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OnlineWomenBulletin, 20 June 2009

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“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

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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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OnlineWomenBulletin 24 Jan 2009

 

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   “My ambition is to see a woman as Mayor of Baghdad. A woman is capable of doing anything she wants. She has the character of a leader, whether at home or as teacher.”

Amina al-Asadi, a primary school teacher running for a seat in Baghdad’s Provincial Council.

 

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Iraq: Women May Win Sits Not Rights in Poll

More than a quarter of the 14,431 candidates registered for Iraq’s provincial council elections are women, but voters see few women’s faces on the poster plastered across their neigborhood. College student, Fatma Imad said “Even if I want a woman, where are these women?” I don’t see any poster for women candidate”. In a January 31 provincial poll that will set tone for a national election due later this year, election law ensures women will be  represented: each party wins seats must give every third spot to a woman. But in a country that was once one of the most progressive for women’s rights in the middle east and where black candidates plan to run for election for the first time, female candidates say the quota gives them a little clout.

Indonesia: Government Backs KPU’s Women Quota

The General Elections Commission (KPU) announced that since they already have the government’s support, it plans to stand firm on its proposal that a government regulation-in-lieu-of-law be issued to ensure that a minimum number of women are elected in the national legislative elections on April 9. State Minister for Women’s Empowerment, Meutia Hatta said the regulation would provide a legal basis for the commission to proceed with its plans to support female candidates. “We have to understand that this is affirmative action”, Meutia said. “The Constitutional Court verdict was a step backward for affirmative action but we hope this move by the KPU will work”. Last month, the court struck down an article in the election law to establish a majority-vote situation, under which successful candidates would be elected based on ranks set by their own parties.

Pakistan: Women Councilors Demand More Representation

Women councilors announced that they would hold a protest in front of the Parliament House on March 8, the World’s Women’s Day, to demand increase in their seats in local, provincial and national assemblies. The announcement was made in a meeting attended by a large number of women councilors, City District Nazim Raja Javed Ikhas, Potohar town Nazim Nawaz Raja and Rafa Foundation Chairman Brig Oayyum  and others.Women Coucilors Network (WCN), which was established with the help of Pattan Development Organization arranged the meeting. The network is operational in 24 districts and 3,000 women councilors are its members. They were asking the government to increase women’s seats from 33 to 50 percent in the legislature. The increase in women’s seats, they said, would help women participate in politics at grassroots level.

Kenya: Women Were Sidelined, says MP

Women MPs have condemned the absence of females from the list of new ambassadors and from a top level team named to streamline the affairs of the Grand Coalition Government. The MPs said the appointments were a blatant violation of the 30 percent representation principle and called on the coalition principles to revise the lists. Addressing a press conference at Parliament buildings, members of the Women Parliamentarians Association, who included cabinet minister, Esther Murugi and nominated MP Millie Odhiambo, said women had to be involved in the reconciliation process.  The minister said that despite presenting a list of over 20 women for appointment to State corporations and ambassadorial jobs, none had been considered.

Liberia: UN Official Applauds Police After A Record Number of Female Officers Graduate

A record number of over 100 newly-trained women police officers, making up two-thirds of the cadets completing the training for the Liberian National Police (LNP) prompted a senior UN official to hail the progress made since the first batch of recruits passed through the gates of the National Police Training Academy for 2005. “LNP now has 3,800 officers trained in modern policing methods and techniques”, said Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, the Deputy Head of the UN Mission in Liberia, speaking at the graduation ceremony. The total exceeds the initial UN target of 3,500 she added, including 150 new officers of which 104 are women, which takes the female representation in LNP to 449 officers or 12.6 percent of its current strength.

Ghana: Former Supreme Court Justice Appointed as First Female Speaker of Parliament

A  former Supreme Court Justice, Joyce Adeline Bamford Addo, has been appointed as the Speaker of the 5th Parliament of the 4th Republic of Ghana. She is the first woman to assume such responsibility. Justice Addo served at the Supreme Court for 16 years before retiring in 2004. The 71-year old legal gem started her early education at Ola Boarding and Government Girls’ school in Cape Coast, Central Region and continued to Holy Child High School also in Cape Coast. From there she proceeded to London to study law and was called to the Inner Temple in 1961 where she continued practicing her trade until 1963 when she returned home. On 27 December 1963 she was appointed Assistant State Attorney and later became Director of Public Prosecution, a position she had until she was elevated to the Supreme Court in 1991.

Bangladesh: Select Women With Disability as MP for Reserved Seats

Speakers at a two-day conference on the “Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)” organized by the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA) demanded steps to select disabled women as members of parliament in the reserved seats and formulate a committee on disability in the parliament to ensure the rights of people with disabilities. They highlighted the discrimination that the physically and mentally challenged people have been experiencing for the lack of a suitable law and for not implementing the UNCRPD. They also made some recommendations so that 10 percent of the population with disabilities can enjoy their rights property.

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New Initiative to Strengthen South Asian Food Security

A major initiative to boost South Asian food security through crop development was launched last week in Manila, Philippines. The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) aims to speed up cereal production in a region where almost half of the children under ficve are malnourished. Announced by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the project will endeavor to develop and deploy new cereal varieties and promote sustainable management technologies and agricultural policies. IRRI says the goal is to produce an additional five million tons of grain annually and increase the incomes of about 6 million farmers by at least US$350 per year.

Research Uncovers Impact of Climate Change

An expedition to trap moths on Mount Kinabalu in Borneo in 1965 has helped to illustrate the growing impact of climate change and underlined the risk of extinction some species face. York University has now repeated the research and found that, on average, species had moved uphill by about 67 meters to cope with changes in climate. The work is believed to be the first demonstration that climate change is affecting the distribution of tropical insects—the most numerous group of animals on Earth–and represents a major threat to global diversity. PhD student I-Ching-Chen—first author of the new study–said, “Tropical insects form the most diverse group of animals on Earth but to date we have not known whether they were responding to climate change.”

Japan Launches Satellite To Track Greenhouse Gases

The first satellite devoted to measuring greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere arrived in space Friday after launching from the island spaceport in Southwestern Japan. The Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite or GOSAT, was deployed from the upper stage of an H-24 rocket about 16 minutes after blast off, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. GOSAT is also nicknamed Ibuki which means “breath” in Japanese. Scientists say greenhouses are akin to Earth’s breath. Greenhouse gases are produced by natural and human sources, including geological activity, biological activity and the burning of fosil fuels. Scientists believe greenhouse gases trapped in Earth’s atmosphere are responsible for rising global temperatures. Carbon gases can trap heat that would normally radiate into space, driving up the planet’s average temperature, according to climate researchers. That was the primary impetus behind the development of the $206 million mission.

Indian Ocean Due Huge Quake “in next 30 years”

The Indian Ocean could be due another massive earthquake within the next 30 years—one that could rival the magnitude of the one that cause the Indian Ocean tsunamin in 2004. Researchers made the prediction after studying corals, which show rings of growth from which past sea levels can be inferred. Earthquakes pushe the land up, depressing the sea level in the area preventing corals from growing upwards. Sea levels then rise as the land subsides, leaving the history of the earthquake imprinted in the coral growth patterns. The scientists analyzed coral growth over the last 700 years in the shallow reefs along the 700-kilometer “Sunda Megathrust fault”– a boundary between tectonic plates off the Mentawal Islands in Western Sumatra, Indonesia.

Vietnam Hosts Regional Workshop on Climate Change

Under the theme “Climate Change Adaptation in Land and Water Management”, experts from Southeast Asian countries and international organizations discussed recommendations for climate change adaptation and management of  land and water resources, which are under severe pressure in most developing countries. The pressure will be further aggravated by the impact of climate change. According to Danish Ambassador to Vietnam, Peter Lysholt Hansen, the one and a half day workshop is part of a Strategic Policy Dialogue process on Climate Change initiated by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Recommendations from the process will serve as input to the climate change negotiations in the upcoming 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15) to the UN Climate Change Convention, scheduled to take place in Copenhagen, Denmark in December this year, he added.

Global Warming Threatens Forests, Study Says

Forests in the Pacific Northwest are dying twice as fast as they were 17 years ago, and scientists blame warming temperatures for the trend, according to the new study. The data for this research was gathered by generations of scientists over a 50-year period at multiple sites in Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and southwestern British Columbia. Seventy-six forest plots, all more than 200 years old, were monitored by scientists doing some of the most rudimentary research—counting trees.

Tajikistan Earthquake Rumor Prompts Renewed Focus on Emergency Preparedness

Thousands of residents in Tajikistan’s capital city of Dushanbe went without sleep one night recently–kept awake by a bogus rumor about an impending earthquake. Non-governmental organization activists says the incident showed that Tajij officials need to improve both the means of disseminating accurate information, as well as enhance  natural disaster preparedness. The trouble began in early January when rumors began to swirl about the city that a major quake was about to strike. One particularly powerful rumor was that a respected, though unnamed scientist had pinpointed the time of the tremor, 3:30 am on January 10. Another rumor had it that a Tajik psychic had gone on Russian television and foretold of a major disaster.

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Schools in Goa, India Witness Gender Disparity

Although Goa boasts of one of the highest literacy rates–between 82 and 83 percent in the country—the state has some gender disparity in education in favor of boys, in the school age population in Goa, as informed by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) for Goa, However, it is now very pronounced, adds the survey. In all, 83 percent of girls aged 6-17 attend school as compared to 87 percent of boys in the same age group, the NFHS-3 informs, pointing out that in both, urban and rural areas, gender disparity in education in favor of boys 2-4 percentage points among children 6-10 years and 11-14 years age groups but increases to 5-6 percentage points among children aged 5-17 years.

Afghan Girls, Scarred by acid, Defy Terror, Embracing School

One morning, two months ago, Shamsia Husseini and her sister were walking through the muddy streets to the local girls school when a man pulled alongside them on a motorcycle and posed what seemed like an ordinary question, “are you going to school?”, then the man pulled Shamsia’s burqa from her head and sprayed her face with burning acid. Scars, jagged and discolored, now spread across Shamsia’s eyelids and most of her left cheek. These days, her vision goes blurry, making it hard for her to read. But if the acid attack against Shamsia and 14 others—students and teachers—was mean to terrorize the girls into staying at home, it appears to have completely failed.

Harsh War in Gaza, Harder Times for Women

It cannot be overstated how unnecessary and illegal this war is. Although Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza strip in September 2005, Israel still controls all of Gaza’s borders, its airspace and territorial waters. Following the Hamas victory in the Palestinian Authority elections in 2005, Israeli and international economic sanctions have been imposed, creating an ongoing humanitarian crisis and since 2007 Gaza has faced total collapse amid an Israeli blockade. The Gaza strip, therefore, not only remains under active Israeli occupation, but is entirely at its mercy. Israel is, and has long been, in flagrant violation of its responsibilities to the people of Gaza under the fourth Geneva Convention.

Women in Developing Countries Denied Choice

In Curtis Sittenfeld’s novel American Wife, the First Lady blackmailed by a former acquaintance into defying her husband’s anti-abortion stance and going public with her own pro-choice views. Leaving blackmail out of it, the incident is based on Laura Bush’s own short statement she believed in a woman’s right to choose. Abortion is as much more political issue in America than in Australia but there is one thing the countries have in common—both have banned spending government aid money on reproductive health. This includes abortions but also some forms of contraception, resulting in many organizations funded by the Federal Government being too scared to run basic family planning programs.

Gender Gap Found in Kidney Transplants

Women are less likely to receive kidney transplants than men, and researchers at John Hopkins have found that this gap primarily affects older women—even though they fare as well or better than men their age after a transplant. The researchers examined data from the United States Renal Data System, including a list of 197 patients who developed end-stage kidney disease from 2000 to 2005 and they calculated the likelihood of getting on a transplant list, adjusting for factors that would affect the patient’s survival after surgery. They found that women 45 and younger were as likely as men to be placed on a transplant waiting list. But as women aged, their chances of getting on the list dropped, getting worse with each decade, said the lead author, Dr. Dorry Segev, a transplant surgeon at John Hopkins.

Feminist Journalist and Activist Killed, VAW Still Nebulous in Nepal

Nepalese feminist Uma Singh, journalist of Radio Today FM was attacked by 15 armed men inside her house on the early evening of January 11, 2009 in Dhanusha, Kathmandu. Because of the gravity of the injuries, her body was disfigured. Singh died on the way to the hospital. Singh had been hosting “Garmagaram Chai”, a radio programme on violence agaisnt women (VAW). Singh often feature letters from listeners, most of whom are VAW survivors. Sometimes the stories of the survivors include the identity or background of the perpetrators. Singh was also an active campaigner, speaking about VAW in various communities. Her colleague, Jyotsna Maskay, programme coordinator for the Women Human Rights Defenders Campaign (WOREC) described Singh as “an active journalist and a woman human rights defender working on the issues of human rights and women’s human rights. Her tool of advocacy was through the radio from where she spoke about VAW openly with defiance”.

Federal Government of Nigeria To Establish A Gender Data Bank

The Federal Government of Nigeria is to establish a National Gender Data Bank (NGDB) that will document the required statistical data necessary for an effective national planning which will guarantee gender parity in public affairs and ensure sustainable national development in the country. The Director General of the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), Dr. Aisha Usman Mahmoud, who announced this when the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Salamatu Suleiman, paid a working visit to the centre recently in Abuja, also stated that the project was expected to serve as an important tool for promoting and monitoring progress towards gender equality and contribute to the national quest for equitable development.

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Making Governance Gender Responsive (MGGR) Training

Inclusive Dates: 23-30 July 2009

Venue: Asian Institute of Management Conference Center Manila (ACCM), Philippines 

Description: Making Governance Gender Responsive (MGGR) is a generic course that can be adapted and modified to suit the needs of the different countries. The goals of the training are: to enhance the participants understanding of gender and development and governance concepts, gain appreciation of gender-related governance issues and concerns, identify gender biases in governance, acquire skills in identifying and analyzing gender biases and concerns through case examples of strategies and practices to address gender biases, identify gender biases in the participants’ sphere of influence (a change management approach) and formulate action plans, both institutional and individual.  

For more information and to download the training’s registration form, please visit: http://www.capwip.org/training/mggr.htm

 

World Wellness Women’s Congress

Inclusive Date: 20-22 March 2009

Venue: Chennai, India

Description: This project is jointly organized by the World Wellness Open University (WWOU) in India, the California Mind and Body International Clinic and the United World for the International Protection of Children and Women’s Rights (UWICR) from USA and Germany. This Congress seeks to bring in women together to create social consciousness and to raise awareness about spiritual, social and economic responsibilities toward health, wellness and safety of women and their children all over the world. It seeks to provide a global platform for women of all nations, cultures and groups, especially those involved in social organizations, wellness and health to help solve the problems of poverty, safety and health and to establish an international network through committees that will be formed during the Congress which in turn will be directing and supporting wellness projects in continents and the next World Wellness Congress in 2010. 

For more information, please visit www.wwwcon.org or send an email to sec@wwwcon.org

2009 Sasakawa Award Call for Nominations

Deadline: 18 March 2009

 

Description: Nominations are now open for the 2009 Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction.  Nominees should be individuals and institutions from around the world who have contributed to building the resilience of nations and communities to natural hazards through innovative practices and outstanding initiatives. In its 20th year of being awarded, the Sasakawa Award has been updated to better reflect the Hyogo Framework for Action, to broaden the group of potential nominees, give greater focus to community-based work and advocacy, and to better reward those who produce sustainable results in disaster risk reduction. 

 

Nominations must be sent to isdr-sasakawa@un.org or visit http://www.unisdr.org/eng/sasakawa/sasakawa.html

Gender and Development (Gender and Organizational Change)

Inclusive Dates: April 20 to May 1, 2009

Venue: University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom

 

Description: This short course is aimed at individuals and teams working on ‘gender mainstreaming’ in the context of their own organisations. The focus is on understanding what needs to change and who does the changing. The course is participatory. Participants work in groups to design case studies rooted in their own projects and programmes. For example, in a recent training course (October 2008), a group of Nigerian Gender Focal Points from different government ministries, developed case studies on access to resources for HIV positive, rural, and trafficked young women and girls in Nigeria.

 

For  more information, please visit http://www.uea.ac.uk/dev/odg/prodev/goc or send email to odg.train@uea.ac.uk