“My first task is to improve the law and order situation and curb food prices. We have been voted to power by people with huge expectations and our responsibility is huge. We will meet those expectations”
Sheikh Hasina Wajed, President of Awami League and the first female elected Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Sheikh Hasina Wajed was sworn in as Bangladesh’s Prime Minister restoring democracy to the impoverished country after almost two years of rule by an army-backed regime. President Iajuddin Ahmed gave the oath at the presidential palace in Dhaka, in a ceremony broadcast live on television as thousands of supporters gathered outside and around giant screens set up around the capital. Hasina, 61 was greeted with rapturous applause as she entered the palace and took the oath in front of some 1,000 foreign diplomats, government officials and members of parliament.
Eva Habil has just become Egypt’s first female Mayor but already she seems relaxed in her pioneering role as she strolls around her community clad in jeans and pink sweaters. “She will be a good leader, just like her ancestors”, says Jamil Guirguis, an elderly man wearing the traditional white galabiyah robe, who made a point of climbing off his donkey to greet the new Mayor. Habil, a 53-year old Christian lawyer, beat five male candidates, including her younger brother, to become Mayor of the predominantly Coptic Christian town of Komboha in Southern Egypt. The appointment of a woman to the top civic role in the community of stockbreeders, defying the trend in the increasingly conservative Muslim nation, was confirmed by the interior ministry in November.
Although Turkey’s political parties have started to nominate candidates for the upcoming local elections amidst talk of increasing women’s involvement in local administrations, there has been a little progress in the cause of equality due to lack of implementation of gender quotas, the huge expense of standing as a candidate and the prevailing image of local administrations as a “man’s business”. Women’s representation in Parliament reached 10% following the July 7, 2007 elections but their involvement in the country’s local administrations remains low.
Women members of the Nepali Constituent Assembly have demanded that women CA members be allowed to chair 50 percent of all the CA-related committees and parliamentary committees to ensure gender balance in constitutional making process. According to the Himalayan Times Daily, there are 14 CA-related committees and 10 parliamentary committees in the CA cum legislature-parliament. The women CA members came up with this demand in a meeting of all the 197 women members representing different parties. They underscored the need to form a caucus of all the women CA members to evolve a common stance on gender equality and issues to be incorporated in the new constitution.
Granted, the words “all men are born equally” were penned June 2, 1784, and since then changes were made to the New Hampshire Constitution to prohibit discrimination and section on the Legislature describes the role of its “members”. But maybe lawmakers say its time to update some of the wording nonetheless. After all, its women running the show now in Concord, marking the first time in United States’ history women make up the majority of a legislative body, in this case the 24-member Senate. Following the November election, the New Hampshire Senate went from 10 to 13 female members and the milestone has been getting a lot of attention.
Various women’s groups in Ghana have expressed their concern about the abysmal performance of women in the recent parliamentary and presidential elections. Indeed, the number of women in parliament would be short by five, leaving only twenty, a situation that has dashed the hopes of Ghana seeing an increase in the number of women in decision-making. In the 2004 elections, 25 out of 100 women who vied for parliamentary seats won, while 20 out of the 103 women won in 2008.
The women’s bill of rights, passed on third reading at the Philippines’ House of Representatives, will help women take charge of many aspects of their lives, according to the bill’s proponent. Quezon City Representative, Nanette Castelo Daza, who chairs the House committee on women and gender equality, said the bill was the local translation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). “I am hoping that this bill will be enacted into law because this will serve as Bill of Human Rights of Filipino women aside from the concretization of the participation of women and their empowerment in all aspects of their lives”, Daza said in a statement. Under the bill, women will see to it that women are treated equally under the law. They will also be given equal access to education, scholarships and training as well as access to information and services on women’s health. They will also be granted equal rights on issues concerning marriage and family relations.
Global warming is increasing the frequency of extremely high clouds in the Earth tropics that can cause severe storms and rainfall, according to a NASA study. The space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said a study by its scientists “found a strong correlation between the frequencies of these clouds and seasonal variations in the average sea surface temperature of the tropical oceans”. “For every degree centigrade (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in average ocean surface temperature, the team observed a 45% increase in the frequency of the very high clouds”, according to the study.
Women are more likely than men be killed by natural disasters such as cyclones, hurricanes, floods and heat waves, which are on the rise as a result of climate change. A sample of 141 countries from 1981 to 2002 found such disasters kill more women then men or women at an earlier age than men. Girls and women are responsible for collecting water and fuel wood. In the poorest areas of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls can spend three to four hours a day on these tasks. Flooding, drought and desertification can extend these burdens geographically, forcing more girls in more communities to abandon their education. Of the 115 million children in the world who do not go to school, 3/5’s are girls and women constitute 75% of the world’s illiterate population.
The barren hillsides give a hint of the inferno underfoot. White smoke billows from cracks in the earth, venting a sulfurous rotten smell in the air. The rocky ground is hot to the touch, and heat penetrates the soles of the shoes. Beneath some rocks, an eerie red glow betrays an unseen hell: the epicenter of a severe underground coal fire. China has the worst underground coal fires of any country on earth. The fires destroy as much as 20 million tons of coal annually, nearly the equivalent of Germany’s entire annual production. Scientists blame uncontrolled coal fires as a significant cause of greenhouse gases, which leads to global warming. Unnoticed by most people, coal fires can burn for years—even decades longer—seeping carbon dioxide, methane and other gases that warm the atmosphere.
Temperatures in the Himalayas are rising by around 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.108 Fahrenheit) annually, according to a long-term study by the Nepalese Department of Hydrology. The rate is far above the global average given last year by the UN’s senior scientists, who said surface temperatures have risen by a total of 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years. On top of the unpredictable weather, other dangers are increasing in Nepal’s mountains because of climate change.
Australia pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% from 2000 levels by 2020 to help fight climate change, in a plan dismissed by critics as “global embarrassment”. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Australia could not afford to sit on the sidelines as the world risked environmental disaster caused by rising atmospheric pollution blamed for global warming. He said the government’s pollution reduction plan, which will include a carbon trading scheme due to start in 2010, was “one of the largest and most important structural reforms in our economy in a generation”. “By the end of 2020, we will reduce Australia’s carbon pollution by between 5% and 15% below 2000 levels,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra.
A team of scientists in Singapore has come up with a new definition of seawater which is set to boost the accuracy of projections from oceans and climate. Oceans help regulate the planet’s weather by shifting heat from the equator to the poles. Changes in salinity and temperature are major forces driving global currents as well as circulation patterns from the surface to the seabed. Understanding exactly how much heat the ocean can absorb and accounting for tiny differences in salinity are crucial for scientist to figure how oceans affect climate and how that interaction could change because of global warming.
Women farmers, despite being one of the biggest labor forces in India, are still fighting for their rights and identity. In India, more than 84% of women are involved in agriculture and/or allied activities. The agricultural sector provides employment to nearly 4/5 of the total women work force in India. One third of the agricultural laborers are women and 48% of the women farmers are considered self-employed in the agriculture sector. According to a study conducted by GEAG, in Uttar Pradesh, 70% of the state’s population is involved in agricultural activities, making it a food surplus state. Women family members of about 80% small and marginal farmers are involved in agricultural activities, yet land holding rights of women farmers are a mere 6.5% out of which a majority of them (81%) go their land after the death of their husband, while only 19% got it from the mother’s side.
An Australian woman who was raped by a U.S. Navy sailor in Japan in 2002 has settled the score, at least for the time being, with her assailant. “Jane” as she calls herself, filed a civil suit against her assailant, a Wisconsin man named Bloke Deans, after police here failed to bring criminal charges against him. In November 2004, she was awarded US$49,555 in compensation from Japan’s Ministry of Defense. Now she’s focused on what she calls her second rape by police officers at the nearby station where she sought help after the attack. The police didn’t literally rape her, but they asked her to re-enact the crime in a way that she says left her feeling doubly assaulted. She is seeking $182,000 in compensation.
Violence against women in South Sumatra rose dramatically in 2008, from 396 cases in 2007 to 568 cases, a year-end report from the Palembang chapter of the Women’s Crisis Center (WCC) has revealed. WCC Executive Director Yeni Roslaini Izi said that cases of domestic violence topped the list, with 210 incidence (39%) compared to 201 in 2007; followed by sexual harassment with 100 cases (18% up from 24 cases in 2007); child molestation with 69 cases (12%); rape with 61 cases (11%) and 47 sundry cases. Of the 210 domestic violence cases, abuses against housewives topped the list with 169 cases followed by 20 cases involving housemaids, 14 cases involving children and 7 incest cases.
Women have moved from those lease affected by HIV to those among whom the disease is spreading the fastest. While the number of men newly infected by HIV has decreased steadily in the past 10 years, the number of women and girls infected has seen a steep increase in Malaysia. While most men are infected through injecting drugs, most infections among women occur through heterosexual intercourse. What is sad, but not shocking, is the fact that the most at risk category of women are housewives.
The top United Nations official in Iraq has called for the urgent establishment of a national legal framework guaranteeing the protection of women, warning that continued gender violence threatens to undermine the country’s families and society. “The situation of women in some parts of the country after years of conflict is very unsatisfactory”, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Staffan de Mistura said in a message issued to mark the International Day on the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
More than 20,000 Maldivian women are subject to abuse of sorts according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family. Fathimath Yumna, Director of the Ministry, revealed that due to increasing number of cases of abuses and injustices being reported to the Ministry, as survey was undertaken in 2006 and that the results indicated more than 20,000 Maldivian women were subject to abuse of various sorts. She also revealed that according to the survey, one out of every 3 women between ages 15 to 40 are a victim of physical or sexual abuse. According to her, Maldivian women are subject to various forms of abuse from the moment of birth till death. Even elderly women and children are also subject of various forms of abuse and injustices by family members and others.
The battle for gender equality proved successful in Venezuela in 2008, according to a parliamentary report claiming that 41.7% of women were nominated for public office. The chairwoman of the parliamentary commission on Family, Women and Youth, Marelis Perez said such figure is an evidence of the process of changes going on under President Hugo Chavez’ administration. Perez recalled that since 1999 gender violence is being fought with the Law on Women’s Rights for a Violence-Free Life, which was enforced in 2008 in 27 special courts. In a press report to the National Assembly, she pointed out that public policy requires social inclusion and better quality of life for women, included mothers in extreme necessities.
Making Governance Gender Responsive (MGGR) Trainings
Inclusive Dates: July 20-27, 2009
Place: 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
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.