an advantage over men in terms of income, accoding to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB). In his online column, “Statistically Speaking”, NSCB Secretary General Romulo Virola wrote that Filipino women outperformed men in terms of income based on the Gender Equality Ratio (GER) of 1.2299 in 2003 from 1.1170 in 2000. GER measures equality between men and women in all three dimensions of development: income, education and health. A GER greater than one signifies an advantage of women over men. “Possibly this is one of the reasons why this year’s Women’s Month theme is “Babae Yaman Ka Ng Bayan (Women, you are the wealth of the nation)”, Virola said.
Statistics in an annual report revealed that a total of 7,733 incidents of violence against women were reported between January and December 2008, with the highest number of cases (4,360) occurring in Punjab. The data forms part of a detailed report on “Situation of Violence Against Women in Pakistan”, launched by Aurat Foundation at a press conference in Islamabad. The report is a collection and compilation of statistics on incidents of violence under the Foundation’s national programme titled “Policy and Data Monitoring on Violence Against Women”. The report is aimed at identifying violence cases and using statistics as an advocacy tool to create a more informed and supportive environment for women and mobilize social pressure against such acts.
The religious order banning women from dressing like tomboys was bad enough. But the fatwa by Malaysia’s leading clerics against yoga was the last straw. “They have never even done yoga,” said Zainah Anwar, head of a Malaysian women’s rights group called Sisters in Islam. Anwar argues that the edict, issued late last year by Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council, was pure patriarchy. Islam, she said, was only a cover. It was frustrations like these that drew several hundred Muslim women to a conference in this Muslim-majority country. Their mission was to come up with ways to demand equal rights for women. And their tools, however unlikely, were the tenets of Islam itself.
Women throughout the world—13,000 at latest count—will be sending Pramod Mutalik a pair of pink panties for Valentine’s day. But these undies won’t make his heart go pitty-pat. Mutalik is the leader of Sri Ram Sena (Lord’s Ram’s Army)—-an extreme right-wing organization in India that purports to be the “custodians of Indin Culture”. Members of Mutalik’s group are suspected of being behind a widely publicized incident last month in which a group of men brutally attacked women in abar in the southern city of Mangalore—-beating them, and kicking them when they fell to the ground. Mutalik was arrested in the attack but he was released on bail.
Finacial support from the Ministry of Youth, Women and Children’s Affairs enables a participant to attend a seven months training in Fiji. Emily Hilary Sauahali of Ulawa in Makira Ulawa Province received a cheque of $5853.60 that will go towards her airfare to attend a training on women development at the Community Education Training Centre in Suva. The cheque comes from the Ministry of Youth, Women and Children’s Affairs through the Women’s Development Division. Speaking at the handover ceremony, WDD training coordinator, Eva Wagapu, said such training will empower and furnish women from the Pacific with the necessary skills and knowledge to become effective development agents and facilitators in their respective communities.
Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Women, Youth and Children is urging everyone to support its vision for women’s development this year. The Ministry is aiming to strengthen women’s networks and undertake projects to improve literacy. The permanent secretary, Ethel Sigamanu, says this will increase the likelihood of legislation, such as special seats for women in Parliament, being passed, as well as improve women’s rights as outlined in the CEDAW convention. She says the Ministry also wants to develop a national policy on gender based violence and abuse based on research in communities.