OnlineWomenBulletin 09 May 2009

she said

“Kuwaiti laws that gave women the right to run for parliament are not against Islamic laws….this fatwa will harm women candidates adn the Kuwaiti people might be deceived by it. We are not going to stand still while this happens. Women should not be told what to do.”

Dr. Fatima Abdeli, an advocate for women’s rights, reacting to the call from the Salafi Movement to boycott female candidates in the 2009 Parliamentary Elections in Kuwait

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Kuwait: Female Candidates Face Pressure in Upcoming Elections

A crucial civil rights battle won in Kuwait when women were allowed to run for office and vote in 2005. But apparently much still needs to be done for women seeking a political role in this oil-rich emirate to prevail over religious conservatives. On Monday, the Salafi Movement, which believes in strict fundamental interpretation of Islam, called for the boycott of female candidates in parliamentary elections scheduled for later this month, reported the website of the Arab TV channel Al Arabiya. The group’s statements were condemned by civil rights groups in the Persian Gulf nation, which boasts one of the most democratic systems among neighboring kingdoms. Fuhaid Hailam, a Salafi politician, told the channel that voting women was a “sin” in Islam. He based his judgment on a saying by the prophet Muhammad, who reportedly asserted that a nation will not prosper if it is led by women.

Indonesia: Women Win All Seats in Borneo Province

Women have challenged Indonesia’s patriarchal political system with female candidates winning all seats in the province of West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo in a regional election. According to early results, Maria Goreti, Sri Kadarwati Aswin, Erma Suryani Ranik and Hairiah won all seats in a clean sweep for the regional representative council (DPD). The body brings together representative from each province and has the right to make proposals, submit opinions on legislative matters and monitor implementation of laws.

Philippines: Women’s Suffrage Day

Seventy-two years ago, on April 30, 1937, women of the Philippines were granted the right to vote and to be voted on. Since that day, women of the Philippines have blazed many trails and have become a true force in politics, business and other sectors of Philippine society. It is this right to suffrage which has made it possible for the country to have had two women presidents and the involvement of Filipino women as decision makers in all facets of national life. The 1935 Constitutional Convention limited the right of suffrage to male citizens because “there was no popular demand for the right of suffrage by Filipino women themselves” and the granting of the right to suffrage to women, it was claimed, would only disrupt family unity as the women became actively engaged in politics. But the proponents of women’s suffrage in the country were not deterred and argued that the right to vote would make them more interested in the management of the affairs of the government.

India: Lok Sabha Elections, Women Outnumber Men in Voting

In Mangalore, besides clocking the highest voter turnout in the State, Dakshina Kannada has achieved another distinction. Women voters have outnumbered men in exercising the franchise during the April 30 election to the Lok Sabha. An analysis of the official poll figures shows that 9,536 more women went to the polling booths than men. The statistics show that 5,12,336 women cast their votes as against 5,02800 men. Dakshina Kannada district has more women than men and women outnumber men in the electoral polls as well. In 2004 elections, however, men outnumber men in the electoral row as well. In 2004 elections, however, men outnumbered women in exercising their franchise,  In that election, 400,425 men voted as against 389,779 women in the constituency, which was then called Mangalore Constituency. This meant that 10, 646 fewer women voted in 2004 election. In the electoral rolls, however, the situation was reverse—there were more women then men on the rolls.

Iran: Women Call for Gender Equality Ahead of the Presidential Vote

Former lawmaker and journalist Azam Talenghani is one of two women to have announced plans to run in Iran’s presidential election in June. In the unlikely event Taleghani were to become president, she would encounter obstacles not often associated with a head of state. To attend state functions abroad, for example, she would need her husband’s permission to leave the country. If she were to testify before a court, her testimony would be worn half that of a man, and she would still not have have equal divorce or inheritance rights. This is because, despite her status as the holder of the country’s highest office. Taleghani would still be a woman, making her subject to the same forms of legal discrimination faced by all women in the Islamic republic.

Turkey: State Minister Complains About Poor Representation of Women in Politics

The state minister for family and women’s affairs, Selma Aliye Kavaf, who was appointed to the position last week, has said that although she was happy about being the second female minister in the Cabinet, the poor representation of women in Turkish politics is a big shortcoming for the country. In her first interview after assuming her new role, Kavaf told Today’s Zaman that it was extremely important for women to take part in decision-making mechanisms, explaining that she had made strenuous efforts to increase the participation of women in politics while she was the head of the women’s branches in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). ” If you don’t work with cooperation in politics, you cannot achieve success,” Kavaf said.

Bangladesh: Women Representatives Feel Ignored

Female vice-chairman of Upazila Parishads throughout the country could not begin their jobs even after four months of their election as the government is yet to issue any circular regarding the newly created posts. The elected women representatives yesterday said at a programme in the city that even they have not been given any sitting arrangements at the Upazila Parishad offices while they are rarely allowed to play their roles in development activities in their area. They pointed out that the recently passed Upazila Parishad Bill aslso does not mention any guidelines for them. Bangladesh Mahila Parishad organized a view-exchange meeting at the Biam auditorium yesterday to accord a reception to the female Upazila Vice Chairperson of the country. A total of 300 elected women were present on the occassion.

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Five Challenges on Climate Change

The International Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Gender in Beijing, China last April 20 had Philippine Senator Loren Legarda giving the opening address, a rare honor to the country. She has been a long-time advocate for environmental enhancement in the international arena. The United Nations designated her regional champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific. Such credentials, as well as her involvement in shaping disaster risk reduction measures as a legislator, made her the perfect choice to give that opening speech. In the Beijing assembly, Legarda identified five challenges that must be met worldwide if climate change is to be tamed.

Women and Child Feeling Effects of Climate Change

The lives of women and children are particularly being affected by the growing problem of climate change, a United Nations official has warned. Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations’ Development Programme (UNDP), Akiko Fujii, has stressed that changes in weather patterns have affected the physical growth and educational status of many children. “Climate change can have quite a huge impact on all aspects of human development. Climate change affects the entire world, whatever you do in Jamaica can affect the world, because we are living in the same planet,” Fujii told the Jamaica Information Service.

Rural Women Granted $660,000 for Drought Management and Climate Change

A Victorian Government initiative, which aims to support women in rural communities to help manage the effects of drought and climate change, will be extended $660,000 state budget boost. Addressing the Rural Women in a Changing Climate state forum, Premier John Brumby said the upcoming state budget would allocate the additional funds to the Rural Women Drought and Climate Change initiative until at least 2011. “Our Government is taking action to ensure women are supported to strengthen and sustain family farms, businesses and communities across Victoria,” Mr. Brumby said.

Carteret Islanders, First Climate Refugees

Cartere Islanders of Papua New Guinea have become the first climate refugees as they relocate to new sites to escape the effects of climate change on their homeland. According to PNG’s Post Courier, the islanders moved to their new homes, Tinputz, the relocation site last Wednesday to prepare the land for their families to move over permanently. According to the report, fathers of the first five families to relocate arrived on the shores of Tinputz, bringing along their sons to support them in the work leading up to the time when their wives and children will eventually join them. There were reports in the media earlier in the year and even late last year stating that the Carteret Islanders will be the first refugees of climate change and this has come to pass.

Maldives Island To Become World’s First Carbon Neutral Country

The Republic of Maldives, one of the countries most affected by climate change, has joined the Climate Neutral Network (CU Net) led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The action came in the wake of an announcement early this year by Maldives President, Mohamed Nasheed, to make the Indian Ocean Island nation the world’s first carbon neutral country in just 10 years’ time by 2019, a news release from the UN agency indicated. The ambitious objective, according to UNEP will be achieved by fully switching to renewable sources of energy such as solar panels and wind turbines, investments in other new technologies and sharing of best practices.

Climate Change Means Fewer Male Turtles

Things are heating up in Australia’s northern tropics, but that’s not good news if you’re a sea turtle. New research shows rising temperatures due to climate change will result in the feminisation of turtle populations, making males extremely rare. James Cook University researcher Mariana Fuentes said in just 20 years almost 90 percent of turtle hatchings will be female. “Basically by 2030 most of the hatchlings being produced are going to be female, ” she told AAP. “If you look down 60 or 70 years ahead if there’s no male turtles being produced it could be a big problem.” The research was conducted in the Torres Strait and northern Great Barrier Reef, home to the largest green sea turtle population in the world. The gender of sea turtle, as with other reptiles, is determined by water temperature.

Pakistan May Face Exceptional Climate Change

A UK-based climate change expert has said that there will be an exceptional change in the temperatures in Pakistan as a whole in the coming years, but that the province of Sindh, will be less affected as compared to the other parts of the country. Speaking to senior officials and heads of various departments of the City District Government Karachi on the second day of a training workshop on climate change, environmentalist Matthew Savage added that the temperature increase in Pakistan as a whole would be higher than the expected global average increase. Climate change projections up to the year 2080 were discussed at the workshop.

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Thailand: Gender Bias Still A Grim Reality

Thai women can take pride in equal participation in the labour force. But when it comes to pay, position and housework—-the Labour Day is only a reminder that inequality is still a grim reality for working women both at the workplace and at home. No, this is not whining. And if anyone dares tell you so, give them these facts: First on the home front. According to the National Statistics Office, the time women spend on household chores is almost two times more than men, although they both work. In the same vein, the responsibility to care for children and the elderly also fall principally on women’s shoulders.

Iraq: UN Report “Honor Killing” Rampant

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) released a new report on the human rights situation in Iraq. According to the summary, gender based violence remains one of the “key unaddressed problems throughout Iraq.” Honor killings, female genital mutilation and even female self-immolation have occurred with problematic frequency over the last year. UNAMI has reported 139 cases of gender based violence 15 in the last six months of 2008 in five governorates in northern Iraq. Out of the total number, 77 women were seriously burned, 26 were victims of murder or attempted murder and 25 cases were cases of questionable suicide.

Australia: Government Commended for Action on VAW

Independent women’s think tank Women’s Forum Australia (WFA) today commended the Federal Government for its ‘zero tolerance” approach to violence against women. WFA commends the Government for acting quickly to progress the recommendations of Time for Action, the major report of the National Council to Reduce Violence against women and their children released yesterday. Only last month on International Women’s Day, WFA called for action that went beyond words and slogans to address the scourge of violence against women, which affects one in three and costs the Australian economy about $13.6 billion a year. WFA also made a submission to the National Council in August last year.

Pakistan: Violence Still Occurs Against Women

Corruption and unprofessional approach in the Woman Development Department during the previous governments has remained the major reasons for suffering condition of women in the province. In an interview to The Nation, Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto, provincial minister for woman development Sindh, disclosed that the cases of violence against women in the province were still occurring almost every week. She has tried her best to curtail this ratio but is still lagging behind in bringing it to an end in the province. “Corruption in the department during previous government has left us with shortage of funds for woman development, the provincial and federal governments are now showing reluctance over the issue of allocated budget of the ministry,” she added.

Vanuatu: Cervical Cancer Vaccination

A Brisbane team are working closely with the Vanuatu Government to trial a program for effective delivery of cervical cancer vaccines to schoolgirls in resource-poor settings. Headed by cervical cancer vaccine pioneer Professor Ian Frazer from UQ’s Diamantina Institute for Cancer, Immunology and Metabolic Medicine, the team is aiming to vaccinate and educate 1,000 girls aged 10 to 12 years of age in Vanuatu this year. “Having helped to develop the vaccine technology I now feel a responsibility to help ensure that the vaccine gets where it’s most needed,” Professor Frazer said. Cervical cancer, caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) kills around 270,000 women worldwide each year and over 80% of those are from developing countries such as Vanuatu.

Kenya: Women Fight Corruption With Sex

The Women’s Development Organization of Kenya, made up of 11 different women’s rights groups, has called for women across the country to impose a sex ban on their partners for one week to protest the political infighting in Kenya’s government. Sex, says the women’s group, is the one thing that cuts beyond tribal, political and class lines. The group even plans to compensate Kenya’s many prostitutes for abstaining. “Sex costs nothing and it excites the public imagination,” said Patricia Nyaundi, the executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers also known as FIDA. And the ban has definitely excited Kenyans. It’s the talk on all the radio stations as well as the top story for the local newspapers. Men and women have weighed in to support or oppose the ban. Some call it courageous and just what the country needs, while others say it is against the tradition of African marriages, and that the ban is fundamentally unfair.

China: “Women Only” Carriages on Beijing Subway Mulled

A Beijing politician has suggested setting up “women only” subway carriages on the city’s crowded public transport system to curb sexual harassment and alleviate overcrowding, state press said Tuesday. “Beijing’s subway is so crowded during rush hour, and women are at a disadvantage in both strength and stature to fight for the limited space,” the China Daily quoted Wang Zhuo, a member of an advisory assembly, as saying. Wang is proposing setting aside the middle carriages for women passengers, elderly people and children due to crowded conditions on the subways, which leads to sexual harassment, the report said. His proposal is being posted on government websites for public debate, it added.

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