OnlineWomenBulletin 23 May 2009

she said

” The breakthrough in Saturday’s elections are the culmination of four decades of Kuwaiti women’s struggle for their rights and political participation. Frustration with the past two parliaments pushed voters to seek change and here it comes in the form of this sweeping victory for women.”

Dr. Massouma al-Mubarak, one of the four women elected to the Parliament of Kuwait. She’s also Kuwait’s first female Cabinet Minister.

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Kuwait: Women Won Four (4) Parliament Seats, First Time

Women have won four (4) seats in Kuwait’s parliament, the first women to do so in the Gulf Arab state’s history, official election results showed on Sunday. Kuwaiti women were first given the right to vote and run for office in 2005 but failed to win any seats in the 2006 and 2008 elections, held in Kuwait where politics is widely seen as man’s domain. There were 16 women among the 210 candidates for the 50-seat assembly in Saturday’s election. The official KUNA news agency said liberal candidates Aseel al-Awadhi and Rula Dashti came in second and seventh place in the third constituency, giving them both seats in the house. Former health minister Massouna Al Mubarak, who became the first Kuwaiti woman minister in 2005, and another female candidate, Salwa Al Jassar, also secured seats in Parliament.

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India: Four (4) Women Candidates Register Wins In Gujarat

Four out of five women candidates fielded by the two national parties–Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)– in Gujarat, have emerged victorious in the Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat. For the 15th Lok Sabha elections, Congress fielded two women candidates while three women from BJP were in the fray. While all BJP contestants won their respective seats, only one Congresswoman was successful. The BJP had fielded women candidates from the Kutch (reserved for SC), Mehsana and Surat constituency, while the Congress had put up women candidates from Dahod (reserved for ST) and Amreli. BJP’s Poonam Jat contesting from SC reserved constituency of Kutch defeated Congress’ Danicha Valjibhai with a margin of 71,343 votes.

Iran: Will It Get A Female President? 

 On June 12, Iranians will go to the polls to elect a president and this year there is a possibility that one of the prominent contenders will be a woman, Rafat Bayat. According to Kamran Daneshjoo, the head of Iran’s election committee, there have been some 475 registrations including 42 women. Women registered as candidates in the 2001 and 2005 presidential elections but were later barred from running in the final contest. This year things seem more hopeful particularly since the supervisory Guardian Council stated in April that there is no restriction on women standing. The final approved list of presidential candidates is expected within a few days, but Bayat’s staunchly conservative credentials should stand her in good stead with the selection committee.

New Zealand: Women Learn About Leadership

Leadership is not about holding positions and power, says a New Zealand renowned figures in politics, governance and public service, Dr. Marilyn Waring. She highlighted this when addressing a gathering of women who work in different government ministries, recently, “Leadership is a fragile and fleeting dynamic. “Those who lead to change from moment to moment, as our purpose and process calls to different experience and skills. But leaders are expected to be social,” said Dr. Waring. She advised participants that none of them should be intense to see discrimination of women voice as many women stood for the reason and women in the Solomon Island should also stood for the same reason. Dr. Waring explained that leadership is a great deal to do more process and to give in with the team. “It is about being available to make a final decision and putting in personal boundaries.”

Indonesia: More Women Lawmakers But Change Not Their Agenda

Indonesia’s direct legislative election in April was a resounding success for women candidates. But instead of rejoicing, activists and political observers say it is unlikely to help the cause of women’s rights. Titi Sumbung, Executive Director of the Indonesia Center for Women in Politics (ICWIP), says more women in the legislature are welcome, but the majority of female lawmakers lack political experience. The non-governmental ICWIP aims to promote gender equity in the country. “We are pleased with the result, especially because it was unexpected,” Sumbung remarks. “But it seems that women with a proven track record in defending women’s issues did not manage to win seats while actresses, singers and relatives of powerful politicians did.” Results of the April 9 poll showed a significant increase in the female legislators—-from 11.8 percent to between 17 and 19 percent in the 560-member House.

Lebanon: Where Are Our Women MPs?

Out of the 587 candidates running in the Lebanese parliamentary elections this year, only 12 are women. If half of the female candidates make it, which, judging by previous elections results and current alliances, is highly unexpected, female representation in parliament would amount to mere four percent. Increasing female political participation has been listed practically every single political platform, from Hezbollah’s to Future’s, but Lebanese women still show dismal numbers in parliament, something their sisters in many countries across the globe surpassed a long time ago. Of the 12 women who are running this year, only a few are listed on the tickets of political parties.

Zimbabwe: Play Active Role in Constitutional Process, Women MPs Told

Senate President Edna Madzongwe has underscored the need for women parliamentarians to play an active role in the constitution-making process. Addressing participants at a four-day workshop organized by Women in Politics Support Unit in Nyanga, the Senate President emphasized the need for women parliamentarians to unite so that, “Unity plays an important role and experience has shown that all successful liberation movements the world over used the principle of unity to attain their goals.” “Likewise, women parliamentarians need not reinvent the wheel in order to successfully participate in the constitution making process, but we need to unite and form a common front in order to articulate issues effectively,” she said.

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Climate Role Is Urged For Women

Efforts to tackle climate change must take into account the needs of women, who will be among the hardest hit by warming temperatures across the world, the Women’s Institute (WI) urged. Women also have a unique role to play in addressing the problem, in their position in-charge of households and as consumers and guardians of natural resources. WI leaders have called on the Government to give women a greater role in efforts to tackle climate change . The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) is launching a postcard campaign today urging ministers to take account of the needs of women in climate change policies and recognize the threats they face in the developing world.

Women-Led Recycling Initiative Wins An International Environment Prize

When young women group together they can make great, positive changes. Through her Bali-based NGO Bali Fokus, Yuyun Ismawati, and her followers  have created programs to help the environment and change the future of the island. They recycle solid waste into useful, profitable merchandise and have become actively involved in the waste management of the region’s ubiquitous pig farms. But these are just some of the planet-saving initiatives they are engaged in. Yuyun’s efforts to recycle began in 1996 and have earned her international acknowledgement as this year’s recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, complete with US$150,000. The Goldman Environmental Prize is an award dedicated to environmental heroes whose efforts to protect the world’s natural resources are increasingly critical to the well-being of the planet we all share.

More Women Think Warming Occurring

Women at Ohio State are more likely to think global warming is happening than men, according to a recent survey of 3,568 undergraduate students. The random, scientifically, valid survey conducted by Erik Nisbet, an assistant professor in the School of Communication, found that almost 93% of women agree global warming is happening while 87 percent of men say the same. More significantly, women attribute the cause of warming to humans more than men. Nearly 72 percent of women say global warming is caused mostly by human activity, while just 54 percent of men blame humans. More men say natural changes in the environment cause global warming and more men believe global warming is not happening at all. Furthermore, women are much more worried about the harm global warming might cause animals, people in the USA and their families.

Solahart Industries Urge Australian Women To Fight Against Climatic Change

A new movement of Australian women of all ages and backgrounds—from school children to celebrated elders and local community stalwarts to business and political leaders–has united to drive practical action on climate change. The 1 Million Women Campaign, which is sponsored by Solahart Industries, will engage, empower and motivate women to cut carbon pollution in their daily lives–through the home, food, shopping, transport and travel. The two-year national campaigns aims to recruit 1 million women in Australia to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 1 tonne each. This will stop 1 million tonnes of CO2 pollution from entering the atmosphere and will be equivalent to taking 250,000 cars off the road for 12 months–enough pollution to fill 2.1 billion wheelie bins or 20 billion balloons.

Living With Disasters in Bangladesh

The Fourth Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that as many as 1 million people of Bangladesh will be climate refugees by 2050 due to sea level rise in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna basins in Bangladesh. In the short run, however, the report has predicted severe changes in weather patterns resulting from global warming, which would lead to increased frequency of natural disasters like drought, flood, tornado and cyclone in Bangladesh. Therefore, both in the short-run as well as in the long run Bangladesh will have to bear with the effects of climate change. Who is affected by this? The answer is clear—children are the most affected group, followed by women and the elderly.It is therefore, important to understand the impact of climate change from these perspectives.

India Gears Up for Battle on Climate Change Funds

The United Nations (UN) will release this week the negotiating texts for the December summit on climate change in Copenhagen, marking another milestone in the countdown to a grueling battle over the funds developing nations need to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The texts, to be relased by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), will be debated by ministerial delegates when they meet in Bonn, Germany, next month, one of a slew of meetings running up to the Copenhagen summit that will be attended by 190 countries. The pages of text will be scrutinized, bitterly disputed, erased, rephrased and bracketed many times over before any agreement is reached. A key issue is a proposal for “long term cooperative action” that would spell out the action to be taken by developing nations to reduce emissions. The mitigating action is to be funded by advanced countries held responsible for most of the emissions responsible for global warming.

Asia-Pacific Nations Agree To Protect Reef Network

Six (6) Asia-Pacific countries agreed Friday on a wide-ranging plan to protect one of the world’s largest networks of coral reef, promising to reduce pollution, eliminate over-fishing and improve the livelihoods of impoverished coastal communities. The agreement at the World Oceans Conference creates a voluntary management plan for an area defined as teh Coral Triangle, which spans Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. It accounts for a third of the world’s coral reefs and 35 percent of coral reef fish species. Several governments committed money to the plan during the two-day meeting including the United States, which pledged $40 million over five years. The agreement, known as the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, follows a symbolic memorandum signed earlier in the meeting by government officials from 80 countries. It calls for improved efforts to protect oceans from over development and illegal fishing.

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Philippines: “Reduce Maternal Deaths”—UNICEF

The UN children’s agency urged the Philippines to do more to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality in the Southeast Asian nation. UNICEF country representative, Vanessa Tobin, on a visit to a Manila hospital where she saw babies being delivered, said the agency was puzzled why one woman dies every two hours due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth. “We need to understand why despite the available health care services, many of our pregnant women choose to deliver without proper care of skilled health workers,” Tobin said in a statement released to journalists accompanying her on the tour. Data from a 2009 UNICEF report shows a Filipina mother has a one in 140 chances of dying while delivering a child compared with one in 8,000 in industrialized countries. This translates to around 11 mothers dying every day or 4,500 a year due to pregnancy and childbirth complications.

Bangladesh: Sexual Harassment Ban Introduced

Bangladesh’s high court moved to plug a gaping hole in the country’s laws by introducing a first-ever ban on sexual harassment, an official said. The decision was immediately hailed by activists as a major step forward for the protection of women in the South Asian nation. Deputy Attorney-General Rajik Al Jalil said the new guidelines covered verbal abuse and physical attacks, including the sending of suggestive text messages. He said the ban was an interim measure until new legislation could be passed in parliament. Until now sexual harassment has not been considered a criminal act. “The high court laid down these guidelines to stop sexual harassment in education institutions and the workplace”, he said. No punishment had been finalized and each offence would be considered on a case-to-case basis, he added. Rehana Sultana of the Bangladeshi National Women’s Lawyers Association, who helped petition for the guidelines, said women in Bangladesh had often fell helpless and ashamed to speak out if they were harassed because there was no law to protect them.

Sri Lanka: Some 350 Mothers To Deliver Babies in IDP Camps

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) expects some 350 pregnant women to give birth in camps in Northern Sri Lanka next month where ferocious battle between government troops and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is still raging on. The agency said that thousands of pregnant women had fled the fighting zone and it is stepping up its health and safety mechanisms to handle the influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs)—-particularly women and pregnant mothers. “At least 3,000 pregnant women have fled the fighting in Northern Sri Lanka in recent days and some 350 will give birth in the next month,”. “Health facilities are overstretched but so far we are not aware of any maternal death. It could help further if we have comprehensive emergency care to treat and manage complicated pregnancies,” a UNFPA official said.

Viet Nam: Narrowing Gender Gaps

An increased role for women in society would promote their more active and effective participation in socio-economy development, Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan said. The Vice President, who was speaking at the 19th Global Summit of Women in Santiago, Chile, emphasized that it was essential for global governments to create conditions for women to participate in politics, business and key economic sectors. Appropriate government policies would boost implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000 intended to promote gender equality and empower women, she said. Viet Nam was among the first-ranked countries for women participating in business, the Vice President said. Viet Nam was also among the fastest of Southeast Asian nations in the alleviation of the gender gap and had been so for the past 20 years.

Afghanistan: “Women, Vital for the Future”—French FM

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in Kabul that there would be no progress in Afghanistan without its women, adding that things are “going better” in the turbulent nation. Wrapping up a three-day visit, the minister said he had noted an “admirable courage” among the Afghan women he met during his trip. “The future of democracy passes through women”, Kouchner told reporters. “Without the women in Afghanistan, there will be no progress.” The 1996-2001 Taliban regime denied women an education, and only the minority are literate. Most do not have jobs or income, with abuse rife although access to justice is limited. Parliament this year passed a family law governing practices in the Shiite minority that critics say obliges women to have sex with their husbands and limits their movements outside of the home among several issues. President Hamid Karzai has ordered a review.

Solomon Islands: Three (3) Women Graduated with Australian Prestigious Award

Three (3) Solomon Islands women will graduate with the Australian’s prestigious scholarship, the Australian Leadership Award. They are among few Australian Leadership Award (ALA) scholars who will also be graduating this year. Ethel Frances from Renbel province who is undertaking the Masters in Business Administration at the Queensland University in Brisbane, will be graduating in July. Louisa Fakaia, from South Malaita, who is pursuing the Masters in Public Policy (International Policy) and Jennifer Fugui, from North Malaita, who is doing Masters in Public Policy (Policy Analysis) both studying at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, will be fnishing in November 2009. Fakaia and Fugui have already graduated with a graduate diploma in Public Administration in 2008 from ANU. The three women are the only females among a total of 16 recipients of the ALA scholarship from the Solomons.

Indonesia: Economy in Very Good Hands

Two women, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and acting Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor Miranda Goeltom, will take the helm of Indonesia’s economy over the next few weeks as the incumbent President, Vice President and many cabinet ministers will be preoccupied campaigning for the July 8 presidential election. Fortunately for all of us, the economy has performed exceptionally well so far during this highly politicized period, recording growth of 4.4 percent in the first quarter, much higher than most of other countries despite the global financial crisis and sharp downturn. Sri Mulyani will be leading fiscal management, but also, in her capacity as acting coordinating minister for the economy, trade and industry, oversees the government’s macro economic policies. 

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