OnlineWomenBulletin, 31 May 2009

she said



“Women candidates drew all the votes in the last category, showing that voters saw in women hope for a new direction in Kuwait’s politics. Now women have made it to the parliament and the government has to break the glass ceiling imposed on women and allow them to handle more responsible positions in the public sector.”

Dr. Nada Al-Muttawa, a women’s rights activist and academician, on her reaction to the result of the recent parliamentary elections in Kuwait.

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Kuwait: Results of 2009 Election Indicative of Change

The results of election 2009 are encouraging and are indicative of change, says Dr. Ali Al Baghli, former oil minister. Al Bahgli was talking to the Arab Times Sunday, sharing his views about Saturday’s elections. While, he said, women’s representation in the Parliament is a positive sign, the return of many of the former MPs makes him a little skeptical “as the threat of the old conflicts between the legislative and executive bodies is looming large.” It would be best for the MPs to act rationally this time instead of provoking HH the Amir to bring about another dissolution, which would affect the credibility of the National Assembly beyond repair.  About the successful bid of women to the Parliament, the former minister said it is a historic event, “and we hope there will be positive developments in the country following women’s entry into the Parliament

Bangladesh: Appointment of the First Female Police Officer-in-Charge

Recently, the government appointed the first ever Officer-in-Charge (OC) police station in the history of Bangladesh police force. Hosne Ara Begum was assigned as the OCC of a police station in the capital city of Dhaka and started working in her new position on May 18, 2009. Hosne Ara Begum started her challenging career with the Bangladesh police as a sub-inspector back in 1981. In her long 28 years of service, she had worked in many regions of Bangladesh, in different police jurisdictions and departments, including the intelligence Branch of the Bangladesh police. The Bangladesh police introduced its first female officers back in 1974, with only 14 officers. After 35 years, the numbers of female police members are now 1, 937 and among them 1,331 police constables the minor label member.

Solomon Islands: Campaign for Ten (10) Parliamentary Seats for Women in Full Swing

The Solomon Islands National Council for Women says a public campaign outlining why seats should be set aside for women in parliament is in full swing. The campaign is for 10 seats to be added to the existing 50 seat Parliament with elected women representing the capital, Honiara, and each of the 9 provinces. The Women’s Affairs Ministry last week launched a public campaign to inform the community about the plan. The council’s spokesperson Sarah Dyer says it’s important to get the information out as there’s considerable opposition to the seats, but she says this is based on misunderstanding.

Myanmar: Suu Kyi Marks Six (6) Years of Detention As Trial Continues

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi marked six years of continuous detention by Burma’s military regime today as she defended herself in court accused of sheltering an uninvited American. Ms. Suu Kyi (aged 63) insisted yesterday that she did not break the law. The trial in Rangoon, which is expected to culminate in a guilty verdict, has continued despite an international outcry that included unprecedented criticism from neighbouring governments in Asia. Ms. Suu Kyi’s latest term of house arrest was to have ended today, according to her supporters. The regime argues that it would have expired in November, but in any event has cancelled her house arrest order, apparently because this is required by law when a suspect is charged with a crime.

India: Kartanaka’s Women Panchayat Leaders Unite for Good Governance

Over 600 elected women leaders of village across Kartanaka’s 21 districts gathered on Wednesday to launch Sugrama—-a unique federation to secure their rights and further the interests of the rural communities that they serve. “This is history in the making. Sugrama becomes the first federation, not only in India but South Asia, to focus on the rights and interests of women panchayat leader,” Rita Sarin, country director of The Hunger Project told a packed auditorium at the inagural function. Sugrama is facilitated by The Hunger Project, in collaboration with Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) International and Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU). “The idea of Sugrama is to empower elected gram panchayat women representatives and bring about gender justice and equality in the society,” said Sarin.

Australia: Funding For Rural Women Leadership

The Federal Government has announced more than $1 million to help more women take on leadership roles in rural and regional Australia. Agriculture Minister Tony Burke revealed the funding under the Recognising Women Farmers Initiative, while attending the Australian RIRDC Rural Women’s Awards 2009 in Parliament House, Canberra. He said in its first 18 months, the Government had increased the representation of women on our rural research and development corporation boards from 20 percent to 43 percent, but there was much more work to do. “Women across the country are determined to help lead their communities through future challenges, including climate change,” Mr. Burke said.

Botswana: Political Women Urged To Use Media

Women in politics were on Friday urged to focus on issues at hand instead of concentrating on their political parties. Pamela Dube-Kelepang said this during a workshop that was held at Tati River Lodge aimed at exploring advantages that the media has on politics. Dube-Kelepeng said women are undermined because they have a tendency of shying away from issues that are to be addressed. “Lets’ give politics a try. Let them reject us. Let them write about us. Politics is a dirty game,” she said. She cited an example by Keabonye Ntsabane, who is fighting for women’s rights in politics though she is not active in politics. Thought it was the final leg of the training, after the ones that took place in Gaborone and Ramotswa, the participation was a disappointment. A handful attended but the BDP women dominated with their bright red colors. The women were equipped on utilisation, networking and inviting the media to their activities. They were also trained in writing press releases and taught on skills for reaching out to the media.



Women, Your Planet Needs You

Women hold the answer to cutting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new campaign which aims to echo the women’s movement of the 1970s and harness female power to fight climate change. The plan may provide an antidote t male apathy: polls show fewer men are excited by the issue. The “one million women” campaign, launched in Sydney yesterday, aims to get at least one in every eight Australian women to join an online program of weekly carbon cuts. “We want to build on the unique strength of women, and we’re urging all women to use their networks to actually do something about climate change,” said the campaign’s organiser, cosmetics entrepreneur Natalie Isaacs.

Helping Women and Children Be Prepared for Natural Disasters in Uzbekistan

Through a partnership with the European Commission, UNICEF is seeking to reduce the risks posed by natural disasters and man-made disasters in Uzbekistan. More than 300 schools in 36 vulnerable communities are now working to assess and mitigate the risk of disasters. UNICEF has also delivered nine minivans to Civil Protection Training Centres in the nine regions to help extend the reach of the training programmes to remote villages. “This disaster risk reduction project began providing training equipment and other major supplies that have dramatically helpled support training sessions,” said the head of the Civil Protection Training Centre in Ferghana, Tokhtasin Yusupov. “This leads to greater disaster awareness. It is obvious that if local communities improve knowledge, experience and skills in emergency prevention and response, more lives will be saved.” Currently, the pilot project is focusing on Uzbek provinces that are most at risk. “Women and children are the most vulnerable in any disaster,” said UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan Mahboob Shareef. “We are helping people help themselves in some of the most remote communities and are boosting the government’s disaster-preparedness plans.”

Pelosi Says Climate Change Could Change US-China Game

Ties between the United State of America and China could be transformed by cooperation on climate change, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, linking environmental concerns to human rights and the rule of law. Pelosi told an audience in the Chinese capital that the two nations—the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases—must work together to fight global warming. “China and the United States can and must confront the challenge of climate change together,” she said at a meeting organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing. “I think that this climate change crisis is a game-changer in the US-China relationships. It is an opportunity that we cannot miss.”

Forty (40) Killed As Cyclone Aila Hits India and Bangladesh

The death toll from Cyclone Aila reached 40 on Tuesday after it lashed eastern India and Bangladesh and stranded thousands in their flooded villages, officials said. The storm destroyed nearly 3,000 thatched and mud houses and toppled a large number of trees in nearly 300 villages across India’s West Bengal state, said Kanti Ganguly, a state minister. He said 34 people were killed in West Bengal. The cyclone also caused high waves to hit coastal areas in neighboring Bangladesh, killing at least six people, said a statement by Bangladesh’s Food and Disaster Management Ministry. The country’s leading newspaper, Prothom Alo, said tens of thousands of people were stranded as waters submerged their homes. With the storm weakening overnight, authorities restored train and air service and reopened schools in most parts of West Bengal state on Tuesday, Indian officials said. Ganguly said soldiers were deployed on Monday night to evacuate stranded villagers.

Climate Change To Kill Coastal Tourist Attraction in Australia

Super Cyclones. Heatwaves. Catastrophic coastal flooding in North Queensland. Ski slopes with no snow. This is the grim scenario being laid out as a warning to Australian tourism leaders as they plan strategies for the industry’s survival over the next 40 years. Some Australian and international scientists believe tourism will be critically affected by climate change from as early as 2030. But they say there has been little scientific debate on the issue in Australia and virtually no action. Climate change specialist Stefan Gossling, from Sweden’s Lund University, said some businesses had started carbon neutralizing schemes but there was little debate in the scientific community about the impact of climate change on Australia’s tourism assets. “Tourism will be more severely affected by climate change than any other (industry) sector because it is more reliant on climate,” Dr. Gossling said. “From the alpine regions to Kakadu, there will be significant loss of biodiversity and business operations.”

Leading Women NGO in Papua New Guinea Says People Are Dying of Hunger

The National Council of Women in Papua New Guinea says people of all ages are dying from starvation despite the government’s comments that nobody is lacking food or water. During a recent interview Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare stated that people in Papua New Guinea are not short of food or water. The President of the National Council of Women Scholla Kakas disagrees, saying Catholic Bishops, who work closely with the community has spoken of how people are actually dying from starvation. “This is spreading all over the country where there is urban drift from the rural villages into the urban areas into the towns of Papua New Guinea. And what is happening in Port Moresby is true; there are people dying of poverty.” Scholla Kakas says the government should send out officers to investigate people’s living conditions and confirm for themselves that people are really starving to death.

Uphill Struggle Boosting Disaster Risk Reduction Efforts

The Middle East has its fair share of natural disasters, but the notion of disaster risk reduction is new, and it is often difficult to persuade governments that funding it is worthwhile, experts say. “The region is affected by disasters such as drought, cyclones, landslides and earthquakes. There are earthquake prone areas in North Africa and the Jordanian Valley. Floods are also a common hazard and have been occurring more frequently in recent years,” said Luna Abu-Swaireh, regional programme officer of the Cairo-based UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). Rapid economic and urban development has also concentrated people in hazard-prone cities, where little effort has gone into boosting risk reducing capacities, she said. The impact of climate change is also felt, “Syria, for example, was severely affected by the worst drought ever (in 2008 and 2009).” In April, UAE had heavy rains and even very low temperatures on high ground, Abu-Swaireh said.

other news



Timor Leste: Resisting To Legalized Abortion

The predominantly Catholic nation of Timor Leste is under pressure from the United Nations for its law that penalize abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute reported last week that Timor Leste’s policies are being scrutinized by the UN committee responsible for overseeing compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Form of Discrimination Against Women, which will meet for its 44th session in  July. The country’s new penal code, which will take effect at the beginning of June, continues to penalize the practice of abortion, though it adds an exception for cases where the mother’s health is in jeopardy. A report from Timor Leste to the committee states that abortion is a “sensitive issue” in the country, “especially given the traumatic events of recent years” when a 24-year Indonesian occupation enforced family planning programs that were “widely resented” by the people.

Pakistan: Women Are Unpaid Family Workers

Urban men in the country, in contrast to urban women, spend five minutes more on economic activities such as house maintenance, care for children, sick and community services. However, rural women spend more time on economic activities as compared to rural men. Urban men and women spend more time on socio-cultural activities compared to men and women of rural areas. These are the findings of a time use survey. The survey is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Japan: Slump Causing Extra Hardship for Women

An increasing number of women are being directly affected by the current economic downturn, with some losing their jobs and places to live. However, this reality tends not to come to light because women are less likely to use consultation services or other support programs aimed at people facing such difficulties— highlighting the need to improve support targeting such women. A 45-year old woman from Tokyo, who has been doing clerical work as a temporary worker for more than 10 years, has spent some nights recently at all-night restaurants or internet cafes. While the woman used to be a regular employee of a company, she switched to working as a temporary so she could make more use of her English abilities. Although she had an annual income of more than 3.5 million yen, the contract on her last position was terminated when the economic situation deteriorated.

Afghanistan: Afghans Losing Hope Amid Declining Respect for Women’s Rights, MPs told

Afghans are losing hope in the future of their country as security deteriorates and women’s rights erode, a member of Afghanistan’s human rights commission warned MPs Tuesday. Soraya Sobhrang, speaking by teleconference link from Kabul, said respect for the rights of women is regressing in her country and conditions are coming to resemble life under the Taliban, whose extremist regime was toppled in 20o1. Ms. Sobhrang has been an outspoken critic of the Kabul government’s adoption of a law in March that legalized marital rape. After pressure from Canada and other countries, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has vowed to change it. “We are going back to something like the Taliban situation in Afghanistan,” Ms. Sobhrang, a commissioner focusing on women’s rights, told the House of Commons special committee on Afghanistan.

Fiji: The Bold and Brave Women

The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre has been a pillar of strength for women in Fiji for more than two decades. It is a bold and brave non-government organization that goes the extra mile to give women justice. Not only the work it does is admirable, the people who work in the centre are brave and admirable. FWCC co-ordinator Shamima Ali said the four main pillars of their principles were human rights, democracy, rule of law and the Constitution. When there are breakthroughs, when resistance to women’s rights eases, when gender sensitive policies and legislation are introduced and when conservative forces start talking about women’s human rights positively, are some of the challenges FWCC works on says Ms. Ali. FWCC provides crisis counseling and legal, medical and other practical support services for women and children who are sufferers and survivors of violence committed against them by men. The centre is also involved in public advocacy and community education on gender violence.

Malaysia: No More Name-Calling For Husbands In the Proposed Law

Malaysian husbands who say their wives are ugly may soon face the heavy hand of the law, once proposed amendments to a local marriage act have been approved, a news report said. The government’s Women Development Department would be submitting a proposal for emotioanl abuse to be included in a 15-year old domestic violence act, said department director general Noorul Ainur Mohamad Nur. Noorul said the current law only protected women from physical abuses from their spouses, adding that emotional violence was just as harmful as it would scar a woman and lower their self-esteem, dignity and self-confidence. “It could be a case where her husband tell his wife she is ugly or humiliates her until she feels emotionally pressured,” she was quoted as saying by the Star online news portal. She said the proposed amendements would be tabled in parliament for approval, but declined to say when they would come into force or the penalties faced by the guilty parties.

Philippines: Woman’s Surrogacy Ordeal Highlights Lack of Legal Protection

A 31-year old Filipino woman who was promised $5,000 to carry a child for a Cypriot couple has been sent back to her country with only $1,000. The woman, whose visa documents showed she came to Cyrus to work as a housemaid, claimed she was forced into agreeing to bear the couple’s child and that she was threatened and made to leave the island fearing for her life. The woman’s half-sister who lives permanently in Cyprus brought the 31-year old to the island through a Cypriot agent on the pretext that she would work as a housemaid at a Stovolos house for four years. Meanwhile, the woman’s half-sister convinced her to become the surrogate mother for the Cypriot couple, who had promised to employ her in exchange for the $5,000 that she was told she would receive in full, regardless of whether she would be able to fall pregnant and give birth. The 31-year old alleges that she was forced to agree to this in order to pay off a debt to her half-sister. 


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