Tag Archives: women’s news

Young women fight the ‘Talibanisation’ of rural Pakistan

Much attention has been focused on the process of radicalisation of young men in the areas of Pakistan that border Afghanistan. Peshawar, the town near the border between the two countries, is infamous for being the centre of a vibrant industry and trade in homemade guns. For more than two decades, violence has become the dominant currency of almost every aspect of life in this area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, once known as the North West Frontier Province.

So it takes remarkable courage for a 16-year-old girl to decide to challenge how this culture of violence was reinforcing and strengthening the oppression of women. Eight years on, Gulalai Ismail, now a poised 24-year-old, is running two programmes of work – one on gender empowerment and the other on peacebuilding – from her home in Peshawar, where she grew up. Brought to London by Peace Direct, Ismail was talking to youngsters about her work.

“I set up Aware Girls when I was 16 because all around me I saw girls being treated differently to boys. My girl cousin was 15 when her marriage was arranged to someone twice her age; she couldn’t finish her education while my boy cousins were [doing so]. This was considered normal. Girls have internalised all this discrimination – a woman who suffers violence but doesn’t say anything is much admired in the village as a role model. A good woman submits to her husband or father.

“Aware Girls raised awareness of equal status. We did training that women have human rights, and taught leadership skills and how to negotiate within their families and with their parents to get education and to have control over their own lives.”

Ismail is well aware of how the position of women has deteriorated over the course of her life. “Peshawar used to be very progressive, but after “Talibanisation” it became much more conservative and life is more difficult for my younger sister than it was for me. Just going out to the market is difficult because of the sexual harassment.”

That kind of harassment makes organising training for young women particularly difficult. Ismail and her staff have to strive very hard with communities in the villages where they work to build trust that if daughters attend the training they will be safe. Parents worry that their daughters will be “westernised” and forget their “cultural values”. For a recent training course on political leadership to help boost the participation of women in politics, Aware Girls had to organise 20 local community meetings to identify the 30 girls who eventually went on the course. Working in remote rural areas requires considerable patience and time, but Ismail is not interested in the easier option of working only in urban areas.

It was the gender work that came first, but Ismail soon realised the close relationship between gender and peace. “In training, a woman told the story of how her 12-year-old son was taken away to Afghanistan by the militants, and 10 months later he was dead. That made me think that we must stop these young people joining the militants.”

The result was the Seeds of Peace network, which Ismail set up last year and which has trained 25 young people. They, in turn, will train another 20, to slowly expand a network across 10 districts of the province. She believes each person can reach 500 young people to promote tolerance and challenge extremism.

“They identify young people in the community who might be vulnerable to militants and they organise study circles to discuss the causes and consequences of conflict and the history of Talibanisation. We talk about tolerance for people of other faiths,” says Ismail.

Almost every aspect of children’s upbringing is affected by extremism. Even the school textbooks urge children to be ready for jihad, says Ismail, and all around are songs and films that glorify war, martyrdom and violence.

“Seeds of Peace aims to give another perspective by getting people to think about human rights. Peace is not just the absence of war, it is about respect and tolerance – and women have an important role in educating their children.”

Ismail is well aware that her work challenges the Taliban’s power, and that brings dangers. She is also aware that there are huge political issues involved in the radicalisation of the region where she lives, but believes that a grassroots community challenge to a culture of extremist intolerance is also a crucial part of the search for peace. Both high-level political negotiation and community participation are required in conflict resolution.

Peace Direct’s Ruairi Nolan backs up Ismail’s analysis of a peace process, using the analogy of political negotiation as the bricks and community engagement as the cement that hold the bricks together. Pointing to Northern Ireland’s experience, he suggests that several decades of community peacebuilding was a crucial precondition to the success of the political process that culminated in the Northern Ireland agreement.

At international conferences, Ismail has met counterparts from Uganda, Sri Lanka and many other parts of the world. Despite the very different forms of conflict, she can see plenty of similarities in the work they are doing – and she says that gives her hope.

OnlineWomenBulletin 07 June 2009

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” It would be my endeavor that I am completely impartial in my conduct and I will give opportunity to all members to express their views. There should be meaningful debate in the house. My election to this post showed India’s indication of giving women their due recognition. These are indicators of a genuine intention to make the position of women stronger in India.”

Meira Kumar, India’s First Woman Speaker of the Parliament

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India: Meira Kumar Becomes First Woman Speaker

Meira Kumar was unanimously elected the Lok Sabha Speaker on Wednesday, becoming the first woman to hold the post. While Congress president Sonia Gandhi proposed her name, and Leader of the House and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee seconded it, leaders of other parties—BJP’s L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj, Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Banerjee, DMK’s T R Baalu, SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav, JD (U)’s Sharad Yadav, NCP’s Sharad Pawar and NC’s Farooq Abdullah—lent their support to her candidature. With no other candidates, Meira was elected unopposed amidst thumping of desks. She was escorted to the Speaker’s podium by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia and Advani. And in her first action as Speaker, Meira expunged the remakrs of RJD Chief Lalu Prasad and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav as they engaged in verbal duel. Hailing her election as a historic moment, the Prime Minister referred to his association with Meira’s father, Jagjivan Ram, and said she possessed the wisdom, knowledge and experience which defined his personality.

Pakistan: Women in Parliament Push for Space

“Politics is no rocket science,” says Yasmeen Rehman, a woman parliamentarian in Pakistan’s Lower House, adding, “It is not as difficult as it is made out to be.” A new study by Aurat Foundation (AF), a women’s group that evaluates women MPs performance between 2002 t0 2007, is full of praise for female lawmakers. Rehman lead a group of 25 MPs as the most active on the floor of the house in making the most interventions. Women account for 21.6 percent of MPs in Pakistan’s parliament. In 2002, the figure was slightly lower at 21.1 percent. But it still compares favourably with the rest of Asia, where female participation in parliament was calculated at 17.8 percent, by the Geneva-based Inter Parliamentary Union. The global avergage was 18.3 percent in 2008. The year 2002 was a watershed in women’s political representation in Pakistan. For the first time, they got 17 percent representation in both the national and provincial assemblies based on nominations by their parties.

Indonesia: New Female Envoy to Ukraine Vows To Boost Economic Ties

Diplomacy was a man’s world until recently. Women, who constitute half of the world’s population, have slowly but surely made their way to the highest positions in diplomacy. Indonesia is no exception to this global trend. Indonesia’s new ambassador to Ukraine, Nining Suningsih Roechadiat, says gender is no longer an issue in modern-day diplomacy. “More and more women are joining the foreign service. Gender equality is very good in the Indonesian Foreign Ministry. We have three women in the highest rungs of the ministry now,” Ambassador Nining told the Jakarta Post  in a recent interview in Jakarta. Nining epitomizes an Indonesian woman. She is a religious person and wears Islamic attire. Like most Indonesians, she mixes religion with modernity. She sent her three children to the Netherlands for their education. She joined the Foreign Ministry in 1975, has worked in Britain and Singapore and has held several positions at the Foreign Ministry and the Office of the State Minister for Women Empowerment.

Lebanon: Quota or Not

When six women were elected to Lebanon’s 128-member Parliament in 2005, female representation doubled to an all-time national high of 4.7 percent. This figure falls for short of the 17.2 percent global average and ranks Lebanon 125th out of 136 countries in terms of female parliamentary representation. To rectify this representational imbalance, the 2006 National Commission on Parliamentary Electoral Law Reform (known as the Boutros Commission) suggested that each party list in the proposed proportional representation constituencies include at least 30 percent female candidates. When the Boutros Commission’s proportional representation system failed to be implemented in the Parliamentary Election Law adopted in August 2008, the proposed female quota was shelved. Abla Kadi, coordinator of a UNDP project, believes a quota for female candidates should be implemented temporarily. “We don’t believe in the quota as a permanent solution, but we believe that it will be a stepping stone toward accepting female representatives in parliament,” Kadi said.

Cambodia: Mu Sochua, One of Cambodia’s Precious Gems

When Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly insulted an unspecified female politician recently, he got more than he bargained for. His implied target turned around and sued him. The prime minister’s insult might be considered typical in a country with continuing gender inequality, but that didn’t  mean Mu Sochua was going to take it lying down. For 20 years, Sochua has been a voice for exploited Cambodians. As the Vietnam War spread to Cambodia in 1972, the then 18-year old was exiled, with no chance to say goodbye to her parents, who later vanished under the Khmer Rouge regime. She spent 18 years overseas, studying and working in Paris, the US and Italy and in refugee camps along the Thai-Cambodian border. Since her return in 1989, she has been hands-on in rebuilding her homeland, first as an activist and now as a politician, focusing on women’s and children’s issues. “I had the choice of being part of the reconstruction of Cambodia and I took that choice,” said Sochua, a member of parliament for the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), the leading opposition to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

Bangladesh: Special Budgetary Allocation for Women Development Demanded

Speakers at a pre-budget views-sharing meeting on Tuesday, called for special budgetary allocation for women development in the greater interest of mainstreaming them in the nation-building process. In this regard, they also viewed that withouth enhanced allocation in the budget, development of the vulnerable section of the society along with ensuring their legitimate rights could not be possible. ” There are no rules and regulations to obstruct women to take part in any social development work but the existing social practice has been blamed for creating the hindrance,” they said adding that emphasis should be given on creating a sound working environment for them as they constitute half of the total population. Rajshahi district and Rajshahi University units of Bangladesh Mohila Parishad (BMP) jointly hosted the meeting titled “Want specific allocation in the 2009-2010 budget for women development” at the conference hall of Gender Development and Resource Center.

UAE: Continue To The Path of Women Revivalism

The United Arab Emirates  reiterated before the world community, its determination to continue the march in the path of women revivalism. Addressing the annual full-day discussion of the Human Rights Council women’s human, the permanent representative of the UAE at the United Nations Office in Geneva Obeid Salem Al Za’abi said that since the formation of UAE under the presidency of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the leadership of the country was fully aware of the fact the women is an equal partner in the process of national development. The leadership of the country, inspired by its faith in gender equality, adopted a strategy of empowering women in cultural, social and economic fields, Al Za’abi said.




India’s Electrifying Women

In India, teams of “barefoot solar engineers” are bringing electricity to rural villages. The project—- part of a larger campaign to help Indian villagers be self-sufficient–trains women to build and maintain solar energy units. The solar power initiative is run by Barefoot College in Tilonia, a village in Rajasthan, India. Founded by Indian activist Bunker Roy in 1972, the college helps Indian village become self-sufficient and puts special emphasis on developing women’s skills. “Many have been inspired by women in nearby villages who left for Tilonia with hope and returned grasping the power of light,” reports by Sathya Saran in an article for Ms Magazine. “Most of the women are unlettered, extremely poor and often widowed or abandoned. But their eyes blaze with newfound confidence. “Rural women from India, Afghanistan, Ghana and Syria are trained at the college and then dispatched to train other village women—who in turn pass on their knowledge–to construct and run solar energy units.

Telstra Women Join “1 Million Women” on World Environment Day

Three (3) of Telstra’s most senior female executives are urging the thousands of Telstra women to join the 1 Million Women campaign to cut 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, CO2, in the global effort to tackle climate change. As Ambassadors for the 1 Million Women campaign, Telstra’s Andrea Grant, Group Managing Director, Human Resources; Holly Kramer, Group Managing Director Telstra Product Management; and Amanda Johnston-Pell, Executive Director Brands and Marketing Communications are uniquely placed to harness the power of two formidable resources—women and telecommunications—to help reduce Australia’s carbon emissions. As Telstra’s Head of HR, Andrea Grant says care for the environment is a Telstra priority and environmental initiatives have always been well supported by Telstra staff. Telstra is Australia’s leading telecommunications and information services company.

Climate Change is Sexist

Women make up 70 percent of the world’s poorest people, pointed out Sirkka Haunia, Finland’s chief negotiator. More women die in weather-related natural disasters. ” Seventy percent of subsistence farmers in my country are women,” said William Kojo Agyemang-Bonsu, Ghana’s chief negotiator. “When climate changes rainfall patterns, they will be the ones who will be most negatively affected.” There is no quick fix to overcoming climate change’s sexist tendencies. As several int meeting pointed out, it is akin to a running a marathon or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. “It’s a sad state of affairs when only 16 percent of the scientists in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are women,” said a female  member of the IPCC, the body charged with assessing the state of climate change science for policymakers.

Climate Change Now “Biggest Global Health Threat”

Climate change is currently the biggest global health threat, a leading medical journal has said, noting that water scarcity, shifting food resources and extreme weather will drastically affect the world’s poor unless development efforts are stepped up. “We call for a public heath movement that frames the threat of climate change for humankind as a health issue,” said an editorial in The Lancet medical journal. “Apart from a dedicated few, health professionals have come late to the climate change debate.” The poor are more at risk from the connections between climate change and public health, explained the independent research organization, Worldwatch. The indirect effects of water scarcity, shifting food resources and extreme weather now cause about 150,000 deaths each year in low-income countries.

Climate Change Claims 300,000 Lives A Year, Report Warns

The “silent crisis” of climate change already claims an estimated 300,000 lives a year around the world with annual deaths expected to reach half a million by 2030, a report published in London warned. Rising temperatures due to the changing climate already affected the lives of 325 million people around the globe—a figure  set to rise to 660 million or 10 percent of the world’s population in 20 years’ time, the report by the Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF) said. Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, President of GHF, described climate change as the “greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time”, at the launch in London Friday. “Climate change is a silent human crisis”, said Annan. It caused suffering for hundreds of millions of people, most of whom were not even aware that they were victims. The world’s poorest people, particularly women and children, were the worst hit, “although they have done least to contribute to the problem.” The report, entitled The Anatomy of A Silent Crisis was published ahead of preparatory talks in Bonn, Germany, on a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012.

Climate Change Poses Threat To Mid-East Security

Climate change poses potential threat to security that could lead to conflict in the Middle East, a report presented Tuesday at the American University of Beirut (AUB) by Oli Brown of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), says. Brown co-wrote the report, which is entitled “Rising Temperatures. Rising Tensions: Climate Change and the Risk of Violent Conflict in the Middle East”. Brown said the report’s aim was to explore potential connections between climate change and conflict in the region and to generally raise awareness of the issue. He added that IISD had conducted fieldwork on climate change and conflict in West Africa, and that the potential linkages between the two issues were comparatively “more serious” in the Middle East than in West Africa.

Africa Plans New Strategies To Combat Climate Change

Six (6) months before the crucial negotiations on climate change in Copenhagen, African Ministers of Environment meeting here Friday attained a major milestone on the road for combating climate change on the continent. The Nairobi Declaration adopted at the just-ended special session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) on climate change highlighted major challenges and opportunities in the negotiations for a more equitable climate regime. The Declaration provides African countries with a platform to make a strong case for support at Copenhagen 2009. The declaration reminded all parties and particularly the international community that increased support for Africa should be based on the priorities for Africa which include adaptation, capacity building, financing and technology development and transfer.

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Afghanistan: The Way Forward For Afghan Women

After thirty (3o) years of war and destruction, Afghanistan remains on the bottom of the human development index, with the worst social indicators among women. The way to empower women in Afghanistan’s traditional society is through enhancing their access to primary and higher education inside or outside the country. In the United States and Europe, women were not fully enfranchised as early as last century— until they were able to acquire higher education and became financially independent. Afghanistan has much to do to catch up. Indeed, Afghanistan’s economy could hardly grow on a sustainable basis without half of its population contributing to the reconstruction and development of the country.

Fiji: NGO Says Report Show Deterioration of Pacific Women’s Status

A women’s community organization based in Fiji says its report on women, peace and human security shows deterioration in teh status of women across the Pacific. The coordinator of Femlink Pacific says it’ll present the first quarter report for this year to a meeting of regional women’s community media networks. The meeting brings together peace women from Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Fiji. Sharon Bhagwan Rolls says she hopes the report prompts Pacific countries to improve women’s security. “When we’re correlating the human security framework if you look at the issue of personal security of women closely linked to that is the issue of violence to women and the threat to women. So rape is high on the agenda of just some of the very real threats that women are living under. You know in Fiji in January the news was the gang rape of a young girl so those are just some of the issues that are coming through not  just from our own women media’s network but being reported through the mainstream media as well.”

Cambodia: Women in Health Battle

In Cambodia, five (5) women die every day because of inadequate health care during childbirth–making it a leading cause of death among women of child-bearing age. The government is trying to improve the health services but it is proving a long slow process. Lvea Village, in north-western Cambodia, is a collection of wooden stilt-houses along a dirt track, hectic with dogs, piglets and chickens. Most of the women there have been told to have their babies in the local health centre. So one woman , Low’t, went into labour recently with her ninth child, she made her way there too. Eighty percent of Cambodia’s population lives in rural areas and the public health system is weak. In recent years, the government has made it a priority to strengthen its network of trained midwives. They now attend more than half of all births–a significant increase. Many local clinics function better even if they’re still poorly equipped. But midwives are paid very little—and can be distracted by running private businesses too.

Bangladesh: Single  Mother Caned Over Paternity Row

A 22-year old unmarried Bangladeshi woman who was caned 39 times for alleging a neighbour was the father of her son is fighting for her life in hospital, police said. The case has shocked the impoverished Muslim-majority nation, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordering the woman to be shifted from her village home to the capital for proper medical treatment. Local police chief Moshiur Rahman told AFP that the woman, from Comilla, 70 kilometers (43 miles) east of the capital Dhaka, had angered Islamic clerics when she told friends that a neighbour had fathered her six-year old son. They called her and the alleged father to appear before a makeshift Islamic court, but the man denied paternity claim, Rahman said.

Philippines: Sending of More Women Peacekeepers

The Philippines will deploy more women for the United Nations peacekeeping efforts given this year’s UN theme of greater involvement of women in peacekeeping missions, according to Foreign Secretary Roberto Romulo. “Filipino peacekeepers are recognized by the United Nations for their outstanding performance and tireless commitment to maintain global peace and security,” Romulo said during the observance of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers at the Department of Foreign Affairs on Friday. He assured the UN that woman peacekeepers were at par with their male counterparts.

USA: Women Led-Firm Coping Better With Recession

Challenged by the economic downturn, Rachel Sapoznik knew she had to get creative. Sapoznik, wanted to continue growing revenue at her employee benefits business, but she wasn’t willing to cut staff. Instead, she needed to think strategic. She began looking harder for new customers, selling more products to her existing accounts and creating alliances with other firms who will recommend her services. “I’ve done everything in my power to be proactive, to be out there,” said Sapoznik, CEO of Sapoznik Insurance in North Miami Beach. “If I had debt, forget it.” Her strategy is in line with most women leaders in Florida. A survey released Thursday shows women-led businesses are surviving the recession than most other businesses, according to Florida International University’s Center for Leadership and The Commonwealth Institute South Florida. The reason: women-led businesses traditionally have taken on little debt and therefore have the flexibility to maneuver during tough times. Instead of going to banks for help, women leaders are overcoming challenges by using their own cash from operations to finance growth.

Asia: Women Workers Hit Hard By Economic Slump

Across Asia women are bearing the brunt of the global economic downturn as export manufacturers shed workers. The United Nations’ International Labor Organization and labor rights groups say Asian governments need to boost social protection programs for women and workers vulnerable to the global recession. Asia’s export-driven growth over the past 30 years had drawn millions of women into the work force, making consumer goods for the world. The work lifted families out of poverty and gave women greater independence and opportunities. Now the global economic downturn means tens of thousands of women are losing their jobs, as slow demand forces factories making everything from clothes to electronics to shut down. Kee Beom Kim, an economist with the ILO, says women in export industries the region are especially vulnerable to the current economic climate. Kim says the consequences are wide ranging.



OnlineWomenBulletin 23 May 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran: Will It Get A Female President? 

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

New Zealand: Women Learn About Leadership

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

Indonesia: More Women Lawmakers But Change Not Their Agenda

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

Lebanon: Where Are Our Women MPs?

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

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

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




Climate Role Is Urged For Women

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

Women-Led Recycling Initiative Wins An International Environment Prize

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

More Women Think Warming Occurring

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

Solahart Industries Urge Australian Women To Fight Against Climatic Change

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

Living With Disasters in Bangladesh

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

India Gears Up for Battle on Climate Change Funds

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

Asia-Pacific Nations Agree To Protect Reef Network

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

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Philippines: “Reduce Maternal Deaths”—UNICEF

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

Bangladesh: Sexual Harassment Ban Introduced

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

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

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

Viet Nam: Narrowing Gender Gaps

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

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

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

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

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

Indonesia: Economy in Very Good Hands

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

Spread the Word to Protect Cambodian Activist Mu Sochua


Cambodian member of parliament and women’s rights advocate Mu Sochua is in imminent danger of arrest following unfounded accusations of defamation against Cambodia’s prime minister.

As the government votes to lift Mu Sochua’s immunity, spread the word and raise awareness about her struggle for justice by passing along the following letter, written by Mu Sochua herself.

As I Walk to Prison

Between 1975-79, over 1.7 million Cambodian women, men and children were killed by the Khmer Rouge, among them my parents. The world community knew about it but watched from afar. Cambodia has come out of genocide and on the road to reconstruction but this stage of reconstruction is stuck and in many ways quickly falling back to point zero. 30 years after the genocide of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia has made some progress but too small. Over 2,000 innocent Cambodian women die every year of childbirth, at least one million Cambodian children go to bed hungry every night, hundreds of thousands Cambodian children and female youth are ruined in brothels, over 200,000 families have been brutally forced of their land and homes, and over 75% of Cambodia’s forests have now been destroyed. Innocent lives of my people could be saved if justice were served, if top leaders of my broken nation were less greedy, if development were meant for all.

I left Cambodia as an innocent young adolescent because the Vietnam war was approaching and hundreds and thousands of sick, wounded and hungry families were already telling us that Cambodia was lost. I returned home 18 years later with two young children, to a nation in ruins. A new beginning gave us hope when the UN came to help Cambodia organize its first democratic election in 1993. It cost the world community 2 billion dollars. I became a leader in the women’s movement, moving communities and walking the peace walk in city streets and dirt roads to pray for non-violence. I joined politics and became the first woman to lead the women’s ministry that was lead by a man, campaigned nationwide to put an end to human trafficking, authored the draft law on domestic violence, signed treaties with neighboring countries to protect our women and children from being prosecuted as illegal migrants but to receive proper treatment as victims of sex slavery.

I witness violence not as a victim but I listen to hundreds and thousands of women and children speak of the shame, the violation, the soul that is taken away when violence is afflicted on their bodies and on their minds. As a politician I always try to take action, to walk to the villages where life seems to have stopped for centuries, I challenge the top leadership of the government – I question international aid.

Today, I am faced with the real possibility of going to jail because as self-defense I dare to sue the prime minister of Cambodia, a man who has ruled this nation for 30 years. Having been assaulted to the point where I stood half exposed in front of men, by a general I caught using a state car to campaign for the party of the prime minister, I found myself assaulted again, this time verbally by the prime minister who compares me to a woman hustler who grabbed men for attention.

Within days my parliamentary immunity will be lifted so the court can “investigate” my case. This is normal procedure for politicians from the opposition party or human rights activists or the poor who cannot bribe court officials. I will be detained in the notorious prison of “Prey Sar” for as long as the courts wish to take.

Many of my colleagues in the opposition, including my party leader have faced this fate for speaking out.

Cambodia receives close to a billion dollars in 2009 from the international community, the USA contributing close to 60 million. Is the world still watching in silence while Cambodia is now ruled by one man? Is the world afraid to say that its aid is actually taking Cambodia backwards?

Let no Cambodian children go to bed hungry anymore. Let no Cambodian woman be sold anymore.

We must walk tall despite being people bent from the trauma of the Khmer Rouge, which is still a part of us. Let us not let our leaders and the world-community use this trauma to give us justice by the teaspoon.

Let there be real justice.

Mu Sochua
Elected Member of Parliament
Sam Rainsy Party

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OnlineWomenBulletin 24 Jan 2009


she said

   “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.



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.




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