SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Hundreds of Yemeni women have set fire to a pile of female face and body veils on a main street in Sanaa to protest the government's brutal crackdown against the country's popular uprising.
The act of women burning their clothing is a symbolic Bedouin tribal gesture signifying an appeal for help to tribesmen.
Wednesday's protest comes as clashes intensify between forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and renegade fighters who have sided with the opposition in demands that the president step down.
Medical and local officials say up to 25 civilians, tribal fighters and government soldiers died overnight in Sanaa and the city of Taiz despite Saleh's ceasefire announcement late Tuesday.
Saleh has clung to power in the face of more than nine months of massive protests against his rule.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's president on Tuesday called in the U.S. ambassador and told him he would sign a deal to step down, a U.S. official said. The embattled leader, who has made that pledge several times before, spoke as violence shook his capital.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh informed Ambassador Gerald Feierstein of a new cease-fire, but clashes on the streets threw that into doubt. Activists said seven protesters were killed and 10 wounded.MORE
(CNN) -- Kenyan Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize, died Monday of an unspecified illness. She was 71.
"It is with great sadness that the Green Belt Movement announces the passing of its founder and chair, Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai, after a long illness bravely borne," her organization said.
Maathai, an environmentalist, had long campaigned for human rights and the empowerment of Africa's most impoverished people.
More than 30 years ago she founded the Green Belt Movement, a tree-planting campaign to simultaneously mitigate deforestation and to give locals, especially women and girls, new purpose. They have since planted more than 40 million trees.
In 2004, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote sustainable development, democracy and peace. She was the first woman from the continent to win the prize.
"Her departure is untimely and a very great loss to all of us who knew her—as a mother, relative, co-worker, colleague, role model, and heroine—or those who admired her determination to make the world a peaceful, healthy, and better place for all of us," said Karanja Njoroge, executive director of the Green Belt Movement.
Born in Nyeri, Kenya, on April 1, 1940, Maathai blazed many trails in her life.
She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. In December 2002, she was elected to Kenya's parliament with an overwhelming 98% of the vote.MORE
DELHI, India (WOMENSENEWS)--It is a mellow December morning in Delhi. Soft sunlight filters through the trees that line the boulevards of the city's stately Krishna Menon Marg neighborhood.
Suman Krishan Kant, however, is oblivious to the tranquillity outside the windows of her well-appointed bungalow.
The prominent social activist is reviewing and paying bills while files wait on the table for her attention. The elegant waiting room outside is beginning to fill in with men and women hoping to meet with her and enlist her advocacy with government agencies on their behalf. One of them, for instance, is a widow who hopes Kant will help her application for an increase in her pension.
It is the beginning of another working day for the president of the country's all-women's political party.
In October, Kant, the widow of former vice president Krishan Kumar Kant, joined with other influential women to launch the United Women's Front to address issues such as women's illiteracy, early marriage and tokenism in parliament, where women hold just 8 percent of seats. To qualify for official party status, the group had to muster at least 100 members and pay about $300 in registration fees.
( Read more... )
Boy, 16, dies in hospital after sustaining gunshot wound during mass demonstrations against Chile's president, Sebastián Piñera
Seeking Social Justice Through Education in Chile
The ongoing student protests in Chile are an unwavering accomplishment aimed at combating the social injustice riddling the country's education system. What started out as a series of peaceful protests has become a manifestation of unity between students, artists and much of the general population in a stance defying the current government’s position regarding social class, cultural difference and political division with regard to education.
Upon assuming power in a military coup that ousted President Salvador Allende, General Augusto Pinochet implemented a series of policies that spelled poverty for the working class. To this day, remnants of the military dictatorship are evident in Chile. Upon Milton Friedman’s advice, Pinochet altered the education system in Chile. Responsibility for public schooling was transferred from the Ministry of Education to public municipalities. Private schools were financed by the voucher system in proportion to student enrolments. The elite families began enrolling their children into schools which charged for enrolment. No effort was made on behalf of the government to improve the curriculum, education quality or management, resulting in a society which, for decades had to contend with social class division within education.
Private universities meant excessive tuition fees, causing students and their families to incur debts whilst education quality was barely improved. Universities were mostly attended by students from the middle class and higher income families. Impoverished areas had no access to quality education, with low income families obliged to send their children to public schools where no incentives, such as better working conditions for teachers were offered, to promote and enhance student educational performance. Discrepancy in Chile’s education system led to society incurring yet another split. The current system exploits class as well as cultural differences. Low income families have no option but to send their children to public municipal schools. Mapuche people living in rural areas having to contend with an inferior education as well as lack of intercultural awareness.
For instance, if the protests were being held by a Mapuche girl, I wonder what the response to her by the world's media would have been?
Camila Vallejo's call for better and cheaper education has seen student protests transform into a two-day nationwide shutdown
( Read more... )
In Chile, Dissent Has A Woman’s Face
( Read more... )
Ya know? Yes, she's beautiful. And the fact that the media are falling all over themselves to note that, ignoring that they would have ignored her if she wasn't? PISSES ME OFF. Also, teh GUardian keeps going "protests turned violent" completely erasing who turns the protests violent ...THE FUCKING POLICE.
We are prepared to give our lives for education High school kids on hunger strike
SANTIAGO, Aug 25, 2011 (IPS) - As students and teachers continue their massive protests in the streets of Chile's cities, one of the most extreme methods of demanding higher-quality, free public education is the hunger strike being undertaken by 28 youngsters at secondary schools across the country, four of whom have not taken food for nearly 40 days. One teenage girl in the south of Chile had to be urgently admitted to hospital on Tuesday, Aug. 24 in unstable condition, and last week another young woman in Santiago required medical attention. Several of the hunger strikers have lost 10 kg or more.
The government of rightwing President Sebastián Piñera, under heavy pressure from the ongoing demonstrations, is attempting to pass on responsibility for solving the crisis to Congress. Its proposals have so far been characterised as insufficient by the teachers and students fighting for radical changes to the education system. To cap Piñera's problem, social grievances have expanded beyond the issue of education, and Thursday was the second, and last, day of a nationwide general strike called by the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, the main union federation, to demand structural changes in the political and economic system, that was also joined by 80 other social organisations and opposition parties. The protest by students and teachers has lasted over three months so far, making it the longest demonstration since 1990, which marked the end of a 17-year dictatorship that in its dying days imposed the present education structure, which subsequent democratic administrations have left unmodified.
Education Minister Felipe Bulnes was particularly critical of the hunger strike, saying it "does not solve any of our problems; in fact, it only complicates the situation." Francia Gárate, an 18-year-old in her final year of secondary school, joined the hunger strike over a week ago and told IPS they were fasting "so that they take us seriously." "I would ask (Piñera) to realise that we are not playing games; he should wake up, because what we are doing is not a game, and we are prepared to give our lives for education," Gárate emphasised. MORE
'Men Have Failed Zambia, Now Is the Time for a Woman' Ephraim Nsingo interviews Zambia’s female presidential candidate EDITH NAWAKWI
LUSAKA, Aug 10, 2011 (IPS) - In Zambia’s highly patriarchal society Edith Nawakwi, 52, has broken a few records on the political scene over the last two decades. And she broke another one on Sunday by being the only female candidate to file for nomination to run for president in Zambia’s upcoming elections.
All candidates are required to file nomination papers with the country’s Supreme Court to get legal confirmation that they are standing as a presidential candidate. Come election day on Sept. 20, about 17 candidates will battle it out to lead the country. Nawakwi is well-known in Zambian politics. In 1997 she became the first woman in southern Africa to be appointed as a minister of finance. The former member of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) left it in 2001 when she and other officials opposed then President Fredrick Chiluba’s bid for a third term.
They formed the Forum for Democratic Development (FDD) and Nawakwi was elected as the party’s first vice president. In 2005 she became the first Zambian woman to lead a political party when she was elected president of the FDD.
Excerpts from the interview follow.
Q: You have just filed for nomination as a presidential candidate. What was going through your mind?
A: As I went to file my nomination, as I walked up to the Chief Justice, I asked myself ‘Why am I doing this?’ I was (asking) myself ‘am I equal to the task?’ But when I looked at my supporters and their excitement, it helped me appreciate the trust. I believe Zambia is ready for a woman to be president. Only a woman can bring about real change in this country. MORE
Proposals to radically re-formulate the constitution of Honduras need to incorporate the experiences and perspectives of indigenous and Afro-Honduran women, declared Berta Cáceres, a longtime feminist indigenous activist and an organizer of the Constitutional Assembly Self-Organized by Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women. The historic event, which is taking place July 10-14, 2011 in Copán Ruinas, will include indigenous and Afro women delegates from all over Honduras, said Cáceres, who is also coordinator of COPINH (Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations in Honduras).
Many of these women have been front and center in the popular resistance movement against the repression following the coup d’etat in their country in June, 2009, struggling against assaults on their lands, sovereignty, natural resources and cultures. Likewise, many have been specifically targeted as leaders in these struggles with aggressive and violent assaults and detentions by police and private security forces.
Along the northern coast of Honduras, there are 48 Garifuna communities “who are suffering an accelerated expulsion from our territories that we have inhabited for 214 years,” said Miriam Miranda of OFRANEH (National Fraternal Organization of Black Hondurans) in a public letter she released after being violently detained and assaulted by security forces in March, 2011 for her role as a leader in the resistance. Communal lands of the Garifuna have been subject to widespread privatization as part of massive development plans by the government and World Bank to create big tourist resorts and “model cities.” The Garifuna are matrilocal, meaning the land has been traditionally passed along matrilineal lines, so this massive assault on communal lands has hit women particularly hard (Vacanti Brondo, 2007).MORE
Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women: Autonomy and an End to Violence Against Us
Final Declaration of Constituent Assembly Self-Organized by Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women
From the rhythmic beat of powerful drums and ancient spiritual songs that echoed through the sacred ruins of the Mayan Chortí in Copan in western Honduras, the three-day event ended with hundreds of indigenous and Afro- Honduran women demanding autonomy and an end to the colonization of their lands, their bodies, their lives, and ways of doing politics.
The Final Declaration of Copán Galel of the Self-Organized Constituent Assembly of Indigenous and Afro-Honduran women denounced the “violence, repression and domination of women operating through capitalism, patriarchy and racism,” said Berta Caceres, coordinator the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), in an interview with Escribana.
Caceres was also one of the organizers of the Assembly, which took place July 11 to 13, 2011 in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. The Assembly involved an intensive dialogue on the realities of life of the 300 participating women whose cultures, lands, natural resources and the country have been under siege that intensified since the military coup in June 2009.
Since then, the government, the powerful elites and transnational corporations have been using the “Shock Doctrine” (Naomi Klein) to promote a rapid re-engineering of business, economic policies and all policies before people have opportunity to react. (Http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-
For Honduras, this has meant immediate and aggressive plans for mass-tourism projects, mega-projects such as hydroelectric dams and the expansion of mining, agribusiness and forestry, all involving the confiscation of indigenous and Afro lands.
Israel Daphne Leef:How a woman in a tent became Israel's Top Story
Until recently nobody had heard of Daphni Leef. Now, everybody in Israel knows the 25-year-old's face and her cause. Just a few weeks ago, Leef was waiting tables. Now, her schedule has become such that she cannot help keeping people waiting. This interview was meant to take place at 11am but did not start until 5pm. Among things that might have distracted her was the small matter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu putting everything on hold to respond to her demands.
Even after the interview started, we were interrupted by well-wishers, delighted to see her in the flesh sitting outside a Tel Aviv café. A young man wanted a hug; a little old lady wanted to have her picture taken with Leef. And upon hearing her voice a blind woman halted her guide dog and chatted excitedly.
So what did Leef do to bring her such national attention? She got chucked out of her flat. And then wrote on Facebook. Just over a month ago she was told that she needed to leave her Tel Aviv apartment because the building was slated for redevelopment. She started looking for a new home, and was shocked to find how expensive rents had become.
"I called up a friend and said, 'I'm setting up a tent'," she recalls. "He said I should calm down." But she did not calm down - instead she opened a Facebook "event", inviting people to erect tents in central Tel Aviv to protest against high housing prices.MORE
Dude. They profiled the originator of a protest that has seen up to 300,000 people participate....in the lifestyle section. God. DAMN.
Tunisia Tunisian women fear the Algerian way
TUNIS, Aug 5, 2011 (IPS) - A women’s group begins campaigning near La Marsa beach in Tunis to convince more women to come up and register in the electoral lists, in time for the deadline now pushed back to Aug. 14. Most of the women watching the proceedings are veiled.
The veils present more a question than a suggestion at present. One survey among veiled women conduced by journalists here claims that four in five of these women will not vote for Ennahda, the Islamist party surging ahead in popularity ahead of elections for a constituent assembly due in October.
Veils in such numbers are an unusual sight in Tunisia where women visit the beach just as comfortably in a bikini as wearing a headscarf, and just as comfortable sipping wine as a soft drink, listening to rap or traditional music.
Looks may be deceptive, one way or another. "Look around," says Khadija, an activist with the Modernist Democratic Front - a coalition of local Tunisian democratic parties - on another beachfront near the fashionable La Goulette. "Can you see these people living under Islamic law? Tunisia is not Algeria. I am sure it will never happen here."
Women have had successes they want to hold on to: half the candidates in the electoral lists must now be women. A strong presence of women in the constituent assembly could be crucial to women’s rights.
Women also want to consolidate the position taken by the High Commission charged to verify that the goals of the revolution are respected - namely that religion and politics will be kept separate. Ennahda has opposed this move in the transitional period. It has also opposed the transitional government’s decision that parties cannot receive funds from outside.
On another front women are fighting the undemocratic influence of former president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in institutions such as the media. The media gives little space to women, even though they are politically active, and many will be candidates. MORE
Kashmir: The militant in her: Women and resistance Kashmiri women defy state oppression by being on the frontlines.
Relegating women's engagement in conflict situations to the passive space of victimhood is an anticipated outcome of the unequal distribution of power in gender relations. However, this narrative obfuscates their role as active participants, which is of equal, if not greater, significance - and which has increasingly become an accentuating facet of their participation during the recent years of the conflict.
In the early stages of the armed struggle, broad-based support for the independence movement was apparent, and resulted in the creation of both dissident men and women. However, men and women formed their opposition to Indian rule largely in different ways. Men took to combat, women to facilitating the men's fight, or by registering their support for azadi through popular protest.
Women also became facilitators of combat by acting as couriers for arms, informers for militants, provided them shelter and food, and at times helped them escape capture during the sudden and dreaded Indian military raids or "crackdowns", which continue to happen in civilian areas. Their motivation came from the general feeling for independence running deep in the masses - as a result of which, the Indian Armed Forces were always looked at as the "other", and militants and other dissidents as their "own".MORE
via : ontd_political
Libyan Women Challenge Mindset Created by Tyranny
BENGHAZI, Libya (WOMENSENEWS)--While rebel fighters battle for a democratic future in the west of Libya, a handful of women back in the rebel capital of Benghazi are working on showing people what democracy actually means.
The small group, going by the name Abeer or Express, will be hosting its most ambitious project to date later this summer, after Ramadan is done--the First Libya Youth conference to spread the ideals of democracy.
The organizing group for Express is very small. It lists only six people as its core members--five young women and one young man--but its goal is ambitious: to ensure that democracy and personal freedom flourish in Libya.
For 42 years--since Col. Moammar Gadhafi's 1969 coup--the country has known mainly autocracy and secret police acting on the colonel's behalf.
Members of Express say Libyans crave democracy but aren't quite sure what it means.
Fourth-year medical student Halima ben Jomiah, 22, is the founder of the group. Two years ago, she stumbled across the subject of human development and self improvement in books like "Do Not Grieve" by Sheikh Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni and "The Leader In You," the 1936 classic by Dale Carnegie. Ever since, she's been hooked, reading about psychology and how to realize human potential whenever she could find the time.
Ben Jomiah, her sister and her friends decided that for the revolution to succeed, people have to have correct attitudes about democracy: not being afraid to speak, but at the same time, having the respect to listen.
They called their group Express in order to focus on personal expression as a form of civic participation.
As a first step, the group has interviewed dozens of Libyans to get a sense of their hopes and dreams and what is standing in the way. Express has also solicited opinions from advanced researchers in human development, such as Egypt's Sherif Araba and Libya's Omar Gnaiber.MORE
Turkey The Muslim Women’s Media Archives: Kadınlar Dünyası
In Turkey and beyond, it is a common misconception that struggle for women’s rights is a new phenomenon. This struggle is thought of as not organic to the Muslim world, but imported from “the non-Muslim West.” This particular misconception has not only nurtured the neo-colonialist rhetoric of “liberating Muslim women,” but has also played an important role in the debate surrounding whether women’s rights or feminism can ever be “Islamic.”
Unfortunately, little has been done to research historical women’s rights movements in the Muslim world, even though there were many examples that clearly disprove this misconception and could provide a lot to the debate. For instance a simple research in the archives of periodicals that were published during the last two centuries of the Ottoman Empire expose a great availability and diversity of women’s publications, some of which are very focused on women’s rights. One such magazine is Kadınlar Dünyası [“World of Women”]. While its name suggests an early-twentieth-century Cosmopolitan, it was famous for its radical rhetoric and strong emphasis on women’s rights at the time of its publication.MORE
U.S. Key Committee Slashes Foreign Aid, Warns Palestinians
WASHINGTON, Jul 27, 2011 (IPS) - Amidst growing fears of a new fiscal crisis sparked by a possible U.S. debt default next week, a key Republican-led Congressional committee Wednesday approved deep cuts in foreign aid and contributions to the United Nations and other multilateral institutions next year.
While leaving some eight billion dollars in President Barack Obama's requests for non-military aid to Iraq and Afghanistan relatively untouched, the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives cut bilateral economic and development assistance to the rest of the developing world by an average of around 25 percent.
It also made major cuts in U.S. contributions to multilateral agencies, including the U.N. and some of its specialised agencies, and some international financial institutions (IFIs).
It sliced a total of 600 million dollars from the administration's 3.5-billion-dollar request for the U.N. and its peacekeeping operations, for example.
It also halved Washington's 143-million-dollar 2012 pledge to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and zeroed out U.S. contributions to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, and rejected proposed capital increases for IFIs that are providing support for developing countries still struggling with the fallout of the 2008-9 financial crisis.
It cut the operating budgets for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by 35 percent, essentially reversing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's efforts to build up the ranks of both agencies.
Moreover, it made significant cuts to major programmes designed to help some of the world's most vulnerable people.
It cut 18 percent – to just over seven billion dollars – from Obama's request for global health projects, which had been one of former President George W. Bush's signal foreign-policy achievements.
It cut Obama's requested family-planning programmes worldwide by 40 percent, from 770 million dollars to 461 million dollars, and reinstated the highly contentious "Gag Rule" that bans U.S. aid to clinics or groups in developing countries that perform or even provide information about abortion services.
And it cut development assistance by 12 percent, from 863 million dollars this year to 758 million dollars in 2012, and emergency refugee and migration assistance by 36 percent, from 50 million dollars to 32 million dollars. ...
On the Middle East, the bill calls for 1.3 billion dollars in aid to Egypt, provided that the secretary of state can certify that its government is adhering fully to the 1979 Camp David peace treaty with Israel and that no part of its government is controlled by a "Foreign Terrorist Organisation".
The latter condition also applies to Lebanon, Libya and Yemen, while any Palestinian government that forms an agreement with Hamas would not be eligible to receive U.S. aid. Lowey, the ranking Democrat, indicated support for the Middle East provisions of the bill. Earlier this month, she co-signed a letter with Granger to PA President Mahmoud Abbas warning him that his pursuit of recognition for Palestine at the U.N. would likely cost him all of the nearly 500 million dollars Washington provides to the PA. MORE
More than 150 Roman Catholic priests in the United States have signed a statement in support of a fellow cleric who faces dismissal for participating in a ceremony that purported to ordain a woman as a priest, in defiance of church teaching.
The American priests’ action follows closely on the heels of a “Call to Disobedience” issued in Austria last month by more than 300 priests and deacons. They stunned their bishops with a seven-point pledge that includes actively promoting priesthood for women and married men, and reciting a public prayer for “church reform” in every Mass.
And in Australia, the National Council of Priests recently released a ringing defense of the bishop of Toowoomba, who had issued a pastoral letter saying that, facing a severe priest shortage, he would ordain women and married men “if Rome would allow it.” After an investigation, the Vatican forced him to resign.
While these disparate acts hardly amount to a clerical uprising and are unlikely to result in change, church scholars note that for the first time in years, groups of priests in several countries are standing with those who are challenging the church to rethink the all-male celibate priesthood.
The Vatican has declared that the issue of women’s ordination is not open for discussion. But priests are on the front line of the clergy shortage — stretched thin and serving multiple parishes — and in part, this is what is driving some of them to speak.MORE
The newly created organization within the UN, UN Women, led by former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, (Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director) dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women which was established to accelerate progress on meeting the rights of girls and women worldwide, has released their first report yesterday, Progress of the World’s Women.
The report can be downloaded here (link goes to PDF file) and the facts sheets (also in PDF format) are available here.
In the interest of brevity for this post (and you will notice that brevity has not been achieved given the amount of data I went through), I have specifically gone through the fact sheets and not focused on the overall report. I might collate the data in the report itself (which deals with specific cases and studies in each region) for a future post.
( Read more... )
NEW YORK, (WOMENSENEWS)--This was the week when Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her daughter in the explosive case in Florida and the New York hotel housekeeper struggled to keep alive a case of sexual assault against former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss Khan. If anyone considers these signs of women finding high-powered access to the legal justice system, UN Women offered a rebuttal this week, finding that women all too often drop charges and bow out of legal recourse efforts.
In its July 6 report, "Progress of the World's Women in Pursuit of Justice," the new super women's agency at the United Nations--which consolidated existing agencies and launched in February under former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet--probes the limits of local, national and international law in serving women and offers 10 recommendations.
One area of concentration is the problem of long "legal chains" or cases that involve numerous steps, delays and mounting costs that lead women to drop such efforts as enforcing property rights or protecting themselves from domestic violence.
Authors found that women in developed and developing countries alike face this hurdle.
In Gauteng Province in South Africa, for instance, a lengthy, expensive legal process coincides with an extremely low conviction rate--4 percent--for reported rapes. That echoes a 2009 survey of four European countries, where conviction rates fall as low as 5 percent.
Another example came from this week's news run when the Associated Press reported July 7 that hundreds of Ugandan women protested the second postponement of two lawsuits brought by families of women who died giving birth, reflecting the judicial system's inability to intercede on behalf of maternal health.
To expedite women's law suits, UN Women's authors recommend "one stop shops" currently found in South Africa--known as Thuthuzela Care Centers--that have reduced trial completion time to seven months from a national average of two years and are being replicated in countries such as Chile and Ethiopia.MORE
KATHMANDU, May 26, 2011 (IPS) - With the May 28 target for a new constitution approaching and Nepal’s coalition government admitting it would not make the deadline, women are pushing for rights they want enshrined in the document.
The campaign made them bear the brunt of a government ban on demonstrations around parliament announced on Tuesday, ahead of a critical ballot battle between Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal and the opposition parties with the beleaguered premier seeking one more year to draft the new constitution.
Even before the ban became public knowledge, riot police swung into action, beginning an assault on the women coming from almost 70 of Nepal’s 75 districts who have been holding peaceful meetings in front of parliament, asking for the protection of their rights.
Police said they had arrested 32 women demonstrators, including some of Nepal’s best-known rights activists like Tulasalata Amatya, president of Shanti Malika, a network of nine organisations working for women’s empowerment.
Others arrested were Rita Thapa, founder of Tewa, a non-government organisation working for the economic self-sufficiency of women’s groups in villages, and Stella Tamang, founder of Bikalpa Gyan Tatha Bikash Kendra Ashram, a school for children from her Tamang community, who are the worst victims of human trafficking.
The demonstrations started on the Nepalese New Year on Apr. 14. Over 40 women’s organisations from across the country gathered on the pavement opposite parliament to sing, dance and address passersby for six hours a day. It was intended to remind the nearly 600 MPs that women existed and that they expected the constitution to be finished by May 28, guaranteeing their rights.
On May 15, when it was clear that work on the constitution was not making any progress, they lengthened the vigil to 12 hours.
"The constitution of 1990 said during elections, political parties would have to field at least five percent women," says Sharada Pokharel, a former MP and president of Women’s Security Pressure Group. "But the last census, conducted in 2001, showed women accounted for 51 percent of the population. So we want the new constitution to give us 50 percent representation in all state institutions." MORE
KATHMANDU, Jul 12, 2011 (IPS) - Every time Bijaya Dhakal goes out to meet people and tell them what she does for a living, the simple task becomes an act of courage requiring nerves of steel. Dhakal is the founder of Nepal’s first and only organisation of women sex workers now trying to make the state and society listen to a community long hushed by poverty and discrimination.
A widow who had not completed school, the 35-year-old mother of two became a sex worker after struggling to raise her family on the meagre wages she earned in a factory. For almost eight years, she led a double life, working in the capital Kathmandu and returning to her village sporadically, with her family believing she worked for a non-government organisation.
"Sex workers suffer at the hands of the police and, at times, their customers who beat them up or rob them. Yet they can’t complain because the moment people learn what they do, a change comes over them," Dhakal says.
"Landlords throw them out, and even doctors and nurses at the hospitals loathe touching them for fear of contracting some disease. I began to wonder one day, how long can we stay hidden? If we continue to hide, how will our needs and demands be met?"
Six years ago, Nepal’s growing gay rights movement inspired Dhakal to cast aside the veil of anonymity and start Jagriti Mahila Sangh. Jagriti means awakening, and Dhakal hopes it will catalyse sex workers hidden in the 75 districts of Nepal to unite for a change in their lives. MORE
North Cauca, Colombia, June 24, 2011: The first meeting of indigenous women in resistance for the survival and autonomy of their peoples concluded on Friday, after taking place at a shelter in Huellas Caloto in the Bodega Alta district in the Cauca department of Colombia. For four days, women and men from northern Cauca, joined with around 26 national and international organizations, discussed “weaving a memory with words,” and finished the event with a march to the town of Santander de Quilichao.
At the meeting, attendees discussed the need for autonomy with their food, and resistance from women. Seeds and traditional agricultural products were exchanged to reflect truth, justice, reparation and law for both indigenous women and a peace proposal. They also denounced and discussed the armed conflict that the country is living in.
In 1971, indigenous people from northern Cauca formed the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, which was made up of nine chapters. Currently there are 19 chapters. They fight for their land, food, education, work opportunities and to live in harmony with mother earth. Nelson Lemus Consejero de Paz, with the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN in Spanish initials), said that “the multinational corporations want to dispossess us of our land through war.”
The people have organized cooperatives, including a trout hatchery, yogurt business, crafts market, and more. They are nonviolent, but for many years they have lived with harassment from soldiers. On May 28, 2001, they decided to organize and create what they call the Indigenous Guard, or, Kiwe Thegnas in the Nasa Yuwe indigenous language. The three goals of the group are to “care for, protect, and defend the people,” said Don Germán Valencia and Luis Alberto Mensa, coordinators with the Guard. MORE
MANAMA, Jul 4, 2011 (IPS) - Women activists in Bahrain have acknowledged their poor showing in the recent unrest as well as in efforts to fight sectarianism, and blamed it on rifts within their organisations.
Many have accused Bahraini women – with their long history of struggle and victory – of failing to leave their mark in the recent uprising in the country.
Shortly after sectarian tensions broke out in Manama in February, women activists and their societies launched at least three initiatives to bring their advocacies to the people and help improve the plight of women.
But the political agenda of other groups got mixed up with women’s causes. "Most of our societies were forced to stop all activities either because women-oriented programmes weren’t suitable then or because some members tried pushing their political agendas," a human rights activist and founder of one of Bahrain’s oldest women’s societies told IPS on condition of anonymity.
"In my own experience, we had many female members who wanted to misuse the society and its programmes in pushing for the agendas of their own political societies, which isn’t something we wanted to happen. So we froze almost all activities to protect our neutrality," she said, stressing that the same problem occurred in other groups.
Women took part in rallies and processions organised by opposition and pro-government groups, but their involvement was mainly as participants and not as leaders or speakers.
"Political societies have female members but they aren’t in leading positions, hence their roles were overshadowed by top male members," Al Ekri says.
He urges female activists to end their silence and grab the golden opportunity for greater women empowerment offered by the national dialogue to commence on Jul. 1 with the participation of all segments of society.
Bahrain Women’s Union led the way when it submitted on Jun. 23 the points it thought should be included in the general agenda for the talks. The Union, with 12 women’s societies as members, demanded an amendment to the outdated nationality law to give females the right to pass their nationality on to their children, just as men married to foreigners are able to. It also asked for the implementation of the second part of the Family Law to cover Shiite Shariah Court under the legislation. The current law covers only Sunni Shariah Court. MORE
How To Be an Ally To Sex Workers
1) Don’t Assume. Don’t assume you know why a person is in the sex industry. We’re not all trafficked or victims of abuse. Some people make a choice to enter this industry because they enjoy it, others may be struggling for money and have less of a choice.
2) Be Discreet and Respect Personal Boundaries. If you know a sex worker, it’s OK to engage in conversation in dialogue with them in private, but respect their privacy surrounding their work in public settings. Don’t ask personal questions such as “does your family know what you do?” If a sex worker is not “out” to their friends, family, or co-workers, it’s not your place to tell everyone what they do.
3) Don’t Judge. Know your own prejudices and realize that not everyone shares the same opinions as you. Whether you think sex work is a dangerous and exploitative profession or not is irrelevant compared to the actual experiences of the person who works in the industry. It’s not your place to pass judgment on how another person earns the money they need to survive.
4) Watch Your Language. Cracking jokes or using derogatory terms such as “hooker”, “whore”, “slut”, or “ho” is not acceptable. While some sex workers have “taken back” these words and use them among themselves, they are usually used to demean sex workers when spoken by outsiders.
5) Address Your Prejudices. If you have a deep bias or underlying fear that all sex workers are bad people and/or full of diseases, then perhaps these are issues within yourself that you need to address. In fact, the majority of sex workers practice safer sex than their peers and get tested regularly.MORE
SÃO PAULO, Jul 1, 2011 (IPS) - In the last three years there have been no teen pregnancies among the youngsters at Casa do Zezinho, an extracurricular educational and cultural facility in Brazil attended by 1,500 children and young people from favelas or shantytowns on the south side of São Paulo.
A unique experiment in the sex education workshops has helped prevent teen pregnancy, a problem that tends to lead to school dropout and fuels poverty. Three years ago, a few boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 20 were selected to be the "pregnant" ones in class, and to wear a plastic belly for a few months that grows as the pregnancy advances.
The selected youngsters miss out on activities that pregnant women would normally have to avoid, such as engaging in sports like football – especially frustrating for the "pregnant" boys – or swimming in the pool on the Casa do Zezinho's 3,200 square metre property.
"All they could do was practice yoga," Dagmar Garroux, the founder and president of the institution who is known as "Tía Dag" or Auntie Dag, laughingly comments to IPS.
After the youngsters wear the growing belly month to month, the baby – a papier maché doll they have made themselves – is "born" and they have to care for the new infant, nursing and bathing it and changing the diapers – all of the responsibilities faced by young parents.
And they continue to miss the dances and parties organised at the Casa, just like adolescent mothers in the favelas, Garroux said.
Thanks to these and other creative initiatives, "the cycle of teenage pregnancy was broken" and the use of condoms increased among the youngsters attending the Casa, she said.
When she came to the area to live and work, Garroux was a teacher who was dissatisfied with the "stupid" conventional teaching methods "stuck in the 19th century," which made her switch schools "every three months." In 1994, she founded Casa do Zezinho.
She developed what she calls the "rainbow teaching system", used in all activities at the centre, which is attended by youngsters from the surrounding favelas. The method is based on equal treatment for everyone, girls and boys as well as teachers and students, and on the concept that educating is love and sharing.
The day that IPS visited the Casa, the teachers stressed that they did not treat boys and girls, or gauge their academic progress, differently, since the goal is to strengthen their autonomy and personalities – somewhat revolutionary in a community where many parents still believe it is a "waste of time" for their daughters to go to school.
Garroux has had to convince many mothers that staying in school is the only way their daughters can have a chance at a better life than they themselves have had, and can have the same opportunities as boys and men – although she clarifies that they will still face widespread sexist discrimination and stereotypes.
"But they will have a much better opportunity to leave behind the cycle of violence, submission and poverty," said Tia Dag, who has become an expert at detecting signs of violence or sexual abuse among girls, and along with her team and social workers helps find solutions and therapy for the perpetrators and the victims.MORE
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 30, 2011 (IPS) - When the United Nations inaugurated a landmark special agency for women last January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set an initial target of 500 million dollars as the proposed annual budget for the new gender-empowered body.
But nearly six months later, the voluntary funding for U.N. Women (UNW) from the 192 member states has remained painfully slow.
Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, expressed disappointment over the funding shortfall.
Nearly six months after its operationalisation, the actual contributions and pledges received are modest and only around 80 million dollars, he said.
"This is not commensurate with the aspiration and ambition assigned to U.N. Women," he complained.
Addressing the first regular meeting of the 41-member executive board of UNW early this week, he said: "We must not be oblivious of the fact that activities enumerated in the Strategic Plan need resources."
The Strategic Plan envisages financial requirement of nearly 1.2 billion dollars in 2011-13.
"If we have to ensure that U.N. Women stands for action, the donor community has to make generous contributions to U.N. Women," said Ambassador Puri. MORE
MONROVIA, Liberia (WOMENSENEWS)--Korlu, a young mother of two, lives on the outskirts of Monrovia, the capital here.
A high school dropout, Korlu, who declined to give her last name for safety reasons, says when she was a teen, she became pregnant.
"My parents put me out of their house because they couldn't bear the shame of me getting pregnant," she says.
She says when she was 17 she moved in with the baby's father and he began to beat her. Korlu says she accepted the beatings until she heard women talking on the radio one day about how sexual and gender-based violence was not acceptable.
"It was tough," Korlu says. "They were speaking directly about me."
The women on the radio were from the Liberia Women Media Action Committee, which promotes women's rights through the media. She says the radio program encouraged her to report domestic violence to the police.
"Before my husband would beat me and I would accept it," she says. "But nowadays, I report my husband to the police when he beats on me or tries to beat me because I know it is domestic violence. He doesn't beat me anymore," she says with a smile.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female president, has been proactive about fighting sexual and gender-based violence. The Liberian government and the United Nations jointly committed to reducing gender-based violence by 30 percent by the end of 2011.
The Ministry of Gender and Development also has a special unit dedicated to tackling sexual and gender-based violence, the Gender-Based Violence Task Force, which aims to coordinate violence prevention and response.MORE
No 'him' or 'her'; preschool fights gender bias
STOCKHOLM – At the "Egalia" preschool, staff avoid using words like "him" or "her" and address the 33 kids as "friends" rather than girls and boys.
From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don't fall into gender stereotypes.
"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing," says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher. "Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."
The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged 1 to 6 is among the most radical examples of Sweden's efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward.
Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.
To even things out, many preschools have hired "gender pedagogues" to help staff identify language and behavior that risk reinforcing stereotypes.
Some parents worry things have gone too far. An obsession with obliterating gender roles, they say, could make the children confused and ill-prepared to face the world outside kindergarten.MORE
[my note: So FIX the world outside of kindergarten!!! I am SO TIRED of these ridiculous arguments against change! ZOMG if we try to change the status quo we will be challenged!!! Well of course we will be challenged! Stand up to challenge and change society so that the shit we are trying chaneg will be fixed!]
At Egalia — the title connotes "equality" — boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, waving plastic utensils and pretending to cook. One boy hides inside the toy stove, his head popping out through a hole.
Lego bricks and other building blocks are intentionally placed next to the kitchen, to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction.
Director Lotta Rajalin notes that Egalia places a special emphasis on fostering an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. From a bookcase, she pulls out a story about two male giraffes who are sad to be childless — until they come across an abandoned crocodile egg.
Nearly all the children's books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no "Snow White," "Cinderella" or other classic fairy tales seen as cementing stereotypes.
Rajalin, 52, says the staff also try to help the children discover new ideas when they play.
"A concrete example could be when they're playing 'house' and the role of the mom already is taken and they start to squabble," she says. "Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on."
Egalia's methods are controversial; some say they amount to mind control. Rajalin says the staff have received threats from racists apparently upset about the preschool's use of black dolls.MORE
I like that they are trying to fix the problem. 4 for you, Sweden!
Gacked from Shakesville.
I remember the first time; I was serving as a page in the legislature in Idaho when they tried to rescind their ratification of it.
Given that Scalia has declared the Constitution does not protect women from discrimination based on sex, I hope it passes this time (and I wonder if Phyllis Schlaffley will be campaigning against it based on "on noes draft" and "TOILETS!!!11!!").