” A woman’s touch is needed in politics because women make difference. If there had been more female mayors, I am sure the cities would be much tidier, cleaner, planned and harmonic under their hands. Women can look at things with different eyes. Personally, as a Mayor, I look at a city as a mayor, as a mother and as a woman”
Ozlem Cercioglu, Mayor of Aegean Province, Turkey
As one of two female mayors elected in city centers all around the country, Ozlem Cercioglu says if there had been more female mayor, the cities would be much tidier, cleaner, planned and harmonic under their hands. Former deputy, current mayor of Aydin, Cercioglu is elected from the Republican People’s Party or CHP. Most of the competitors in last week’s mayoral race were men, but two of the rising stars were women. One of these stars is Ozlem Cercioglu, who made herself politically visible in Turkey’s male-dominated political sphere, where even innocent humor from a women’s organization hoping for equal gender representation in politics ended up in court.
Some Catholic women are running in local legislative elections in April, buoyed by Church encouragement for more women to serve vulnerable social groups in the male-dominated assemblies. “As a Catholic teacher and woman I feel called to do something,” said Aplonia Max Nae, 48, “As a legislator, I will be able to bring about change that benefits teachers, women and the society.” Indonesians will elect their local legislative assembly members for the next five years on April 9, the same day they elect members for the national parliament. Nae is running for the city legislature in Kupang, capital of Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province. In the last election, only one woman, a Protestant, won a seat in the 30-seat assembly . The 55-seat provincial legislature has only 6 women, all Protestants. Catholics from the majority in East Nusa Tenggara, but the Kupang area is predominantly Protestant.
The only woman in Papua New Guinea’s parliament, Dame Carol Kidu, has confirmed she will be retiring before the next national elections in 2012. First elected in 2002, Dame Carol is at present the Minister for Community Development. But she has confirmed to Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that she is not seeking re-election, as she is not prepared to compete with the way other candidates run their campaign. “So much money being used by few people, quite blatantly in the sense of bribery. 2012 is the end for me.” Dame Carol says she wants other women in PNG’s parliament before she retires.
An increase in the quota for women in decision-making bodies is vital for the advancement of equality, a UN agency report released from the UAE has said. The international release of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Progress of the World’s Women 2008-2009 Report: Who Answers to Women?—-Gender and Accountability from Abu Dhabi on Wednesday was part of the country’s approach to national and international partnership, said UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Mohammed Anwar Gargash. Gargash said the UAE model of advancement of women has drawn praise from the UN and the world, especially in the fields of maternity care and childcare, education and employment. Dr. Moaz Duraid, representative of UNIFEM, said women are far less represented in legislative bodies in the world—there is only one woman against four male members.
Lured by the promise of the Women’s Reservation Bill introduced in the 14th Lok Sabha (Lower House), a larger number of women are seeking party tickets this time. But as mainstream parties begin to release their nomination lists, women are realizing that electoral politics in India still remains a zealously guarded male preserve. A hardy politician and a former Haryana minister, Krishna Gahlawat, understands this grim reality, as she knocks at the doors of Congress power brokers for a ticket to contest from the Sonepat Lok Sabha seat. “I have a strong case. I have been vice-president of the All India Mahila Congress for three years. Congress workers of Sonepat have told AICC observer Rajni Patil sent to gauge their views that I will win. But the final choice rests with the party,” she says.
Member for Shortlands, Augustine Taneko wants to see fair representation of men and women in the political party system. Mr. Taneko voiced this when contributing on the White Paper of the proposed Political Parties Integrity Bill in Parliament yesterday. He said this White Paper did not specifically addressed participation of candidates. “Political parties must be encouraged to include women candidates contesting in winnable seats and have certain percentage of them represented,” he said. “We should not establish a political party system which in the end results in the destabilization of our women counterparts.”
Prejudice and cultural perception about the role of women, together with a lack of financial resources, frequently hinder women’s access to political life, said a survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Parliamentarian delegates to the IPU’s 120th Assembly in Addis Ababa discussed the issue of women in politics while a study conducted by the international body during the past two years found out that men are still better positioned in the political arena. Researches interviewed nearly 300 parliamentarians in 110 countries in every region of the world, with most women respondents citing domestic responsibilities as the single most important deterrent to entering a life in politics, an obstacle rated much lower among male respondents.
Mr. Fabian Belieb, Upper East Regional Director of Education in Ghana, has stressed the need to include Disaster Risk Reduction in school management. He explained that during emergency situations, it is the vulnerable including children who suffer and therefore the need to prepare adequately to help prevent disaster. Belieb made the call at the opening session of a three-day capacity building workshop on emergency preparedness for basic school training officers in the Region on Wednesday. It was organized by Upper East Regional Directorate of Education and sponsored by UNICEF to assist personnel of Ghana Educational Service to increase their awareness in disaster risk reduction and help them build an effective methodology to introduce disaster awareness and promise action for disaster risk reduction in educational institutions.
” The more the climate changes, the more destitute people are becoming,” said Ruhul Amin, who runs a non-profit agency that builds awareness in villages about trafficking and works with local authorities to locate victims and prosecute traffickers. “The poorer people are, the more vulnerable they are to trafficking, ” Amin explained. “With all this flooding, people can approach poor families and say “Look you have nothing here”, luring women and girls off with visions of a financially secure marriage of a well-paying job in Dhaka’s garment industry. The Human Security Network, a coalition of 14 countries that meets at the foreign minister level to raise awareness about a range of humanitarian issues, has warned that climate migration could cause still more trafficking.
In the wake of an historic US presidential election, shakeups in Congress and an unfolding economic recession, advertisers will need to adapt to changing consumer expectations as well as a tougher regulatory oversight of “green” marketing claims. Fortunately for most companies, adapting to these new market realities means following a few basic principles. For those that cannot or will not adapt 2009 could get ugly—and expensive, selling the environmental attributes of products has been a niche marketing strategy for decades in the US but in recent years, green marketing has gone mainstrean. Fueled by growing media attention to global climate change and other environmental issues, the demand for “environmentally friendly” products and services has soared.
The forest fire that flared unusually viciously in many of Nepal’s national parks and conserved areas this dry season have left conservationists worrying if climate change played a role. At least four protected areas were on fire for an unusually long time until just a few days ago. NASA’s satellite imagery showed most of the big fires were in and around the national parks along the country’s northern areas bordering Tibet. Active fires were recorded in renowned conservation success stories like the Annapurna, Kanchanjunga, Langtang and Makalu Barun national parks. The extent of the loss of flora and fauna is not yet known.
New Zealanders strongly believe climate change is real, want faster action. A new national survey of New Zealanders’ attitudes to climate change deals a major blow to those who argue it is not happening. Some 64% say the time has passed to doubt whether or not climate change is happening as a result of human activities. They believe climate change is a problem (76%) and its effects have already begun to happen (65%). A majority (53%) say they personally worry about climate change, according to ShapeNZ national survey of 2,851 people commissioned by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development.
The unfolding global financial crisis, food shortages and fuel price shocks and climate change could thwart the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by governments in the Asia-Pacific region, this according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). These three threats are not only present at the same time but are also “converging” in so far as they are exerting a compounding impact on both developed and developing economies in the Asia-Pacific region, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator of Nepal Robert Piper said. “There is a need for comprehensive responses that balance economic, social and environmental considerations, for partial responses will only provide a temporary respite until a new major crisis hits the region”, the UN official said.
Thousands of women in Sri Lanka are still suffering because of the tsunami. A little more than four years after the tragedy that struck the country, poverty is a daily reality for widows and mothers living in Eastern province. 40,000 women have signed the Women’s Memorandum, drafted by a dedicated committee promoted by groups including the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, presenting to the governor of the region their needs and the serious responsibilities of institutions. ” Our politicians and some of the media promised us that Eastern province would attain rapid development thanks to programs launched by the government,” the woman say. “Today because of the disaster of the tsunami and the situation of the war, we reject all of this because we know that nothing has changed in our lives. We still live with the same painful problems.”
Women are making steady inroads into almost every profession in South Asia these days. Yet when it comes to politics, why are many women politicians not seen? The reason, according to an NGO, is violence—-more psychological than physical—against women in politics. Representatives of the South Asia Partnership (SAP), an international organization that promotes democracy through the civil society came together Monday to discuss the various aspects of this disturbing fact that has, until now, not been highlighted. Savitri Goonsekre of Sri Lanka said “Women participating in politics are victimized by both direct and invisible violence, which is one of the major influencing factors to obstruct their participation in governance.” “Character assassination, kidnapping of their children, rape and even murder of winner women politicians by opposition party members after losing elections, social boycott for being involved in politics, breakage of relationships, ill treatment by husbands—there are a whole lot of reasons which discourage women from entering the field,” she said.
Afghanistan’s President, Hamid Karzai has signed a law which “legalizes” rape, women’s groups and the United Nations warn. Critics claim the president helped rush the bill through parliament in a bid to appease Islamic fundamentalists ahead of elections in August. In a massive blow for women’s rights, the new Shia Family Law negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage and restricts a woman’s right to leave the home, according to UN papers. “It is one of the worst bills passed by the parliament this century,” fumed Shinkai Karokhail, a woman MP who campaigned againts the legislation. “It is totally against women’s rights. This law makes women more vulnerable.” The law regulates personal matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance and sexual relations among Afghanistan’s minority Shia community. “Its about votes”, Mrs. Karokhail said. “Karzai is in a hurry to appease the Shia because the elections are on the way”.
A baby girl, somewhere in Asia, her family has little money. Without prenatal care or medical help, she barely survives childbirth. Illness and hunger punctuate her childhood; she works for her family, maybe gets a little bit of school. What’s next for her? Girls and women throughout Asia find education is elusive and jobs are scarce, relegating many to find work in the sex industry, as overseas domestics or in sweatshops. It is not uncommon for girls in poor families to be sold; both for the money and to lessen the household burden. In her book about forced prostitution in Cambodia, Somaly Mam recounts how her grandfather sold her to brothel and her subsequent efforts to help others in the situation she ultimately escaped from. The organization she founded in Phnom Penh 13 years ago, AFESIP, has opened offices in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand to combat the regional trade of girls.
Women have outshone men in the knowledge of law. Data from the Philippine Supreme Court showed that from 2000 to 2008, more female then male law graduates topped the Bar Exam. In the last nine years, there were54 women and 43 men who were included in the top 10 bar passers. In five of the nine years, there were more women than men who were included in the top ten. These are in 2008 (10 women out of 12 top passers); 2007 (nine women out of 12 top 10 passers); 2006 (six women out of 11 top ten passers); 2002 (six women out of 11 top 10 passers) and in 2000 (seven women out of 11 top ten passers). In 2005, women and men tied in the top 10 passers. The last bar exams in September 2008 had the most number of women topnotchers. Of the 12 topnotchers, 10 of them were women led by Judy Lardizabal from the San Sebastian College with a rating of 85.70.
“Factories are closing everywhere—and now the women are being approached by sex traffickers asking if they want to go and work in the West.”—Jitra Kotchadet, union leader, Thailand. “I lost my job, I’ve been evicted from my house and my belongings confiscated by the landlord. Now I rent a small room with my husband and two children. We’ve had to cut our spending on food-Kim Sunheap, Cambodia. There, in two short quotations, is the female face of the credit crunch in the developing world. They come from a report by Oxfam International ahead of the G20 summit highlighting the devastating effect of the crisis on women and children in poorer countries. Research has also been published by the World Bank pointing to the severe vulnerability of women and girls as well as by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which predicted a bigger rise in female unemployment than male in many regions.
Fiji’s women’s rights movement has become the lastest victim of vandal attacks against prominent citizens who have voiced concerns about the country’s military regime. The organization’s Suva office has been broken into a targeted attack to steal a recorder used to store confidential information and conversations. The movement has openly voiced dissappointment that Fiji’s military government, led by Frank Bainimarama, has failed to hold an election more than two years after it staged a bloodless coup. Executive Director Virisila Buadromo said she believed the organization was the target of intimidation. “Women human rights defenders are often targeted with different forms of intimidation because of the type of work we are engaged in, promoting respect for and protection of himan rights,” Buadromo said in a statement.
In occupied Kashmir, the women have been the worst victims of military violence during the last two decades. Several studies have shown that how the uncaring authorities and societal norms have multiplied their woes. The month of April brings back painful memories for human rights defenders in occupied Kashmir, reminding them of challenges of working in the territory. It was on April 20, 2004 when Kashmir’s first woman human rights activist, Aasia Jaelani, gave her life to uphold the cause of truth and justice. Aasia, 30, was killed when a taxicab carrying her and other colleagues from Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) was blown up after it ran over a landmine in Chandigam village in Kupwara district.