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WNC Board Meeting: Commemorating International Women’s Day
On February 17th, 2018, dozens of dedicated member...
On February 17th, 2018, dozens of dedicated members of our growing international network convened in Paris, France, to discuss areas of strategic focus for the year ahead. The session opened with an address by WNC’s distinguished Vice-President, Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research in Delhi and Chairperson of Women Power Connect, a national level organization of women's groups in India. Before opening the floor to the exchange of ideas on pressing social, economic and political issues, the panel revisited some of WNC’s achievements over the past year. Specifically, since July of last year, the Women’s Network for Change has participated in many global forums, including, for example, the annual FORUM 2000 event in Prague whose theme, this year, was ‘Strengthening Democracy in Uncertain Times’. The WNC was also invited to meet with Members of the European Parliament to discuss with various Member-States about how we can effectively work alongside them to promote women’s political empowerment, internationally. WNC was also in attendance at a conference commemorating the ‘Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women’ on November 23rd, 2017 in Palermo, Italy, alongside the Mayor of Palermo and the Head of Amnesty International. Representatives of our network later travelled to Nepal to take part in the South Asian Regional Workshop convened by Women For Human Rights, single women group (WHR), an organization that seeks to put an end to discriminatory practices against women in Nepal and elsewhere based purely on their marital status. Distinguished participants at this February’s Board Meeting included, Prof. Rita Süssmuth, President of WNC and Former Speaker of the German Bundestag (1988-1998); Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Vice-President of WNC, Director of the Centre for Social Research (CSR) – India, and Chairperson for Women Power Connect; Prof. Rashida Manjoo, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women (June 2009-July 2015) and Professor of Human Rights at the University of Cape Town, South Africa; Baroness Sandip Verma, Member of the House of Lords – UK and Former Minister of International Development until 2016; Hoda Badran, Chairperson of the Alliance for Arab Women (AAW) – Egypt and President of Arab Women’s League; Dr. Fatma Khafagy of Egypt; Soheir Kansouh-Habib, a former senior member of Cairo's UNDP office; Linda Chavez,  American author, commentator, radio talk show host, syndicated columnist, and Chair of Center for Equal Opportunity – USA; Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General – Portugal and Former Attorney General until 2015; Maria Elena Elverdin, President of the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers (FIFCJ) – Argentina; Susana Medina, Minister of the High Court of Justice of Entre Ríos (2004 - present) – Argentina, and President of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ); Suheir Al-Atassi, Member of the Syrian Opposition Coalition and former Vice Chair of the Council; Najima Thay Thay, former Minister of Education and Youth - Morocco; Khadija Ziyani, Member of Parliament – Morocco; Soumia Ouaalal, Member of Parliament - Morocco; Zhor El Ouahabi, Member of Parliament - Morocco; Bozena Kaminska, Member of Parliament - Poland; Sonia Hornery, Member of Parliament - Australia; Margarita Duran Vadell, historian, journalist, Senator (2011-2015) – Spain and Vice-President of INCO Human Rights; Eva Duran Ramos, President of INCO Human Rights Organization, EPP representative for Puente de Vallecas, Member of Parliament (2011-2016)- Spain; Virginia Romero Banon, lawyer and former Member of Spanish Parliament, and Carmen Navaro, translator and women’s rights activist.   Three main issue-areas were discussed: (1) Rural Women’s Empowerment, (2) Women’s Leadership in Politics, and (3) Women and Social Media Connectivity. On the subject of rural women’s empowerment, Virginia Romero Banon from Spain discussed the important contributions of rural women to the Spanish economy. At least 3 million women in Spain work in rural areas and many of these jobs are in the agricultural sector. In the last three years, the Spanish rural population has increased by a rate of 45,000 persons per year, but there remain many obstacles to women’s full participation and engagement. Women’s economic empowerment in rural areas has meant that the entire country benefits from their labor, but they too, must benefit in terms of political representation and decision-making capacities. Representatives from Portugal also intervened to demonstrate the ways in which, despite the freedoms and atmosphere of peace enjoyed in the country, women - and rural women in particular - lag far behind men in areas of political, economic and financial leadership. Participants from Portugal underscored the lack of investment in rural women’s education as well as the disparity that exists between the belief in women’s substantive equality in theory - at the level of the constitution - versus the reality of women’s equality across the country. According to ​Maria Candida Almeida, ​“People are sleeping. Because we are free to work, to write, and speak as we wish, we do not always recognize how far we still have to go in order to achieve women’s empowerment. As a prosecutor in the Portuguese Supreme Court, I see that domestic violence is still a big problem. Women are often the victims of sexual and physical aggression and we need to work towards the very equality guaranteed by the constitution, but in reality”. On this note, a member of the Moroccan delegation, Zhor El Ouahabi, shared some of the advancements the women’s movement has seen in her country in recent years: In 2004, they started a campaign focusing on family rights and by 2011, they succeeded in taking a crucial step forwards. Changes were officially made to the Moroccan constitution granting women additional rights in the family and in the political arena. Among more rural parts of the country, one of the central challenges they currently face is the Islamophobia born out of a mixture of religion and politics. This mixture acts as a barrier and denies many muslim women their rights to participate and express their rights on an equal footing as men and must be overcome as a key to achieving greater political equality. Similar concerns were raised by representatives from Egypt, where rural women are often subjected to forms of coercion that have nothing to do with Islam, but that are undertaken in the name of Islam: “Because we are muslims, we must stand together and condemn the Islamists who are taking such positions against women, positions that are not Islamic at all”.   Next, addressing an important point on the topic of rural women’s empowerment, Prof. Rashida Manjoo elaborated on the need to avoid the dangers of essentializing rural women and putting them to use for political capital in bodies such as the United Nations: “The issue of sustainability on rural women’s issues, whether it is about lack of access to resources, opportunities, or unfair labor practices for agricultural workers, these are issues that we need to keep on our radar at all times and not simply every four ears when some intergovernmental body decides they are the designated themes. The bandage solutions that some governments have come up with, as it relates to rural women, have been more about a welfare approach than an empowerment approach. We need women to be active agents in their own lives and this remains a source of concern. When we buy into ‘sexy topics’ such as these we need to understand our engagement as substantive and see rural women as having something to teach us about how to proceed.” On the question of sustainable of engagement with rural women and girls, Soheir Kansouh emphasized the importance of extending organizational capacities and resources to rural women who are not, at present, as collectively organized as women’s organization’s in urban areas. In order for international institutions to hear rural women’s voices and in order for rural women to be able to talk for themselves in a sustained way, this is an important obstacle that we can help to overcome by sharing experiences and successful frameworks. Turning to the subject of women’s political empowerment and leadership in politics, Baroness Sandip Verma, Member of the UK House of Lords emphasized that “unless we get more women into positions of power, into decision-making roles, however much progress we make or don’t make on social norms, we still won’t answer the question of accountability in decision-making.” She continued: “It’s really important that we do get women into positions of decision making. Social norms can only change if women feel as though laws will be implemented and that people can get justice at the other end… To date, collectively, we have allowed a system to dictate back to us. The only way we can change it is when we are determined that people be held accountable. As a non-white member of the Tory party, I’ve have to battle to achieve consensus. For example, if we are going to meet any delegation in the world, if there are no women on it, we have to question it! Whether it is is at the United Nations, where I still question why there are no women peace envoys, or elsewhere, we have a lot to challenge. Women’s collective voice has to share a common ground because the pain of discrimination is universal”. Citing a number of obstacles facing women’s leadership in politics, Prof. Manjoo took up to discuss the pros and cons of legislative quotas for equal participation before moving on to challenge the unresponsiveness of political institutions born of patriarchal attitudes and cultures: “During my time at the UN, one of the issues that kept coming up was ‘should we have legislative quotas and will that lead to more women in politics? And further, will it change the political and economic landscape of a country?’ We’ve seen, as some of you have raised, the issues brought about by legislative quotas. On the other hand, leaving it to political parties to have quotas is also a challenge. In my country (South Africa), we have a national congress (the ruling party) that only shares 1/3rd of its representation with women… The next barrier that women seem to face is when women are in politics - the sort of unresponsiveness of institutions and structures is a problem. I received many reports when I was Special Rapporteur about violence against women in politics, some verbal and some physical in different countries around the world. Women do feel that once they go into formal politics, they lose the support of their constituencies, the NGO’s and women’s organizations, because there is an expectation that by simply entering formal politics they can change the world. I know that in our first democratic parliament in South Africa, some chairman of a committee would decide that the meeting would start at 9pm, irrespective of the triple-shift that women would have to do to accommodate this. When the first black woman judge took office in 1994, there was no toilet in the high court for her. When she asked, she was told to use the Secretary’s restroom. From entry-point barriers to the non-responsiveness of institutions, we face challenges all around”. Echoing similar concerns, Soheir Kansouh of Egypt spoke about how even in countries where gender quotas are mandated throughout the Arab world, the success in achieving gender balance in Arab legislatures has not translated into the advancement of women’s rights: “It does not matter how many women are in parliament if they are not really talking about women’s rights. People are beginning to lose faith and they need to see more action - this likely has to do with the unresponsiveness of political institutions as Prof. Manjoo describes”. Linda Chavez, the current chair for the Centre for Equal Opportunity and former US expert to the sub-commission on the prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities at the United Nations, raised similar concerns: “In some countries, like Iran, the institutional power is entirely in the hands of men, and therefore this kind of violence against women takes every form and is institutionalized. But even in countries where you have more freedom and equal protections before the law, these problems nonetheless persist. I don’t know how to answer this problem, and so I raise it is as a question. There exists a fundamental issue about how the two sexes relate to one another and about how women continue to be victimized in ways that are very unique to our sex. Women in the 21st century hold economic power in many countries around the world and even the women we think would be the most secure are nonetheless victimized”.   Next, representative Hoda Badran from Egypt intervened to underscore the need for women’s groups to focus on three areas necessary for waging successful mobilizations for political empowerment. In her view, we can learn from the women’s union in Tunis and turn our attention to: (1) solidarity and size, (2) organization and capacity-building, and (3) gaining increased access to resources. Rounding off this subject, a representative from the Argentine Federation of Jurists, Maria Elena Elverdin,​ spoke about how in Argentina, parity laws have been passed gaining women representation in congress but that this does not hold true for professional organizations, leaving women’s participation in decision-making roles limited, at best. This relates to cultural barriers that affect issues such as violence against women, femicide and sex-tortion (or sex extortion): “Women are dying due to femicide every day and we are working very hard on this issue but we have plenty more to do.” This brought us to the 3rd issue-area relating to women and social media connectivity. Citing education as the main entry point for achieving stronger institutions in favor of equality, the President of the Judges Association of Argentina, Susana Medina, ​remarked how, over the last 25 years, they have channelled their efforts into building Centres of Education and Capacity Building that work to educate women on justice-related issues: “The latest chapter of this effort promotes education about crimes of sexual extortion. This was inspired by the ongoing #MeToo campaign in Hollywood, but was made necessary by the fact that human trafficking and similar problems are ongoing in Argentina and around the world. You know, human trafficking, of which young girls are the primary victims, grosses an annual revenue of $32 million”. Adding to the complexity of such concerns, Prof. Manjoo underscored how the MeToo campaign has provided a “new, intergenerational space” for discussing violence against women and sexual harassment, but also risks diminishing such realities to hashtags and social media campaigns when, in actuality, they necessitate change at the individual, structural and institutional levels that are part and parcel of women’s daily lives in different sectors of society: “One strategy has to address how we educate the media in order to avoid diminishing these stories, because you know the media is always in search of a sound-bite. And if we don’t give them the sound bite they will find someone else who will. We therefore have to write opinion pieces and engage a message that goes beyond the one line - #MeToo. For example, when we talk about crimes of sex-tortion, the discussions need to go deeper to demonstrate that this is not a new problem, but an ongoing manifestation of deeper structural and institutional problems and challenges. We need campaigns to expose how insidious these forms of sexual harassment and exploitation are and how deep they go”. Offering her concluding remarks, Prof. Rita Süssmuth challenged the group to gain the attention of our political leaders and to tap into women’s unharnessed potential, the world-over: “Of course women are more powerful than we were 100 years ago… but we have more potential than power.” We must therefore analyze women’s concerns in order to help build a more prosperous future. This entails reaching out to those less powerful than ourselves and lending our voices to echo their demands.  
Women of Iran Protests: A Call For International Solidarity
With the recent surge of protests across Iran, man...
With the recent surge of protests across Iran, many political observers were left bewildered, both by the timing and the nature of the grievances expressed throughout the country. Others, with ears closer to the ground, were quick to point out their mistake: Iran-watchers have long looked to Tehran’s cosmopolitan elite while neglecting concern for the country’s expansive working-class. Indeed, popular dissent first broke out in the city of Mashhad, Iran’s second most populous city, before spreading to places like Arak, Kermanshah and Takestan, reaching over 100 cities and towns whose names had been hitherto unfamiliar to global audiences. What began as mounting dissatisfaction with rising food prices, corruption and government expenditures on proxy wars waged abroad, quickly turned into a wholesale rejection of the clerical and ruling elite. A rejection that challenged the very legitimacy of the ‘Islamic’ guardianship as well as the façade of popular sovereignty promised by Iran’s fraudulent presidential and parliamentary bodies.   Most promising was the demographic makeup of brave protesters, who, risking life and limb, poured into the streets for two consecutive weeks. This, despite the heavy-handed violence perpetuated by Iran’s security and paramilitary forces. The majority of demonstrators were incredibly young – with the average protester under the age of 25 – and belong to the generation born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Demanding radical, institutional change as well as the overthrow of the current regime, thousands could be heard chanting “Death to the dictator, death to Khamenei (the country’s Supreme Leader), death to Rouhani (the country’s President)”. Chants that were echoed by equally powerful rallies of “We don’t want an Islamic Republic, we want an Iranian Republic”.   While crowds appeared to predominantly include young, working-class men from some of Iran’s most traditional and religiously conservative regions, observers would be amiss to underestimate the weight and veracity of women’s contributions to the political unrest. On the first day of protests, Thursday December 28th 2017, crowds began to gather in Masshad, lined with brave women and men alike. At the following day’s Friday Prayer gathering, the local Imam was recorded delivering a fervent speech in which he publicly chastised protesters for daring to follow a woman’s lead.    Some of the earliest coverage to go viral by way of social media included stunning videos of defiant Iranian women pouring their hearts out at the top of their lungs - some taking it upon themselves to motivate fellow demonstrators. Take, for example, this iconic video, shared on the second day of protests (Dec. 29th), featuring a young woman in a red headscarf who approaches armed security forces and challenges them to join the people while yelling: “What are we supposed to do?! You have to yell ‘Death to Khamenei, death to Khamenei!’” While her gesture may seem similar to the sorts of demonstrations familiar to the West, uttering such words often carries the death penalty in Iran. As protests grew in scope and intensity, more videos were shared, this time, featuring courageous women declaring their most intimate and daily struggles with oppression and poverty. In this video, shared on January 1st, 2018, a young mother in Khorram-Abbad speaks candidly with protesters about the lengths to which she has had to go in order to survive and feed her children. Decrying the government’s embezzlement of oil-profits, she speaks of the hardships she’s endured in the course of a life of prostitution. This, while she avows her love of country and holds the image of her brother, a martyr of the Iran-Iraq war – a testament to how the government has failed her and the countless other families that have been left behind. Tehran’s austerity measures, corrupt and failing banks, combined with a 17% inflation rate have been crippling, to say the least. And women, more than any other segment of the population, have born the incredible burden of unemployment, which stands at approximately 2-times the national average.    Elsewhere, videos arriving from Najaf Abad and Bandar Abbas, show the incredible diversity of those taking to the streets to decry the government. Even where visibility is poor, women’s channelled defiance can be heard in the traditional calls washing over the crowds (see 0:17s). Scores of women have since been imprisoned by security forces for their roles in the demonstrations. Yasmin Mahboobi, Soha Mortezaii, Faezeh Abdipour, Leila Hosseinzadeh, Touran Mehrban, and Negin Arameshi (photographs shown below), are just a handful of those confirmed to be arbitrarily held behind bars. Abdipour has since announced her hunger strike, along with at least four other members of the Dervish minority who were arrested at the same time. As news of the daily arrests roll-in, so too have the letters of support for demonstrators penned by female political prisoners, including Golrokh Ibrahimi Iraee and Atena Daemi, who are currently in detention in the women’s ward of Tehran’s Evin Prison. In the coming weeks and months, one related factor may help determine protester’s fates: whether they will succeed in securing the support of the international community. For our part, the women of the world must unite in defense of their rights and struggle for lasting change!  

Yasmin Mahboobi

Soha Morezaii

Faezeh Abdipour

Leila Hosseinzadeh

Touran Mehrban

Negin Arameshi

  -- Sara Hassani is a PhD Student and Fellow in Politics at The New School for Social Research
WNC’s Inaugural Meeting: ‘Turning the Tide Towards Parity’
On July 1st 2017, several inspiring members of our...
On July 1st 2017, several inspiring members of our burgeoning international network convened in Paris, France for an inaugural meeting. The session opened with an address by one of WNC’s distinguished and trailblazing founders, Dr. Rita Süssmuth, former head of the German Bundestag. Dr. Süssmuth spent some time greeting our members and guests before launching into a timely discussion about the role of women’s leadership at this important juncture in history. Reflecting on the present predicament facing many European, Middle Eastern and North African nations, as well as the present lack of women’s representation, Dr. Süssmuth emphasized the fact that women’s leadership holds the key to transforming the present crisis and its related issues of global security into a moment of political, social and economic opportunity. Although women are, for the most part, presently sidelined in the majority of the discussions that concern them and their loved ones, women, as the heads of their communities, have the capacity to chart out unimagined futures, ones that present policy-makers cannot or are not willing to envisage. Prof. Süssmuth underscored the need to include women at all levels of political decision-making in order to ensure similar, successful results. Next, the group set out to discuss some of the contemporary challenges facing the equality movement and the struggle for women’s parity in politics. Moderating our discussion was Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research in Delhi, India and winner of the 2015 Lotus Leadership Award, who shared some of her own experiences from India and as a woman working in the male-dominated policy and political arenas. With the help of Dr. Kumari’s moderating, the day’s discussion also included the participation of a number of key dignitaries, representing a wide array of international governments, women’s rights NGOs, social justice lawyers and advocates as well as human rights defenders and journalists, including: María Elena Elverdin, Jurist and Head of the International Federation of Women of Legal Careers in Argentina; Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General of Portugal and Portugal's Attorney General until 2015; Ana Paula Matos Barros, Lawyer and former Member of Portuguese Parliament; Eva Duran Ramos, President of Popular Party in Puente de Vallecas, Chair of INCO Humam Rights and former Member of Parliament of Spain (2008-2016); Margarita Durán Vadell, Historian, Journalist, former Member of the Spanish Senate (2011-2015) and Vice Chair of INCO Human Rights; Virginia Romero Banon, Lawyer and former Member of the Spanish Senate (2011-2015); Concetta Giallombardo, Attorney and President of the Association of Female Jurists from Palermo, Italy; Dr. Meredith Burgmann, Former President of the New South Wales Legislative Council in Australia; Cherifa Kheddar, President and Founder of the organization Djazaïrouna in Algeria and winner of the International Service Human Rights Award for the Defense of the Human Rights of Women; Malika Boussouf, acclaimed Algerian feminist writer and journalist; Bożena Kamińska, Henryka Krzywon Strycharska, Izabela Leszczyna, and Bożena Szydłowska, sitting Members of the Parliament of Poland; and last but not least, Raymonde Folco, Former Member of the Parliament of Canada (1997-2011). Together, this powerful group of women engaged in a meaningful, three-hour long discussion about the importance of women’s leadership. Specifically, they set out to share their particular experiences regarding the usefulness of quotas for ensuring women’s leadership as a foundational stepping-stone towards the ultimate goal of parity. Describing her own experiences in Algeria, Cherifa Kheddar, President and Founder of the organization Djazaïrouna, highlighted the dire stakes of women’s leadership in her part of the world: “The politics that is being had in Algeria has not denounced or fought against the Islamic State. On the contrary, the political power being exercised in Algeria has worked to the benefit of assassins and rapists. You must understand, that when it comes to entering engagements with fundamentalists, the government pushes aside women and their causes. If we set out from the principle that women’s leadership carries high stakes, then we better understand why they attempt to push women aside from the roles that they should be otherwise claiming. Such authoritarian regimes will never be able to silence women unless women are denied the ability to solidify their place at the heads of the very institutions governing society.” Echoing a similar sentiment, Bożena Kamińska, sitting Member of the Polish Parliament, shared her reflections about the experience of women in Poland, stating: “We work in the Parliamentary group of women Politics has always been the domain of men… There are now 25% representation of women in Polish parliament. We are presently discussing whether quotas are a good thing. I think without them, even less women would be in positions of power.” Some delegates, like Dr. Meredith Burgmann from Australia, further spoke of the successful experiences they too have had in ensuring women’s representation in politics, while also making sure to reflect on the fact that some parties (like ‘Labour’) have faired much better than others in this regard. Speaking to the many difficulties that elected female leaders face in the political realm, she explicitly problematized the culture of misogyny that continues to dominate politics: “You might know that we had a woman Prime Minister 5 years ago. She was very badly treated by the media. There were terrible attacks on her by the male opposition leader and there existed a lot of misogyny. Having a woman leader has made us realize that this culture is institutionally engrained. In a lot of Pacific Island States, there are no women in Parliament at all – the average is about 3% - and therefore I think quotas are a necessary step. We should not be quick to dismiss them.” Pointing to other difficulties posed by the simple implementation of quotas, María Elena Elverdin of Argentina discussed her country’s experiences where quotas have begun to ameliorate women’s representation in politics, but where other, more nuanced problems like women’s tokenism in leadership remains: “In Argentina, we struggled for to achieve 33% representation for women, who are 51% of the population. It was very hard to achieve this, but now we are working for 50%. “Of that 33%, many times she is the wife of a Senator, the lover of a Deputy, or the daughter of the President, which does not reflect the real participation of women in society”. This set the tone for looking to more critical approaches that could be met with the implementation of quotas to further serve the goal of women’s empowerment within their communities. Others also went further to underscore the problematic tendency with which quotas can give way to nepotism, often elevating those associated with the male-only elite to occupy positions of power rather than affording the average woman an opportunity to enter politics and partake in steering her country’s future. On this note, one of the meeting’s participants, Australian Lawyer Cara Ghassemian, turned our attentions to the concomitant need to address the struggle to raise social consciousness and confidence in the importance of women’s leadership through women’s social and reproductive roles at the local and global levels, stating: “We have to sometimes remind ourselves to focus on the micro, and how we can influence things at the micro, daily level, rather than simply talk big picture all the time, because the micro does reflect things at the macro level. I would say that the socialization of children is critical to raising consciousness and should help inform an agenda setting strategy”. Next, WNC member, Ana Paula Matos Barros, Lawyer and former Member of Portuguese Parliament, further highlighted the need to combat the dominant culture of professionalism, individualism and profit that has been commandeering institutions tasked with bringing about substantive equality at home and abroad: “The National level is also very, very important. I also belong to the National Council for Equality , and what do I see there? Well, it is too much professionalized. So much so that people and associations arrive there and act as though they are firms. So, at that level, they’ve already forgotten the real people. They are just professionals, they don’t care anymore about those women that need to be empowered.” Reminding us of the importance of fostering juridical equality, Dr. Jocelynne Scutt, a participant at WNC’s meeting and one of Australia’s leading human rights barristers, eloquently spoke to the gender-bias undergirding the United Kingdom’s foundational adoption of the Magna Carta: “In 1215, the King at the time, King John, signed on to Magna Carta. And that Magna Carta said this: “We have granted to all the free men of our kingdom, for us and our heirs in perpetuity, the below written liberties to be had and held by them and their heirs, from us and our heirs.” The United Kingdom sees that as the ultimate statement of freedom and rights, but that document did not contain women in any real situation, only as wives and sisters and daughters.” Next, Dr. Scutt informed our members as to how “all cultures, all societies, all laws imposed in every country oppress women. And in all countries, all cultures, women are struggling against that oppression and have been for centuries”, before WNC’s Spanish delegation enjoyed their turn to share how, despite their own successes in achieving gender-parity throughout all chambers of Spanish government, “in fact, men remain at the head of political parties and there continues to exist a male way of conducting politics”, all too often, they specified, at the expense of women’s issues. To this end, one of the meeting’s participants, Raymonde Folco, former Member of the Parliament of Canada, expressed the importance of fostering democratic culture and defending democratic institutions, which, she contends, presently serve as the best means for protecting women’s rights and ensuring the promotion of women’s emancipation worldwide: “We in Canada are very worried, and I am personally very worried about what is going on in many states in the United States and in many of the European Union States as well about the retreat from Democracy. About the fact that there are left and right movements that are moving very quickly towards totalitarianism. And we are very worried about this because totalitarianism historically has always moved hand-in-hand with man-power and not women-power, even if sometimes there might have been women involved, it still means man-power. What I would say is that as important as it is for women’s groups at the local, municipal levels on the ground to be working, it is also very important to remember that it may be a weak democracy that we are living in now, but it is still the best system that we know how to work. And it’s still the system that, if we handle it right, will protect and further promote women’s rights. So I urge you, very strongly, to look out in your own countries to make sure that no totalitarianism, no totalitarian-promoting party takes over power, because we see it taking shape and it’s not something that simply happens from one day to the next, it’s a very slow growing process.” Echoing the need to keep struggles active over time and for generations to come, Polish Member of Parliament and mother to twelve children, Henryka Krzywon Strycharska, stated the following: “I am a woman and the mother of 12 children and I have participated in the struggle for democracy in Poland since the 1980’s. I know that nothing is done for always. We have to fight every day. We have to be strong in our fight for our freedom and democracy, for all the women all over the world. We have to fight for our daughters, for our granddaughters and for their futures so that they can live without fear, without insecurity, and without violence and with a lot of tolerance. Every kind of discrimination should be damned all over the world.” As our session began to wind-down, Dr. Ranjana Kumari returned our focus to the importance of strengthening women’s networks and building solidarity across contexts, as well as stressed the urgent and timely need to get organized: “There is no other way to go than to get organized and to start giving strength to each other Unless we take charge of the globe, unless we take charge of our own countries as leaders, as people who are able to define the destinies of our own countries, these wars are not going to stop. Men are so happy about fighting – do you know how many tanks, missiles, and army-grade artillery are created everyday? Every country – this, that, and my own country are all testing them. Every year, globally, defense budgets are growing. But budgets for education, for people, for their needs and for their health are repeatedly being thrown out.” It was further significant that our inaugural meeting at WNC opened just hours after news was received that feminist trailblazer, Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp survivor, and the 12th President of the European Parliament – Simone Veil – had passed, only two weeks shy of her 90th birthday. Before our delegates and participants stood to honor Simone Veil’s memory in a moment of silence, Madame Folco addressed the importance of Veil’s feminist legacy and the impacts it had on her generation: “My generation had two role models, one was a woman who died just yesterday in Paris, Simone Veil, and the other was another woman named Simone who died several years ago, Simone de Beauvoir. These two women were role models for me personally and role models for many of my generation. And recalling them brought to mind how important women role models are not just to women, but to women in what particularly concerns us this morning. It is very important that in our own countries and in our own societies that when we see women who ought to be role models, that we give them the place, the space and the voice so that they can be heard through social media, through the regular media, and so that they can become the centers of women’s rights in our own countries.” As part of the strategy to overcome patriarchy and turn the tide towards parity, then, “It is of utmost importance”, as Dr. Kumari powerfully concluded, “that we start asserting our voices and that we extend our support to our sisters who are struggling!”   ~Women’s Network For Change

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Kevin Perry

Angela Merkel and her legacy
Angela Dorothea Merkel was born in 1954 in Hamburg...
Angela Dorothea Merkel was born in 1954 in Hamburg, West Germany.  Brought up in a politically active family, Merkel’s inclination towards politics, especially Marxism-Leninism was developed from an early age when she joined Free German Youth (FDJ), the official communist youth movement, which was advantageous for getting admissions for higher education. Academically, she earned a Ph.D. in Quantum Chemistry in 1986. Often referred to as the ‘Iron Lady’ or ‘the Iron Frau’, her contributions in modern politics have been unparalleled. Merkel’s political career began after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 as she started getting involved in the growing democratic movements. She joined the newly established party the Democratic Beginning, which later got merged with the Eastern German Christian Democratic Union and later with the western counterpart after its reunification, and became its spokesperson. In June 1983, she was elected leader of the CDU in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In 1990, Merkel was appointed by Chancellor Helmut Kohl to serve as the Minister of Women and Youth in the federal cabinet, and in 1994, she hold the position of Minister of the Environment and Nuclear Safety, which enhanced her political exposure and provided a platform to take her agendas forward. In 1998, as the Kohl Government was defeated in the 1998 election, Merkel held the position of the Secretary-General of the CDU. At the time, many political figures were caught for illegal fund handling that included CDU leaders, Merkel got the opportunity to advocate a fresh start for her party. She held the position of Chairperson of CDU from 2000-2018, being a female leader who is centrist Protestant in a male-dominated, socially conservative party. In addition to being a CDU leader, she also became the leader of the Opposition from 2002-2005, through which she provided significant contributions regarding Germany’s economic and social system, She supported a substantial reform agenda that was more pro-market, advocated for labor law changes by, removing barriers to laying off employees and increasing the allowed number of work hours in a week and proposed phasing out of nuclear power in Germany less quickly than planned. She also advocated for a strong transatlantic partnership and German-American friendship. Although Merkel also faced criticism as her party introduced ‘flat tax’ in Germany which was considered to benefit only the rich, she was still popular and won the elections. In 2005, CDU went head-to-head with SPD(Social Democratic Party) and had a deal of Merkel becoming the Chancellor ad SPD holding 8 of the 16 seats in the cabinet. Thereafter, Merkel remained the Chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021, leading four cabinets before she announced retiring from the position. As a chancellor of Germany, she led a grand coalition with the SDP for the cabinets. In these terms, she led Germany and Europe through some of the world’s major crises such as the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, the European Debt Crisis, and the European Migrant crisis in 2015. Her approaches in economic crisis management and bringing stability back has given her the name of the de facto leader of EU and ‘the leader of the free world’ In 2005, Germany had an unemployment rate of 11 percent and was frequently derided as the “sick man of Europe.” Two years later, the global financial crisis hit, sending several countries across Europe into a downward economic spiral. Merkel’s policies during the crisis along with her business-friendly approach in the years that followed transformed Germany into the fourth largest economy in Europe with a high standard of living, almost full employment, and historic budget surpluses. The Eurozone debt crisis wreaked havoc in certain European countries such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Cyprus as they were unable to repay or refinance their government debt. Merkel’s focus on saving the euro, bringing interests’ rates to zero, and providing bail-outs to struggling nations, navigated Europe through the crisis. In 2015, the migration crisis peaked as 1.3 million refugees arrived with asylum requests, the largest number in a single year after World War II. Merkel’s pro-refugee stance helped the refugees to gain easier asylum in Europe by suspending the provisions that stipulated that asylum seekers must seek asylum in the first EU country they arrive. As much as her policies have been appreciated, they also faced criticism but in any way played a key role in shaping her legacy. In her chancellorship, Merkel also brought significant reform in moving the socially conservative party towards centrism. She abolished military conscription, gave parents more flexibility when it came to taking leave for newborn children, and supported the introduction of a minimum wage. Her supporters also credit her for closing Germany’s 17 nuclear power stations and for the claim she made that Germany would transition away from nuclear energy by 2022, which seems practically ambitious, however, set under climate law formed in 2019. Merkel being well known for her crisis management skills and maintaining a conflict-free sphere was also remarked well for her relationship management with Britain during Brexit and COVID 19 management approach. As she steps down from chancellorship, it has marked an end of an era for Germany as well as European Union. Olaf Scholz from Social Democratic Party (SPD) was appointed as the chancellor of Germany on 8 December 2021.      
Olympics 2020 from the Gender lens
The Tokyo Olympics 2020 had everyone’s eyes sinc...
The Tokyo Olympics 2020 had everyone’s eyes since it was kicked off a year after being postponed due to the pandemic. With 339 events in 33 different sports with a total of 50 disciplines, the event garnered worldwide excitement and support and was ended with a bang on the 8th of August, 2021. Besides interesting games, the Olympics had some amazing highlights. From Simone Biles withdrawal from games for her mental well-being and then an amazing comeback for a bronze medal, Olympics 2020 truly gave us some heartwarming moments to all the exciting moments created by the determined athletes. Although the COVID19 rate plummeted in Tokyo during the Olympics, the games added colors into otherwise grey moods of the pandemic-affected world. Among others, one of the major highlights of the event was Olympic 2020 being the first-ever gender-balanced Olympic Games in history with 48.5% women participation in all games. This is up from previous games where we saw 45% at the 2016 Rio Games and 44.2% at London 2012. As such, this year we got to witness women from diverse ranges and ages, from 13-year-old swimmers to a mother of 3 children coming after her retirement. Historically, the Olympic Games were not equal to women players as with most of the sports that were considered men’s arena. In 1894, when the Olympic Games were founded, they were reserved for male athletes as a celebration of virility. Women were admitted in 1900 as participants in sports that were considered to be compatible with their femininity and fragility but were excluded from the showpiece events of track and field. On the initiative of the Frenchwoman Alice Milliat and the International Women’s Sports Federation (FSFI), a power struggle began with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Women’s Olympiads were organized from 1922 to 1934 to force the committee to yield. The Olympics slowly became feminized, although gender imbalance was dominant throughout the twentieth century, including in the IOC. To minimize the gender imbalance, the Olympic charter has made women's participation mandatory in every sport since 2007. In 2014, the European Commission defended equality in sport, and IOC added gender parity to the 2020 Olympics agenda. In this line of embracing gender equality, more steps were promoted by the IOC in Olympics 2020. IOC asked each country to nominate one man and one woman to be the flag bearers, with countries like China and Mongolia having a woman flag bearer for the first time. IOC also introduced new sports- baseball, softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, and surfing where there will be both men’s and women’s competition, and more mixed-gender games, a mixed triathlon relay, a mixed doubles event in table tennis, and mixed events in judo, archery and shooting were added in 2020. Moreover, recognizing the need for structural equality, IOC also increased the number of women executives in the IOC with more than 46% of women members. This Olympic Games also set the landmark of having all 206 NOCs represented by at least one male and one female athlete together in their delegations. However, the Olympic Games still have a long way to go to ensure absolute gender balance and equality, because, despite the landmark moves, there were a couple of decisions completely unfavorable of the gender equality theme. One of them is regarding the Norwegian Women’s beach handball team being fined on the grounds of too long shorts. Conversely, British Paralympian Olivia Breen was told by an official that her briefs were too short. Men beach handball players, on other hand, are free to wear shorts as long as 10 centimeters above the knee just as long as they aren’t “too baggy”. Moreover, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) banned the use of swimming caps made specifically to protect dreadlocks, afros, weaves, braids, and thick curly hair for the 2021 Games saying the product doesn’t fit ‘the natural form of the head’ putting in disadvantage players like Alice Dearing. Although the committee has lauded Olympics 2020 for being gender-balanced, the scrutinizing comments and judgments on female players' sportswear were disappointing. Furthermore, the new mothers who were nursing their young babies also complained about COVID-related restrictions that prohibited them from bringing their babies to the games. As per Janice Forsyth, former director of Western University’s International Center for Olympic Studies in Ontario “The reasons pertaining to such gender insensitive reasons are often commercial, women players and games are considered as a lucrative marketing scheme to attract more hetero-sexual men into watching the game and thereby increasing sponsorships and contracts”. Nevertheless, the Olympics 2020 was indeed a great platform encouraging women athletes across the world, at the same time bringing to light the various gender issues in sports that need to be addressed in the coming days.  
About Shakuntala Devi – the human computer
In an age where traditional gender stereotypes sti...
In an age where traditional gender stereotypes still reign and limit women from achieving positions in leadership and technological sectors, many women in the past have successfully broken the barrier and proved the otherwise paving path for newer generations of women to shine. Shakuntala Devi, born in November 1929 in Karnataka, India is one of the powerful women known for her mathematical skills. Popularly known as the ‘Human Computer’, Devi had a mysteriously unknown ability to perform highly complicated calculations of large numbers within just a few seconds. Daughter of a circus dancer, Devi’s talent was first discovered by her father during a card trick when she was three years old. Although she never got formal education opportunities, she received international exposure through various roadshows that her father organized to showcase her talents. At the age of six, she demonstrated her arithmetic abilities at the University of Mysore. By the time she was a teenager, she was already traveling around major cities in the world performing her talents. Devi was born with a unique ability to perform a range of arithmetic calculations- extracting cube roots of 9 to 27 digit long numbers within some seconds. In 1988, in a test of her abilities conducted by the psychologist Arthur Jensen at the University of California-Berkeley, Shakuntala Devi mentally calculated the cube roots of 95,443,993 (answer 457) in 2 seconds, of 204,336,469 (answer 589) in 5 seconds, and 2,373,927,704 (answer 1334) in 10 seconds. She also calculated the 7th root of 455,762,531,836,562,695,930,666,032,734,375 (answer 46,295) in 40 seconds. Likewise, she could also perform long multiplications. At Imperial College on June 18, 1980, Shakuntala Devi was asked to multiply two 13-digit numbers that she answered in 28 seconds. This got her into the Guinness Book of World records in 1982. Her skill also included calendar calculation where she could tell the day of any date in the last century. For example, if you gave her the date July 31, 1920, she would immediately tell you that it was a Saturday. If the date was stated in the order month, day, year (for example, July-13-1920), her average response time was about 1 second. Many psychological studies attempted to decipher the secrets of her skills, however, the mystery remains unsolved. Arthur Jensen, the psychologist from the University of California-Berkeley conducted several tests on her skills and published the findings in the journal Intelligence in 1990. None of the objective tests could explain how Devi was able to perform these rather rare and incredible numerical feats. He however expressed about possible enormous and prolonged interest and practice in particular skill might have played part in developing her skill. He also mentions in his report “Devi ‘perceives’ large numbers differently from the way most of us ordinarily do. When she takes in a large number (and she must do this visually), it undergoes some transformation, almost instantly — usually some kind of simplification of the number.” She described some methods of mental multiplication and calendar calculations in her book ‘Figuring: The Joy of Mathematics’ All self-taught, Devi later authored several books on calculations, mathematical puzzles, and grooming children in mathematical skills. She also wrote numerous books on astrology, cookbooks, and novels. Her talent gave her international recognition. Indira Gandi, during an interview in 2009, told her about her being a special ambassador for her roving mathematical skills who can help establish Indian friendships with many countries. Married around mind 1960s and divorced later, Devi passed away in 2013 at 83 years of age. She has a daughter residing in London. A film of her life titled ‘Shakuntala Devi’ was released in July 2020 on amazon prime.
A historical timeline to Beijing+25
Twenty-five years ago, in 1995, 17,000 participant...
Twenty-five years ago, in 1995, 17,000 participants, 6,000 government delegates, 4,000 accredited NGO representatives, and around 4,000 media representatives came together at Fourth World Conference on Women. The conference held in Beijing came to become the largest gathering for gender equality advocacy in history. In the conference, 189 UN member states unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA), where the countries committed to taking action for women’s rights and development in 12 key areas. The BPFA to date serves as a guiding policy for women’s development interventions across the world. The Fourth Conference on Women has completed its 25th year in July 2020. Beijing+25 has been an awaited campaign, mostly digital due to pandemic now. The campaign aims to develop a platform to reflect on the commitments made by member states 25 years ago, assess the current status of women’s position in society, and plan for better action. In this article, let us trace back the events that made this historical milestone possible. Formation of Commission on Status of Women, 1946 The Commission on Status of Women (CSW), the leading intergovernmental organization working to secure women’s rights, initiated the movement on addressing women’s human rights. Following long years of effort, the CSW first drafted Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (DEDAW). General Assembly passed the DEDAW in 1967, which was later proposed to be a legally binding ‘Convention’ in the same year. The convention was adopted by General Assembly in 1979 and ratified by 189 states. The commission’s 25th anniversary was marked by recommending 1975 to be declared as International Women’s Year. International Women’s Year 1975 and the First World Conference on Women, Mexico CSW proposed 1975 to be the International Women’s Year, starting the celebration of women’s day on March 8 The year also held the first world conference on women in Mexico from June 19 to July 2. The conference came up with the comprehensive guidelines for women’s advancement until 1985 as a World Plan of Action. Following the recommendation made during International Women’s year, the United Nations declared 1976 to 1985 the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development, and Peace, providing further legitimacy to women’s issues. It also led to establishing the International Research and Training Institute for Women’s Advancement to track improvements and continuing issues and the United Nations Development Fund for Women to provide funding for developmental programs. The conference also established a series of conferences to follow up on the first conference, the first of them happened in Copenhagen in 1980. Second World Conference on Women, Denmark, 1980  The second World Conference on Women was held as a mid-decade assessment of progress and failure to implement the World Plan of Action. Caught up in between Cold War and geopolitical divides, the conference could not remain untouched by the politicization, and therefore, encountered numerous challenges in its implementation. One hundred forty-five states with around 1500 delegates attended the conference. Although seen as a failure by some participants, the project’s significant outcome was the official signing of CEDAW by the representatives at the opening ceremony. The conference also adopted the World Programme of Action that ensured creating women’s bureaus or agencies, defined roles of NGOs and grassroots organizations, and addressed the issues of childcare and women-headed households, unemployment, youth, migrant and rural women. The Plan of Action’s significant changes were additional sections devoted to ensuring equal access to education, employment, and health care to women. Third World Conference on Women, Kenya, 1985  The Third world Conference on Women marked the end-decade assessment of the World Plan for Action’s progress and failure. Held from 15-26 July in Nairobi, Kenya, the conference still had to navigate the geopolitical crises like the worldwide debt crisis, the rise of neoliberalism, and the ongoing cold war. Such issues came as a challenge to focus entirely on women’s issues; however, it marked significant progress, and for the first time, it openly addressed the issues of Violence against Women (VAW) that used to be a silenced topic. The discussion ultimately led to the passage of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women in 1993. The conference found that the goals set in 1975 remained unmet, and decided on conducting world surveys on women every five years and continue with evaluations of women’s achievements and failures through the year 2000. Fourth World Conference on Women, China, 1995 Following the earlier conferences, the fourth world conference on women was held in Beijing in 1995. The speech delivered by the First Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” is considered one of the most influential lessons to date. The significant outcome of the conference was the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), which focused on 12 key areas that include: women and the environment, women in Power and Decision making, the girl child, women and the economy, women and poverty, violence against women, human rights of women, education, and training of women, institutional mechanism for the advancement of women, women and health, women and the media, and women and armed conflict. Another significant outcome of the conference was the Beijing Declaration of Indigenous women, which was a substantial step towards indigenous women’s rights and indigenous feminism. A commemorative park opened in Huairou district in Beijing, marking the Fourth World Conference on Women. Beiijing+20 In 2014, UN Women launched a year-long campaign on the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on women with a campaign called Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!, also called the Beijing+20 campaign. The campaign was launched in New York amidst hundreds of UN officials, feminist activists, celebrities, and performers, and sparked the global dialogue on women’s rights and equality and fulfilling BPFA promises. The Beijing+20 campaign was kicked off online in May that galvanized a global audience of 40 million, with media, civil society organizations, and individuals actively engaged in a re-energized conversation. Beijing+25  The 2019 campaign “Generation Equality” launched by UN Women is also called the Beijing+25 campaign. The Generation Equality Campaign and Generation equality forum is launched as a groundbreaking, multigenerational campaign. Marking the 5-year milestone of achieving Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 agenda and the 25th anniversary of the Beijing conference, series of events and meetings are planned for the campaign. A high-level meeting of the General assembly was held on October 1, 2020 with the theme “Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.            
Education Amidst the Pandemic: Fighting to Protect Students from COVID-19
When the World Health Organization declared COVID-...
When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic back in March, various government bodies immediately implemented measures within their jurisdictions in an attempt to curb the quickly rising infection rates. Due to the rapid spread and great severity of the novel coronavirus, however, these measures included strict social distancing regulations, community curfews and quarantines, and in badly-hit areas, even complete lockdowns. Sadly, the seemingly omnipresent threat of the pandemic as well as the lockdowns implemented have greatly affected not only the economy and the healthcare sector but also the education sector. And with the new school year just starting, we’re now seeing the full effects of COVID-19 on the education systems of countries around the world.

Changes And Transformations On Education

Although most schools chose to close once the virus first broke out, it was clear that doing so would be unsustainable. With the advice of the government’s department of education, administrators had to decide one of three things:
  1. End the school year immediately;
  2. Automatically give passing marks to students;
  3. Or continue classes in any means possible, usually online.
A lot of schools opted for the third option, and teachers and students alike were forced to look for alternatives on how they could continue classes as normal. Other sectors such as manufacturing, IT, and publishing, also had to adjust to provide the new market with their demands and needs, such as new internet connections and new teaching materials or workbooks. This opened up a discussion on the state of education across various countries almost immediately. Although there was already a steady increase in online learning opportunities prior to COVID-19, its importance, as well as convenience, was further highlighted due to the new circumstances. After all, one of the most recommended precautionary measures by the government against the virus was social distancing. Thus, the option for online learning meant that students could still continue their education safely in their own homes, despite the current measures in place. Working towards the new normal, countries are now slowly starting to shift to virtual learning and related technological improvements. One example is the United States, where the Gates Foundation partnered with New York City, known for having the largest public school system in the entire country, in order to “reimagine education.” The partnership involved ensuring “equitable access to education” and using modern technology to replace the traditional way of studying in a brick-and-mortar classroom.

Challenges Of Unequal Access To Education

Even before the pandemic occurred, there was already a structural inequality in the education systems of many countries. The global coronavirus outbreak, however, only further emphasized these issues. One of the things highlighted by the new online learning setup is the unequal access to education, especially in countries with lower socioeconomic status populations. Out-of-school children, refugee and migrant children, children with disabilities, and even girls have also traditionally been excluded in many education policies and practices. Additionally, while virtual education seems like the most obvious educational response during the pandemic, it has increasingly become apparent that this may not always be effective for all sectors in society. The gaps in access to technological resources, such as high-bandwidth internet connection and devices with wireless features, show that not everyone can keep up with online learning. Marginalized students who already live with less are now expected to adapt to online learning like their more privileged peers, something that is evidently not always possible. “The pandemic is casting a harsh light on issues of privilege and equity, and we’ll see many marginalized students disappear from the system without considerable effort to provide them with extra support,” Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc said in his take of how universities should adapt to online learning. Since most workplaces have shifted to work-from-home setups and most schools are closed, work-based education such as internships and company studies have been suspended. Although these are externally insinuated circumstances and will likely not completely prevent students from getting accepted into jobs in the future, it’s not hard to imagine that employers may still prefer those who were able to complete theirs than those who did not.

How Governments Encourage Learning Across The Globe

With schools in 192 countries closing due to government-implemented lockdowns by the start of April, the number of affected learners from pre-primary up to tertiary peaked at more than 1.71 billion. This makes up over 91.2% of the total enrolled learners worldwide. While some countries proceeded to conduct their classes online almost immediately, others have closed schools temporarily to determine longer-term education plans. Most governments provided administrators with three main options for continuing classes.

On-Site Learning

Over six months after WHO’s announcement, some countries have managed to ease their local infection enough to resume on-site learning. One of these countries is Thailand. After more than 70 days of not recording even a single case of local infection, the Office of Basic Education Commission (OBEC) instructed schools across the country to resume in-person teaching starting on August 13. With social distancing guidelines, mask-wearing policies, and strict contact tracing, schools have now assumed a new normal in Thailand. Japan, on the other hand, had an earlier resumption of classes. When the government lifted the state of emergency in 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures, schools in these prefectures started reopening to resume normal classes on May 18. In Tokyo, almost a month after, classes started resuming, with health reports that students needed to submit to their teachers upon arrival. In China, where the coronavirus first broke out, the government utilized its authoritarian nature in strictly implementing the protocols to avoid outbreaks in schools. Although there are still a few cases here and there, roughly 195 million students in the country are now back to on-site learning. With medical personnel checking temperatures and  administrative officials confirming the students’ travel reports and test results and making sure protocols are observed, the government, for the larger part, has been able to keep the virus in control. Similarly, many other governments are taking advantage of the academic breaks to determine policies that can mitigate, if not totally reduce, the spread of the virus so that schools can reopen safely. That’s why countries such as Italy, Hungary, Turkmenistan, and Ireland are able to open schools fully.

Remote Learning

Sadly, many countries still have high reports of coronavirus infections, which makes it impossible to reopen schools. In these countries, different methods of remote learning have to be employed, such as remote learning. In Mexico, school lessons have resumed, but not in traditional schools. Classes are being broadcasted on TV, with schedules based on public school curriculums prior to the pandemic. This is because 93% of homes in Mexico has access to television, compared to only half of the population that have access to the internet. Meanwhile, in Nepal, an educational radio program was launched to teach learners remotely while schools are closed. Nepal’s “unique social environment, social structure, and geographical inconveniences” limit families’ access to mobile phones, televisions, and the internet, said secondary school science teacher, Mahesh Prasad Koirala. “In such circumstances as these, radio education programmes seem to be the most effective solution in a country like Nepal.” UNESCO, Nepal’s Education Development Directorate, and Prime FM Radio joined forces and launched the pilot episode of Radio Pathsala in the Bagmati Province last May. Teachers provide educational content while students can call-in live to ask questions. Thanks to a collaboration between the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and Nepal’s Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (ACORAB), the radio lesson initiative now covers 77 districts in seven provinces throughout the country. Like Mexico and Nepal, other countries that still cannot assure the health and safety of their students have adapted different ways of remote learning. This includes radio and television broadcasting, online learning like official YouTube channels and e-learning platforms, or providing students with e-textbooks.

Continuous Schooling

As mentioned above, most countries opted to impose national lockdowns and close schools to drastically limit the number of people going out and possibly getting infected. These countries only reopened once they determined that the spread was more controlled and traceable. That said, there are still some countries that never closed schools entirely and chose instead to continue with enhanced preparedness and mitigation measures. In Germany, for example, classes are kept running, and only close contacts of an infected person are recommended to get quarantined. Students are only expected to wear masks in hallways and bathrooms but can take them off inside the classroom since the desks are distantly spaced. Belarus, on the other hand, extended their spring break to two weeks instead of one, but otherwise kept their schools open. Parents were, however, given the option not to send their children to school physically if they think their safety and health are at risk. This is understandable, as a freeze on education could be damaging to any country’s confidence and economy in the longer term. But countries are taking the necessary steps to adapt and eventually recover. Governments have adjusted their education systems to cope first with the pandemic, slowly easing the system back to recovery and normality.

Education Amidst The Pandemic

COVID-19 has certainly dealt a huge blow to the world. But like with all other sectors of the society affected by the pandemic, education systems are coping with the current circumstances or already adapting to the new normal. Under these new circumstances, the gaps in education systems around the globe have been highlighted and emphasized. More than ever, we now need to work towards a more inclusive, more equitable, and more resilient education system.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: her legacy remains  
“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, th...
“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.” "When I'm sometimes asked 'When will there be enough (women on the Supreme Court)?' and my answer is: 'When there are nine.' People are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that." These powerful lines were echoed across the world last week, on September 18, as the one who spoke it, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the American Jurist and feminist icon, passed away at the age of 83. The second woman to serve the Supreme Court, she fought hard and long to address gender equality issues and secured landmark judgments shaping the lives of women in the US throughout her career. Born to a Jewish father and Polish immigrant mother on March 15, 1933, Joan Ruth Bader had to bear the loss of her elder sister and her mother at an early age. An active and excellent student from childhood, Bader graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in Bachelors in arts degree in government. She also met her husband, Martin D. Ginsburg, in the same college. She attended Harvard Law School in the fall of 1956, where she was one of the only nine women in a class of 500 men, where she, including other eight girls, was reportedly asked by the dean of Harvard, ‘why are you at Harvard Law School, taking the place of a man?” Instances and examples like these where her significant career steps were hindered because of gendered issues despite being fully qualified, she naturally developed the drive towards fighting for gender equality. However, precisely, her inspiration evolved during her time in Sweden, where she was conducting extensive research for her book at Lund University, where she observed that women made 20 to 25 percent of all law students, and one of the judges was working during eight months of pregnancy. Later, being one of the first few female professors of law, she also co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the US focusing exclusively on women’s rights. Her breakthrough career move was the six cases she fought related to gender discrimination before the Supreme Court between 1973 to 1976 where she won five of them. The noteworthy aspect of her argument that led her to victory was the strategic approach she had to apply during the argument. Rather than asking the court to end all gender discrimination at once, she aimed at discriminatory statues one at a time. Her approach also focused on explaining the court on how gender discrimination affects both men and women. She strategically chose her words, replacing the word ‘sex’ with ‘gender’ to avoid distraction to judges. Her excellent oral advocacy led to the end of gender discrimination in various areas of law. Such as, Equal protection clause in the fourteenth amendment to women, which provides equal citizenship rights to all Americans in 1971, intermediate scrutiny on laws through gender lens for the first time in the US, setting equal drinking ages for men and women, equal legal measures for collecting social security benefits, the validity of women’s jury duty, and many more as such. In 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Seen as a moderate and a consensus builder at that time, she was the second female and the first Jewish female justice of the Supreme Court. Her performance on the court is characterized as ‘cautious’ and ‘rational minimalist’ as she used the cautious approach to her arguments. When Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor retired in 2006, Ginsburg was the only woman in the court, when as per the New York Times, ‘she found her voice and used it’ referring to her 2006-2007 term. One of her popular dissents to the Supreme Court was on the Ledbetter v. Goodyear case regarding pay discrimination based on gender. She raised her argument on the facts that most of the time, women do not know they are being paid less, so they cannot act at the time of paycheck, and how women face reluctance in male-dominated fields to file the lawsuits for a small amount, so they wait till the disparity accumulates. Her dissent later resulted in making the Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act, which made it employees to win pay discrimination claims, the law. Ginsburg also actively advocated the use of foreign law and norms to shape US law. She also supported many tribal and native laws in the US. Her opinion also led the court to rule that mental illness is a form of disability covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. She also showed her support to the #Metoo movement by sharing her personal experiences. Ginsburg, a grandmother of four, lost her husband to testicular cancer in 2010. In her lifetime, she fought with five bouts of cancer, first diagnosed in 1999 with colon cancer. Later in 2009, she underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer, and in 2019 she was yet again diagnosed with lung cancer. In January 2020, she was cancer-free, but by the end of May 2020, she was again dealing with pancreatic cancer. She passed away from the same complications at the age of 87, at her home. Even after death, Judge RBG is creating a history for women being the first women to lie in the state in the US Capitol. Thirty-four men have been honored so far since 1852. The honor comes after Ginsburg lay in repose at the US Supreme court, where she served for 27 years. Even after her death, her legacy remains.  
US celebrates 100th anniversary of women suffrage
On August 18, 1920, the United States of America c...

On August 18, 1920, the United States of America celebrated the 100th years of the 19th Amendment, the words where "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged … on account of sex" were added to the US Constitution. 

 

The day marked a century of a historical victory that led to women being able to vote in the US. The day, however, signified much more than just being able to make a political decision actively. The day was a symbol of long-awaited, much-needed institutional commitment to equality based on sex. The day was momentous in providing women the power to change and determine their future.

 

Although not perfect in its delivery, the 19th Amendment was a stepping stone towards equality, and although there is a long way to go, the day is worth paying tribute to thousands of women suffragists, coming from different walks of life, who made the Amendment possible through massive country-wide movements. 

 

Journey to women suffrage 

 

For those of us women, unaware of how the seemingly simple act of voting required years-long campaigning and activism, it is essential to sketch a picture. 

 

Suffragists of all kind- white women, women of color, Latin women, and even men, came together to fight for one of the history's most remarkable achievements for women and the world, their right to vote. The movement for women's right to vote started from somewhere in 1840 from Seneca Falls, when a set of women put forward demands for women's rights, including the right to vote. However, the movement soon expanded all over the country. Organizations like the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and the National Woman's Party (NWP) were formed, and women like Susan B. Anthony and the NAWSA president Carrie Chapman Catt led the activism with nation-wide traveling and giving speeches. Inspired by the British suffrage movements but unlike them, the US suffragists, however, used a more grassroots approach to activism. The suffragists took to streets and picketing outside the White House, and used innovative ideas such as 'Suffrage day Baseball game,' publishing and fundraising through a cookbook, designing valentine's day card with messages of equality, mountaineering with Votes for Women banner, and as such to demand their rights and to make women across country feel the necessity of the right. 

 

Many women opposed suffrage movements too, arguing that voting would make women masculine, disrupt their traditional roles as wives and mothers, and destroy American society. 

 

Moreover, although the movement collectively brought together women from diverse backgrounds, the movement itself was not free from ongoing segregation rules. Black women, in particular, were excluded from many suffrage groups, which led them to form their own groups fighting not only for voting rights but for greater equality and justice for their communities. Along with Black communities, Latinas, Asian-Americans, Indigenous Women, and Immigrants were all part of the multigenerational struggle for the vote; however, they were excluded when the 19th Amendment happened. Black communities were excluded through other policies such and Jim Crows law, which extended their fights for decades to come. Many Native Americans could not vote until 1924 when the Snyder Act made them US citizens. Chinese immigrants were similarly barred until the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943. The Voting Rights Act that came in 1965 only ensured racial equality in voting, making it another milestone in suffrage history. 

 

The suffrage movement was never a single-issue movement, as suffragists understood that getting the right to vote was crucial to bringing all the necessary social and political changes. As such, the suffrage movement and antislavery movement went on like sibling movements. The organizations formed during these movements fought for a range of issues, including better health care, child care, education, anti-alcoholism, and rampant sexism and violence against women. Access to birth control, which was legalized only in 1972, was another major issue that women fought. Likewise, these women's groups also pushed for more robust workplace safety measures and legal protections for women working in factories and mills, among which immigrants were the majority. As a positive result, acts like The Equal Rights Amendment, Title IX, and the Lilly Ledbetter, Fair Pay Act, were formulated as descendants of the suffrage movement. Moreover, the movement's success led to more investment in local public health, declination of Child Mortality rate between 8 to 15 percent, increased education budget, social programs, and charities. 

 

So, 100 years after, how is the impact of the movement?

 

After a century of movement that involved generations of women, the present-age women are still grappling with the issues they fought back then- political inequality, racism, sexism. 

 

Although women have come a long way in terms of their political and social position, there still lies a huge pay gap and lack of women's representations in all political, social, and corporate levels. Women, especially women of color, are disproportionately involved in unpaid labor and underpaid, low-wage jobs.

 

An entirely male congress passed the 19th Amendment after Jeannette Rankin voted out for opposing World War II. Fifty years later, there still was only one female senator and ten representatives. In 2020, there are 127 voting women in Congress, still only a quarter of the legislature.

 

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center on what Americans think has changed and what has not after the 19th Amendment. The results were mixed, with 57 percent thinking a lot needs to be done toward gender equality, where 32 percent thought we had achieved it, and 10 percent though we had gone too far. Moreover, 40 percent Republican and 20 percent Democrats’ men believed that women's advancement had come at their own expense. 

 

The suffrage movement won women's right to vote and representation, but without being represented. Even today, men dominate the political sphere where decisions on maternity leave, abortions, and birth control are made.

 

If the coronavirus pandemic has taught the world anything, it has shown that we can make dramatic changes when it is necessary.

New Zealand unanimously passes the Equal Pay Amendment Bill
Another exemplary move by the New Zealand governme...
Another exemplary move by the New Zealand government on ensuring gender-equality- Equal Pay Amendment Bill got passed with unanimous support in July 2020. The passing of the Bill has cleared the pathway for workers in female-dominated professions to claim equal pay. Statistics of New Zealand (StatsNz) announced the gender pay gap of 9.3 percent in New Zealand in August 2019. Although the pay gap is consistently reducing each year in the last decade, with a 16.3 percent reduction since 1998, the pay gap remains one of the major determinants of gender-based inequality. The gender pay gap is measured by calculating differences in the median hourly wages of men and women. Until 1960, the separate pay rates for men and women in the same work were considered legal in both the public and private sectors. The Government Service Equal pay act in 1960 was the first legal instrument acknowledging the pay discrimination and abolishing the gender-based pay differences in public services. In 1972, the Equal Pay Act was further extended to private sectors. Further, the Employment Relations Act 2000 also prohibits discrimination on employment on the grounds of sex. New Zealand is a signatory to many international agreements with the International Labor Organization and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and it is continually striving to achieve gender equality in all forms. The Equal Pay Amendment Bill comes in alignment with the Equal Pay Act 1972 and the Employment Relations Act 2000. The Bill provides a government designed and approved system to raise the pay equity issues and claim equal pay. “No one should be paid less just because they work in a female-dominated occupation - this is one of the biggest gains for gender equity in the workplace since the Equal Pay Act 1972,” says Julie Anne Genter, Minister of Women, New Zealand. As per Andrew Little, Minister for Workplace Relations, “The Bill provides a clear and easier path for businesses, workers and unions to effectively and fairly claim for the equal pay, and encourages collaboration and evidence-based decision making to address pay inequity, rather than relying on an adversarial court process.” The process for claiming pay equity as per the Bill requires ‘claimant’ (individual employee, a union, or multiple unions of the members working same or substantially similar work) to raise the claim in writing. The claims must be ‘arguable,’ i.e., the work is predominantly performed by female employees or is currently undervalued or has been historically undervalued. The employer must then decide, not later than 45 days of receiving the claim, that it is arguable. In case the employer does not consider the claim arguable, the claimant can refer the issue to mediation or seek a determination from the Employment Relations Authority. Upon consideration of the employer on the claim's argument, the employer and claimant enter into bargaining to resolve the claim through pay equity settlement. Causes of Gender Pay Gap  A research report Empirical evidence of the gender pay gap in New Zealand  (led by Professor Gail Pacheco from AUT) has provided insights into the cause of the gender pay gap in New Zealand. The report highlights that the causes of the gender pay gap in New Zealand are complex and that ‘unexplained’ factors drive the majority (80%) of the gender pay gap. The report shares that in the past, factors such as differences in education, the occupations, and industries that men and women work in, or the fact that women are more likely to work part-time determined the pay gap. However, in the present scenario, the factors are more linked to conscious and unconscious biases that negatively impact women’s recruitment and pay advancement. Likewise, the differences in men’s and women’s choices and behaviors regarding the appropriate types of work as per their sex, and allocation of unpaid work like caretaking and housework also determines and leads to the gender pay gap. The differences in attitude and behaviors also include men's and women’s willingness to negotiate pay and conditions. Australian research in 2016 highlighted that men are 25 percent more likely to get pay raise when they ask. Another reason leading the complex gender gap is occupational segregation, which means the clustering of male and female workers in particular occupations. For example, nursing is a female-dominated occupation, while construction is male-dominated. The female-dominated occupations tend to be lower-paid than those dominated by men. Likewise, vertical domination contributes to the gender pay gap, which means women are underrepresented in senior managerial positions that are higher-paid.  
Belarus Protests 2020: Women are the face of change in Belarus
Streets of Minsk, Belarus was taken up by thousand...
Streets of Minsk, Belarus was taken up by thousands of protesters in what is claimed to be the largest demonstration ever in the history of Belarus, where approximately 200,000 demonstrated against the widely disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko on Sunday, August 9, 2020. Lukashenko, often referred to as 'Europe's last dictator,' has been running the office since 1994 and further claimed to a 'sixth-term' with a landslide victory with 80% of the vote in the election. Opponents immediately claimed the result to be rigged, and citizens took upon streets calling for change. The unrest is growing ever since with excessive police brutality and arrests of more than 6000 protesters. In such a scenario, women have been at the forefront leading the protests. The movement is called "women in the white" in acknowledgment of the women dressed in white, forming 'chains of solidarity.' Protesters have been waving red and white flags as a symbol of opposition since the President replaced it with a more Soviet-looking national flag soon after coming to power. The outcry erupted as a response to the institutionalized patriarchy persistent in Belarus on a national level. President Lukashenko's comment on the constitution not made for women and that women do not have strength and possibilities to govern the country, specifically ignited the response. He said earlier this year, "Our society has not matured enough to vote for a woman. This is because, by the constitution, the President handles a lot of power." Challenging his position and credibility, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a 37-year-old former stay-at-home mother, fought him as the main opposition. Her candidacy came into effect after her husband's arrest, who was blocked from registering the vote. She gave Lukashenkdo the toughest competition with massive rallies and campaigns, leading to a high number of votes. The two other women who pooled their resources for Tsikhanouskaya's victory, Maria Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo, were prominent figures in the election. However, security threats have prompted the two of them, the opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Veronika Tsepkalo leave the country. Maria Kolesnikova is the only one left in the country after two campaign colleagues fled Belarus over security concerns for themselves and their family. The security threats and harassment to women activists in Belarus was a common practice in Belarus used by the authority to silence the opponent's voice. Amnesty International, the human rights body, has also released a public statement highlighting the gender-based reprisals against the women activists in Belarus calling out against the high-level misogyny and patriarchal attitudes promoted by national media and security threats to women presidential candidate and their children. Amnesty International has called upon Belarus authorities to adhere by all the international human rights agreements, to take immediate action against all sorts of reprisals to women activists and practice of gender-specific intimidation and threats of gender-based violence, and to effectively investigate and provide justice to threats, violence, and arrests of reported victims. Kolesnikova, a leading figure in Tsikhanouskaya's campaign, is the only one left in the country, addressing the protests and seen in the streets with women forming chains. She commits to continuing the protests and raising voice for free and fair elections, releasing the prisoners and supporting the ones who suffered from the protests. Besides the gender-specific reprisals, the brutal response by the authority has been widely condemned. The EU and the United Nations also condemned the violent response to the protesters.  The videos released on social media showed the ex-special force's officers throwing their uniforms into bins in disgust at their former colleagues' actions. The testimonies of citizens showed that the repression through brutal forces targeted not only activists but also journalists and even accidental passer-by.    
On Protecting Women’s Rights: Two Sides In the Istanbul Convention
The Istanbul Convention, officially known as the ...
The Istanbul Convention, officially known as the “Council Of Europe Convention On Preventing And Combating Violence Against Women And Domestic Violence” of the Council of Europe Treaty Series, is a European Union convention that aims to put an end to the violence against women as a major step forward in making Europe a safer place. What began as several initiatives from the 1990s to promote the protection of women against violence became a full-blown treaty. And on May 11, 2011, the Istanbul Convention was opened for signatures, coming into force on August 1, 2014.

The Opposite Side

Turkey and Their “Wrong” Decision

As Morning Star so crudely put it, Turkey is clearly on the road to becoming “a slaughterhouse of women”. This is due to the fact that the country has been dealing with an alarming rise in domestic violence and femicide in recent months and years. In 2019 alone, 474 women were murdered in Turkey, mostly by their former or current partners or male relatives and acquaintances in their own homes. Despite this report, however, conservative officials declared on a televised interview that the decision to sign the Convention was “really wrong”, citing “gender and sexual orientation issues” as the reason. As if this wasn’t enough proof that Turkey is in dire need of a legal framework against women violence, increasing numbers of femicides in the country were reported by Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu (We Will Stop Femicides Platform, KCDP). The numbers rose from 21 femicides on May, 26 in June, to a heart-breaking 36 in July. However, women’s groups from all around the country protested against Turkey’s decision to pull out of the Istanbul Convention. One of them is a group of women from Edirne, who reportedly said, “Don’t touch the Istanbul Convention,” in a July 20 press conference.

Poland and the “Harmful” Convention

Turkey isn’t the only one who is planning on withdrawing its signature. Poland also mentioned it is planning to withdraw from the convention. The country’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro argued that the Istanbul Convention violated the rights of parents. Ziobro also added that reforms introduced in the country in recent years already provided sufficient protection for women, even without the Convention.

The Safer Side

Spain’s Only Yes Means Yes

The Spanish government is working on changing its controversial rape laws to focus on the importance of sexual consent. The initial rape laws of Spain has a distinction between sexual abuse and the more serious offense of sexual assault. This distinction has prompted nationwide outrage and protests when a group of five men who called themselves “La Manada,” which means wolf pack, was initially cleared of gang-raping a teenage woman, only to be convicted of sexual abuse, which is a lesser offense. As intimidation was then the main key to establishing the crime of rape, the court in Navarre in northern Spain decided that the woman did not face violence or intimidation and the group was only sentenced to nine (9) years in prison. However, thanks to the Istanbul Convention’s definition that "consent must be given voluntarily as the result of the person's free will assessed in the context of the surrounding circumstances", the Supreme Court has overruled the previous sentence introducing the principle of “only yes means yes” in June 2019 and raised the men’s jail terms to 15 years. Without the Istanbul Convention, those men would have gotten away serving for a lesser crime than they actually committed.

Scotland’s UK Urging

Although the UK has already signed the Istanbul Convention on June 8, 2012, it has yet to validate its support for the treaty until now. In fact, just recently, one of its constituent countries, Scotland, called on the UK government to ratify the convention. Scotland’s Communities Secretary Angela Constance wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd asking for a clear timetable in which they could proceed with the ratification. Additionally, SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford has put forward a private members’ bill at Westminster also calling on the UK government to ratify the convention. However, the convention about “extraterritoriality”, the issue of local legal jurisdictions, has been holding the UK government back. According to former Home Office minister MP Karen Bradley when she was still in office back in February, when the issue is clarified and the relevant legislation is passed, the government would ratify the convention. In the meantime though, Theresa May, who was the UK Home Secretary when the country signed the convention back in 2012, said that the UK will be continuing with their “good record” of dealing with violence against women and girls as they have done before. For example, putting into operation domestic violence protection orders and the new coercive control offense.

How the Instanbul Convention Helps Protect Women

Despite the dire need and great significance of the Istanbul Convention for the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of women it protects and could still protect, some countries keep getting veered into unrelated issues. Some even seem to overlook the reasons why the convention was drafted in the first place. To say that concerns about the Convention aren’t valid wouldn’t be proper since, like most things, there is always room for improvement. But if proper implementation of the treaty was only observed, more women, in fact, could benefit from it. To say it simply, there is proof that the Istanbul Convention can help protect women – one only has to look at Spain’s La Manada rape case to see it.
On Protecting Women’s Rights: Understanding the Istanbul Convention
The entire world has been facing a global pandemic...
The entire world has been facing a global pandemic for months now and sadly, this situation is expected to continue until next year. But while the pandemic’s effect on health safety and economies is already disheartening, it has also allowed for other alarming concerns to not only resurface but to drastically arise as well.

The Istanbul Convention

In Turkey, one of the most alarming concerns is the unprecedented spike in reports of violence against women. Measures taken against COVID-19, such as lockdowns, have left women and girls trapped at home, or in very small social circles, with their abusers. This incredibly toxic situation stemming from the pandemic and the resulting economic instability further aggravates the risks and triggers for domestic violence. In addition to this, current social distancing measures employed by the country make it more difficult for women and children to reach out to family and friends for support and protection. The discouragement of social contact in order to prevent the spread of the disease limits how victims can get ahold of health workers, and consequently, the accessibility to safety and support services provided by the government. This is truly disconcerting given that the Istanbul Convention, short for the “Council Of Europe Convention On Preventing And Combating Violence Against Women And Domestic Violence”, was named after the country’s most iconic city, where it was opened for signatures on May 11, 2011. In other words, it turns out that the first European treaty aimed to combat domestic violence and violence against women was named after a city that is now suffering from increasing reports of domestic violence.

The Need for the Convention

Gender-based violence happens not only in Turkey but everywhere – at home, in school, at work, in every EU and non-EU country. It is one of the many forms of discrimination–a brutal one at that–and a grave violation of human rights rooted in and resulting from the systemic inequality of women and men in society. Because of gender-based violence, women end up living in fear, even of their own loved ones. According to a study published by the World Health Organization (WHO), around 30% of all women have been physically or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner in their lifetime. What’s worse is that 38% of all femicides, the killing of women and girls, around the world were actually committed by their own intimate partners. More so, the majority of women survivors, ranging from 55% to 95%, of intimate partner violence or sexual violence do not disclose their experience or seek any kind of help. The rest of the study includes even more alarming results. 55% or more than half of all women have experienced sexual harassment at least once in their lives. 33% have been physically or sexually assaulted by an adult when they were only children, 33% have experienced their partner’s psychologically abusive behavior, and 5% have experienced rape. Indeed, in a world that’s becoming increasingly modern, it seems like women are still left behind in a terrifying era of violence. Even with the increasing awareness of gender equality in these modern times, it’s still difficult to be a woman. Rather than get publicly shamed, blamed, ostracized, retaliated, or mistreated for something that they never wanted to happen, victims would instead choose to keep silent about their circumstances and would much rather not have anyone know. There is a serious case of underreporting of violence against women, with only around 30% of victims filing reports to the police. Among these, only the most serious incidents are reported. Without the assurance of satisfactory assistance, timely response, or even the most basic but adequate provision of safety and support services, victims would rather tolerate and accept the violence inflicted on them than risk their lives outing their perpetrator.

The Provisions of the Convention

In general, the Convention addresses all forms of violence against women, especially but not only domestic violence, through measures aimed at preventing violence, protecting victims, and prosecuting the perpetrators. First is the protection of the victims. It is of utmost importance that the victims are provided with the right safety and support services. This includes clear and concise information in a language that they understand so that they know what services are available to them, and accessible shelters sufficiently distributed across the country so that they have somewhere to escape to. According to the Convention, there should also be statewide 24/7 telephone helplines free of charge that can offer immediate and expert advice to guide victims to safety. Specialized help centers such as rape crisis help desks or sexual violence referral centers where they can be provided specialized care like medical counseling and forensic services are also supposed to be mandatory. Next, the Convention states that the police must have the power to remove the perpetrator from their home to face investigation and trial. Law enforcement should carry out an effective and timely investigation to avoid prolonging the victim’s trauma. Prosecution of the perpetrator is a must to ensure that justice can be served. Authorities must also protect and support child witnesses as they are more exposed to the severe impact of violence and abuse, whether physical, sexual, or psychological. In addition to this, they must also protect female migrants and asylum seekers who are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence due to their immediate need to have the right to belong to the community. They must also grant migrant women their own resident permits if their residence status is dependent on their abuser so that they do not have to keep enduring violence to keep their right to reside in the host country. Last but definitely not the least, to prevent further violation and discrimination, the Convention states that campaigns are to be conducted to promote awareness and to fully inform the general public of what forms and manifestations of violence women experience on a regular basis. Likewise, education at all levels should include the equality of men and women, non-violent resolution of conflicts in a relationship, and the right to personal integrity. Specialists and professionals who could prevent or detect acts of violence or prevent secondary victimization must also be trained and suitably assigned to government care centers and partner organizations to deal with the victims of violence as is appropriate to them.

Protecting Women with the Istanbul Convention

Now more than ever before, women wake up every morning afraid simply because they are women. The world is turning to be more and more a cruel place, crueler even inside what should be the comforts of their own home. This is why we need the Istanbul Convention – a legally binding set of guidelines designed to safeguard women against violence. And yet, this is only the beginning of the need to foster a safer place where women can freely and confidently wander in.
NASA embarks first All-Women Spacewalk
NASA hit a milestone on Friday, October 10, 2019 a...
NASA hit a milestone on Friday, October 10, 2019 as two female astronauts embarked on a first all-female spacewalk. Tasked with replacing a failed power control unit, the two female astronauts, Ms. Christina Koch and Dr. Jessica Meir, floated feet-first out of the International Space Station’s Quest airlock without male counterparts for the first time. It was a seven hours and 17 minutes’ walk in space which included a brief call with President Trump. Initially scheduled to be seven months earlier, the planned all-female spacewalk was halted due to unavailability of medium size spacesuit for the female astronauts. However accidentally it happened, it successfully got done last Friday and NASA was acclaimed widely for the symbolic empowerment of women in the astronomy world. NASA explains this was bound to happen due to increasing numbers of female astronauts, and as they celebrated this achievement, they shared their ambitious goal to first put women and then man on the moon, and plan ahead to Mars. In a video that was released, we could see Ms. Koch coming out of the hatch followed by Dr. Meir carrying a tool bag. Both of them remained attached to handrails on the exterior of the ISS with harnesses and pairs of metal carabineers. These are used to ensure that the astronauts cannot float into the space. The two astronauts, Dr. Meir and Ms. Koch were both part of NASA’s 203 class of eight astronaut trainees, which was the first batch to include equal numbers of men and women. Out of 38 active astronauts, currently there are 12 female astronauts in NASA’s ranks. Dr. Meir from Caribou, Maine, holds a master’s degree from International Space University in France. She completed her doctorate in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. Her major works include research for human physiology for Lockheed Martin and her work as an aquanaut in underwater habitat. Ms. Koch, originally from Michigan grew up in Jacksonville N.C. She holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University and has previously worked for space science instrument development remote scientific field engineering for NASA and the United States Antarctic Program, among other institutions. Ms. Koch is also on a mission to break the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, with an expected 328 days by the end of February as per the schedule. Her mission, if successful, would provide an insight on the effects of long-term spaceflight on a woman’s body. It is high time that there are data and research about the effects of spaceflight on female physiology. There are some known differences in male and female body while in space. Men and women have different sweat patterns, men sweat more than women and sweat occurs in different parts of the body. Astronauts therefore wear cooling and ventilation garment to maintain their body temperature at a safe level, but that was designed only for male bodies. Other vital differences researched highlights the differences in vision problem that men face during spacewalk but have not yet been observed in women. Another difference is that that women are more likely than men to experience faintness as a result of “orthostatic hypotension” as per one study conducted (Sans). Going back to the history of women in space, women were not admitted into astronaut program until 1978.The first spacewalk with a woman took place in 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to perform it. Of more than 560 people who have been in space around the world, only 65 have been women. However big moment of achievement it has been, female astronauts including Dr. Meir shared that they just want this to be seen as doing their job. “This is really just us doing our jobs,” Dr. Meir said in one interview, expressing her gratitude to female explorers, scientists, engineers and astronauts who paved the path to women in space before her. Ms. Koch in an interview with NASA TV was also asked if it bothers her that her accomplishments are often talked about in terms of her gender. She shared that with much thinking and reflections, it is important because of the historical nature of their jobs. She shared that women were always not limited to table discussions. She added that it is wonderful to be part of the program when all contributions are being accepted and when everyone has a role to play. This can lead to bring more success.
Tunisia’s way towards gender equality
Sixty years ahead of independence from France and ...
Sixty years ahead of independence from France and Post - 2011 revolution, Tunisia has been a promising figure towards securing gender equality in the Middle East region. Since 1956, Tunisian women were able to enjoy some of the progressive freedom instituted by Habib Bourguiba- the first elected president- such as access to higher education, the right to file for divorce, and certain job opportunities. The Personal Status Code which came into effect from 1956 is considered one of the most progressive codes in the Arab region. The unprecedented role played by Tunisian women in the 2011 MENA revolution was significant to further progress the women’s rights in the region. The introduction of inheritance laws that would give equal authority to male and female towards property was one of the leading steps towards gender equality, However, Tunisia where the majority of population follow Islam, introduced this law in contradiction to Islamic law, where women are allowed for half the share of property than of men. Followed by many protests, the constitution 2014 refused to mention the inheritance law explicitly. Then-President Beji Caid Essebsi fought long for the several amendments in the constitution. He did manage to push through a law that permitted Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, something prohibited in much of the Arab-speaking world, further securing the “Freedom of Choice” for the women of the country. In the course of eight years after the 2011 revolution, there have been significant signs of progress making Tunisia one of the progressive countries for Gender Equality in the Arab region. In July 2017, Tunisia passed a landmark law, addressing the end to all “physical, moral and sexual violence” against women. The law introduced new criminal provisions, increased penalties for various forms of violence, sexual harassment, and discrimination against women and included the necessary measures women need in order to seek protection from acts of violence. The landmark law also brought an end to the provision where rapists could escape punishment if they married the victim. The uproar against the law came into action after Hajar, a victim of abuse since she was 14-years-old, was ordered by a TV host to be married to her abuser to “contain the situation”. Further, the “vertical gender parity” bill passed by the Tunisian parliament made it mandatory for all parties or blocks to put forward an equal number of male and female list candidates. As of 2017, 73 women MPs held seats in the country's parliament - the highest female representation in any Arab country- with 60 percent of women working in the medical sector, 35 percent in engineering, 41 percent in the judiciary, 43 percent in law and 60 percent in higher education. Following the increasing political participation of women, Tunisia also elected its first women mayor in July 2018- Ms, Souad Abderrahim, 54, who ran as an independent under the list of Ennahda, a traditionally conservative party. Her victory to the position was symbolic of women's empowerment as her leadership would be an aspiration to women regardless of political affiliation or place they come from. Her leadership promised of changing faces of politics of Tunisia and representing women’s issues in higher level discussions.
Women’s Forum Canada – Toronto, 10-11 May 2018
Bridging the gap: A call to the G7 for inclusive p...

Bridging the gap: A call to the G7 for inclusive progress

Inspired by women’s leadership, the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society continues to bring a distinctly female perspective to addressing the issues affecting all of humanity and engaging for impact towards resolutions. Women’s Forum Canada was a unique opportunity to generate concrete ideas to inform and influence the agenda of the G7 Summit. It addressed a range of global issues, including gender equality, by unlocking the transformative potential of women’s leadership. It focused on topics such as the role of the private sector in fostering inclusive growth, scaling investment in women-led businesses, urban planning as a accelerator of climate action, the social implications of technological change and many more. The following selected speakers among others were featured: Maria Cantillon, Global Head of Alternative Asset Management, State Street Corporation, Kristalina Georgieva, CEO, World Bank, Gioia Ghezzi, President & Chairwoman, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SPA, Jean-Paul Gladu, President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director, International Trade Centre, Gloria Guevara Manzo, President and CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council, Dayle Haddon, CEO, WomenOne, Judith Hartmann, CFO, Engie, Roxanne Joyal, CEO, Me to WE, Jodi Kovitz, Founder, MOVETHEDIAL.ORG, Karla Martinez, Editor in Chief, Vogue Mexico, Estelle Metayer, Member of Advisory Board Canada, 30% Club, Farah Mohamed, CEO, Malala Fund, Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General, United Nations, Gabriela Ramos, Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20 – OECD, Janelle Reiko Sasaki, Executive Director, People Advisory Services, EY Japan, Kareen Rispal, Ambassador to Canada, Government of France, Helene von Reis, President & CEO, IKEA Japan, John Rossant, Founder and Chairman, New Cities Foundation, Carolyn Wilkins, Senior Deputy Governor, Bank of Canada
WNC Board Meeting: Commemorating International Women’s Day
On February 17th, 2018, dozens of dedicated member...
On February 17th, 2018, dozens of dedicated members of our growing international network convened in Paris, France, to discuss areas of strategic focus for the year ahead. The session opened with an address by WNC’s distinguished Vice-President, Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research in Delhi and Chairperson of Women Power Connect, a national level organization of women's groups in India. Before opening the floor to the exchange of ideas on pressing social, economic and political issues, the panel revisited some of WNC’s achievements over the past year. Specifically, since July of last year, the Women’s Network for Change has participated in many global forums, including, for example, the annual FORUM 2000 event in Prague whose theme, this year, was ‘Strengthening Democracy in Uncertain Times’. The WNC was also invited to meet with Members of the European Parliament to discuss with various Member-States about how we can effectively work alongside them to promote women’s political empowerment, internationally. WNC was also in attendance at a conference commemorating the ‘Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women’ on November 23rd, 2017 in Palermo, Italy, alongside the Mayor of Palermo and the Head of Amnesty International. Representatives of our network later travelled to Nepal to take part in the South Asian Regional Workshop convened by Women For Human Rights, single women group (WHR), an organization that seeks to put an end to discriminatory practices against women in Nepal and elsewhere based purely on their marital status. Distinguished participants at this February’s Board Meeting included, Prof. Rita Süssmuth, President of WNC and Former Speaker of the German Bundestag (1988-1998); Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Vice-President of WNC, Director of the Centre for Social Research (CSR) – India, and Chairperson for Women Power Connect; Prof. Rashida Manjoo, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women (June 2009-July 2015) and Professor of Human Rights at the University of Cape Town, South Africa; Baroness Sandip Verma, Member of the House of Lords – UK and Former Minister of International Development until 2016; Hoda Badran, Chairperson of the Alliance for Arab Women (AAW) – Egypt and President of Arab Women’s League; Dr. Fatma Khafagy of Egypt; Soheir Kansouh-Habib, a former senior member of Cairo's UNDP office; Linda Chavez,  American author, commentator, radio talk show host, syndicated columnist, and Chair of Center for Equal Opportunity – USA; Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General – Portugal and Former Attorney General until 2015; Maria Elena Elverdin, President of the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers (FIFCJ) – Argentina; Susana Medina, Minister of the High Court of Justice of Entre Ríos (2004 - present) – Argentina, and President of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ); Suheir Al-Atassi, Member of the Syrian Opposition Coalition and former Vice Chair of the Council; Najima Thay Thay, former Minister of Education and Youth - Morocco; Khadija Ziyani, Member of Parliament – Morocco; Soumia Ouaalal, Member of Parliament - Morocco; Zhor El Ouahabi, Member of Parliament - Morocco; Bozena Kaminska, Member of Parliament - Poland; Sonia Hornery, Member of Parliament - Australia; Margarita Duran Vadell, historian, journalist, Senator (2011-2015) – Spain and Vice-President of INCO Human Rights; Eva Duran Ramos, President of INCO Human Rights Organization, EPP representative for Puente de Vallecas, Member of Parliament (2011-2016)- Spain; Virginia Romero Banon, lawyer and former Member of Spanish Parliament, and Carmen Navaro, translator and women’s rights activist.   Three main issue-areas were discussed: (1) Rural Women’s Empowerment, (2) Women’s Leadership in Politics, and (3) Women and Social Media Connectivity. On the subject of rural women’s empowerment, Virginia Romero Banon from Spain discussed the important contributions of rural women to the Spanish economy. At least 3 million women in Spain work in rural areas and many of these jobs are in the agricultural sector. In the last three years, the Spanish rural population has increased by a rate of 45,000 persons per year, but there remain many obstacles to women’s full participation and engagement. Women’s economic empowerment in rural areas has meant that the entire country benefits from their labor, but they too, must benefit in terms of political representation and decision-making capacities. Representatives from Portugal also intervened to demonstrate the ways in which, despite the freedoms and atmosphere of peace enjoyed in the country, women - and rural women in particular - lag far behind men in areas of political, economic and financial leadership. Participants from Portugal underscored the lack of investment in rural women’s education as well as the disparity that exists between the belief in women’s substantive equality in theory - at the level of the constitution - versus the reality of women’s equality across the country. According to ​Maria Candida Almeida, ​“People are sleeping. Because we are free to work, to write, and speak as we wish, we do not always recognize how far we still have to go in order to achieve women’s empowerment. As a prosecutor in the Portuguese Supreme Court, I see that domestic violence is still a big problem. Women are often the victims of sexual and physical aggression and we need to work towards the very equality guaranteed by the constitution, but in reality”. On this note, a member of the Moroccan delegation, Zhor El Ouahabi, shared some of the advancements the women’s movement has seen in her country in recent years: In 2004, they started a campaign focusing on family rights and by 2011, they succeeded in taking a crucial step forwards. Changes were officially made to the Moroccan constitution granting women additional rights in the family and in the political arena. Among more rural parts of the country, one of the central challenges they currently face is the Islamophobia born out of a mixture of religion and politics. This mixture acts as a barrier and denies many muslim women their rights to participate and express their rights on an equal footing as men and must be overcome as a key to achieving greater political equality. Similar concerns were raised by representatives from Egypt, where rural women are often subjected to forms of coercion that have nothing to do with Islam, but that are undertaken in the name of Islam: “Because we are muslims, we must stand together and condemn the Islamists who are taking such positions against women, positions that are not Islamic at all”.   Next, addressing an important point on the topic of rural women’s empowerment, Prof. Rashida Manjoo elaborated on the need to avoid the dangers of essentializing rural women and putting them to use for political capital in bodies such as the United Nations: “The issue of sustainability on rural women’s issues, whether it is about lack of access to resources, opportunities, or unfair labor practices for agricultural workers, these are issues that we need to keep on our radar at all times and not simply every four ears when some intergovernmental body decides they are the designated themes. The bandage solutions that some governments have come up with, as it relates to rural women, have been more about a welfare approach than an empowerment approach. We need women to be active agents in their own lives and this remains a source of concern. When we buy into ‘sexy topics’ such as these we need to understand our engagement as substantive and see rural women as having something to teach us about how to proceed.” On the question of sustainable of engagement with rural women and girls, Soheir Kansouh emphasized the importance of extending organizational capacities and resources to rural women who are not, at present, as collectively organized as women’s organization’s in urban areas. In order for international institutions to hear rural women’s voices and in order for rural women to be able to talk for themselves in a sustained way, this is an important obstacle that we can help to overcome by sharing experiences and successful frameworks. Turning to the subject of women’s political empowerment and leadership in politics, Baroness Sandip Verma, Member of the UK House of Lords emphasized that “unless we get more women into positions of power, into decision-making roles, however much progress we make or don’t make on social norms, we still won’t answer the question of accountability in decision-making.” She continued: “It’s really important that we do get women into positions of decision making. Social norms can only change if women feel as though laws will be implemented and that people can get justice at the other end… To date, collectively, we have allowed a system to dictate back to us. The only way we can change it is when we are determined that people be held accountable. As a non-white member of the Tory party, I’ve have to battle to achieve consensus. For example, if we are going to meet any delegation in the world, if there are no women on it, we have to question it! Whether it is is at the United Nations, where I still question why there are no women peace envoys, or elsewhere, we have a lot to challenge. Women’s collective voice has to share a common ground because the pain of discrimination is universal”. Citing a number of obstacles facing women’s leadership in politics, Prof. Manjoo took up to discuss the pros and cons of legislative quotas for equal participation before moving on to challenge the unresponsiveness of political institutions born of patriarchal attitudes and cultures: “During my time at the UN, one of the issues that kept coming up was ‘should we have legislative quotas and will that lead to more women in politics? And further, will it change the political and economic landscape of a country?’ We’ve seen, as some of you have raised, the issues brought about by legislative quotas. On the other hand, leaving it to political parties to have quotas is also a challenge. In my country (South Africa), we have a national congress (the ruling party) that only shares 1/3rd of its representation with women… The next barrier that women seem to face is when women are in politics - the sort of unresponsiveness of institutions and structures is a problem. I received many reports when I was Special Rapporteur about violence against women in politics, some verbal and some physical in different countries around the world. Women do feel that once they go into formal politics, they lose the support of their constituencies, the NGO’s and women’s organizations, because there is an expectation that by simply entering formal politics they can change the world. I know that in our first democratic parliament in South Africa, some chairman of a committee would decide that the meeting would start at 9pm, irrespective of the triple-shift that women would have to do to accommodate this. When the first black woman judge took office in 1994, there was no toilet in the high court for her. When she asked, she was told to use the Secretary’s restroom. From entry-point barriers to the non-responsiveness of institutions, we face challenges all around”. Echoing similar concerns, Soheir Kansouh of Egypt spoke about how even in countries where gender quotas are mandated throughout the Arab world, the success in achieving gender balance in Arab legislatures has not translated into the advancement of women’s rights: “It does not matter how many women are in parliament if they are not really talking about women’s rights. People are beginning to lose faith and they need to see more action - this likely has to do with the unresponsiveness of political institutions as Prof. Manjoo describes”. Linda Chavez, the current chair for the Centre for Equal Opportunity and former US expert to the sub-commission on the prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities at the United Nations, raised similar concerns: “In some countries, like Iran, the institutional power is entirely in the hands of men, and therefore this kind of violence against women takes every form and is institutionalized. But even in countries where you have more freedom and equal protections before the law, these problems nonetheless persist. I don’t know how to answer this problem, and so I raise it is as a question. There exists a fundamental issue about how the two sexes relate to one another and about how women continue to be victimized in ways that are very unique to our sex. Women in the 21st century hold economic power in many countries around the world and even the women we think would be the most secure are nonetheless victimized”.   Next, representative Hoda Badran from Egypt intervened to underscore the need for women’s groups to focus on three areas necessary for waging successful mobilizations for political empowerment. In her view, we can learn from the women’s union in Tunis and turn our attention to: (1) solidarity and size, (2) organization and capacity-building, and (3) gaining increased access to resources. Rounding off this subject, a representative from the Argentine Federation of Jurists, Maria Elena Elverdin,​ spoke about how in Argentina, parity laws have been passed gaining women representation in congress but that this does not hold true for professional organizations, leaving women’s participation in decision-making roles limited, at best. This relates to cultural barriers that affect issues such as violence against women, femicide and sex-tortion (or sex extortion): “Women are dying due to femicide every day and we are working very hard on this issue but we have plenty more to do.” This brought us to the 3rd issue-area relating to women and social media connectivity. Citing education as the main entry point for achieving stronger institutions in favor of equality, the President of the Judges Association of Argentina, Susana Medina, ​remarked how, over the last 25 years, they have channelled their efforts into building Centres of Education and Capacity Building that work to educate women on justice-related issues: “The latest chapter of this effort promotes education about crimes of sexual extortion. This was inspired by the ongoing #MeToo campaign in Hollywood, but was made necessary by the fact that human trafficking and similar problems are ongoing in Argentina and around the world. You know, human trafficking, of which young girls are the primary victims, grosses an annual revenue of $32 million”. Adding to the complexity of such concerns, Prof. Manjoo underscored how the MeToo campaign has provided a “new, intergenerational space” for discussing violence against women and sexual harassment, but also risks diminishing such realities to hashtags and social media campaigns when, in actuality, they necessitate change at the individual, structural and institutional levels that are part and parcel of women’s daily lives in different sectors of society: “One strategy has to address how we educate the media in order to avoid diminishing these stories, because you know the media is always in search of a sound-bite. And if we don’t give them the sound bite they will find someone else who will. We therefore have to write opinion pieces and engage a message that goes beyond the one line - #MeToo. For example, when we talk about crimes of sex-tortion, the discussions need to go deeper to demonstrate that this is not a new problem, but an ongoing manifestation of deeper structural and institutional problems and challenges. We need campaigns to expose how insidious these forms of sexual harassment and exploitation are and how deep they go”. Offering her concluding remarks, Prof. Rita Süssmuth challenged the group to gain the attention of our political leaders and to tap into women’s unharnessed potential, the world-over: “Of course women are more powerful than we were 100 years ago… but we have more potential than power.” We must therefore analyze women’s concerns in order to help build a more prosperous future. This entails reaching out to those less powerful than ourselves and lending our voices to echo their demands.  
What it Means to be a Rural Woman
  The rural sectors of the world are some of ...
  The rural sectors of the world are some of the most hidden places; but the women who live there are even more invisible. Rural women lack opportunities and rights, rendering them silent, especially those within rural areas of large cities. Forty-three per cent of the agricultural workforce across the world is made up of women, yet they lack the same access to tools, credit, agricultural materials, and chains of high-value crops that men have, according to the United Nations (UN). They also don’t enjoy equal access to public services such as education and health care, access to clean drinking water, or sanitation. In many communities, the agricultural work done by rural women goes unseen and is often unpaid. AMFAR, the association of rural women and families, suggest depopulation, inequality, and a lack of development as what’s hindering their access to the labor market and the economic viability of rural areas. In Spain, almost six million women dedicate their work to rural areas, and 54 per cent of them are entrepreneurs, despite all of the obstacles they face. Yet, a rural woman’s pay generally ranges from 400 to 1,000 Euros a month, while a rural man can earn between 1,000 and 1,400 Euros monthly. Over the past three years, the rural Spanish population has decreased at a rate of 45 people per year. Of the small Spanish villages with populations under 8,000, more than 60 per cent are facing a possible demographic extinction because of a decreased birthrate. “We must increase the participation of women in the labor market and help them achieve their economic independence,” said Lola Merino Chacón, the president of AMFAR. We must help them reduce the gendered wage gap and promote equal decision making, both within the home and in professional fields, and end violence against women while protecting and supporting victims, she said. Gendered violence affects women of the rural world in an intensified way in comparison to their urban counterparts. Rural women who experience acts of violence account for 60 per cent of the rural mortality rate. Chacón stresses the importance of implementing policies and carrying out measures that encourage rural women who don’t already work, to do so. With strength in numbers, she suggests this effort will help guarantee social services, the development of new technologies, and promote equal opportunities for all rural people. With six million rural women, they are vital to promote the economy and should therefore, be the center of rural development policies. “ are vital for economic diversification, for territorial structuring, and for the generation of employment and wealth,” said Chacón. “For this, they must be the center of rural development policies.” FADEMUR, a federation for rural women, said that in many cases, women who work in family farms, “suffer all the disadvantages of working but don’t benefit from any of its advantages,” because they do so without remuneration, social rights, and professional identities. On Oct. 15, 2017, the International Day of Rural Women, the UN highlighted the importance of incorporating women into agricultural policies, increasing the number of women who own land, and giving rural women better access to investments. Rural work is not just a man’s field and the outdated approaches to rural agricultural work must be challenged. Rural women need equal access, pay, and opportunities. And the first step, is making these women the center of development policies in the hidden parts of the world, the rural areas.   Virginia Romero Banon
This Year’s IWD pays Tribute to Rural Women
Violet Rusu International Women’s Day (IWD) is c...
Violet Rusu International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated worldwide on March 8 to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the globe. The UN-recognized event is celebrated annually on March 8 with a different theme. This year’s topic is, Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives, paying homage to the rural activist women who are often overlooked on the global stage. In comparison to their urban counterparts, rural women fare worse regarding discrimination and gender inequality. Globally, the gendered pay gap in favour of men sits around 23 per cent, while it reaches as high as 40 per cent in rural areas. IWD originally grew out of the labour movement in 1909 when 15,000 women took the streets of New York to demand shorter working hours, better pay, and the right to vote. The following year, Clara Zetkin, head of the women's office for the Social Democratic Party of Germany and campaigner of women’s rights, suggested the idea of an annual day that encouraged women across the world to table their concerns about labour conditions, suffrage, and the need for women in parliament. The first IWD was marked by rallies in Germany, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland with more than one million people in attendance, on March 19, 1911. The date later changed to March 8. In the United States, IWD wasn’t recognized until 1975 when the UN officially celebrated the day. Today, the event is acknowledged in countless countries, in which many it’s a national holiday and women are given paid time off. The UN is celebrating this year’s IWD at their headquarters in New York with speakers such as Reese Witherspoon, an actress and women’s rights activist; Danai Gurira, a playwright and activist; the UN secretary general, and the UN Women’s executive director. On March 8, join the worldwide movement to increase the quality of women’s lives everywhere, rural and urban, and pay tribute to the contributions women have made in all aspects of life.   Violet Rusu is a freelance journalist in Toronto and campaigner for freedom of expression, press freedoms, whistleblower protection, and minority rights.
WNC Board Meeting: February 17, 2018
Homage to Pakistani human rights champion Asma Jahangir
LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani human right...
LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani human rights campaigner Asma Jahangir, who faced death threats by fighting for unpopular causes and was jailed in the 1980s for her pro-democracy work during military rule, died on Sunday in Lahore. She was 66.

Accolades for the fiery activist, whose name was virtually synonymous with human rights in Pakistan, poured in from political and legal figures.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi lauded her “immense contributions towards upholding rule of law, democracy and safeguarding human rights”.

Jahangir was a U.N. special rapporteur for freedom of religion from 2004 to 2010, and later was a rapporteur for human rights in Iran.

In Pakistan, she campaigned tirelessly for democracy and free speech, frequently receiving death threats for taking up causes such as criticizing the strict blasphemy laws of the conservative Muslim-majority country.

A lawyer by background, she was a founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

Fearless in the face of authority, she was imprisoned in 1983 for her work with the Movement to Restore Democracy during of General Zia ul-Haq’s military rule.

She was also placed under house arrest in 2007 for her part in a lawyers’ protest movement that helped lead to military leader Pervez Musharraf stepping down from power.

In recent years, she was outspoken over the misuse of blasphemy laws that carry a mandatory death sentence for insulting Islam’s prophet.

She also represented several civil society organizations that were threatened with shutdown as well as families of several “disappeared” activists over the past few years.

Jahangir’s daughter Munizae said her mother died after suffering a heart attack on Sunday.

 
Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-jahangir/pakistani-human-rights-champion-asma-jahangir-dies-idUSKBN1FV0MF
Women of Iran Protests: A Call For International Solidarity
With the recent surge of protests across Iran, man...
With the recent surge of protests across Iran, many political observers were left bewildered, both by the timing and the nature of the grievances expressed throughout the country. Others, with ears closer to the ground, were quick to point out their mistake: Iran-watchers have long looked to Tehran’s cosmopolitan elite while neglecting concern for the country’s expansive working-class. Indeed, popular dissent first broke out in the city of Mashhad, Iran’s second most populous city, before spreading to places like Arak, Kermanshah and Takestan, reaching over 100 cities and towns whose names had been hitherto unfamiliar to global audiences. What began as mounting dissatisfaction with rising food prices, corruption and government expenditures on proxy wars waged abroad, quickly turned into a wholesale rejection of the clerical and ruling elite. A rejection that challenged the very legitimacy of the ‘Islamic’ guardianship as well as the façade of popular sovereignty promised by Iran’s fraudulent presidential and parliamentary bodies.   Most promising was the demographic makeup of brave protesters, who, risking life and limb, poured into the streets for two consecutive weeks. This, despite the heavy-handed violence perpetuated by Iran’s security and paramilitary forces. The majority of demonstrators were incredibly young – with the average protester under the age of 25 – and belong to the generation born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Demanding radical, institutional change as well as the overthrow of the current regime, thousands could be heard chanting “Death to the dictator, death to Khamenei (the country’s Supreme Leader), death to Rouhani (the country’s President)”. Chants that were echoed by equally powerful rallies of “We don’t want an Islamic Republic, we want an Iranian Republic”.   While crowds appeared to predominantly include young, working-class men from some of Iran’s most traditional and religiously conservative regions, observers would be amiss to underestimate the weight and veracity of women’s contributions to the political unrest. On the first day of protests, Thursday December 28th 2017, crowds began to gather in Masshad, lined with brave women and men alike. At the following day’s Friday Prayer gathering, the local Imam was recorded delivering a fervent speech in which he publicly chastised protesters for daring to follow a woman’s lead.    Some of the earliest coverage to go viral by way of social media included stunning videos of defiant Iranian women pouring their hearts out at the top of their lungs - some taking it upon themselves to motivate fellow demonstrators. Take, for example, this iconic video, shared on the second day of protests (Dec. 29th), featuring a young woman in a red headscarf who approaches armed security forces and challenges them to join the people while yelling: “What are we supposed to do?! You have to yell ‘Death to Khamenei, death to Khamenei!’” While her gesture may seem similar to the sorts of demonstrations familiar to the West, uttering such words often carries the death penalty in Iran. As protests grew in scope and intensity, more videos were shared, this time, featuring courageous women declaring their most intimate and daily struggles with oppression and poverty. In this video, shared on January 1st, 2018, a young mother in Khorram-Abbad speaks candidly with protesters about the lengths to which she has had to go in order to survive and feed her children. Decrying the government’s embezzlement of oil-profits, she speaks of the hardships she’s endured in the course of a life of prostitution. This, while she avows her love of country and holds the image of her brother, a martyr of the Iran-Iraq war – a testament to how the government has failed her and the countless other families that have been left behind. Tehran’s austerity measures, corrupt and failing banks, combined with a 17% inflation rate have been crippling, to say the least. And women, more than any other segment of the population, have born the incredible burden of unemployment, which stands at approximately 2-times the national average.    Elsewhere, videos arriving from Najaf Abad and Bandar Abbas, show the incredible diversity of those taking to the streets to decry the government. Even where visibility is poor, women’s channelled defiance can be heard in the traditional calls washing over the crowds (see 0:17s). Scores of women have since been imprisoned by security forces for their roles in the demonstrations. Yasmin Mahboobi, Soha Mortezaii, Faezeh Abdipour, Leila Hosseinzadeh, Touran Mehrban, and Negin Arameshi (photographs shown below), are just a handful of those confirmed to be arbitrarily held behind bars. Abdipour has since announced her hunger strike, along with at least four other members of the Dervish minority who were arrested at the same time. As news of the daily arrests roll-in, so too have the letters of support for demonstrators penned by female political prisoners, including Golrokh Ibrahimi Iraee and Atena Daemi, who are currently in detention in the women’s ward of Tehran’s Evin Prison. In the coming weeks and months, one related factor may help determine protester’s fates: whether they will succeed in securing the support of the international community. For our part, the women of the world must unite in defense of their rights and struggle for lasting change!  

Yasmin Mahboobi

Soha Morezaii

Faezeh Abdipour

Leila Hosseinzadeh

Touran Mehrban

Negin Arameshi

  -- Sara Hassani is a PhD Student and Fellow in Politics at The New School for Social Research
Event on Gender based violence and human rights
A very important symposium was held at the Univers...
A very important symposium was held at the University of Amsterdam on December 8, 2017 entitled: "Gender based violence and human rights: international perspectives." The panel discussion focused on to which extent does international law affect domestic implementation in the domain of policy and legal measures regarding gender based violence? Which future directions should be prioritized? National and international experts reflected on developments in international regulation of gender based violence. The morning program addressed global developments. The afternoon program focused on European developments.

Violence against women

Violence against women is one of the most common violations of women’s human rights. According to the World Health Organization at least one in three women worldwide experience one or more serious physical and/or sexual violent incidents during their lifetime, often from an intimate partner or ex-partner. Gender inequality and social norms legitimating violence against women are underlying forces that feed into gender based violence. At the same time social protests are growing, with campaigns such as #MeToo and...

Violation of human rights

In the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, violence against women has been recognized under international human rights law as a violation of human rights. According to the convention, it is the duty of governments to protect women as citizens against this violence and, above all, to prevent it. A historic milestone. Countries will have to report to what extent it is meeting those obligations. It is timely to reflect on the meaning of the convention.

The symposium was organized by Atria in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, and with the generous support of the City of Amsterdam.      
Tribute to Françoise Héritier
Françoise Héritier (15 November 1933 – 15 Nove...
Françoise Héritier (15 November 1933 – 15 November 2017) An emeritus professor, Françoise was the Chair of Comparative Studies of African Societies at Collège de France (a prestigious institution) from 1982-1998. She was the successor of Claude Lévi-Strauss and was also influenced by Alfred Radcliffe-Brown’s work. Her work focused mainly on the theory of alliances and the prohibition of incest. Héritier became interested in anthropology in the late 1950s while she was still a student of history and geography with the goal of becoming a teacher or a researcher in ancient history. Her interest and curiosity in social anthropology arose during seminars lead by Claude Lévi-Strauss. In 1958, she visited the-now-called Burkina Faso in order to conduct a research study on Samo Bourkinabé. This was her very first research which made her known as the African philosopher. She has authored many books such as The Salt of Life, which gained international attention. Distinctions: She received the CNRS Silver Medal in 1978 for her work on the functioning of systems of kinship and alliance. She has also been awarded the Irene-Joliot-Curie Prize in 2003, Grand'Croix of the National Order of Merit in 2011 to name a few. A Few Quotations: “Gender equality must become a political issue.” “We must annihilate the idea of an irrepressible masculine desire” “The most important of the constants, that which runs through the animal world, of which man is a part, is the difference of the sexes. I believe that human thought was organized on the basis of this observation: there is something identical and different. All things will then be analyzed and classified between these two headings. This is how humanity thinks, we have not observed companies that do not subscribe to this rule. In all languages there are binary categories, which contrast hot and cold, dry and wet, hard and soft, high and low, active and passive, healthy and unhealthy…” “Nothing that we do or think, life systems, attitude and behaviour, is derived directly from the laws of nature.” “It is said that a man could not marry such or such a woman. But it is never said that a woman could not marry such or such a man. In fact, women have never been subjects of the law speaking in the historical texts.”
To end violence against women, we must unite!
To end violence against women, we must unite! Viol...
To end violence against women, we must unite! Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today. Gender inequality persists worldwide. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms.
Iceland: Tops countries on equal pay
Iceland is a model in many areas, whether environm...
Iceland is a model in many areas, whether environmental or economical. For the 10th consecutive year, the country maintains its first position on equal pay, according to the Global Gender Gap Index published by the World Economic Forum in November 2017. One of the reasons for this top ranking is the recent parity law adopted last March which requires companies to prove by 2020 that women earn the same salary as their counterparts for the same job, otherwise, companies will have to pay a fine. Currently, the difference in pay is still 14 to 18% less for women in Iceland. In the top 10, Finland is in second place, followed by Norway and Rwanda. France, which was in 17th place, has moved up to 11th this year according to the World Economic Forum. Iceland is also in the lead on parity for access to education.
Global Gender Gap 2017
The Global Gender Gap Index ranks 144 countries on...
The Global Gender Gap Index ranks 144 countries on the gap between women and men on health, education, economic and political indicators. It aims to understand whether countries are distributing their resources and opportunities equitably between women and men, irrespective of their overall income levels. The report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas:
  1. Economic participation and opportunity – salaries, participation and leadership
  2. Education – access to basic and higher levels of education
  3. Political empowerment – representation in decision-making structures
  4. Health and survival – life expectancy and sex ratio
Index scores are interpreted as the percentage of the gap that has been closed between women and men, and allow countries to compare their current performance to their past ratios. In addition, the rankings allows us to compare these four area between countries.

Regional Report:

Western Europe remains the highest-performing region in the Index with an average remaining gender gap of 25%. The region is home to four of the global top five countries in the Index – Iceland (1), Norway (2), Finland (3) and Sweden (5) – highlighting the continued progress of the Nordic countries in closing their overall gender gaps. At the bottom ranks of the region are Greece (78), Italy (82), Cyprus (92) and Malta (93). Out of the 20 countries in the region covered by the Index this year, nine have improved their overall score since last year, while 11 have seen it decrease. North America has a remaining gender gap of 28%, the smallest after Western Europe. Both Canada (16) and the United States (49) have closed more than 70% of their overall gender gap. Eastern Europe and Central Asia has closed on average 71% of its gender gap. Three countries from the region rank in the global top 20: Slovenia (7), Bulgaria (18) and Latvia (20). The bottom ranks are made up of Armenia (97), Azerbaijan (98) and Hungary (103). Out of the 26 countries from the region covered by the Index this year, 18 countries have increased their overall score compared to last year, while eight have decreased their overall scores. The Latin America and Caribbean region has an average remaining gender gap of 30%. The region is home to two of the top 10 fastest-improving countries in the world since 2006: Nicaragua (6) and Bolivia (17). Brazil is one of five countries to have fully closed their educational attainment gender gap, despite ranking 90 overall. The lowest-performing countries in the region are Paraguay (96) and Guatemala (110). Of the 24 countries covered by the Index in the region this year, 18 have improved their overall score compared to last year, while six have regressed. The East Asia and Pacific region has closed on average 68% of its gender gap. With New Zealand (9) and the Philippines (10), the region is home to two of the global top 10 performers. However the region’s larger economies perform less well: with China ranking 100 and Japan and the Republic of Korea ranking 114 and 118, respectively, it is clear that their remains much economic upside from making a more pronounced effort towards gender parity. Sub-Saharan Africa displays a wider range of gender gap outcomes than any other region, with three countries; Rwanda (4), Namibia (13) and South Africa (19) in the global top 20, as well as many of the lowest-ranked countries in the Index, such as Mali (139) and Chad (141). Of the 30 countries from the region covered by the Index this year, 13 countries have increased their overall score compared to last year, while 17 have seen it decrease. South Asia has an average remaining gender gap of 34%. Bangladesh (47) is the only country in the region to feature in the top 100, with India ranking 108 and Pakistan 143. Of the seven countries from the region included in the Index this year, three countries have increased their overall score compared to last year, while four have seen it decrease. The Middle East and North Africa is the lowest-ranked region in the Index with an average remaining gender gap of 40%. In addition to Israel (44), the region’s best-performing countries are Tunisia (117), the United Arab Emirates (120) and Bahrain (126). The region is home to four of the world’s five lowest-ranking countries on Political Empowerment – Kuwait (129), Lebanon (137), Qatar (130) and Yemen (144). However out of the 17 countries covered by the Index in the region this year, 11 countries have improved their overall score compared to last year. Read full report: http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2017/?utm_content=bufferfa7ef&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Agnes Campbell Macphail
Agnes Campbell Macphail (March 24, 1890 – Febru...
Agnes Campbell Macphail (March 24, 1890 – February 13, 1954) was a Canadian politician who was the first women to be elected to the Canadian House of Commons from 1921 to 1940. From 1943 to 1945 and again from 1948 to 1951 she was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
Women Situation in Albania
By: Diana Çuli In the last two decades in Albani...
By: Diana Çuli In the last two decades in Albania there has been a lot of progress in the fields of gender equality, women’s rights, social welfare programs, law, research and civil society. These issues are amongst the key national priorities. The ratification of the UN Conventions concerning gender equality, beginning with CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women), as well as the enactments of gender equality, anti-discrimination and anti-domestic violence laws are all evidence of this commitment, and together with the approval of the national strategy on gender equality, provide the framework for achieving national goals. The civil society – especially women’s movements represented in many women NGOs, women centers, women national based networks etc. – have a strong presence in Albania. They are organized also in coalitions – ex: Anti violence Coalition, Business Women coalition, Women Empowerment Network, etc. All these realities work on social, economic and political fields, in local and national bases, also in relations and partnerships with European, Balkan and other international groups. It was very important for the women position in Albania to have an appropriate legislation, according to the EU standards. During these years, the Albanian Parliament has approved the following laws that are important to the gradual change for the gender balance in Albanian society: the Labor Code of the Republic of Albania,  Law on Reproductive Health; Law on Domestic Violence - First National Strategy on Gender Equality and the Elimination of Domestic Violence; Measures on Domestic Violence; law on legal aid; laws on Prevention and Elimination of Organized Crime and Trafficking Through Preemptive Measures on Personal Assets; law on anti- discrimination and many others. Below are some figures that demonstrate the concrete changes in the position and the women situation in Albania: General information Population Albania total population 2,893,000 49.6 % women and 50.53 % men (INSTAT, 2014). 42.8 % of the population lives in rural areas. 29.37 % of women live in urban areas versus 20.09 % of women who lives in rural areas (INSTAT, 2014). Marriages and divorces In 2014, the divorce ratio was 17.4 % (INSTAT, 2014). Education In 2016, 65.8% of the students that graduated from public schools were girls and women vs. 34.2 % boys and men (Ministry of Education and Science, 2016). In 2014, girls counted 48.2 % of those who completed the elementary education (nine year school) vs. 51.8 % boys. Girls and women constituted 53.5 % of the secondary school graduates vs. 46.5 % boys and men. 64 % of teachers at the elementary and high school education are women. 62 % of university lecturers are women vs. 38 % men, but there is only one women among the rectors of 13 universities (MES, 2014). Labour market According to the Labour Force Survey, in 2015, women had a lower rate of participation in the labour market 20.9% as compared to men (INSTAT, 2015). Employment In 2015, men’s employment rate was 58% and women’s employment rate was 43.3%. Men are 1.4 times less likely than women to work in agriculture. 40.6% of men are employed in the services sector and 11.1% in the construction sector (INSTAT, 2015).  Wages and gender gap In 2015, the gender pay gap was 10 % (INSTAT, 2014). For employees in public institutions the gender pay gap is almost insignificant (-1 %). Women in decision making 7 or 35 % of the last government ministers were women. The same in the actual government. In the current Parliament 30 out of 140 (21.4%) of the members are women. As a result of the 2015 local elections, 35% of the municipal council members in the 61 municipalities are women, while women comprise 50% of the municipal members of the capital, Tirana. Women in the justice system Women comprise 37% of all staff in the justice system. 17% of prosecutors are women. Other categories 24% of Albania’s ambassadors and 59% of the First Secretaries in the Albania’s embassies abroad are women (INSTAT, 2015).
When did Women Around the World Start Voting?
1893 New Zealand 1902 Australia 1906 Finland 1913 ...
1893 New Zealand 1902 Australia 1906 Finland 1913 Norway 1915 Kingdom of Denmark (Including Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland) 1917 Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Netherlands, Russia 1918 Azerbaijan, Georgia, Germany, Hungarian People's Republic, Kyrgyz SSR, Lithuania, Poland 1919 Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Jersey, Luxembourg, Ukrainian SSR, Zimbabwe 1920 Albania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, United States 1921 Sweden 1922 Burma, Ireland 1924 Kazakh SSR, Mongolia, Tajik SSR, Turkmen SSR 1925 Trinidad and Tobago 1927 Uruguay 1928 United Kingdom 1931 Spain, Sri Lanka 1932 Brazil, Maldives, Thailand 1934 Cuba, Turkey 1935 Puerto Rico 1936 United States Virgin Islands 1937 Philippines 1938 Uzbek SSR 1939 Romania 1940 Moldova 1942 Dominican Republic 1944 Bermuda, Kingdom of Bulgaria, France, Jamaica 1945 Indonesia, Italy, Senegal, Togo, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia 1946 Cameroon, Djibouti, North Korea, Liberia, Panama, Venezuela, Vietnam 1947 Argentina, China, India, Japan, Malta, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan (Republic of China) 1948 Belgium, Israel, South Korea, Niger, Seychelles, Netherlands 1949 Chile, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Syria 1950 Barbados, El Salvador, Haiti 1951 Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Libya, Nepal 1952 Bolivia, Côte d'Ivoire, Greece, Lebanon 1953 Bhutan, Guyana, Mexico 1954 Belize, Colombia, Ghana 1955 Cambodia, Ethiopia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru 1956 Benin, Comoros, Egypt, Gabon, Mali, Mauritius, Somalia 1957 Cayman Islands, Malaysia, Tunisia 1958 Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Laos, Nigeria 1959 Brunei, Madagascar, San Marino, Tanzania 1960 Bahamas, Cyprus, Gambia, Tonga 1961 Burundi, Malawi, Mauritania, Paraguay, Rwanda, Sierra Leone 1962 Algeria, Monaco, Uganda, Zambia 1963 Afghanistan, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Iran, Kenya, Morocco 1964 Papua New Guinea, Sudan 1965 Botswana, Guatemala, Lesotho 1967 Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Yemen 1968 Nauru, Swaziland 1970 Andorra 1971 Bangladesh, Switzerland 1974 Jordan, Solomon Islands 1975 Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, Vanuatu 1976 Portugal, Timor-Leste 1977 Guinea-Bissau 1979 Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau 1980 Iraq 1984 Liechtenstein 1985 Kuwait 1986 Central African Republic 1989 Namibia 1990 Samoa 1994 South Africa 1997 Qatar 2002 Bahrain 2003 Oman 2006 United Arab Emirates 2015 Saudi Arabia
Women in Leadership in the Pacific Region
The women of the Pacific region are amongst the mo...
The women of the Pacific region are amongst the most discriminated against in the world. I am talking about the 14 tiny island states that dot the Pacific Ocean...islands such as Fiji, Samoa, Nauru, Tuvalu, Kiribati etc. The women of these nations suffer shockingly high domestic violence and maternal death rates, do most of the work for a fraction of the male wage and have virtually no representation in public office. Just under 3% of all elected leaders in the Pacific are women. It is the lowest percentage in the world. The Pacific region is now officially far worse on women’s parliamentary equality than the Gulf states. In fact, half of the Pacific island states feature in the bottom 20 countries in the world for women’s participation. Seven of the bottom twenty are from the Pacific and two (Vanuatu and Micronesia) are equal last, with no women representatives at all. Others such as Tonga, Tuvalu and the Solomons only have one. Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a visit to Australia for the Pacific Islands Forum recently became disturbed by the issue of women’s representation. In my brief conversation with him he acknowledged that he had needed to be speedily backgrounded on the issue and that Papua New Guinea (3 out of 111) in particular disturbed him. The problem for women seeking public office is complex. Certainly there is overt discrimination and the refusal of men to vote for a good woman candidate is well documented but the endemic corruption is also a factor. Women with little access to wealth (or pigs) are in no position to offer the traditional feast that a successful candidate is expected to provide. We can’t propose solutions that border on corruption but what is the answer? The women who I have worked with in Bougainville, the Solomons, and PNG are all articulate, intelligent and hard working. They are seemingly perfectly equipped to run a powerful campaign and become great MPs but without intervention this will never happen. Julie Bishop, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs acknowledges the need for greater support for women in these areas. Writing about the Solomons she agreed with an OECD report that concluded that “investment in gender equality yields the highest returns of all development investments”. She also put her finger on one of the main problems for women’s representation in the Pacific, the corruption of the political system... “the greater the influence of women in public life in developing countries, the less corruption exists”. The creation of the UN Global Ambassador for Women position has been the result of a sustained campaign by women’s organisations and development agencies. The Australian Council for International Development, the peak body for non government aid and development agencies was heavily involved with the campaign. We urged that the position be modelled on the hugely successful US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues appointed in 2009 by Hillary Clinton. For those of us in the development sector, we are particularly keen that the Ambassador act as a champion for the role of women in the aid programme. Recent aid effectiveness reviews show us that aid delivered to women is the most effective mode of delivery. The previous Australian Labor Government announced that “an immediate practical priority will be working with the US and our Pacific partners on domestic violence in the region” but was unable to get much done before electoral defeat. With 60% of the Pacific countries having no domestic violence legislation and two in three women having reported physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of their spouse or partner, such support is long overdue. Then the next step is to get some more women elected to the Parliaments of Vanuatu (0), Micronesia (0), Tuvalu (1), Tonga (1), the Solomons(1), Palau (2), Nauru (2), Nauru (2) and Palau (2).   Dr Meredith Burgmann is the former President of the Legislative Council of NSW; and The Australian Council for International Development, the peak body for non government aid agencies. She has been involved in training women candidates in Bougainville, PNG, The Solomons and TimorL’Este.                                            
WNC’s Inaugural Meeting: ‘Turning the Tide Towards Parity’
On July 1st 2017, several inspiring members of our...
On July 1st 2017, several inspiring members of our burgeoning international network convened in Paris, France for an inaugural meeting. The session opened with an address by one of WNC’s distinguished and trailblazing founders, Dr. Rita Süssmuth, former head of the German Bundestag. Dr. Süssmuth spent some time greeting our members and guests before launching into a timely discussion about the role of women’s leadership at this important juncture in history. Reflecting on the present predicament facing many European, Middle Eastern and North African nations, as well as the present lack of women’s representation, Dr. Süssmuth emphasized the fact that women’s leadership holds the key to transforming the present crisis and its related issues of global security into a moment of political, social and economic opportunity. Although women are, for the most part, presently sidelined in the majority of the discussions that concern them and their loved ones, women, as the heads of their communities, have the capacity to chart out unimagined futures, ones that present policy-makers cannot or are not willing to envisage. Prof. Süssmuth underscored the need to include women at all levels of political decision-making in order to ensure similar, successful results. Next, the group set out to discuss some of the contemporary challenges facing the equality movement and the struggle for women’s parity in politics. Moderating our discussion was Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research in Delhi, India and winner of the 2015 Lotus Leadership Award, who shared some of her own experiences from India and as a woman working in the male-dominated policy and political arenas. With the help of Dr. Kumari’s moderating, the day’s discussion also included the participation of a number of key dignitaries, representing a wide array of international governments, women’s rights NGOs, social justice lawyers and advocates as well as human rights defenders and journalists, including: María Elena Elverdin, Jurist and Head of the International Federation of Women of Legal Careers in Argentina; Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General of Portugal and Portugal's Attorney General until 2015; Ana Paula Matos Barros, Lawyer and former Member of Portuguese Parliament; Eva Duran Ramos, President of Popular Party in Puente de Vallecas, Chair of INCO Humam Rights and former Member of Parliament of Spain (2008-2016); Margarita Durán Vadell, Historian, Journalist, former Member of the Spanish Senate (2011-2015) and Vice Chair of INCO Human Rights; Virginia Romero Banon, Lawyer and former Member of the Spanish Senate (2011-2015); Concetta Giallombardo, Attorney and President of the Association of Female Jurists from Palermo, Italy; Dr. Meredith Burgmann, Former President of the New South Wales Legislative Council in Australia; Cherifa Kheddar, President and Founder of the organization Djazaïrouna in Algeria and winner of the International Service Human Rights Award for the Defense of the Human Rights of Women; Malika Boussouf, acclaimed Algerian feminist writer and journalist; Bożena Kamińska, Henryka Krzywon Strycharska, Izabela Leszczyna, and Bożena Szydłowska, sitting Members of the Parliament of Poland; and last but not least, Raymonde Folco, Former Member of the Parliament of Canada (1997-2011). Together, this powerful group of women engaged in a meaningful, three-hour long discussion about the importance of women’s leadership. Specifically, they set out to share their particular experiences regarding the usefulness of quotas for ensuring women’s leadership as a foundational stepping-stone towards the ultimate goal of parity. Describing her own experiences in Algeria, Cherifa Kheddar, President and Founder of the organization Djazaïrouna, highlighted the dire stakes of women’s leadership in her part of the world: “The politics that is being had in Algeria has not denounced or fought against the Islamic State. On the contrary, the political power being exercised in Algeria has worked to the benefit of assassins and rapists. You must understand, that when it comes to entering engagements with fundamentalists, the government pushes aside women and their causes. If we set out from the principle that women’s leadership carries high stakes, then we better understand why they attempt to push women aside from the roles that they should be otherwise claiming. Such authoritarian regimes will never be able to silence women unless women are denied the ability to solidify their place at the heads of the very institutions governing society.” Echoing a similar sentiment, Bożena Kamińska, sitting Member of the Polish Parliament, shared her reflections about the experience of women in Poland, stating: “We work in the Parliamentary group of women Politics has always been the domain of men… There are now 25% representation of women in Polish parliament. We are presently discussing whether quotas are a good thing. I think without them, even less women would be in positions of power.” Some delegates, like Dr. Meredith Burgmann from Australia, further spoke of the successful experiences they too have had in ensuring women’s representation in politics, while also making sure to reflect on the fact that some parties (like ‘Labour’) have faired much better than others in this regard. Speaking to the many difficulties that elected female leaders face in the political realm, she explicitly problematized the culture of misogyny that continues to dominate politics: “You might know that we had a woman Prime Minister 5 years ago. She was very badly treated by the media. There were terrible attacks on her by the male opposition leader and there existed a lot of misogyny. Having a woman leader has made us realize that this culture is institutionally engrained. In a lot of Pacific Island States, there are no women in Parliament at all – the average is about 3% - and therefore I think quotas are a necessary step. We should not be quick to dismiss them.” Pointing to other difficulties posed by the simple implementation of quotas, María Elena Elverdin of Argentina discussed her country’s experiences where quotas have begun to ameliorate women’s representation in politics, but where other, more nuanced problems like women’s tokenism in leadership remains: “In Argentina, we struggled for to achieve 33% representation for women, who are 51% of the population. It was very hard to achieve this, but now we are working for 50%. “Of that 33%, many times she is the wife of a Senator, the lover of a Deputy, or the daughter of the President, which does not reflect the real participation of women in society”. This set the tone for looking to more critical approaches that could be met with the implementation of quotas to further serve the goal of women’s empowerment within their communities. Others also went further to underscore the problematic tendency with which quotas can give way to nepotism, often elevating those associated with the male-only elite to occupy positions of power rather than affording the average woman an opportunity to enter politics and partake in steering her country’s future. On this note, one of the meeting’s participants, Australian Lawyer Cara Ghassemian, turned our attentions to the concomitant need to address the struggle to raise social consciousness and confidence in the importance of women’s leadership through women’s social and reproductive roles at the local and global levels, stating: “We have to sometimes remind ourselves to focus on the micro, and how we can influence things at the micro, daily level, rather than simply talk big picture all the time, because the micro does reflect things at the macro level. I would say that the socialization of children is critical to raising consciousness and should help inform an agenda setting strategy”. Next, WNC member, Ana Paula Matos Barros, Lawyer and former Member of Portuguese Parliament, further highlighted the need to combat the dominant culture of professionalism, individualism and profit that has been commandeering institutions tasked with bringing about substantive equality at home and abroad: “The National level is also very, very important. I also belong to the National Council for Equality , and what do I see there? Well, it is too much professionalized. So much so that people and associations arrive there and act as though they are firms. So, at that level, they’ve already forgotten the real people. They are just professionals, they don’t care anymore about those women that need to be empowered.” Reminding us of the importance of fostering juridical equality, Dr. Jocelynne Scutt, a participant at WNC’s meeting and one of Australia’s leading human rights barristers, eloquently spoke to the gender-bias undergirding the United Kingdom’s foundational adoption of the Magna Carta: “In 1215, the King at the time, King John, signed on to Magna Carta. And that Magna Carta said this: “We have granted to all the free men of our kingdom, for us and our heirs in perpetuity, the below written liberties to be had and held by them and their heirs, from us and our heirs.” The United Kingdom sees that as the ultimate statement of freedom and rights, but that document did not contain women in any real situation, only as wives and sisters and daughters.” Next, Dr. Scutt informed our members as to how “all cultures, all societies, all laws imposed in every country oppress women. And in all countries, all cultures, women are struggling against that oppression and have been for centuries”, before WNC’s Spanish delegation enjoyed their turn to share how, despite their own successes in achieving gender-parity throughout all chambers of Spanish government, “in fact, men remain at the head of political parties and there continues to exist a male way of conducting politics”, all too often, they specified, at the expense of women’s issues. To this end, one of the meeting’s participants, Raymonde Folco, former Member of the Parliament of Canada, expressed the importance of fostering democratic culture and defending democratic institutions, which, she contends, presently serve as the best means for protecting women’s rights and ensuring the promotion of women’s emancipation worldwide: “We in Canada are very worried, and I am personally very worried about what is going on in many states in the United States and in many of the European Union States as well about the retreat from Democracy. About the fact that there are left and right movements that are moving very quickly towards totalitarianism. And we are very worried about this because totalitarianism historically has always moved hand-in-hand with man-power and not women-power, even if sometimes there might have been women involved, it still means man-power. What I would say is that as important as it is for women’s groups at the local, municipal levels on the ground to be working, it is also very important to remember that it may be a weak democracy that we are living in now, but it is still the best system that we know how to work. And it’s still the system that, if we handle it right, will protect and further promote women’s rights. So I urge you, very strongly, to look out in your own countries to make sure that no totalitarianism, no totalitarian-promoting party takes over power, because we see it taking shape and it’s not something that simply happens from one day to the next, it’s a very slow growing process.” Echoing the need to keep struggles active over time and for generations to come, Polish Member of Parliament and mother to twelve children, Henryka Krzywon Strycharska, stated the following: “I am a woman and the mother of 12 children and I have participated in the struggle for democracy in Poland since the 1980’s. I know that nothing is done for always. We have to fight every day. We have to be strong in our fight for our freedom and democracy, for all the women all over the world. We have to fight for our daughters, for our granddaughters and for their futures so that they can live without fear, without insecurity, and without violence and with a lot of tolerance. Every kind of discrimination should be damned all over the world.” As our session began to wind-down, Dr. Ranjana Kumari returned our focus to the importance of strengthening women’s networks and building solidarity across contexts, as well as stressed the urgent and timely need to get organized: “There is no other way to go than to get organized and to start giving strength to each other Unless we take charge of the globe, unless we take charge of our own countries as leaders, as people who are able to define the destinies of our own countries, these wars are not going to stop. Men are so happy about fighting – do you know how many tanks, missiles, and army-grade artillery are created everyday? Every country – this, that, and my own country are all testing them. Every year, globally, defense budgets are growing. But budgets for education, for people, for their needs and for their health are repeatedly being thrown out.” It was further significant that our inaugural meeting at WNC opened just hours after news was received that feminist trailblazer, Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp survivor, and the 12th President of the European Parliament – Simone Veil – had passed, only two weeks shy of her 90th birthday. Before our delegates and participants stood to honor Simone Veil’s memory in a moment of silence, Madame Folco addressed the importance of Veil’s feminist legacy and the impacts it had on her generation: “My generation had two role models, one was a woman who died just yesterday in Paris, Simone Veil, and the other was another woman named Simone who died several years ago, Simone de Beauvoir. These two women were role models for me personally and role models for many of my generation. And recalling them brought to mind how important women role models are not just to women, but to women in what particularly concerns us this morning. It is very important that in our own countries and in our own societies that when we see women who ought to be role models, that we give them the place, the space and the voice so that they can be heard through social media, through the regular media, and so that they can become the centers of women’s rights in our own countries.” As part of the strategy to overcome patriarchy and turn the tide towards parity, then, “It is of utmost importance”, as Dr. Kumari powerfully concluded, “that we start asserting our voices and that we extend our support to our sisters who are struggling!”   ~Women’s Network For Change
TEDxMICA talk with our vice-president Ranjana Kumari – The Society of the Future
Ranjana Kumari has always been a spokesperson for ...
Ranjana Kumari has always been a spokesperson for women's rights. Today she goes beyond that, by questioning the gender binary that exists today and how it holds society back. Equal rights are not just needed for men and women, but humanity as a whole. A renowned social activist and a prolific academician, Dr. Ranjana Kumari is the Director of Centre for Social Research as well as Chairperson of Women Power Connect. She has dedicated her life to empowering women across the South Asia region and is also a prolific writer of many well‐known publications. Her foray into social work was initiated by her concern for a dowry death that took place near her home in 1976. She has served as the Coordinator of the South Asia Network Against Trafficking (SANAT) in Persons and is a member of the Central Advisory Board on “Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Tests Act, 2001”. Currently, she is a member of Global Safety Advisory Board of Facebook. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Listen to the full talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0vGhpoZR5k
Together we can!
An event was held in Kathmandu, Nepal from July 17...
An event was held in Kathmandu, Nepal from July 17 to 18, 2017 by SANWED - South Asian Network for Widows Empowerment in Development entitled, "Together We Can!" Dr. Maria Virginia participated and addressed the event on behalf of the WNC. Sanwed is an initiative in the South Asian region to uphold widows' human rights, and eliminate all forms of discrimination and marginalization against widows in society, while striving to reduce poverty and bring widows into the mainstream development process of each member nation. On July 16, 2017, the invitees attended a special dinner prepared at Chahary, a center for widows in Kathmandu. Chahary is a place where widows and single women can live, work and learn how to reintegrate into the society. They learn to be independent and have the opportunity to continue their education and can earn an income. The main conference was held in Shankara Hotel in Kathmandu, on July 17, 2017. Mrs. Lily Thapa, Founder/ Strategic Advisor of Women for Human Rights, single women group (WHR) inaugurated the conference. She introduced all the guests including the Vice President of Nepal, Nanda Bahadur Pun. The next speaker was Mr. Nanda Bahadur Pun. He congratulated all the women attending the conference, particularly those coming from South Asian countries. The speakers at the event were : Anuradha Wikarmasinghe, Director SFFL, Sri Lanka Meera Khanna, Vice President Guild of Service, India Margaret Owen, Ex. Barrister Dr. Masuma Hasan, President Aurat Foundation from Pakistan Sumeera Shrestha, Executive Director Women for Human Rights Bishnumaya Dhungana Bhutanese Refugee Women Forum Dr. Ferdous Ara Begum, Former member of CEDAW, from Bangladesh Khagaraj Baral ,Secretary of Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare, Government of Nepal Gajendra Kumar Thakur, Secretary of Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction , Government of Nepal The contribution and experience of regional and international guests helped strengthen the commitments towards empowerment of widows mainstreaming them in national and regional levels. On July 18, 2017, the conference was moved to Nuwakot ( 75km from Kathmandu) - The district which contains places of historical significance such as seven-storey old palace located at the top of hill named after the district itself, but the palace is damaged due to earthquake. Speakers addressed the guests and discussed solutions to empowering widows. Dr. Maria Virginia also addressed the event on behalf of the WNC and gave a report on the rights of widows and single women and the solutions to empower them.  

Guests meet Hon. President of Nepal Ms. Bidya Devi Bhandari

Welcome dinner prepared by the widows of Chhahari - a safe space for widows

"Together We Can" meeting - Inauguration session July 17, 2017

 "Together We Can" meeting - Inauguration session July 17, 2017

“Inequality starts in our minds”
Women at work worldwide - #BeBoldForChange Interna...

Women at work worldwide - #BeBoldForChange

International Women's Day celebrates women’s achievements while calling for gender equality. See how women perform in jobs that are often still considered "men's jobs" and what they have to say.

"Inequality starts in our minds"

In Istanbul, Turkey, Serpil Cigdem works as a train driver. She reports: "When I applied for a job 23 years ago as a driver, I was told that it is a profession for men. I knew that during the written examination even if I got the same results as a male candidate, he would have got the job. That's why I worked hard to pass the exam with a better result than the male candidates."
“Gender inequality happens”
Women at work worldwide - #BeBoldForChange Interna...

Women at work worldwide - #BeBoldForChange

International Women's Day celebrates women’s achievements while calling for gender equality. See how women perform in jobs that are often still considered "men's jobs" and what they have to say.

"Gender inequality happens"

Deng Qiyan is a decorator at contraction sites in Beijing, China. She has a very down-to-earth approach: "Sometimes gender inequality happens. But we cannot do anything about that. After all, you have to digest all those unhappy things and carry on," the mother of three says.   http://www.dw.com/en/women-at-work-worldwide-beboldforchange/g-37795980
61 st session of the Commission on the Status of Women
The 61st session of the Commission on the Status o...
The 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61), was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 13 – 24 March, 2017. This year's session focused on the theme of “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.” The Commission is one of the largest annual gathering of global leaders, NGOs, private sector actors, United Nations partners and activists from around the world focusing on the status of rights and empowerment of all women and girls, everywhere. This year’s session took place at a critical juncture, as the world of work is changing fast, pushed by innovation, globalization and increasing human mobility. At the same time, it is adversely impacted by climate change, humanitarian crises, rising informality of labor and economic inequality. For sustainable and healthy economies, the world of work must empower women and remove the persisting inequalities that hold women back from getting on equal footing with men. From equal pay and women’s unpaid work to decent work, removing the barriers of discrimination and investing in women’s access to digital and green economies, UN Women unpacked the key issues for women in the changing world of work.  
Local women in Buenos Aires, Argentina make handcrafts
This is an all-women team who we met on our trip t...
This is an all-women team who we met on our trip to Argentina. They make beautiful handcrafts with elegant stones and find time to greet visitors. They showed us their magnificent talent and offered us a cup of traditional Argentinean tea.
Viola Desmond to be 1st Canadian woman on $10 bill
Proud moment for Canada Black rights activist Viol...
Proud moment for Canada Black rights activist Viola Desmond to be 1st Canadian woman on $10 bill Black rights activist Viola Desmond, who was jailed for defiantly sitting in the "whites only" section of a Nova Scotia film house, will be the first Canadian woman to be featured on the country's $10 bill.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz announced the selection of the groundbreaking beautician and businesswoman during an announcement today at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. Desmond's image will replace that of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister, on the purple banknote beginning in 2018. Morneau called her an "extraordinary woman." Desmond is often referred to as "Canada's Rosa Parks," though her historic act of defiance occurred nine years before Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. 'It's a really big day to have my big sister on a banknote.' - Wanda Robson, 89 At age 32, Desmond decided to go to the Roseland Theatre to see a movie while her car was getting fixed on Nov. 8, 1946, but she was thrown out of the "whites only" section and sent to jail. Black people could only sit in the balcony of the theatre. The next morning, Desmond was convicted of defrauding the province of a one penny tax, the difference in tax between a downstairs and upstairs ticket, even though Desmond had asked to pay the one cent difference. Desmond was released after paying a $20 fine and $6 in court costs. She appealed her conviction but lost.

Racial segregation challenge

Her court case was the first known legal challenge against racial segregation brought forward by a black woman in Canada, according to a Bank of Canada news release. "Viola Desmond was a woman who broke down barriers, who provided inspiration to Canadians around social justice issues and showed that each and every one of us, individually, can make a difference," Morneau said. She was granted a free pardon posthumously in 2010 by former Nova Scotia lieutenant-governor Mayann Francis, the first black person to serve as the Queen's representative in the province. The provincial government also issued a formal apology. She died in 1965 at age 50. Another iconic Canadian, who will be chosen at a later date, will be featured on a future $5 bill. Macdonald and Canada's first francophone prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, will be featured on higher-value banknotes. Those changes mean former prime ministers William Lyon Mackenzie King and Sir Robert Borden will no longer be featured on banknotes.
The legacy of Viola Desmond, right, who became a civil rights icon for her actions in the late 1940s, has been kept alive over the decades by her sister Wanda Robson, left. (Submitted by Wanda Robson)
Desmond's younger sister, Wanda Robson, who is now 89, has kept her legacy alive by giving interviews and writing a book about her story. She attended Thursday's announcement, and expressed pride and gratitude on behalf of the family. http://www.cbc.ca/…/polit…/canadian-banknote-woman-1.3885844
The Shocking Reality of Child Marriage in India
By Dr. Ranjana Kumari Recently, I came across an a...
By Dr. Ranjana Kumari Recently, I came across an analysis by IndiaSpend of the recently released 2011 census data, and was appalled to see some of the hard hitting facts laid bare. The report stated that nearly 12 million Indian children were married before the age of 10 years–84% of them Hindu and 11% Muslim. many of 7.84 million (65%) married children were female, reinforcing the fact that girls are significantly more disadvantaged; eight in 10 illiterate children who were married were also girls. The data further reveals that 72% of all Hindu girls married before 10 were in rural areas, as compared to 58.5% Muslim girls, with higher levels of education correlating with later marriage. Women from urban areas, on average, marry more than two yars later than their rural counterparts. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act states that a girl in India cannot marry before age 18, a boy before 21. A Muslim girl can marry when she attains puberty or completes 15 years of age, according to Muslim Personal Law, the Gujarat High Court and Delhi High Court noted in different judgments. As many as 102 million girls (30% of female population) were married before 18 in 2011; the number was 119 million in 2001 (44% of female population), a decrease of 14 percentage points over the decade. The number was 120 million in 2001 (49% of male population), a decrease of 7 percentage points over the decade. The correlation between education and child marriage was also significant. It was observed that as many as 1,403 females have never attended any educational institution for every 1,000 males who have not. The report also noted that the level of teenage pregnancy and motherhood is nine times higher among women with no education than among women with 12 or more years of education. 80% of illiterate children married before 10 are girls. These chilling facts yet again reiterates the importance of education, particularly of the girl child. Child marriage is a social evil, and brings with it numerous psychological and physical repercussions for the children involved. The #BetiBachaoBetiPadhao campaign of the Government of India, of which Centre for Social Research is also a nodal agency, is aimed at removing this evil at the roots, by encouraging families to educate their girl children, and celebrate their birth. This issue needs to be dealt with great urgency on the part of government, civil society organizations and general public, to be eradicated completely. Let us work towards preserving our children’s innocence. http://gendermatters.in/2016/06/child-marriage-in-india/?utm_content=buffer5a7f9&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Women’s Body and Fundamental Rights – New Challenges
Buenos Aires 2016 November 14 to 18 Women's Body a...
Buenos Aires 2016 November 14 to 18 Women's Body and Fundamental Rights - New Challenges Conference held by the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers   ba-1 ba-2 ba-3 ba-4ba-5
WNC Welcomes the Appointment of Nadia Murad Basee Taha as UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking
Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a survivor of human traffi...
un-photo-cia-pak2 Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a survivor of human trafficking at the hands of ISIS, has been appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The UNODC is the lead UN agency that combats all forms of human trafficking, including sexual slavery and forced labor. According to the UNODC, during her Ambassadorship, Nadia will concentrate on advocacy efforts and raise awareness about the plight of the countless victims of human trafficking, especially refugee women and girls. Prior to her Ambassadorship appointment, Nadia had already met with various heads of state and global leaders to raise the plight of Yazidi victims of human trafficking. Nadia, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People of 2016," testified in December 2015 before the UN Security Council about the plight of the Yezidi ethnic and religious minority under ISIS. She told the UN Security Council that she had been living with her family when ISIS fighters attacked her village in August 2014. ISIS fighters, she said, had taken her to Mosul. She was bought and sold on various times. ISIS had made Yazidi women into “flesh to be trafficked in,” Nadia told the UN body. She added that “This is collective suffering.” "Thousands of Yazidi women have been enslaved by a terrorist organization, IS, that is committing genocide. And yet no one is being held to account. I am honoured to represent Nadia in her courageous quest for legal accountability," Amal Clooney, attorney for Nadia, said in a statement. According to Nick Grono, head of the Freedom Fund, over 3,000 Yazidi women and girls have been enslaved by ISIS. The extremist group, Grono said, was advocating for the revival of slavery. Indeed, giving voice to and strengthening the presence of women, such as Nadia Murad, in all arenas to combat radicalism will only lead to the defeat of such extremist groups.
Women’s Growing Economic Power
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Women Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets are Driven More by Women’s Representation in Business & Politics, Study Shows
Women's participation in the entrepreneurial spher...
Women's participation in the entrepreneurial sphere has long been studied and reviewed. The inaugural Mastercard's "Women's Entrepreneurial Index 2016" is the latest attempt to gauge women’s progress as entrepreneurs. The Mastercard study, which focused on 16 Asia Pacific countries, ranked New Zealand first (53.9), followed by Australia (51.7), Thailand (50.9), Philippines (50.6) and Singapore (50.1). At the bottom of the spectrum, India (33.3), Sri Lanka (32.7) and Bangladesh (27.0) received the lowest overall scores – 0 being the worst score and 100 as the best score. The Mastercard study showed that women’s progress as entrepreneurs in two emerging markets, Thailand (3rd) and the Philippines (4th), was driven more by women’s representation in business and politics. Women entrepreneurs in New Zealand (1st), Australia (2nd) and Singapore (5th), on the other hand, were largely driven by high opportunity to attain advanced knowledge assets and access to mainstream financial services, the Mastercard report showed. The study also suggested that the women entrepreneurs at the top five markets (New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Philippines and Singapore) were mostly opportunity entrepreneurs, while women entrepreneurs at the bottom markets (India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) were mostly necessity entrepreneurs. Mastercard defines opportunity entrepreneurs as those: • Driven by desire to progress up the social, economic or political ladder • Supported by higher access and opportunity to pursue advanced education and gain access to financial privileges • Less limited by cultural bias against women • Likely to exist in societies where women's progress in entrepreneurship has gained some grounds and underlying conditions fostering women's entrepreneurship are favorable Necessity entrepreneurs, meanwhile, are defined by Mastercard as those: • Driven by need to survive • Lack of access and opportunity to gain advanced education • Lack of financial support/capacity • Limited by strong cultural bias • Likely to exist in societies where women's progress in entrepreneurship is weak and underlying conditions fostering women's entrepreneurship are lacking or unfavorable The 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey showed that women were nearly one-third more likely to start businesses out of necessity than men. The 2015 GEM survey further showed that women showed equal or higher entrepreneurship rates than men in these six countries: Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Peru and Indonesia. In the article entitled "The Global Rise of Female Entrepreneurs" published by the Harvard Business Review, Jackie VanderBrug wrote, “In emerging markets, women reinvest a staggering 90 cents of every additional dollar of income in ‘human resources’ — their families’ education, health, nutrition (compared, by the way, to 30-40% for men).” “Think of women’s increased income and assets as a gender dividend driving family, community and country wellbeing,” Jackie VanderBrug added.
Quest for Gender Parity at the UN
The United Nations (UN) has long been an advocate ...
The United Nations (UN) has long been an advocate of women’s equality. Article 8 of the UN Charter states that “The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs.” Seventy years after its establishment, the UN has yet to achieve gender parity within its own organization. In the blog post entitled “Gender Equality At The UN: The Final Push?” published in the The Huffington Post, Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, wrote, “In 2013, of the 32,000 staff employed by the UN in professional categories worldwide, 41.6% were women.” The Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva added that only 30% of Directors at the UN are women, while women represent only slightly more than a quarter of all top executives. Official UN documents showed that between 1 January and 10 December 2015, out of the 22 appointed UN undersecretaries-general, only two were women. According to Karin Landgren, a non-resident visiting fellow at the Center on International Cooperation, out of the six female UN undersecretaries-general who retired in 2015, all were replaced by men. While far from parity, women’s role especially in the peacekeeping aspect has improved. Women lead five out of the 16 UN peacekeeping missions. The organization, though, has never appointed a woman as a chief mediator. Search for the First Woman UN Secretary-General Most importantly, in its 70-year existence, the UN has never elected a woman Secretary-General, the highest position of the organization. Many are hoping that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s replacement, when he steps down by the end of this year, will be a woman. Out of the 10 official candidates for the Secretary-General position, half are women. These five women leaders are vying for the UN Secretary-General position: 1. Irina Bokova Bokova has been the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since 2009. She was a member of the Bulgarian Parliament and Ambassador of Bulgaria to France and Monaco. 2. Helen Clark Clark has served as Prime Minister of New Zealand. She also served as the Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). 3. Christiana Figueres From 2010 to 2016, Figueres worked as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 4. Natalia Gherman Gherman has served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova. In 2015, she was the Acting Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova. 5. Susana Malcorra Malcorra is the current Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina. She previously worked as Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Women’s Inclusion in the Myanmar Peace Process
The conflict in Myanmar, also known as Burma, is c...
The conflict in Myanmar, also known as Burma, is considered as one of the world’s longest-running conflicts. The conflict started when Myanmar’s ethnic groups took up arms in a struggle for self-determination or greater autonomy soon after the country gained independence from British colonial rule in 1948. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the current Myanmar conflict has internally displaced 120,000 people in Rakhine State and 100,000 people in Kachin State. The UN humanitarian agency added that one million people in Myanmar are in need of humanitarian aid. In the paper called "Understanding Myanmar’s Peace Process: Ceasefire Agreements," Min Zaw Oo, Director of the Ceasefire Negotiation and Implementation Program at the Myanmar Peace Center, reported that between the late 1980s and 2000s, the military regime of Gen. Khin Nyunt, negotiated unwritten “gentlemen’s” ceasefire deals with 40 ethnic groups. In 2011, President U Thein Sein’s quasi-democratic government initiated peace talks with armed groups. On October 15, 2015, the Government of Myanmar and eight ethnic groups signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). The NCA is structured as an open agreement. Other ethnic groups are encouraged to ratify the document. Despite the international prominence of Aung San Suu Kyi, she was not directly involved in the peace talks which culminated in the signing of the NCA in October 2015. Other women, however, actively participated in the peace process. In the paper called "Women’s Inclusion in Myanmar’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement" published by Inclusive Security and Swiss Peace, Allison Muehlenbeck and Julia Palmiano Federer reported that out of the 94 delegates for the NCA negotiations, five were women. Signatories of the NCA include one woman from the government, one woman from the ethnic groups, and two women as witnesses. The landmark elections in November 2015 brought Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party to power. State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's de factor leader as she is prevented by an army-backed constitution to serve as President, initiated the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference. The 5-day conference, which started on August 31, 2016 in Naypyidaw, brings together 17 of Myanmar’s 20 largest ethnic groups. The country officially recognizes 135 ethnic groups. "So long as we are unable to achieve national reconciliation and national unity, we will never be able to establish a sustainable and durable peaceful union," Myanmar's de factor leader told the attendees during the first day of the conference. She added, "Only if our country is at peace will we be able to stand on an equal footing with the other countries in our region and across the world."
Women’s Participation in the Syrian Peace Process
Women have shouldered the brunt of the violent con...
Women have shouldered the brunt of the violent conflict in Syria. Virtually half of the Syrian internally displaced and refugees are women. Amidst the chaos brought about by the five-year-old conflict, Syrian women have risen in the local level as:
  • Negotiators for securing local-level ceasefires and release of prisoners
  • Distributors and monitors of humanitarian aid
  • Organizers of safe spaces for women and children
  • Documenters of human rights abuses
In the article called "Leveraging leadership among Syrian women—a strong constituency for peace," Hiba Qasas, program advisor and head of the Arab States Section for UN Women, wrote, "Since the beginning of the crisis, Syrian women have been inspiring examples in their resilience and determination.” “They started organizing at the community level in relation to humanitarian needs, forming networks and coalitions in response," the program advisor and head of the Arab States Section for UN Women stressed. In the United Nations-mediated peace talks for Syria, women have made progress. Three of the 15 members of the Syrian Government negotiating panel are women. Three of the 15 members of the negotiating panel of the Opposition, also known as the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), are women. In addition, two of the 34 members of the HNC are women, and 20 to 25 women advise the HNC delegation on women's issues and present recommendations. Twelve Syrian women, under the body called “Syrian Women’s Advisory Board” and one international gender advisor, articulate women’s concerns and ideas on topics discussed during the talks, and present their recommendations to the UN mediator, UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura. The Syrian Women’s Advisory Board was established in early 2016 after the UN Mediator heeded the call from various sectors for a greater participation of women in the UN-mediated Syrian peace talks. A statistical analysis by Laurel Stone showed that out of the 182 signed peace agreements worldwide between 1989 and 2011, an agreement is 35% more likely to last at least 15 years if women participate in its creation.
United Nations Rights Office Calls French Officials to Repeal Burkini Bans
The United Nations has welcomed the decision of th...
The United Nations has welcomed the decision of the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, in overturning a French town’s ban on burkini. The Council of State, in its ruling, found that the burkini ban by the French town of Villeneuve-Loubet violated religious freedom and freedom of movement. France’s highest administrative court also found that public officials who enacted the ban had failed to prove that the burkini posed a threat to the public. While the Villeneuve-Loubet’s ban does not specifically ban burkini, as it bans inappropriate beachwear only, this has been commonly interpreted as targeting the burkini – a swimwear worn by Muslim women. Villeneuve-Loubet is not the only French town that bans “inappropriate” clothing. Over 30 other towns, mostly located on the French Riviera, have similar bans in place. "We fully understand – and share – the grief and anger generated by the terrorist attacks carried out in France in recent months, including the atrocious 14 July attack in Nice,”  Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva. Bans, like the one carried out in Villeneuve-Loubet, Colville said “do not improve the security situation but rather fuel religious intolerance and the stigmatization of Muslims in France, especially women.” The spokesperson for OHCHR further called authorities in all the other French seaside towns that have adopted similar bans to repeal the burkini bans immediately. "We call on the authorities in all the other French sea-side towns and resorts that have adopted similar bans to take note of the Conseil d’Etat’s ruling that the ban constitutes a grave and illegal breach of fundamental freedoms," the spokesperson for OHCHR said. Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, reported that 80% of anti-Muslim acts were carried out against Muslim women. In the article called “France’s Burkini Bans Put Muslim Women in Danger” published by Time, Jayne Huckerby, clinical professor of law and the director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the Duke University School of Law, wrote, “Women wearing hijab or other visible clothing associated with Islam are particularly singled out for harassment and violence, often by men and increasingly in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Europe.” “Against this backdrop of targeting of women in religious garb, any policy that links the burkini with terrorism puts Muslim women further in the crosshairs of Islamophobic violence,” Huckerby added. On her website, France’s Health Minister Marisol Touraine wrote that to pretend that swimming veiled is threatening public order and values is to forget that secularism is not the rejection of religion, but rather, it is a guarantee of individual and collective freedom. In fact, the solution to out-root extremism that has smeared global peace and security, would be to counter the problem culturally. We must educate people by teaching that to suppress and carry out any evil act under the name of religion to limit freedoms is unacceptable but also to use secularism as a tool to restrict individual rights will not solve the original problem.
Humanitarian Crisis in Syria
The photograph of Omran Daqneesh, the five-year-ol...
The photograph of Omran Daqneesh, the five-year-old boy sitting in an ambulance chair with his face and body covered in dust and blood after being rescued from an airstrike, reminds the world yet again of the horrors faced by victims of the ongoing war in Syria. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) describes the ongoing war in Syria as “one of the most complex and dynamic humanitarian crises in the world today." The Syrian war, which started in March 2011, has sparked the world's largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. These data show the disturbing effects of the five-year-old Syrian war:
  • Over 250,000 people have been killed (Source: UNOCHA)
  • Nearly 25% of Syrian civilians killed were women and children (Source: British Medical Journal)
  • Over one million have been injured (Source: UNOCHA)
  • Four out of five Syrians now live in poverty (Source: UNOCHA)
  • 47 million Syrians are in hard-to-reach areas, including nearly 600,000 people in 18 besieged areas (Source: UNOCHA)
  • 5 million Syrians need health care; 13.5 million require protection support; 12.1 million need water and sanitation; 5.7 million children need education support (Source: UNOCHA)
  • 6 million have been internally displaced (Source: UNOCHA)
  • 8 million have become refugees in neighboring countries (Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees-UNHCR)
  • 1 million Syrian refugees are in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon; 2.7 million are in Turkey; and more than 29,000 are in North Africa (Source: UNHCR)
  • Out of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees, 52.8% are children and 49.7% are women (Source: UNHCR)
  • “Sexual violence against women, girls, men and boys has been a characteristic of the Syrian conflict from its inception,” the United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict (UNSRSG-SVC) reported.
According to UNOCHA, humanitarian access to people who are in need inside Syria remains constrained because of the ongoing conflict, shifting frontlines, bureaucratic hurdles, and violence along access routes. The UN humanitarian agency also reported that many Syrians find it difficult to seek asylum. Because of this difficulty, there has been a marked decreased in the number of refugees arriving in neighboring countries.
Number of African Women in Leadership Positions Exceeds Global Average
Africa has more women in leadership positions in b...
Africa has more women in leadership positions in both private and public sectors than the average worldwide, this according to the latest report by McKinsey & Company. African Women’s Participation in the Public Sector In the report called "Women Matter Africa," McKinsey & Company showed the following rise of the number of African women in leadership positions in the public sector:
  • From 2000 to 2014, the share of women parliamentarians almost doubled to reach 24%.
  • In terms of women's representation in parliament, 17 of 30 African countries sit above the global average, which is 21%.
  • Rwanda has the highest share of women parliamentarians in the world. Sixty-four percent of the parliamentarians in Rwanda are women.
  • The number of women in cabinet in Africa has grown five times to 27% in 30 years, up by 4% compared to the global average of 23%.
The growth of women’s participation in the public sector, according to McKinsey & Company, can be attributed to targets for women’s representation set by political parties and parliaments. African Women’s Participation in the Private Sector In the private sector, the McKinsey & Company report showed a similar rise of women in leadership positions:
  • African women hold 23% of positions at executive committee level, compared with a global average of 20%.
  • They hold 5% of positions at CEO level, compared with 4% globally.
  • African women hold 14% of seats at board level, compared with a global average of 13%.
  • In Africa, companies in the top quartile with women on executive committees outperformed industry earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margins by 14% on average; while companies with at least a quarter share of women on their boards was on average have 20% higher EBIT than the industry average.
Number Versus Influence While there is an increase of women in leadership positions in Africa, this number does not necessarily equates to influence, as shown in the McKinsey & Company report:
  • More than 50% of African women cabinet ministers are in charge of social welfare portfolios, while only 30% are in charge of departments with more political influence like treasury, defense, infrastructure, and foreign affairs.
  • Fifty-six percent of female senior managers surveyed in Africa hold staff roles, while only 44% hold line roles. Staff roles refer to support functions such as legal and human relations; while line roles refer to core operations such as finance, strategy and risk.
  • Substantial pay gap persists between men and women holding senior positions in private sector companies in Africa. Women board members in South Africa, for example, earn 17% less than their male counterparts.
Four Women Refugee Athletes Live their Olympic Dreams
They do not belong to any national team. They have...
They do not belong to any national team. They have no national flag to march behind. But this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, four women refugees are given a chance to live their Olympic dreams. Yusra Mardini from Syria, Anjaline Nadai Lohalith and Rose Nathike Lokonyen from South Sudan, and Yolande Bukasa Mabik from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, together with six male refugees, made history as the first-ever members of the Refugee Olympic Team. The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) created the Refugee Olympic Team for the Olympic Games in Rio early this year. The refugee team is treated at the Olympic Games like all the other 206 national teams. The members of the refugee team were chosen based on their sporting level, official refugee status verified by the United Nations, personal situation and background. Yusra Mardini Yusra, 18 years old, competed in the 100-meter butterfly and freestyle swimming categories. The world rejoiced when Yusra finished first in Heat 1 of the 100-meter butterfly category. She failed, however, to qualify for the semifinals for both 100-meter butterfly and freestyle categories. Although she lost, this did not dampen Yusra’s spirit. “It was quite hard, but an amazing feeling to be in the water. I am really proud and happy. This team is amazing. All the colors, countries, all the nations – it’s amazing,” she told reporters after her race. Before the war in Syria, she was a competitive swimmer who represented Syria in international competitions. As the Syrian war intensified, Yusra, together with her sister Sarah, left Damascus in early August 2015. The two sisters won the hearts of many when they jumped into the cold Aegean Sea, swam for hours and pushed their sinking dinghy to safety. The Mardini sisters arrived in Berlin in September 2015. Since then, Yusra has trained at the Wasserfreunde Spandau 04 club in Berlin. Yolande Bukasa Mabik Yolande, 30 years old, competed in the 70-kilogram Judo category. “This Olympic experience... I’m very happy, very happy with this day. I will never forget this day, even having lost my fight. I am a warrior. Fighting is not only judo. This is the fight for life. I’m representing a lot of nations,” Yolande said after she lost to her Israeli opponent, Linda Bolder. Yolande is originally from Bukavu, the area most affected by the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Yolande represented the Democratic Republic of the Congo in many international Judo competitions. In 2013, during the World Judo Championships in Rio, she sought asylum in Brazil. She currently trains at the Instituto Reação in Rio de Janeiro.  Anjaline Nadai Lohalith Anjaline, 21 years old, will compete in the 1500-meter athletics category this Friday (August 12th). In 2002, she arrived in Kakuma, Kenya with her aunt to escape the violent conflict in South Sudan. Anjaline participated in a number of running competitions. Since 2015, she has trained at the Tegla Loroupe Foundation in Kenya. Rose Nathike Lokonyen Rose, aged 23 years old, will compete in the 800-meter athletics category this Friday. In 2002, Rose and her family arrived at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya to escape the South Sudan war. In 2008, Rose’s parents returned to South Sudan. Rose and her siblings remained at the refugee camp. She participated in many running competitions. Rose has trained at the Tegla Loroupe Foundation in Kenya since 2015. “Their (members of the Refugee Olympic Team) participation in the Olympics is a tribute to the courage and perseverance of all refugees in overcoming adversity and building a better future for themselves and their families. UNHCR stands with them and with all refugees,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.
Participation of women and girls in education
4 Reasons Why Women’s Participation is a Predictor of Peace
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ...
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 65.3 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide in 2015 as a result of conflict, persecution, generalized violence or human rights violations. The number of forcibly displaced globally, according to UNHCR, is the highest since the aftermath of World War II. If the total global population of forcibly displaced people were a country, they would be the 21st largest in the world – bigger than the entire population of the United Kingdom. According to UN Women, the representative sample of 31 major peace processes between 1992 and 2011 showed that only 4% of signatories, 3.7% of witnesses, 2.4% of chief mediators and 9% of negotiators were women. There is a substantial amount of evidence that links women’s participation with peace and stability in society.  Reason #1: Women’s Participation Increases the Probability of a Long-Lasting Peace Agreement A statistical analysis by Laurel Stone showed that out of the 182 signed peace agreements worldwide between 1989 and 2011, an agreement is 35% more likely to last at least 15 years if women participate in its creation. Reason #2: State is Less Likely to Use Violence with High Percentage of Women in Parliament Using data on international crises over four decades, Mary Caprioli and Mark Boyer’s study on “Gender, Violence, and International Crisis” showed that a state is five times less likely to use force when faced with an international crisis when the percentage of women in parliament increases by five percent. Reason #3: Women Moderate Violent Extremism Abigail Disney and Gini Reticker, in the article entitled "When it comes to ‘networks of death,’ women don’t need saving — they are our saviors" published in The New York Times, wrote that Mossarat Qadeem took matters into her own hands and founded PAIMAN Alumni Trust to counter Pakistan’s dangerous radicalization. One of the programs of PAIMAN helps mothers in high-conflict regions de-radicalize their sons. PAIMAN, according to Disney and Reticker, trained more than 655 mothers to rehabilitate and reintegrate 1,024 radicalized boys and young men. Reason #4: Women Break the Conflict Cycle When 35% of the legislature is female, the risk of conflict relapse is near zero, this according to the study “Female Participation and Civil War Relapse” by Jacqueline Demeritt and Angela Nichols. "The empirical evidence is overwhelming: where women’s inclusion is prioritized, peace is more likely – particularly when women are in a position to influence decision making,” Marie O'Reilly, Head of Research at The Institute for Inclusive Security, wrote in the document called "Why Women? Inclusive Security and Peaceful Societies."
Road to women’s right to vote
UNESCO International Conference on Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education
The UNESCO International Conference on Prevention ...
The UNESCO International Conference on Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education is an international event that aims to build a common understanding among policy makers on the interventions needed for education systems to prevent violent extremism. Organized by the UNESCO Headquarters and the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, this international conference will take place at the Peacock Convention Centre, Hotel Novotel New Delhi Aerocity, New Delhi, India on September 19-20, 2016. UNESCO is convening this international conference in line with “Decision 46” that was approved by the UNESCO Executive Board regarding “UNESCO’s role in preventing violent extremism through education.” The conference’s aim is also in line with the United Nations Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. Participants of this event will primarily be senior education officials responsible for or engaged in initiatives related to the prevention of violent extremism. Experts and representatives from the youth sector, CSOs and IGOs are also expected to attend this international event. For more information, visit the following: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/events/all-events/?tx_browser_pi1%5BshowUid%5D=40232&cHash= http://mgiep.unesco.org/pve-e/
Rise of Women Speakers of Parliament
Before 1945, Austria was the only state to have el...
Before 1945, Austria was the only state to have elected a woman to the role of Speaker of Parliament. As of 1 June 2016, the number of women Speakers of Parliament reached an all-time high at 49, this according to the report of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The 49 women Speakers of Parliament represent 17.7% of the total number of 277 posts of Presiding Officers or Speakers of Parliament worldwide. Globally, there are 193 parliaments, 77 of which are bicameral. Out of the 49 women Speakers, 17 are Speakers in the upper houses of parliament, while 32 are Speakers in single or lower houses of parliament. The countries with women Speakers in the upper houses of parliament are Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Namibia, Netherlands, Russian Federation, South Africa, Swaziland, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. The countries with women Speakers in single or lower houses of parliament are Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, India, Italy, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Suriname, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Uganda and United Arab Emirates. According to IPU, “The importance of women in these positions of parliamentary leadership cannot be overstated.” “Women have proven many times over their willingness to usher in gender-sensitive reforms,” the global inter-parliamentary institution added. The case of Mauritius demonstrates the importance of the role of women Speakers of Parliament. Santi Bai Hanoomanjee, Mauritius first woman Speaker of Parliament, sought the establishment of a parliamentary caucus on gender equality – a body that reviews policies and legislation from a gender perspective.
Women Refugees Overcome Adversity through Sports
The participation of four women refugee athletes i...
The participation of four women refugee athletes in this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro shines light to the flight of refugee women and girls around the world. Women and girls make up nearly 50% of any refugee, internally displaced or stateless population, this according to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the UN’s refugee agency. In January 2016, the UN refugee agency reported that women and children refugees make up 55% of those arriving by sea to Europe. Most Vulnerable Refugees Refugee adolescent girls and those who are unaccompanied, heads of households, disabled or elderly women are especially vulnerable, the UN refugee agency said. There is a high number of refugee households that are headed by women, according to UN Women. More than 50% of displaced families in Mali are headed by women. One in four households of all Syrian refugee families now living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Jordan are headed by women. Violent times draw refugee adolescent girls to early marriage. UN Women reported that prior to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the average age for marriage for a girl was between 20 and 25 years. During and after the genocide, the average age for marriage for a girl in refugee camps was 15 years. Early marriage (marrying before the age of 18) is also common among Syrian refugee girls. Prior to the war in Syria, early marriage for girls was between 13 and 17%. At the refugee camps in Jordan, 51% of Syrian refugee girls marry before turning 18 years old. According to the UNHCR, a total of 65.3 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide in 2015 as a result of conflict, generalized violence, persecution or human rights violations. The majority (54%) of the refugees came from these three countries: the Syrian Arab Republic (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million) and Somalia (1.1 million). Positive Light Four women refugees: Yusra Mardini from Syria, Anjaline Nadai Lohalith and Rose Nathike Lokonyen from South Sudan, and Yolande Bukasa Mabik from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have shown their resilience as they made history as members of the Refugee Olympic Team. Anjaline and Rose, refugees from South Sudan who fled to Kenya, honed their athletics skills at the Tegla Loroupe Foundation. The foundation, created by Tegla Loroupe herself, mentored and trained talented athletes from refugee camps in Kenya. Tegla serves as the Chef de Mission of the Refugee Olympic Team. She is a three-time Olympic runner. She holds the world records for 20, 25 and 30 kilometers marathon. She also won a number of marathons held in different parts of the world. “People treat these refugees like criminals. We need to treat them with respect,” Tegla told The New York Times.
New Report Shows Lack of Women Leaders in International Sports Organizations
This year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is...
This year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is expected to have 45% female participation. Even as the number of female athletes has improved, the number of women in leadership roles in international sports organizations remains wanting. The "2016 International Sports Report Card on Women in Leadership Roles" released by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida showed the following dire statistics:
  • Only 5.7% of International Federation presidents, 12.2% of the vice presidents and 13.1% of executive committee members are women.
  • In the International Olympic Committee (IOC) itself, 24.4% of the members are women.
  • Three International Federations (International Handball Federation, International Judo Federation and World Rugby) have no women in leadership roles.
  • Of the total 113 presidents of regional zone confederations, only 12 for 10.6% are women.
  • The following are the scores received by international sports organizations for the representation of women in leadership roles, A, being the highest score:
- IOC: D+ - International Federations: F - National federations affiliated to each International Federation: F - Regional zone confederations: F - United States Olympic Committee (USOC): B- - International Skating Federation: A-   In a statement, Anita DeFrantz, a member of both the IOC and the board of directors at the USOC, said, “Good governance demands that women and men share the responsibility of decision-making at board levels. International Sports governance is far behind the standard as evidenced by the 2016 International Sports Report Card on Women in Leadership Roles. For her part, renowned tennis player Billie Jean King, who is also the Founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation, said, “The Lapchick (TIDES) report card on the lack of women in leadership roles in international sport is an accurate picture of where we are today and reinforces that our international and national federations need to bring more women in leadership roles and bring about transformational change in the way we manage and lead in sports.”
93 UN Member States Commit to Close Gender Equality Gap
A total of 93 United Nations (UN) member states ha...
A total of 93 United Nations (UN) member states have expressed their commitment to close the gender equality gap as of the last week of July 2016, this according to UN Women. The UN member states that expressed their commitment towards gender equality include Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria and Burundi. In a statement delivered during the "Global Leader's Meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment: A Commitment to Action" held on 27 September 2015, Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said that the government of Bangladesh plans to eliminate child marriage by 2041. Prime Minister Hasina also pledged that her government will “create more opportunities and access for our women to participate in politics, business and government." Asking governments to make national commitments to close the gender equality gap is part of the "Planet 50-50 By 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality" program by the UN Women. Specifically, the program asks governments to pass new laws and strengthen existing ones to address the challenges holding back women and girls. In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Women, as an organization, sets its sights on 2030 as the expiration date for gender inequality. In addition to the commitments of the UN member states, regional organizations, civil society and the private sector are also encouraged to commit to stepping up gender equality. The organizations that have expressed their commitment to gender equality and empowerment of women include the African Union, Council of Europe, European Union, League of Arab States, Organization of American States, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures of Peru, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Alibaba Group.
Could Iceland be the first to close the gender gap?
Infographic-Iceland - WNC
Did You Know that Women’s Equality is in the UN Charter Because of Actions of Women from the South?
In 1945 the UN Charter became the first internatio...
In 1945 the UN Charter became the first international document to inscribe the rights of men and women as part of fundamental human rights. This is the reason why the UN today has a clear legal mandate to actively promote the rights of women, a mandate that UN Women was established to realize and protect. Who are we to honor for the specific references to women’s rights in the Charter? Ask even specialists how gender equality came about, and the answer is generally: "Was it Eleanor Roosevelt?” The San Francisco conference in 1945 where the Charter was signed, was dominated by men. Out of 850 delegates, only four women signed the Charter. And of the 50 countries represented, women only had voting rights in 30 of them. Ensuring women’s rights was a hard fought battle. Agency from outside the Great Powers was critical as women from non-western countries played a pivotal role in ensuring that women were explicitly mentioned in the United Nations charter. Female delegates from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and female participants from Mexico, Venezuela and Australia promoted feminist views that demanded an explicit reference to women’s rights in the Charter. Research reveals that it was one person in particular that would not stand back, that continued to claim the need to reference women, it was the Brazilian delegate Dr Bertha Lutz. In her memoirs she assert that other female delegates from the United States and the United Kingdom told her "not to ask for anything for women in the Charter since that would be a very vulgar thing to do”. Luckily for the world, Bertha Lutz was not willing to back down on her demands on the reference to women. The presence of women in major policy-making roles present at San Francisco is itself a significant chapter in the history of women at the United Nations, but a closer look at the debates and details of this reveals complexities and nuances that might not be immediately obvious. The experience of women in the early United Nations raises important and often difficult questions about gender, feminism, and the focus on women’s concerns in early United Nations politics that continue to inform academic and policy-making debate today. While some of the female participants strongly identified as ‘militant feminists’ - seeing women’s equality and discrimination against women as a distinct issue that needed to be addressed. Others preferred a more general egalitarian approach that de-emphasized gender in favor of a stronger ‘meritocracy’ approach, arguing that ‘we are not "women delegates”’ - that is, that they were regular delegates who just happened to be women. Some supported the creation of a separate Commission on the Status of Women, while others shied away from it, seeing it as a risk of ‘segregating’ them from other human rights concerns. The fact that these tensions were keenly felt at the very creation of the modern United Nations - and that Southern women delegates played a significant role in establishing the institution as it is today - deserves recognition, and greater attention. By having defended women’s rights in a context of intimidation and dissuasion, those delegates are role models, not only for Southern women, but for all women and girls around the world. http://www.cisd.soas.ac.uk/…/women-and-the-un-charter,79906…
For the first time in almost three millennia, Rome’s top official will be a woman
At just 37 years old, lawyer Virginia Raggi has ta...
At just 37 years old, lawyer Virginia Raggi has taken up the helm of one of the world’s oldest cities and pledged to fix its most enduring issues.
Raggi – who turns 38 next month – will also become the youngest mayor in Rome’s history. Raggi grew up in the central quarter of Rome’s San Giovanni and studied law at the Roma Tre University before joining local neighbourhood boards. Raggi is married to radio director Andrea Severini (who reportedly introduced her to the Five Star Movement) and the pair have a seven-year-old old son called Matteo. The new mayor has not been shy about the significance of her appointment, beginning a victory blog post with the words, “The first thing I would say … is that finally Rome will have a female mayor”. “At a time when equal opportunities are still a myth, this victory is of extraordinary value.”
Marriage can wait
Marriage can wait: Syrian teen in Jordan sets sigh...

Marriage can wait: Syrian teen in Jordan sets sights on starry career

Hind Bakri, a teenage Syrian refugee, dreams of becoming an astrophysicist despite economic and social pressures on her to marry. ZARQA, Jordan - As a teenager obsessed with science, Hind Bakri grew up scouring NASA’swebsite, reading about everything from exoplanets to black holes. It was there Bakri found an online questionnaire for astrophysicists interested in NASA scholarships. Seeing nothing to deter her, Bakri filled it out and clicked the send button. Months later, in February 2014, an international phone number popped up on the caller ID of the phone in Bakri’s family home. The caller identified himself as David, from NASA, and said he needed information regarding Bakri’s visa status and university degree. “I was like ‘come on, do you know how old I am? I’m only 14,’” says Bakri. Discovering that he was speaking to an adolescent Syrian refugee and not an astrophysicist with a PhD, David gently told Bakri to reapply when she had a university degree. The call only lasted five minutes, says Bakri, but the hope it inspired endures. Originally from Hama, Syria, Bakri no longer surfs NASA’s website. Instead, the 17-year-old, who arrived in Jordan in 2012, devotes herself to excelling in school in order to qualify for scholarships that will enable her to afford college tuition. She wants to study physics and eventually work as an astrophysicist for NASA. Outwardly, Bakri’s otherworldly ambitions seem to make her unique compared to her peers in Jordan’s Syrian refugee community. But it is not her ambitions that mark her out, it is that she has been allowed to have them at all. The most recent school year for which statistics werepublicly available in Jordan, 2013-2014, show that only 3,670 secondary school-aged Syrians, out of 81,842 registered, were enrolled. That is 4.5 percent. Attending university, let alone a career as an astrophysicist, is unimaginable for most Syrians in Jordan. In Zarqa, a bustling city of 400,000 inhabitants, only 24 kilometres northeast of Amman, Bakri is witnessing a disturbing trend among her peers. Poverty and scant economic opportunities are suffocating the ambitions of a populace already reeling from the Syrian conflict, now in its fifth year. Consequently, many Syrian youth living in Jordan have abandoned their education, seeing no future in it. An increasingly common alternative, mostly for girls, is early marriage - but not for Bakri. Bakri’s mother, Aysha Alothman, married at age 12 in Syria, and this experience convinced her that her daughter should be allowed to wait. “Being married at age 12 prevented me from continuing my education in regular schools,” says Alothman, 37. “It is great to be a mother and housewife, but this is not everything I aspired for.” By sheltering her daughter from the prospect of early marriage, Alothman has enabled Bakri’s ambitions to flourish. Now Bakri’s family, consisting of her parents, older brother Fayez, and younger sister Nuha, are determined to help her finish her education, despite the economic and social pressures facing them as refugees. Read full article: http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/early-marriage-not-equation-syrian-refugee-1433750451  
A teenage girl set on fire as punishment in Pakistan
A 16-year-old girl was first kidnapped, drugged an...
A 16-year-old girl was first kidnapped, drugged and then, set on fire in Pakistan. The shocking story badly shook the nation and everyone was curious to find out the real reason for killing. A number of stories appear on news related to women and how they suffer from their lives. But, this news created a layer of shock among teenagers and adults of every age. The story revealed that she helped her friend elope thus it became the prominent reason to set ablaze her body on the orders of Council members, belonging to Galyat’s Makol village. The traditional tribal council gave orders to the girl be put to the death sentence as a strict punishment for helping a couple to get married. The ridiculous decision took place among the local elders and they decided to announce a severe penalty so that no girl in future helps her classmate elope. The concerned officials stated that the members first strangled and then took the girl to an unidentified place. Drugs were used to make her unconscious and she was forcibly put in a Suzuki van. Few people made her seated in the backseat of the van and tied her hands. The vehicle was doused with petrol and the girl was burnt alive. According to the BBC, a local official said, “We went to the place and found three vehicles parked next to each other that were all burned. In one of the vehicle, we saw a body. We couldn’t recognize her then. But found a few bangles on one of her arms establishing that this was a woman’s body” Further investigation into the matter revealed that a couple eloped with the girl’s help and a driver Naseer. The reports also said that the girl was set on fire in the name of ‘honour killing’ as the girl has brought dishonor to the tribe by helping her friend Saima. The District Police Officer shared with media, “Police have traced the accused through mobile data and they were picked up one after another. The accused confessed during the investigation that a few months back Saima, a school girl from the same village and tribe, eloped with her boyfriend and her facilitated their frequent meetings and later their elopement” To your surprise, her mother knew all about the decision of the local elders and she did not inform Police about the orders. In this story, the mother of the girl is equally responsible for hiding the issue and putting her daughter into a barbaric death attack. On the other hand, Saima, the girl who eloped, stated that her friend knew nothing about her marriage and she was not her friend. "Those who burnt her are now threatening me, and we ask the authorities to provide us security." Saima requested for security. The UN approximately evaluates a number of more than 5000 women became victims of honor killing worldwide. According to the annual report 2015 of Human Rights Commission Of Pakistan, nearly 1100 women were killed in Pakistan last year by their relatives for bringing dishonor to their families. In Pakistan, women and teenage girls are often killed on the blame of ‘honour killing’. The tribal areas belong to the country have people with typical mindsets who prefer a murder rather than a free choice to live. The story of a school girl has gained immense significance on national and international media. Even the alarming news disseminated on the social media within a day. The satisfactory news is that the culprits of the male tribal council got arrested and jailed by the concerned authorities.
18-year-old set on fire for refusing marriage proposal
An 18-year-old Pakistani schoolteacher died Wednes...
An 18-year-old Pakistani schoolteacher died Wednesday from injuries after her body was set on fire for refusing a marriage proposal, police said. The perpetrators beat Maria Abbasi, then drenched her in petrol and set her body ablaze before leaving her for dead.
Maria was at home baby-sitting her 5-year-old sister while her family went to a funeral in a nearby town. The horror of what had happened set in Monday night when her family returned home to the village of Davel outside Murree in northeastern Pakistan. Maria was lying on the floor, with 85% of her body covered in burns. Violence against women remains rampant in the country. WNC strongly condemns horrific murder of Maria Abbasi
Pakistani men can beat wives ‘lightly,’ Islamic council says
(CNN) The leader of a Pakistani Islamic council ha...

(CNN) The leader of a Pakistani Islamic council has proposed a bill that allows husbands to "lightly beat" their wives as a form of discipline.

In the 75-page proposal, Mohammad Khan Sheerani suggests a light beating is acceptable should the need arise to punish a woman. The proposal bans forceful beating, saying only a small stick is necessary to instill fear.
The Council of Islamic Ideology is a powerful constitutional body that advises the Pakistani legislature whether laws are in line with the teachings of Islam.
Its proposed bill is seen as a response to the rejected Punjab Women Protection bill for abused women. The council shunned it as "un-Islamic" and wrote its own bill, which includes the recommendation for the light beating.
"A husband should be allowed to lightly beat his wife if she defies his commands and refuses to dress up as per his desires; turns down demand of intercourse without any religious excuse or does not take bath after intercourse or menstrual periods," Pakistan's Express-Tribune newspaper cited the proposal as saying.
The proposal also calls for a beating if a woman does not wear a hijab, if she interacts with strangers, speaks too loudly or gives others cash without her husband's permission, according to the newspaper.
It also suggests bans on various activities, including women fighting in wars. But it allows women to participate in politics and become judges, and proposes that the need for a guardian for women of age is not required.
The proposal also says that women should not be permitted to receive non-relatives or foreign officials, and they should not use birth control pills without asking their husbands.
Proposals by the Council of Islamic Ideology are recommendations and are not applicable unless passed by legislators.
http://edition.cnn.com/2016/05/28/asia/pakistan-women-light-beating/index.html
WNC welcomes the return of first Chibok teenager
The WNC welcomes the return of the first Chibok te...
The WNC welcomes the return of the first Chibok teenager who escape from Boko Haram’s Sambisa Forest stronghold. Let's hope her freedom adds pressure on international bodies and the government to do more to rescue the 218 other missing girls. The 19-year-old, who was 17 when she was kidnapped, was with her mother carrying her 4-month-old baby. It is indeed the force of women who defy fundamentalists who will stop further pain and sufferings.
Our Most Powerful Force: Empowered Girls Transforming Our Planet
Are there more males or females in our world today...
Are there more males or females in our world today?
The answer - males - surprises most people, even those in global affairs and development working to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Our planet gives birth - and life - to more boys than girls. 105 boys for every 100 girls. Though this seems insignificant at first glance, a deeper look will reveal its global impact. In fact, we can see more clearly how it’s fueling violence and extremism that is exploding right now.
Gender preference and discrimination has resulted in 62 million more males than females on our planet. That is, if we created a new country with just the extra males, it would be the 24th largest, just behind the United Kingdom in population.
Now adding to our male majority planet is also the explosion of young people. The largest youth population ever in history, 90 percent are in the poorest parts of the world. For example, nearly 75 percent of Nigeria is younger than 30. In Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s nearly 70 percent. And just about all of Syria is young, with amedian age of 23.
This is a ticking time bomb and it’s not simply because they are poor economically. These young people are also in societies where freedom and development of greatest human potential is shut down instead of encouraged and inspired.
Knowing these two global realities, then, it is no surprise that violence and terrorism is fueling our world. Fear mongers like ISIS and Boko Haram have a massive recruiting force of young men while enslaving young women to propagate their state. They are not interested in a chump change endeavor. They are exploiting the largest population ever of disenfranchised youth - controlling their mind - in order to spread their warped ideology, proliferating a movement.
It is truly a dark but brilliant strategy to dominate the world.
The time is now to change course. Together, we can change this apocalyptic future by igniting a counter force and a movement - one that is based on freedom, aspiration and empowerment of the human spirit. And to make rapid progress, we must strategically target adolescent girls and young women.
Why girls?
Investing in girls yields the single highest return. This has been affirmed by the World Bank, particularly in the developing world. Educated girls have healthier children, educate their children and provide for their families. For each year of primary education a girl completes, she earns an additional 10 to 20 percent. After secondary education, she brings home 15 to 25 percent more income. And notably, she shares 90 percent of her income with her family and community, compared to a young man who shares a maximum of 30 to 40 percent.
The evidence is overwhelming. It is why UN agencies, donor countries and global development organizations are now beginning to focus on girls. Girls are key to ending poverty. They are also critical to nation building in the exact areas where terrorism thrives. Girls are the most impactful solution to poverty and violence.
Investing in girls has the greatest impact in building strong and stable communities, resilient and peaceful civil societies.
However to truly make progress, we must tackle one great hurdle - the deep-seated mindset around the globe that does not value girls. Girls are seen and treated in many cultures as human “trash.” This is at the root of all girls’ sufferings - child marriage, slavery, sex trafficking, rape, weapon of war, and oppression by terrorists.
If you think only strangers perpetrate violence against girls, think again. More than100 million girl babies have been killed, aborted, and neglected to die... by their parents. It is how we got to where we are today - 62 million more males than females on the planet.
Like ISIS, we must realize the power of the mind. We must take action to transform the chronic and insidious mindset that sees girls as valueless. We must work together to develop and unleash our greatest human resource - one billion girls on our planet who are empowered to change their world, future leaders who will transform the world.
Realizing the power of the mind to ignite a movement is not new. The visionary leader and peace activist, Mahatma Gandhi, profoundly noted, “Thoughts become your actions, which become your values, your destiny.”
Let’s take action now to show the terrorists and the world what is possible - empowered girls who are creating and leading change right now, ending poverty, countering terrorism...and making the world safer and more secure for us all.
Empowering girls is transformative action. This is truly revolutionary thinking.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jin-in/our-most-powerful-force-e_b_8828120.html
A night in memory of Simone de Beauvoir
Our French delegation was at the Femmes Monde à l...
Our French delegation was at the Femmes Monde à la Coupole last night commemorating the struggle and efforts of Simone de Beauvoir.
 
Claudine Monteil, her student and close friend shared memories of Simone de Beauvoir. She has written books on her life and the challenges she faced to realize more rights for women in France.
 
The program was at la Coupoule, where Simone de Beauvoir had lunch every day.
 Femmes Monde a la Coupoule 3 - WNCFemmes Monde a la Coupoule 2 - WNC
Cate Blanchett named goodwill ambassador for UN refugees
The United Nations has enlisted Oscar-winning Aust...
The United Nations has enlisted Oscar-winning Australian actor Cate Blanchett to help raise awareness about the plight of refugees, amid a massive global displacement crisis. The UN refugee agency said it had appointed Blanchett as its newest goodwill ambassador, a role also held by US film star Angelina Jolie. “I am deeply proud to take on this role,” Blanchett said in a statement, stressing that “there has never been a more crucial time to stand with refugees and show solidarity”. “We are living through an unprecedented crisis, and there must be shared responsibility worldwide,” she added. Last year, a record 60 million people worldwide were displaced from their homes, and more than one third of them were living as refugees, according to the UNHCR.
Azerbaijani journalist, Khadija Ismayilova, awarded UNESCO 2016 World Press Freedom Prize
Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist fr...
Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist from Azerbaijan, has been chosen to receive the 2016 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The Prize will be awarded during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day,3 May, hosted by Finland this year. An independent international jury of media professionals recommended Ms Ismayilova in recognition of her outstanding contribution to press freedom in difficult circumstances. “Khadija Ismayilova highly deserves the Prize and I am happy to see that her courage and professionalism are recognized,” said Ljiljana Zurovac, Chair of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2016 Jury. Ms Ismayilova, a freelance journalist and contributor to the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe, was detained in December 2014, and, in September 2015, was sentenced to seven and a half years’ imprisonment on charges relating to abuse of power and tax evasion. Created by UNESCO’s Executive Board in 1997, the annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and, or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.  
Why it is necessary to fight extremism and encourage the empowerment of women in this struggle?
The recent terrorist attacks by Islamic fundamenta...
The recent terrorist attacks by Islamic fundamentalists in Paris and Brussels, but also in Turkey, Kenya, Tunisia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Yemen, show us that we are facing a global threat that needs to be combated with measures affecting different aspects in which this terrorism is based. In some cases, the military response can be useful and even necessary, but even when this response is chosen, it is necessary to address the causes of this terrorism and try to fight them at the origin. Under this point of view, it is interesting to know what the role of women in societies where these extremist movements are caused and what role women play in these extremist groups. Probably this research leads us to consider to what extent a change in the role of women in these societies would facilitate the fight against fundamentalism. But also knowing what is the role that is expected of women in these terrorist organizations would deter many young people, especially young people from Western countries, to begin a path of no return. All terrorist organizations who claim to act on behalf of Islamic fundamentalism would impose a social and political model in which there is no separation between religion and state, where civil laws are subordinate to religious rules and in which women have a subordinate role compared to men. That's the model that currently exists in Iran or Saudi Arabia, for example. In this model of society, it is important to keep the subordinate role of women, from the legal and social point. For that to happen, in addition to laws characterized by misogyny, it is very important that women do not have access to education and that they cannot be economically independent. In some countries in Africa and the Middle East, are the governments and its laws that prevent normal access of women to education and productive sectors. This is done in the name of tradition or religion and without reference to account the positive impact that empowering women can have in these countries. In fact, for many years, international cooperation agencies find that when economic resources are in the hands of women, greater benefits are obtained for society. Despite this evidence, fundamentalist groups deny women the empowerment because they realize that an educated and economically independent women is a threat to those who believe that women are inferior beings who should be subjected by men and whose own space it is only the family home. So they prefer to maintain social and economic underdevelopment to maintain its dominance over women. The main purpose of the terrorist group Boko Haram, for example, is to fight schooling for women. This terrorist group active in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Mali seeks to impose sharia as a rule in force in all states of Nigeria and not just in the north where there is a Muslim majority. Although Sharia is accepted by sectors of the population in the north, in the south, where there is a greater proportion of Christians, it is rejected. One of the actions of this terrorist group that has had the greatest international impact was the kidnapping of more of 200 young girls who were in school in a town located in the south of the country (Chibok).  Two years later they remain in the hands of their kidnappers forced into sexual slavery or forced wives. Of course they have not returned to school. It is easy to understand why Islamic fundamentalism attacks the heart of Europe through their terrorist actions because Western values are absolutely contrary to the values that these groups defend. However it is more difficult to understand why European citizens who are attracted by the violence of these fundamentalist groups and why go against their fellow citizens. It is true that the perpetrators of the latest attacks have North African origin or Middle Eastern countries. However they and even their parents were born in Europe and therefore have grown between Western values. But additionally, a large number of European citizens and other Western countries, despite not having their family origin in any country in North Africa or East, have gone to Syria to join ISIS. One of the causes of this phenomenon is related to the existence of a misunderstanding multiculturalism that has allowed in European cities the existence of ghettos in which the apostles of this fundamentalism have been able to convince some young people without reference values, making them believe that they could give a heroic meaning to their lives through violence. And all this has happened for years while the rest of society looked away. But it has also been permitted in these ghettos that many young girls stopped going to school when they became teenagers, that their life was controlled by their father, brother or husband, and they are forced to marry against their will. In many of these cases, the authorities of these cities have done absolutely nothing. There is a chain formed by the subordination of women; social, economic and political backwardness and violence which has to be broken. Therefore, equality between men and women and the empowerment of women benefit equally men and women. In an egalitarian society, in which all have equal rights and duties, it is much more difficult to impose violence. GARI DURAN FORMER SPANISH SENATOR April 15, 2016
Fundamentalism: Effecting Women Throughout the World
For women throughout the world, fundamentalism in ...
For women throughout the world, fundamentalism in politics and religion have often been described as oppressive. Accusations of human rights abuses are made by global watchdog agencies, but often the world has few options available to intercede in behalf of these women. As we have seen in Syria, Nigeria and a host of other countries, women bear the brunt of fundamentalism in terms of restrictions to basic necessities, limited health care, lack of control over their own bodies and even lack the freedom of movement outside of their homes. This oppressiveness ignores the evidence that has shown time and again how important women are to the economic and social health of a society. Without the benefits of their input, societies fail to prosper. For example, it has been noted that when women are in charge of the family’s money, the funds are reinvested into the family itself. This means better food and standard of living for all the members, along with educational opportunities for the children, both female and male. However, fundamentalism stunts the growth of its communities. For instance, the girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria lost all of their freedoms, in addition to being assaulted physically and sexually. The reason for this mistreatment? Simply put, it was because the girls were going to school, which violates the tenets of fundamentalism. These girls will not be able to contribute economically or politically because of this kidnapping, a loss to us all. Yet, this is not limited to countries in just a few regions. Women fight fundamentalism principles in wealthier countries as well. In Saudi Arabia, women find themselves fighting for the right to drive themselves to work, shopping and other events. Cars can be taken by authorities and the women must pay fines and impoundment fees to have their cars returned to them. For those women who live in Western Europe and the United States, the idea of being unable to drive, make reproductive choices or receive an education are foreign. These women have taken advantage of the freedoms encased in the laws of their lands to push for greater equality. Yet for lands suffering under the heavy hand of fundamentalism, the males of your family and town are the law. If they feel you have violated one of the strict mandates, the punishment can be severe. Acid to the face, beatings and sexual assault are just a few of these punishments meant to teach a woman her place, while also allowing her to serve as an example to other women. Does this mean the situation itself is hopeless? No, because groups continue to fight fundamentalism in a variety of areas. One of the main ways is through educational grass-roots efforts. These use the natives to teach women skills, providing them opportunities to earn funds for themselves and their families. Breaking the cycle of poverty can often assist in changing the minds of the males who push a fundamentalist agenda. Another is the removal of the fundamentalism itself. This is much harder to achieve, but it can be done. For those who are part of the fight for the removal of fundamentalism would mean the returning of many basic human rights to women. However, it would also mean a chance for women in other areas of the Middle East to assert their basic human rights without the mullahs supporting the fundamentalist agenda. Dignity is important for all individuals, female and male alike. Fundamentalism strips women and men of their dignity, because it encourages oppression. However, if individuals and societies stand up to fundamentalism and demand change, then the world can see progress as women are accorded their place of equality within our global community.
9 countries with women on their currency
1- Turkey Fatma Aliye Topuz, credited as the first...
1- Turkey turkish-fifty-lira-banknote

Fatma Aliye Topuz, credited as the first female Turkish novelist, appears on the 50 lira bill, where she was installed in 2009.

2-  Sweden sweden

Sweden has a handful of woman on their currency. The Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind was placed on the 50 krona note in 1996. The first female writer to win the Nobel Peace Prize for literature, Selma Lagerlöf, took her place on the 20 krona note in 1997. In October of last year, Pippi Longstocking creator Astrid Lindgren took her place on the 20 krona note. Greta Garbo and opera singer Birgit Nilsson will be appearing later this year.

3- Australia australian-one-hundred

Socialist poet Mary Gilmore was put on the $10 note in 1993. Convict-turned-businesswoman Mary Reibey was put on the $20 note in 1994. Since 1996, the first woman elected to the Australian parliament, Edith Cowan, has had a slot ($50), as has Nellie Melba ($100).

4- New Zealand newzealand

Suffragette Kate Sheppard was placed on the $10 bill in 1999.

5- United Kingdom

unitedkingdom

In 2013, Jane Austen kicked Charles Darwin off the £10 note.

6- Syria

syria

Queen Zenobia, a third-century ruler who led a rebellion against the Roman Empire, appears on the 500 pound note.

7- Mexico

mexico

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was put on the 500 peso note in 2010, while Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz—a self-taught poet and scholar—was put on the 200 peso note in 1992.

8- The Philippines

filipino-pesos2

The first female president of the Philippines, Corazon Aquino, has graced the 500 peso note since 2009. World War II leader (and founder of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines!) Josefa Llanes Escoda has been on the 1000 peso note since 1991.

9- Argentina

argentina

Argentina's most famous first lady, Eva Perón, has graced the 100 peso note since 2012.

Different lands, common goals
The Association of Italian Jurist (AGI) of Palermo...
The Association of Italian Jurist (AGI) of Palermo, Italy held a three-day conference from April 20 - 23 to focus on women's rights, immigration rights and to study the Istanbul convention. The topic of the event was "Different lands, common goals". The conference was held with members of the Fédération Internationale des Femmes des Carrières Juridiques (FIFCJ) presided by Mrs. Maria Elena Elverdin. Palermocityhall women On the occasion of the arrival of the bureau of the Federation Internationale des Femmes des Carrieres juridiques (FIFCJ) to Italy, the Association of Jurists of Palermo (Italy) organized an international conference on 21 to 23 April, entitled "Different Lands, common goals ". Speakers included the President of FIFCJ, Maria Elena Elverdin, from Buenos Aires. A lawyer representing the Federation at the United Nations, Prof.. Anna La Rana National President of AGI and French , Finnish, Argentinian, Brazilian, Turkish, Italian, African jurists and representatives of the WNC to "discuss issues confronting experiences and different cultures that originate from different legal systems," says the President of AGI Palermo Maria Beatrice Scimeca. "It presented great themes such as the Istanbul Convention, immigration, the right to citizenship of migrants and issues relating to the reconciliation of work and family life, especially when there is the presence of a disabled person in a family", she added. The conference was a great success.
Join us at the CSW in New York
Women's Empowerment and Sustainable Development 14...

Women's Empowerment and Sustainable Development

14-24 March 2016

UN Secretary-General’s Women’s Day Message
As a boy growing up in post-war Korea, I remember ...
As a boy growing up in post-war Korea, I remember asking about a tradition I observed: women going into labour would leave their shoes at the threshold and then look back in fear. “They are wondering if they will ever step into those shoes again,” my mother explained.   More than a half-century later, the memory continues to haunt me. In poor parts of the world today, women still risk death in the process of giving life. Maternal mortality is one of many preventable perils. All too often, female babies are subjected to genital mutilation. Girls are attacked on their way to school. Women’s bodies are used as battlefields in wars. Widows are shunned and impoverished.   We can only address these problems by empowering women as agents of change.   For more than nine years, I have put this philosophy into practice at the United Nations. We have shattered so many glass ceilings we created a carpet of shards. Now we are sweeping away the assumptions and bias of the past so women can advance across new frontiers.   I appointed the first-ever female Force Commander of United Nations troops, and pushed women’s representation at the upper levels of our Organization to historic highs.  Women are now leaders at the heart of peace and security – a realm that was once the exclusive province of men. When I arrived at the United Nations, there were no women leading our peace missions in the field. Now, nearly a quarter of all UN missions are headed by women – far from enough but still a vast improvement.   I have signed nearly 150 letters of appointment to women in positions as Assistant Secretary-General or Under-Secretary-General. Some came from top government offices with international renown, others have moved on to leadership positions in their home countries. All helped me prove how often a woman is the best person for a job.   To ensure that this very real progress is lasting, we have built a new framework that holds the entire UN system accountable. Where once gender equality was seen as a laudable idea, now it is a firm policy. Before, gender sensitivity training was optional; now it is mandatory for ever-greater numbers of UN staff. In the past, only a handful of UN budgets tracked resources for gender equality and women’s empowerment; now this is standard for nearly one in three, and counting.   Confucius taught that to put the world in order, we must begin in our own circles. Armed with proof of the value of women leaders at the United Nations, I have spoken out for women’s empowerment everywhere. In speeches at parliaments, universities and street rallies, in private talks with world leaders, in meetings with corporate executives and in tough conversations with powerful men ruling rigidly patriarchal societies, I have insisted on women’s equality and urged measures to achieve it.   When I took office, there were nine parliaments in the world with no women. We helped to drive that number down to four. I launched the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign in 2008; today, scores of leaders and ministers, hundreds parliamentarians and millions of individuals have added their names to the action call.   I was the first man to sign our HeForShe campaign, and more than a million others have joined since. I stood with activists calling for the abandonment of female genital mutilation and celebrated when the General Assembly adopted its first-ever resolution supporting that goal. I am echoing the calls of many who know women can drive success in achieving our bold 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and advancing the Paris Agreement on climate change.   On this International Women’s Day, I remain outraged by the denial of rights to women and girls – but I take heart from the people everywhere who act on the secure knowledge that women’s empowerment leads to society’s advancement. Let us devote solid funding, courageous advocacy and unbending political will to achieving gender equality around the world. There is no greater investment in our common future.  

Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary General

 
April 21 (1944) Women’s suffrage in France
International conference in Reykjavík 22­–23 October, 2015. 100 years celebration of women’s suffrage
2015 marks the centenary of women’s suffrage in ...
2015 marks the centenary of women’s suffrage in Iceland, as well as in Denmark. A part of the celebration in Iceland is an international conference to be held in Reykjavík 22­–23 October. The aim of the conference is to reflect on the 100 years of women’s suffrage in the Nordic countries, but also to stimulate broader critical and transnational thinking on the current status of women’s civil rights and political participation. An important part of the conference agenda will be to identify present threats to women’s civil, political and social rights and measures to combat them. The conference is open to the public and free to attend. Presentations and debates will mainly be in English. Requests for sign language interpretation need to be submitted through registration by 14 October 2015.

Themes

The purpose of the conference is to reflect on the 100 years of women’s political rights in the Nordic countries, but also to analyse gender equality in international context. The first day of the conference, October 22, will focus on the history of women’s suffrage in the Nordic countries and the present-day status of women’s political participation in the area. The second day, October 23, will centre on the current threats to women’s civil rights: women’s share in the public space; women’s control over their own bodies; and the gendered side of the economy.

Day 1: Democracy in the Nordic countries

100 years of political participation

In 1906 Finland became the first European country to grant women both the right to vote and the right to stand as a candidate in elections. The other Nordic countries followed in Finland’s footsteps: Norway in 1913, Iceland, Denmark and the Faroe Islands in 1915, and Sweden in 1921. On the other hand, women in Greenland did not get the right to vote until 1948. Parallel, lower class men (the poor, debtors etc.) also gained the right to vote and stand for election. This part of the conference will be devoted to the history of equal suffrage in the Nordic countries. How have these civil rights changed in the past 100 years? Were the changes a product of continuous development throughout the 20th century or a breakthrough only in the past decades? Why are the Nordic countries now at the forefront in terms of gender equality? The seminar will also ask how women have benefitted from equal political rights and which women have been able to enforce these rights. Have the civil rights benefitted all women or only the few? What is the relationship between gender on the one hand and class and other discriminatory variables on the other hand? Why have women never made up to half of parliamentarians in the Nordic countries?

Democracy challenged: Gender, class, race and religion

At the Centenary of women’s suffrage in the Nordic countries, it remains obvious that equal political rights do not automatically lead to equal political representation. The democracy is face by new challenges: voter turnout is increasingly in decline and so is public trust in political parties and institutions. Meanwhile, like widely in Europe, populist and xenophobic parties gain support. This seminar will focus on the current democratic challenges in the Nordic countries. It will discuss multiculturalism within a Nordic context and how new demographics have influenced the democracy. How are different groups represented within decision-making bodies, e.g. in relation to class, race, ethnicity and religion? How does increased right wing extremism in Europe affect women’s rights and political participation? What is the impact of history and popular interpretation of history?

Celebratory seminar in honour of Ms. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

The 1980’s marked a significant change in women’s political representation in the Nordic countries. Iceland’s first female president, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, was also the first female democratically elected head of state in the world. A year after her election, or in 1981, Gro Harlem Brundtland, took office as Norway’s first female prime minister. What was their experience of marking this turning point in Nordic history? Was the debate on women’s political participation similar in Iceland and Norway? Did President Finnbogadóttir and PM Brundtland communicate on a personal level at the time? This celebratory seminar, in the honour of Ms. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, will offer a platform for Finnbogadóttir and Brundtland to share personal and political memories from their time in office in Iceland and Norway in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Laura Ann Liswood, General Secretary of the Cofuncil of Women World Leaders and co-founder of the organisation with Finnbogadóttir, will participate in the debate. Former president of Finland, Tarja Halonen, has also been invited to participate.

Day 2: Current Threats to Women’s Civil Rights

The second day of the conference will deal with women’s current civil rights in Iceland, the Nordic countries and beyond. It will analyse the main threats to women’s civil rights, by focusing on the following themes:

The Public Space

Despite the remarkable success in promoting and producing gender equality in Iceland and the other Nordic countries, women still remain underrepresented in public debate. This is true for both politics and media representation. According to the Global Media Monitoring Project (2010), women were subjects in only 23% of media coverage in Iceland, based on the analysis of the media during one day. Furthermore, online news sources present more gender bias than the traditional news media. This seminar will analyse women’s position in the current public debate. What are the realities that women face when they get involved in politics or public debate? What about women who are also members of minority groups? What influence has the new media had on women’s representation in media? How does the Internet as a medium serve women? How has the possibility of anonymity on the Internet affected women? How do we ensure that women and men equally occupy the “public space”? What is the impact of anti-system political parties on gender equality? How has the European far right influenced women’s rights?

The Body

Women’s right to control their bodies has been the central theme of the women’s movement for decades. No country in the world has managed to eradicate gender-based violence. This theme will deal with the relevance of body politics to the current status of women’s civil rights. It opens up for discussion on the status of reproductive rights of women in Iceland, the Nordic countries and elsewhere, and the issue of violence against women. To what extent do women in the most “egalitarian” countries of the world control their own bodies? What are the main threats to the female body, in the Nordic countries and elsewhere? How “free” are women sexually? What does sex between equals look like?

The Economy

A 2014 OECD report shows rising inequality in the wake of the global economic and political crisis. The income of the poorest of the population has declined, or increased less, than that of the richest. In this part of the conference the discussion will focus on how the global economic and political crisis has influenced women, taking into account other variables such as race, ethnicity, ability and class. What is the gendered impact of austerity measures? What is the status of women in the current political economy? Who performs unpaid or low paid work?

Towards full Human Rights of Women

While women’s liberation and full gender equality might still be a utopian dream, women have seen revolutionary changes in the past decades. The last part of the conference will analyse the tools that have improved – or could improve – women’s civil rights. Which measures have been successful in moving women’s civil and human rights forward (law, activism, policies, academic research etc.)? How is it possible to bridge the gap between law and reality? What is the influence of international treaties? And most importantly, what are the next steps in moving women’s civil and human rights forward and which measures can be used?     http://hugras.is/2015/11/akademisk-flugeldasyning/
Afghanistan’s First Female Street Artist Brings Feminism To City Walls
This work of street art was made by Shamsia Hassan...
This work of street art was made by Shamsia Hassani, widely known as the first prominent woman street artist in Afghanistan. Hassani was born in 1988 in Tehran to Afghan parents, eventually moving to Kabul to pursue her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in visual art. She currently resides in Kabul, where she turns the city’s walls into colorful canvases that spread a message of peace and hope to her community.
A woman in a purple hijab sits playing the piano, a tear rolling down her cheek. She plays her solitary tune amongst a sea of blue skyscrapers, soaring above the cars that zoom beneath her unnoticed. This subject already wears her contradictions proudly — she is strong, she is vulnerable, she is graceful, creative, separate, sad. And yet, at least it seems, she calls out to no one, content to sit with her feelings and express herself creatively, freely, in peace.
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XXII International Congress of Women in Legal Careers
Fundamental Rights of Women On the auspicious city...
Fundamental Rights of Women On the auspicious city of Barcelona, ​​Spain, the XXII International Congress of Women in Legal Careers took place at the Museum Barcelona's seafront between the 14th and the 18th of October 2015. Among many guided issues in the Congress, Dr. Osvalda Joana, and Judicial Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Mozambique. Vice-President, Councilor and member of the Bureau of International Federation of Women in Legal Careers devoted her time to talk about the trafficking of people and the various hideous ways to practice this crime, the most vulnerable are women and children. She also explained that, covered under the adoption, many children are enslaved. There are so many bizarre situations that leave us perplexed, as the case of parents who commit suicide, motivated by the pain of the disappearance of their children. Parents who give up their children: deceived by promises of education, work, dignity in another country.   Rape was the subject of Dr. Fatoumata Dembélé Diarra, President of the Constitutional Court of Mali and Vice-President of the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers. Another crime against humanity, "Femicide" was approached by Dr. Mercedes Hernández, lawyer and lecturer. President of the Asociación de Mujeres de Guatemala. Also regarding this issue Dr. Patsilí Toledo, Lawyer, also from Spain, spoke about the Women's movement in Latin America. The lecture on "Female Genital Mutilation", by Dr. Adriana Kaplan Marcusan, Anthropologist, Director of Wassu-UAB Foundation of Spain, which stressed the lack of disclosure and understanding of societies that practice it. Even with laws in place, there is no awareness, and people think its tradition. And to finish, I toast you with a thought of Roberto Shinyashick. "Have time for God, for your family, for Yourself. Be free to love, to forgive, to dream and live! "    Commission of Permanent Works on Environment                                      Jeroniza Albuquerque Commission of Permanent Works on Environment of FIFCJ Comissão de Trabalhos Permanentes sobre Meio Ambiente da FIFCJ   Visit to Montserrat monastery, received by Father Manoel,  Mrs. Angelina’son.
Maldives Deputy Minister of Law and Gender calls to end VAW
A message from one of our members, Nadira Aminath,...
A message from one of our members, Nadira Aminath, Deputy Minister at Ministry of Law and Gender, Maldives. Yes Together we can prevent and Eliminate Gender based Violence, violence against Women and children. Going Orange for International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women
WNC at Feministing Foreign Policy – A Global Conversation in Ottawa
A global conversation with Nobel Peace Laureates a...
A global conversation with Nobel Peace Laureates and Canadian thought leaders in advance of the federal election, with reflections from Ottawa-Centre Candidates. Keynote Speakers: Tawakkol Karman, Shirin Ebadi, Mairead Maguire and Jody Williams with: Joanna Kerr and Monia Mazigh Date and Time: Tuesday, September 15, 2015, 6:30 PM
On September 15, 2015, three Nobel peace laureates joined Canadian women thought-leaders in Ottawa for an inspiring pre-federal election conversation on the potential for feminist ideas and approaches to transform foreign policy.
September 11, 2015
On September 15, 2015, three Nobel peace laureates joined Canadian women thought-leaders in Ottawa for an inspiring pre-federal election conversation on the potential for feminist ideas and approaches to transform foreign policy. This free event  was organized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Oxfam Canada, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights and the Up for Debate campaign and hosted at Library and archives Canada, 395 Wellington St. Members of the WNC joined this important event to share experiences and speak with the laureates. WNC member - OXFAM 1 WNC member - OXFAM 2 Keynote speakers included Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi (Iran), Mairead Maguire (Northern Ireland), and Jody Williams (USA); as well as Joanna Kerr, Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada; Monia Mazigh, National Coordinator of the International Monitoring Group; and Leilani Farha, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing. Ottawa-Centre candidates were also present to offer their reflections on the discussion. About the keynote speakers:  Jody Williams Jody Williams Nobel Peace Laureate, Chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, USA Jody Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban antipersonnel landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). She is an outspoken peace activist who struggles to reclaim the real meaning of peace—a concept which goes far beyond the absence of armed conflict and is defined by human security, not national security. Since January of 2006, Jody Williams has worked to achieve her peace work through the Nobel Women’s Initiative. Her memoir My Name is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl's Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize was published by the University of California in March 2013. Mairead Maguire Mairead Maguire Nobel Peace Laureate, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Northern Ireland Mairead Maguire received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her extraordinary actions to end the political conflict in Northern Ireland. Together with Betty Williams, she organized massive peace demonstrations and founded Peace People, a movement committed to building a just and peaceful society through nonviolent social action. Since receiving the Nobel Peace prize, she has dedicated her life to promoting peace both in Northern Ireland and around the world. She travels regularly to Israel and Palestine to work with peace activists for nonviolent solutions to the conflict. Shirin Ebadi Shirin Ebadi Nobel Peace Laureate, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Iran / United Kingdom Shirin Ebadi received the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote human rights in Iran. She is the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace prize.  Shirin was one of the first female judges in Iran and the first Iranian woman to achieve Chief Justice status. She was dismissed from this position after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.  Since obtaining her lawyer's license in 1992, Shirin has taken on many controversial cases defending political dissidents and as a result has been arrested numerous times.  She has written two books and has also established many non-governmental organizations in Iran. Tawakkol Karman Tawakkol Karman Nobel Peace Laureate, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Yemen Tawakkol Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2011 in recognition of her work in nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peacebuilding work in Yemen. Among Yemen’s opposition movement, she is known as “mother of the revolution” and “the iron woman.” Upon being awarded the prize, Tawakkol became the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace prize.
Jalal Foundation promotes rights of women
We condemned with strongest indignation the increa...
We condemned with strongest indignation the increasing incidents of public executions, beheadings, murders, rapes, beatings, and other forms of violence against Afghan women through holding demonstrations, human rights chains and organizing gatherings to protest on 17 July 2015 in Kabul.  More specifically, we hold the Taliban responsible for the many incidents of poisoning that victimized 2,000 school girls in various parts of the country since last year.  This is a clear criminal act which betrays how much the Taliban and extremism is threatened by advancements on the status of women in our country. During the year 2015, the Jalal Foundation in Afghanistan held mandatory gender-awareness workshops for all of its members and volunteers as well as for 50 women’s non-governmental organizations. In addition, conferences, seminars and workshops were conducted to ensure that educators at all levels are trained on UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and other gender-related issues including recognizing and addressing violence against women. Jalal Foundation seeks to implement a zero-tolerance policy towards gender-based discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Jalal Foundation - 2015 WNC 5 Jalal Foundation - 2015 WNC 3 The organization has also launched research including an overview of women’s rights in the Afghan Constitution, violence against women and violence within and between families and communities, gender equality and level of development, and the prevention of violence against women and respect for women’s rights – way forward; Jalal Foundation - 2015 WNC 4 One million signatures have been gathered from people across the country as commitments to joining the struggle against violence against women. Seminars have also been conducted on the role of the law in ending violence against women. Fifty-four articles and short stories on VAW and UNSCR 1325 have been published to send out messages to decrease VAW and promote women’s participation in the country. Jalal Foundation - 2015 WNC 1

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