Tag Archives: governance

Mexico’s Women Make Gains in Politics

TORREÓN, Mexico — In addition to completely reordering Mexico’s political landscape, the mid-term legislative elections on July 5 marked a step forward for gender equality in the country. The opposition Institutional Party of the Revolution (PRI), previously the third-largest party, scored a huge victory. The PRI took a near-majority in the lower house of Congress, which had been dominated by the National Action Party (PAN), won five of six gubernatorial races, and a number of state and local contests around the nation.

The two leading vote-getters — the ideologically amorphous PRI and the center-right PAN — are both expected to tab women as the leaders of their respective caucuses in the Chamber of Deputies. With the benefit of such a platform, both the PAN’s Josefina Vázquez and the PRI’s Beatriz Paredes will not only be able to put oft-ignored women’s issues closer to the forefront of the national agenda. They are now plausible presidential contenders for 2012.

More broadly, despite not winning the right to vote until 1953, Mexican women have made significant gains, and now vote in higher proportions than their male counterparts. In 2002, parties were required to field women for at least 30 percent of their congressional candidates, with the quota upped to 40 percent ahead of this election cycle. However, the law is widely flouted by parties willing to pay the requisite fines after the election, meaning that in many regions, barely a quarter of the candidates are women.

Beyond Congress, women have also played a gradually more significant role in the executive branch of the federal government. The trend culminated in the cabinet of President Felipe Calderón, who has placed women at the head of key secretariats like education (Vázquez), energy (Georgina Kessel), and foreign relations (Patricia Espinosa).

This is part of a broader trend toward gender equality that makes the old stereotype of macho Mexico seem increasingly dated. As Sara Sefchovich wrote in a recent profile of First Lady Margarita Zavala, “We have come a long way since the era in which a president shut his wife up in public when she wanted to express an opinion on some issue, telling her: ‘Don’t butt in, you know nothing about this.'”

Today, the acceptance of women as equal players has become so ingrained that even the conservative wife of a conservative president is considered a prominent feminist. As Sefchovich points out in the same article, “Margarita has fought for the rights of women, not only for the opening of political spaces but also for . . . ending the violence, for salary equality, against discrimination, [for] education, and [for] health.”

Nonetheless, gender-based discrepancies remain striking in other political realms. Most obviously, no woman has ever run as a major-party candidate for president. Beyond that, only six women have ever served as governor. In the six states that elected governors on July 5, only two of 18 major-party candidates were women, and neither came close to winning. Rounding out the unbalanced executive picture, female mayors run only 4 percent of Mexico’s municipalities.

Worse still, there has been little political cost in cases where male politicians demonstrate gross disrespect for women. While campaigning for mayor of Tijuana in 2004, for instance, Jorge Hank Rhon declared that women were his favorite animal. But the remark didn’t end his career. He ended up winning that race, and came within a whisker of the governorship of Baja California Norte in 2007.

More mundane examples of gender inequality persist in daily life as well. For starters, women are routinely paid less for the same work as men. Dr. María del Carmen Contreras, a physician in the northern city of Torreón, recently told World Politics Review about being offered a job for half the salary of the doctor she was to replace a few years ago, despite having a comparable resume. For “dignity’s sake,” she turned the job down.

Months later, in an odd twist of fate, Contreras learned that the doctor who was eventually hired to fill the job she’d been offered — a man — was paid the same, higher salary of the outgoing doctor. “I asked to speak with the man who made me the offer,” Contreras told WPR, “and he told me . . . that because I am a woman, I didn’t have the economic responsibility of a household.” The different salaries supposedly reflected the different financial needs of a man and a woman.

Contreras’ example is not isolated, nor is discrimination in the workplace limited to salary inequality. Because Mexico mandates a paid maternity leave of several months, many businesses have unwritten rules prohibiting the hiring of young, married women. Women are also regularly screened for “good presentation” in job interviews, a euphemism meaning that candidates’ attractiveness will likely be a factor in any hiring decision.

Despite the obvious injustices, as well as the obvious benefits of addressing them, women’s issues other than abortion rarely receive much attention at the national level. Contreras said that she remembers hearing about gender inequality in the workplace a great deal during the Vicente Fox administration, but very little under Calderón, and not at all during the present campaign.

A Chamber of Deputies with Paredes and Vázquez at its head should help reverse that state of affairs. But Mexico remains behind its South American neighbors with regard to political equality between the sexes. The regular election of female executives would be another big step in the right direction.

Source: http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/article.aspx?id=4030

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Online Women Bulletin, July 5, 2009

WOMEN IN POLITICS

India: Dalit , Muslim Women Bodies For Sub-Quota For Women in Bill

Contending that the Women’s Reservation Bill in its present form will benefit only those from affluent sections. Dalit and Muslim bodies demanded a sub-quota for women from weaker sections to ensure fair representation. At a convention in New Delhi, representatives of the All India Milli Council, the Muslim Welfare Organization, Dr B R Ambedkar Sewa Dal and Samajik Nyan Morcha among others said a quota without a sub-quota will augment inequalities in the country and fail to serve its purpose. “While we welcome the proposal of reserving seats form women, we strongly believe there should be a provision ensuring that Muslim and Dalit women, who are the most backward in the country and need representation, get their due share in proportion to their population,” said Manzoor Alam, General Secretary, All India Milli Concil. Alam said in its present form, the bill will further strengthen and empower, “the already educated and economically empowered ladies” and those who belong to families with political background

Lebanon: Where’s the Woman’s Place?

If you think Lebanon is a complicated place, the state of Lebanese women’s political participation should be no surprise. Lebanese women won the right to vote and to participate in national elections in 1952, 19 years b efore women in Switzerland. Yet, today, political participation by Lebanese women remains dismal at the national level. In the June parliamentary elections, only 12 women ran for office and only 4 were elected out of 128 seats. Since suffrage, in fact, only 77 women have served in Lebanon’s parliament. The reasons are complicated but male domination if the country’s politics is one major reason. Another is that political parties are f ocused in sectarian interests, marginalizing women’s voices.

Fiji: Interim Government Approves New Women’s  Groups

Fiji’s leading women’s advocacy group says a new interim government endoresed women’s group will not take the place of existing institutions. In a statement, Fiji’s interim government says the new “Fiji Women’s Federation”, will be the advocate for, and representative of, women’s rights in the country. The coordinator of one of the longest serving women rights groups, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Shamima Ali, say previous governments have tried and failed to create something similar, ” Often these things have fallen by the wayside because of lack of funding, lack of the political will of the government”, she said. The interim government says the membership of the federation will be nade up of women’s non government organizations, which meet a set criteria. But no detail of what that criteria is has been made public. Ms. Ali says the federation’s creation won’t mean groups like the Crisis Centre, vocal critics of the interim government, will be sidelined.

Iran: Women Leading the Charge for Change

Iranian women’s visible presence in protests over their country’s political turmoil is likely to strengthen the cause of opposition leader Mr. Hussein Mousavi. That became clear this weekend after 26-yeald Neda Agha-Soltan was shot in the chest while attending a protest rally. The video of her  bloody death on Saturday has circulated in Iran and around the world and prompted an outpouring of sympathy. President Obama in a White House press conference said, “We have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the street. While this lost is raw and extraordinary painful, we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.” Ms. Agha-Soltan apparently wasn’t a political activist but has become a stirring symbol of anti-government movement. And her gender seems to be heightening worldwide sympathy for the protesters.

Indonesia: Head Scarf Emerges As Political Symbol

The three (3) parties competing in Indonesia’s presidential election next week have plastered the city with campaign billboards and posters depicting, predictably, their presidential and vice presidential choices looking self-confident. But one party, Golkar, has also put up posters of the candidates’ wives next to their husbands, posing demurely and wearing a Muslim head scarves known here as jilbabs. The wives recently went on a jilbab shopping spree in one of Jakarta’s largest  markets and published a book together titled, “Devout Wives of Future Leaders”. Most polls suggest that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of the Democratic Party will be reelected  next Wednesday’s vote, after running a smooth campaign based on his economic policies and a popular anticorruption drive. Despite television debates, the personality-driven campaigns have focused little on differences over policies or ideas, except regarding the wearing of the jilbab.

Nepal:UK’s Permanent Secretary For International Development Interacts With Constituent Assembly (CA) Members

The Permanent Secretary at the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Minouche Shafik, who concluded a two-day visit to Nepal on July 1, met women constituent assembly (CA) members at the Center for Constitutional Dialogue (CCD). During the meeting, Shafik heard about women’s role in the constitution-writing process and the challenges they faced in a traditionally-male dominated society. The CA members hoped to make the most of their numbers in the CA (33% of the total seats) by ensuring greater equality for women, including in access to state resources such as education and health care, teh DFID in Kathmandu said. Shafik reiterated DFID’s willingness to continue to contribute to making the voice of women and other marginalized groups heard, such as by sharing international experience of women’s role in parliament.

Mongolia: Draf Law on Gender Equality Presented

Government Cabinet Secretary Chief B. Dolgor submitted Friday a bill to ensure gender equality to Parliamentary Speaker D. Demberel. Mongolia has joined a number of international treaties and pacts, including international pacts on civic and political rights, on economic societal and cultural rights, a convention to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, a convention on women in politics, as well as the 1993 Vienna Convention. These make Mongolia responsible for creating a favorable legal environment to refute any acts and customs allowing gender discrimination, satisfying and guaranteeing equal gender rights equality and equal attitudes, taking required measures and approving relevant legislation. Mongolia’s government action plan for 2009-2012 includes drawing up a bill to ensure gender equality.

GENDER IN CLIMATE CHANGE AND DISASTER RISK REDUCTION

UN Habitat’s Executive Director Wins Prestigious Environmental Award

UN Habitat’s Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka has been named one of the three (3) winners of the 2009 Goteborg Award, the prestigious “Nobel Prize in Environment”. The Goteborg Award now celebrating its tenth year conferred its jubilee prize of one million Swedish Kroner (USD 126,775) to be shared equally between Mrs. Tibaijuka, Mr. Enrique Penalosa, the former  mayor of Bogota, Colombia, and Mr. Soren Hermansen of Samso, Denmark, who was named by Time Magazine as 2008 Hero of the Environment. Last year’s winner included Mr. Al Gore the former US Vice President and global environment champion.

West African Sub-Region Vulnerable To Climate Change

Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, Deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Technology said that the Western African Sub-Region would be the most affected region by climate change, as long as it remained one of the poorest in the world. He said over the last three or four decades, impact of climate change has revealed the region’s vulnerability and stressed the need for consensus actions to reduce the looming danger. Droughts, floods and storms are likely to increase, not only in frequency but also in intensity. Rainfall patterns are still changing and in coastal areas, sea level rise and rising temparatures will threaten coastal areas and ecosystems”, he said. He emphasized the prospective impacts on society and economies across the sub-region were likely to be huge, thereby negatively affecting all sectors and groups of people with women, the poor and marginalized being the most affected.

Ordinary Men and Women Will Pay Price of Addressing Climate Change

The leader of Caritas Internationalis, the international consortium of Catholic relief agencies, warned in a recent address that attempts to address climate change will reduce the standard of living of the “ordinary men and women of the developed world”. Secretary-General Lesley Anne Knight said that “even if it is too early to say for certain that man-made climate change is causing an increase in humanitarian emergencies, one thing is certain: If it continues, it most certainly will”. She grants that there is disagreement over whether the increasing scale and frequency of climate-related humanitarian emergencies can be scientifically attributed to man-made cliamte change. But a number of points are clear: We are witnessing an increase in climate-related emergencies. Increasing climate vulnerability is making some parts of the world more susceptible to climate-related disasters. Factors such as poverty and conflict are making populations more vulnerable to the effects of climate-related disasters.

Irish Women Act on Climate Change in Africa

The Women of the ICA are helping to raise funds for the stoves and are also off-setting the carbon footprint–all through this green, women-focused initiative. With the help of a part-EU funded Irish NGO, “Vita”, these stoves are now being installed in homes in rural Eritrea. And as part of its drive to encourage innovation and green programmes, the European Commission Representation in Ireland hosted a meeting in Dublin this week, between the designer of this innovative stove, the Irish Countrywomen’s Association, and “Vita”. The ICA was presented with a letter of thanks from the Eritrean Women’s Union for agreeing to help women in Eritrea achieve today what the ICA did in Ireland in the 1950’s. The letter was presented by Dr. Debesai Ghebrehiwet, who is the designer of the award-winning stove.

OTHER NEWS

Afghanistan: Women Battle Heavy Odds in Struggle for Freedom and Dignity

Rona Tareen sits among the many couches lining her Persian carpeted office and, with the press of ink-stained thumbs, allows what some Afghans consider sacrilege: letting a young woman move away from her husband with her family in Kabul. Tareen, a mother of six and women’s affairs director for the province of Kandahar, where Canadian forces are based, oversees many family judgments in a country steeped in patriarchy. Afghan women—particularly in the volatile south, where the Taliban was born—rarely appear in public without burkas and often show deference to the opposite sex, lowering gazes to the floor, almost shrinking when a man approaches. Given that some hard-line Islamists believe the Koran decrees women to be subservient to men, improving conditions for women in a war-torn country with one of the world’s lowest literacy levels requires more than education. It requires social engineering.

India: The Cases of Human Trafficking

As per the women and child development estimates, 3 million women in India fall prey to trafficking annually in the country and 40% of these are minors. The country needs to face its moment of truth. India has been placed on the US human trafficking tier 2 watch list for not doing enough to curb human smuggling. “Whatever makes a man a slave takes half his worht away”, Pope said. Indeed,  a human trafficking is a modern day slavery where human beings are exploited by treating them like commodities for profit. It is contrary to the fundamental belief of all societies that people everywhere deserve to live in safety and dignity. Victims of human trafficking who comprise of young children, teenagers, men and women are subjected to involuntary servitude and sexual slavery by force, fraud or coercion. Human smuggling, especially of women and children has become a matter of serious national and international concern.

Pakistan: Women in Fata Find A Voice

In a small recording studio in Peshawar, Asma rushes around with a minidisc recorder. She has to finish editing a news bulletin and make it back to her home in Nowshera before it gets dark. “If I do not get the bulletin done in time for this evening show, the station will not let me continue as a radio journalist”, she says. “But if i do not get home on time, then my parents will not let me continue working either”. Asma is one of the 15 reporters for Radio Khyber, a Jamrud-based FM radio station, and one of the few legal media outlets in Pakistan tribal belt. The station, which is supported by the Fata Secretariat, aims to counter the extremist, pro-jihad and anti-West programming that is typical of dozens of illegal radio stations run by hard-line clerics throughout the tribal agencies.

Bangladesh: Prime Minister Seeks UN Help for Improving Health and Women Empowerment

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has sought enhanced assistance from the United Nations for improving child and maternal health and empowering the women folk in the country, as she listed some setbacks in the population sector in recent times. She made the call when Representatives of UNFPA in Bangladesh Arthur Erken on the eve of the World Population Day , paid a courtesy call on her. The Prime Minister reiterated her government commitment to establish social-safety net through creating huge employment opportunities and empowering women, providing quality health services to people of all walks of life, particularly to mothers and children. She said in line with the dream of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of building a healthy nation, the last Awami League government had taken a project of setting up 18,000 community health clinic across the country and some 4,000 of the clinics were made functional in full swing.

EGYPT: Women Get Help on Road to Parliament

Egypt elected the first Arab woman to parliament in 1957, but in the half century since, the most populous country in the Arab world has gone from being a leader in women’s political participation to a lagger.

“Many Arab countries went ahead, but Egypt stayed behind,” says Hoda Badran, head of the Cairo-based Alliance for Arab Women (AAW).

Female parliamentary representation has declined since 1984, when women occupied 36 of the 458 seats in the People’s Assembly, the lower house of Egypt’s parliament. Women secured just nine of 454 seats in the last legislative election in 2005. Only four women were elected, the rest were appointed by the president.

Experts attribute the decline in political participation to social and cultural barriers imposed by a patriarchal society, reinforced by a wave of Islamic fundamentalism that swept across the Arab world in the 1980s. Conservative groups held that women should stay at home and manage the family, and sought to impose many limitations on women.

“Political parties, which are supposed to school women, do not give women training, do not put them on their lists and have not backed their campaigns,” Badran told IPS. “At most they just put them on a women’s committee, segregating them from other committees and the mainstream work of the party.”

The few women who do run face obstacles in raising campaign funds, and are vulnerable to the violence and thuggery that typically accompany elections in Egypt. Female candidates have reported being physically intimidated by their opponents, or subject to smear campaigns against their reputation.

New legislation and civil society programmes aim at increasing female representation in Egypt’s parliament, but it could take decades to dismantle the social and cultural obstacles. Unfortunately, says Badran, progress usually requires direct intervention.

Since 2003 Egypt has seen its first female judge, a female university president, and several female cabinet ministers. All were appointed by President Hosni Mubarak in an effort to kickstart women’s political participation.

Earlier this month, Egyptian legislators passed a bill that allocates 64 parliamentary seats for women, increasing the number of seats in the People’s Assembly to 518. The “positive discrimination,” to be applied in general elections due in 2010, ensures women will hold a minimum of 12 percent of seats in the next legislature, up from 1 percent in the current one.

Quota systems have been applied in over 70 countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America to develop the capacity and competency of women in decision-making fields.

Egypt applied a 30-seat quota for female MPs in 1979, but repealed it in1988 after its constitutionality was challenged. Women’s organisations have applauded the reintroduction of the measure, though some have voiced concern about its form and implementation.

Nehad Abu El-Komsan, chairwoman of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR), has lobbied for a quota for 15 years, but worries that the current system, where women will campaign individually in specially designated constituencies, only reinforces the notion that women should compete separately from men. She favours a proportional list system, where each party would field a minimum number of female candidates as part of its electoral slate.

“A proportional system would guarantee that women are not isolated; they would be part of the group,” she says. “And this would force the parties to look for active women candidates, and to train women and support them at all levels.”

The new quota system is to be applied for two legislative terms, or 10 years, which some argue is not long enough to change deep-rooted conservative views on women’s roles. “It needs at least a generation to change attitudes,” says Abu El-Komsan. “You cannot expect it to happen overnight.”

On the positive side, Badran points out, the quota will guarantee women more representation in the lower house – hopefully enough to have an impact. “The issue here is what kind of women are going to be elected to these 64 seats,” she says. “Our role as NGOs will be to work very strongly and eagerly between now and the election …”

An AAW programme launched last year is preparing to send a group of women to Britain to receive training as campaign managers for female political candidates. The “nucleus of campaign managers” will work with 20 women selected from various Egyptian political parties, who will be trained and supported in their candidacy in the upcoming election.

“We are creating a group of professional campaign managers who will manage the campaigns of the 20 women as a start,” says Badran. “(They will) be working afterwards for any kind of election, not necessarily for parliament, but also for labour unions and the various syndicates.”

The National Council for Women (NCW), headed by first lady Suzanne Mubarak, established its own project to enhance women’s political participation in 2003 through its Center for the Political Empowerment of Women (CPEW).

The UNDP-backed programme aims at developing the skill set of potential female candidates, improving the legislative and oversight knowledge of women MPs, and raising awareness of the importance of women’s participation in political life. A separate programme to enhance the performance of women in parliament and local councils was added in 2006.

“(Local) councils are the preliminary institutions for nurturing cadres, who will be capable of handling the responsibilities of leadership, because of their presence among people at the grassroots level,” Mubarak said during a conference in March.

Why is it important to support female parliamentary candidates? Badran sees women’s political participation as critical to addressing key developmental issues. “There is a correlation between the number and quality of women in parliament and the type of legislation which comes out of the parliament,” she says.

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=47391

Neda’s Death Highlights Women’s Role in Iran Protests

A young woman who was shot through the heart and died on the streets of Tehran has become the face of the opposition movement in Iran.

Neda Agha Soltan was killed by a Basij militiaman during a protest march on June 20, according to people who said they were eyewitnesses and posted videos of her death on the Internet. The videos on Facebook and YouTube show her collapsing, losing consciousness and dying.

Her death has resounded worldwide and become a symbol of the crackdown by Iranian authorities against demonstrations over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed June 12 re-election. Police used tear gas and batons to disperse about 1,000 people who had gathered in Haft-e Tir Square in central Tehran yesterday to mourn the university student.

“The violence of the regime has intensified. They are trying to create a regime of terror,” said Mohammad-Reza Djalili, an Iran expert at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva in a telephone interview. “The future will be marked by this horrible chain of events,” he said of Soltan’s killing.

Soltan was among countless women, of all ages and backgrounds, who have taken to the streets to demand a recount of the presidential vote they and others say was won by Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister. Mousavi made his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, a feature of his campaign and promised to give women more rights.

34 Million

Iran’s 34 million women are demanding female cabinet ministers, the right to able to run for president and the revision of civil and family law, Rahnavard said earlier this month. The country’s population is 66.4 million.

President Barack Obama today said of Iran that Americans were “appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the last few days.” Speaking at a press conference, he said, “Above all, we have seen courageous women stand up to brutality and threats, and we have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets.”

“It’s heartbreaking,” he said in response to a question about whether he had seen the video. “Anybody who sees it knows there is something fundamentally unjust about that.”

At least four Facebook pages are dedicated to Soltan, and more than 50 members of the social networking site have changed their user names to Neda Agha Soltan. One page called “Neda” has more than 15,000 members and the group’s 55 officers come from countries as diverse as Canada, Kuwait, Haiti, Italy, the U.S. and Zambia.

Black Banner

Mourners were prevented from holding a remembrance ceremony in a mosque yesterday, and Soltan’s family was told to take down a black banner they had hung outside their home, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Neda had said that even if she lost her life and got a bullet in her heart, she would carry on,” Caspian Makan, Soltan’s fiancé, told the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Persian Television by phone from Tehran. “She gave a big lesson to everyone even though she was very young.”

Seventeen people have been killed in the protests, Iranian state television reported.

Soltan was a 27-year-old philosophy student, according to the text posted with the video on YouTube. Heat and frustration led her and her music teacher to abandon their car when it was blockaded by the demonstration. Minutes later, she was shot. She died in just two minutes, according to the YouTube text.

Iranian bloggers paid tribute to the young woman, one writing about the melancholy of the “alley of loneliness” where she was shot. Photos of the flowers left in memory of Soltan are posted on the blog.

Fierce Impact

“He had a clear shot and could not miss her,” wrote a man who said he was a doctor and posted one of the videos showing Soltan’s death, referring to the gunman. “The impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest.”

The author Paul Coelho said on his blog that he was best friends with the doctor, and that his friend had tried to resuscitate Soltan. In the video, as blood pours from Soltan’s eyes, nose and mouth, screams are heard and a small crowd gathers around her limp body.

“Neda, don’t be afraid; Neda stay with me,” says a man standing nearby, who holds her in his arms and has been identified as her music teacher.

The killing took away any “vestige of respect” people had for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has called for an end to the protests and allied himself with Ahmadinejad, because “a spiritual leader should not be leading carnage,” said Haleh Afshar, a professor of politics and women’s studies at University of York.

Seeing the video of Soltan’s death has left Zahra Khedri, a 24-year-old Iranian postgraduate student at the U.K.’s University of Essex, feeling numb and shocked, she said.

“It could be me, simple as that,” said Khedri. The video “will help us with the support we need. Ahmadinejad must not be recognized.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aX.UJaDJj_Fg

The video of Neda’s death: click here (Warning, graphic images!)

OnlineWomenBulletin, 20 June 2009

she said

“Many people in Morocco believe in change, in a better tomorrow and we, women have what it takes–talent and energy along with so many others. Women know more than men how to organize. They are more patient, stronger. They are also more reasonable and more attentive to the needs of children, women and men.”

Koutar Benhamou, a woman candidate in Morocco’s Municipal Elections

wip news header

 

 

Morocco: Election To Mark Another Step for Women

She’s young, at ease in Arabic, French or English, travels, love scuba diving, campaigns in a T-shirt and jeans and is bent on winning a seat in Morocco’s municipal elections on Friday. Kaoutar Benhamou, who turns 34 the same day, says she embodies modern Morocco. But she is also riding the kingdom’s latest wave to promote the role of women in this conservative Muslim state. For the first time, the government stipulated a 12 percent quota for women in Friday’s municipal polls–a major leap over the 0.58 percent or 127 women, now holding local council seats across the country, according to interior ministry figures. “I’ve never been involved in politics before,” says Benhamou, behind the wheel of her white four-wheel drive vehicle as she drums up support in the town of Bouknadel, 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of the capital, Rabat. She is running for the new, reformist Authencity and Modernity Party or PAM, an alliance of five smaller groups facing a first electoral challenge it views as a litmus test for general elections three years away.

Bangladesh: To Increase Women’s Seats in Parliament to 100

Even as Indian political parties fail to reach a consensus over the Women’s Reservation Bill, Bangladesh is all set to increase by more than double the number of reserved seats for women in parliament. “The number of reserved seats for women in parliament will be increased to 100 and there will be direct election in these seats,” Finance Minister A M A Muhith told the House while presenting the budget for 2009-10 yesterday. The women MPs have so far been nominated by political parties on the basis of the proportion of their representation in parliament. At present, only 45 seats are reserved for women in the Bangladesh parliament. Muhith said in line with its election commitment, the Sheikh Hasina government has started working to ensure recruitment, promotion and placement of women in top positions of the administration, armed forces, autonomous bodies, educational institutions and judicial service.

India: Parliament Might Have 33% More Women

An Indian parliamentary standing committee on Law and Justice, headed by Rajya Sabha Parliamentarian Sudarshan Nachiappan (Congress),  has found acceptable a proposition to increase the number of seats for women in parliament by 33 percent. Since reserving seats for women in parliament, and for state legislatures, had always been a skewed issue in India, the parliamentary panel emerged with the solution while examining a reservation bill pending in the Rajya Sabha (upper house). People like Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and Janata Dal (JD) chief Lalu Prasad opposed the plan because there was no quota for women from the lower castes. However, the panel could not complete its report because of the Lok Sabha (lower house) elections, and would now work with members of the new lower house to resume work on the plan. Acceptable: The idea of increasing seats in teh Lok Sabha was also supported on the grounds that the strength of the House was fixed at 545 when India’s population was 300 million. However, the figure had now swelled to over 1 billion. Hence, an increase of 33 percent seats would result in better representation for the people.

Australia: Gillard Hopeful For Equality in Politics

It won’t be long before being a woman in politics is no big deal, says Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Australia’s highest-profile woman politician says it won’t be long before female politicians get no extra attention for their gender. “In the time I’ve been interested in politics going back of course, through the Fraser government, the Hawke government, Keating government, Howard government, now into Rudd government….a lot has changed for women in politics,” she told Sky News on Wednesday. “It’s much more usual for women to be in politics, we’re there in greater numbers. I think there is still some level of differential attention but it is changing very quickly.”

Lebanon: A Dwindling Show by Women in Politics

A seductive woman looks out from the billboards that line Beirut’s highways proclaiming, “Be Beautiful and Vote”, one political party’s appeal to women in this beauty-obsessed nation’s upcoming parliamentary elections. Women’s rights activists have fumed that the ad is demeaning. An opposing party has put up billboards with a more feminist message, “Be equal and vote,” though featuring, of course, an equally sexy model. A lingerie brand jumped in with its own mock election ad: a woman in silky underwear urging, “Vote for me”. Lebanon’s election campaign is full of women–except where it counts. Only a handful of women are among the more than 580 candidates vying for parliament’s 128 seats, and after Sunday’s voting, the number of women in parliament is likely to drop to four, down from the current six. Lebanon may look like one of the most liberal countries in teh deeply conservative Middle East but patriarchal attitudes still reign, women activists say. Women’s poor showing also reflects a wider problem: although Lebanon has the trappings of a modern democracy, its politics are dominated by former warlords and family dynasties. Often only each clan’s appointed heirs—usually men–stand a real chance of getting elected.

South Africa: Woman Shakes Up Racial Politics

Helen Zille has a sharp tongue and a short fuse, and she doesn’t dodge a fight. In apartheid times, she enraged South Africa’s white rulers and lately she has ruffled South Africa’s black political establishment. Having won plaudits as Mayor of Cape Town, she is now leader of the main opposition and her province’s premier–a striking example of democracy at work in a country that is ruled by blacks but leaves room for white  politicians like Zille. In the April provincial election, Zille won just over 51 percent of the vote to seize control of the wealthy Western Cape province from the African National Congress, breaking the ruling party’s monopoly on power. In voting for the national parliament, her Democratic Alliance party’s share rose to nearly 17 percent and helped deny the ANC its coveted two-thirds majority. Now the 58-year old workaholic says her goal is to run Western Cape so well that voters will be persuaded to ditch the ANC in other provinces. “The Western Cape will set an example for democracy in South Africa,” she told cheering supporters after the results were announced.

Canada: Women in Politics Take Center Stage

Progress is slow but sure for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Standing Committee for Increasing Women’s Participation in Politics, as the number of female representatives in local government’s increased by one percent in 2008, from 22 percent to 23 percent. The goal of the organization is to reach a plateau of 30 percent—consistent with a United Nations directive on women in democracy that determined that 30 per cent was the minimum number or “tipping point” required for women to have an effective voice. While politics may be gender-neutral, the issues are not. For example, female politicians tend to be more effective when it comes to representing women’s issues like childcare, playgrounds, facilities for nursing mothers, etc. At the committee’s presentation in Whistler on Saturday, standing committee chair Pam McConnell, listed the committee’s  main achievements the past year—including notably, the promotion of the group as a full standing committee within the FMC framework.

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Gender Issues Gain Momentum at Climate Talks in Germany

Communication lines with Mother Earth have become complicated. Our practices of thousands of years are becoming difficult, implored an indigenous man from Bolivia, on behalf of his government’s delegation, as Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) met from 1-12 June in Bonn, Germany, to advance negotiation of a climate change framework for post 2012. References to the human dimension of climate change and the policies needed to address it are increasingly common at the ongoing UNFCC international climate change talks, expected to culminate in an agreement at the Conference of Parties (COP-15) in Copenhagen, Denmark in December. Gender advocates, indigenous peoples, labor representatives and the youth have become increasingly visible and coordinated in their efforts to build awareness of the human face to climate change, as well as the need to include all stakeholders in designing and implementing an effective response. And, governments are increasingly reflecting these aspects in submission to the text under negotiation.

Women Are The Energy Decision Makers

While Congress is contemplating a new energy policy, American women are paying the electric bills at home and making the critical decisions on energy use in their homes and businesses, according to the national Women’s Survey on Energy and the Environment, the first in-depth women’s survey on attitudes and awareness about energy. The nationally representative survey of 801 women 18 years or older, commissioned by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) in collaboration with the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) shows that women want the country to move toward clean energy sources and more than half (57%) are even willing to pay $30 more per month for it.  Yet they don’t completely understand the electricity sources we use today, the impact of electricity on clean air and what is causing global warming.

From Early Warning To Early Action in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is the most vulnerable country in the world to tropical cyclones. In addition, mortality risk from cyclones is approximately 200 times higher in developing countries like Bangladesh. The combination is deadly, for both lives and livelihoods of those living in coastal areas of Bangladesh such as Noakhali. Changes in cyclone behavior have also been noted: they are impacting further inland over a greater geographic area, with increased frequency and severity, probably attributable to climate change. At the same time, effective early warning systems have been shown to save thousands of lives. The cyclone that ravaged the coastline in 1970 killed 500,000 people. In 2007, cyclone Sidr killed 3,000, a difference in death toll that is largely attributed to effective disaster preparedness measures such as the Bangladesh Red-Cresecent’s Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) and the British Red Cross co-funded Building Community Disaster Preparedness Capacity (BCDPC) project implemented with European Commission funds. The project, running for the past 3 years, supports 85 communities along the coastal areas of Bangladesh to develop their capacity towards disaster preparedness and response, with focus on addressing the specific needs of women and children.

Climate Change is Pushing Malawi Further into Poverty, Women Are Hit Worst

Climate change in Malawi is pushing people further into poverty and women are suffering most, according to a new report from international agency, Oxfam today. The report, The Wind of Change: Climate Change, Poverty and the Environment in Malawi, says that an increase in temperatures and intense rain in Malawi over the past 40 years has led to drought and flooding, causing shorter growing seasons, poor crop yields, food shortages, hunger and the spread of disease in a country where 29 percent of people already live in extreme poverty. As women have multiple roles in Malawi as farmers, child carers, providers of food, water and firewood, they are affected most by the changing climate according to the report. Women’s weak position in Malawian society also means that generally they have less access to income and credit and no voice in decision-making, making it difficult for them to find other sources of income or influence action on climate change in Malawi.

Human Rights Council Holds Panel Discussion on Climate Change and Human Rights

The Human Rights Council held a panel discussion on the relationship between climate change and human rights during which participants raised a large number of issues including the barrier that climate change posed to development in some countries; how climate change impactedon the right to life, food, safe water and health, home , land, properties, livelihoods, employment and development; and how the poor in the developing countries were the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and the responsibility of developed countries which had caused the climate change to help them mitigate climate change effectes. Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, in an opening statement, said climate change posed an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and communities around the world. The human impact of climate change was not only related to environmental factors but also to poverty, discrimination and inequalities. The human rights perspective, focusing on the right of everyone to dignified life based on the fundamental principles of inequality and discrimination, was particulary well-suited to analyze how climate change affected people differently.

China’s Toxic Harvest: Noxious Chinese Dryway Believed To Contain Smokestack Contaminants

Since late 2008, media coverage of problems resulting from toxic drywall imported from China has increased rapidly, with more details unfolding. This substandard drywall can be found in as many as 25,000 homes in 13 states in the USA. As homes sustain corrosion in electrical wiring, HVAC units, and even jewelry, their owners experience a myriad of illnesses and symptoms. The effects are particularly hazardous to children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with pre-existing respiratory illness.

Maldives Debates on Climate Injustice at UN

UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday debated, in full-session, on the impacts of climate change on full enjoyment of human rights, especially in vulnerable countries. The debate tabled by the Maldives, sought to portray climate change not solely as a scientific issue, but also as a matter of global injustice and human rights, with the poor and vulnerable suffering because of the pursuit of wealth in richer parts of the world. During the debate the Maldives presented a joint statement on behalf of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) outlining the massive negative impacts of global warming on their communities, calling on large emitting States to honor their international legal obligation not to interfere with the enjoyment of human rights in other countries, and urging UN human rights mechanisms to hold such countries accountable. US, EU, Brazil, China, Canada, Mauritius, Bhutan, Uruguay, UK, Russia, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Philippines, Indonesia and around thirty other States took part in the debate.

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Fiji: Workshop Calls for Laws To Halt Abuse of Women

A workshop on violence against women has sparked calls for legislation encompassing all abuse against women. The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre hosted the Pacific Regional Meeting on Violence Against Women in Fiji last week with 60 attendees from 11 Pacific countries. The Deputy Coordinator of the Centre Edwina Kotoisuva says the links between human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault of women are strong. She says there is much support for an integrated approach in terms of legislation to combat the issues.

Iran: Women on Front Line of Street Protests

The iconography dominating global television coverage of Iran’s biggest demonstrations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution is stunning; women are on the front line of the protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s allegedly frauduletn re-election. It is no surprise. They feel most robbed by his “stolen” victory. “We feel cheated, frustrated and betrayed,” said an Iranian woman in a message circulated on Facebook. Iran’s energetic female activists are using the social networking site to mobilize opposition to Mr. Ahmadinejad. Iranian women also have a dynamic presence on the country’s blogosphere– the biggest in the Middle East–which they are using to keep up popular momentum against the election outcome. Many Iranian women will suspect that a prime reason the election was “stolen” was to keep them in their place. To the regime, their demands for equal rights are inseparable from the opposition’s drive for greater democracy.

Saudi Arabia: A Vow To  Help Women

Human Rights Watch said Friday Saudi Arabia has pledged to improve women’s rights by eliminating gender discrimination. Human Rights Watch said in a release Saudi Arabian leaders have agreed also to attempt to end the country’s current system of male ownership of women and grant women in Saudi Arabia a full legal identity. “Saudi women have waited a long time for these changes,” Nisha Varia, deputy director of the non-governmental organization’s women’s rights division. “Now they need concrete action so that these commitments do not remain words on paper in Geneva, but are felt by Saudi women in their daily lives.” The decision by Saudi Arabian leaders came during a review by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Human Rights Watch said members of the UN recommended in February that Saudi Arabia attempt to improve the rights of the country’s female population.

Turkey: Women’s Groups Urged Mobilization on Gender Equality

Women’s organizations have called for gender equality education for all in society starting from the top levels, including the President and the Prime Minister, and down to the bottom, including private citizens, police officers, judges and prosecutors in the wake of a landmark European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decision that punished Turkey for failing to provide its citizens with bettter protection from domestic abuse. Hulya Gulbahar, chairwoman of the Association for Educating and Supporting Women Candidates (KA-DER) said society needs to be educated on the issue of gender equality to overcome domestic violence. “There must be gender equality education for the whole of society including the President and the Prime Minister,” she said speaking at a press conference organized by the TCK Woman Platform, which had successfully lobbied for changes in the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) to protect women’s rights. Gulbahar added that all ministries should be mobilized to guarantee gender equality.

Pakistan: 56 Percent Women Get Share in Property

According to Gilani Research Foundation survey, 56 percent Pakistanis believe that women in Pakistan get their share in family property while 44 percent claim of women not receiving their due property share. A nationally representative sampleof  men and women from across the country were asked, “In your view, do women in your household or in families around you get their legal share as prescribed by the Islamic Law (Shariah)”? The data reveals that an equal percentage of both men and women believe that women in their family or in other families receive their proper amount of share as prescribed in Islamic Law. It is also seen that a proportionately higher percentage of urbanites that ruralites and respondents from higher income groups have claimed that women in their families or in families around them are given their proper share in the family’s property.

Uganda: Brides Pay Price of Being Bought?

The chilling story of Nathan Awoloi, a hunter from Palisa district in Eastern Uganda who allegedly forced his wife, Jennifer Alupot, to breastfeed puppies, has triggered Ugandan women activists into calling for outlawing the long held tradition of bride-price. Apparently, Awoloi claimed he had paid his two cows which were previously giving him milk to feed his puppies as bride price to his wife’s family, he reasoned that the bride should breastfeed his dogs. The bizarre incident has since led women activists to claim that the practice of bride price has dehumanized, enslaved and trapped women in the hands of men. They wan the ministry of Justice and parliament to push for laws regarding gender equality and bride price to change people’s attitude. The activists are convinced the practice is no longer fashionable.

Malaysia: More Women Choosing Entrepreneurship As Career

More women in Malaysia are choosing entrepreneurship for a career despite the various challenges they face such as lack of financial support and competitiveness in the market, Deputy Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said. She said the government was concerned about these challenges and the relevant ministries has tasked to identify the factors which impeded one from progressing in business. Chew said 99 per cent of the small and medium enterprise companies in the country were involved in the services, manufacturing and agricultural sectors and women owned 16 percent of the companies, primarily in the services sector. 

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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.