A Bill to Protect Women and Girls Around the World
I never met my grandmother. She was burned alive with kerosene doused on her sari and lit on fire. Some think it was suicide, some think it was a dowry murder since her mother-in-law was not pleased with what my grandmother brought into her new husband’s family. She had four children; one of them my mother, the other my uncle, who was just a few months old when she was killed. I cannot imagine her shock, grief and pain in the moments before she died. It makes me sick to even think about it.
Regrettably, her story is not uncommon. Consider the young couple whom the Taliban stoned to death for adultery and the young Afghani woman whose nose and ears were cut off because she tried to escape an unbearably abusive husband and his family—it happens every day.
We all read those stories, cringe at the grotesque pictures and then feel that empty pit in our stomachs because we think there’s nothing we can do. But finally that could change.
Five years ago, Women Thrive Worldwide partnered with the Family Violence Prevention Fund and Amnesty International USA to find out what our country could do to meaningfully help women stop violence in their lives. We interviewed over forty women’s groups in poor developing countries and consulted more than 100 experts and organizations working in the field. The result is IVAWA, the International Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 4954/S. 2982), introduced into the Congress by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). It was introduced into the House by Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Ted Poe (R-Texas).
Brazil looks likely to elect an extraordinary female leader next weekend
Sunday, 26 September 2010
The world’s most powerful woman will start coming into her own next weekend. Stocky and forceful at 63, this former leader of the resistance to a Western-backed military dictatorship (which tortured her) is preparing to take her place as President of Brazil
As head of state, president Dilma Rousseff would outrank Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, and Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State: her enormous country of 200 million people is revelling in its new oil wealth. Brazil’s growth rate, rivalling China’s, is one that Europe and Washington can only envy.
Her widely predicted victory in next Sunday’s presidential poll will be greeted with delight by millions. It marks the final demolition of the “national security state”, an arrangement that conservative governments in the US and Europe once regarded as their best artifice for limiting democracy and reform. It maintained a rotten status quo that kept a vast majority in poverty in Latin America while favouring their rich friends.
Ms Rousseff, the daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant to Brazil and his schoolteacher wife, has benefited from being, in effect, the prime minister of the immensely popular President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former union leader. But, with a record of determination and success (which includes appearing to have conquered lymphatic cancer), this wife, mother and grandmother will be her own woman. The polls say she has built up an unassailable lead – of more than 50 per cent compared with less than 30 per cent – over her nearest rival, an uninspiring man of the centre called Jose Serra. Few doubt that she will be installed in the Alvorada presidential palace in Brasilia in January.
TAMPA/NEW YORK, Sept 22: IOC Executive Board member Nawal El Moutawakel was speaking out at the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit being held in New York to support of education for women.
The Olympian is also a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador and has dealt with many of her own trying experiences growing up in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s in Morocco. El Moutawakel is also the first Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold medal on the 400 meter hurdles and has even served her country as Minister of Sports.
Speaking to the UN News center today she said: “I personally lived these difficulties… access to education, women’s empowerment, environmental protection, improvement in health. I had experiences in all these fields linked to my personal life, to that of my country.”
“An educated woman is an educated family and an educated country since women represent more than half the population in most countries today. When women have no access to education all other (MDG) efforts are doomed to fail.
“Access to primary education is vital since it has a run-on impact on all other MDGs, it even determines the success and survival of some, like women’s empowerment.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a roundtable discussion with other IOC Members Prince Albert of Monaco and Hungarian President Pal Schmitt to discuss the important value of sport working closely with the UN to strive to attain the MDG goals for 2015.
“An educated woman is an educated family and an educated country since women represent more than half the population in most countries today. When women have no access to education all other (MDG) efforts are doomed to fail.”—Nawal El Moutawakel
The Alam family lives in one of the more squalid corners of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and make their living in a pretty typical way: by deploying their teenaged daughters.
Each morning, 14-year-old Panchali walks down the mud lanes to her house-cleaning job in the nearby high-rise apartments, and 16-year-old Amolika goes out to spend 10 hours at a garment factory. Their brother, Sumon, 17, has a far less rewarding job unloading trucks and carrying heavy objects on bamboo poles, as does his father.
Together, the two teenage girls earn about three-quarters of the family’s income. That’s not unusual here, or in any of the fast-growing cities of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America: These places are the domain of the adolescent girl.
I’m stepping out, don’t mess about. Don’t tell me to be patient. I’ve been wedded, enslaved, white washed, and saved, But now, I’m liberated. I’ve been patted, and moulded, and shaped, and scolded And I learned real fast how to please `em, I was cursed and damned, And all for no good reason.
I’ve been put up, and I’ve been put down, By folks who were black, white, yellow or brown, Treated like I wasn’t human, just a puppet, a token, But I healed my hurts, `cause for better or worse, Black woman’s got spirit that’s never going to be broken. Been labelled all my life, Black, woman, mother and wife. And their labels formed the bars of my prison, But I’ve got to set free, this person who’s me.
`Cause now I’ve got a vision, Their myths and lies are dead, Not heaped on my head, And their history is all outdated, Different sex, different skin, can’t change what’s within, `Cause now, I’m liberated, And I’m stepping out, don’t mess about, Don’t tell me to be patient No ifs or buts. I don’t walk, I strut, `Cause now, I’m liberated.
Maureen Watson was born in Rockhampton, Queensland, and is a poet, actor and indigenous activist. Photo is of Lisa Charleyboy, creator of Urban Native Girl Stuff www.lisacharleyboy.com.
Maria Theresa succeeded her father, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, as empress of the Hapsburg controlled lands of Central Europe in 1740. She made her son, Joseph II, coregent in 1765 after the death of her husband.
Maria Theresa brought about many economic and political changes to her empire.
She increased the size of the army by 200 percent and increased taxes in order to guarantee a steady income for the government, and in particular for the military.
She centralized the government by combining the Austrian and Bohemian chancellaries, formerly separate, into one administrative office.
Maria Theresa was also a participant in the Enlightenment.
She strongly promoted education and liberal politics. She founded Imperial and Royal Academy of Science and Literature in Brussels and she supported medical research by demanding that the University of Vienna be given money to make the medical faculty more efficient.
Some of Maria Theresa’s civil reforms included the abolition of witch-burning and torture, getting rid of capital punishment, and making education mandatory.
Ex British PM’s wife, Sarah Brown, is preparing to host a meeting in New York of some of the world’s most influential women, the focus of which will be the global health of women and children.
Talking to The Guardian, Brown said: “Birth is such a pivotal moment for women, when all that is good and just in a society works to support us, and all that is unfair and unjust becomes starkly apparent.
“Those of us with the good fortune to live in the UK, among the best midwifery care services in the world, can look forward to a new baby with huge anticipation, and not with fear.
Yet there is an African proverb that a pregnant woman has one foot in the grave. This contrast represents what is in fact the biggest health ‘gap’ in the world today – and one of the greatest injustices.”
Click, click! Indian girls to tell their own stories
Pradesh), Sep 16 (IANS) Schoolgirls Pooja Bhadoria and Kanchan Mishra are already feeling empowered. In a world where social prejudices are steeped against girls, they are hoping to wield the camera and tell their stories.
The two are from Bhind and Morena, which figure among the 14 districts with some of the lowest child sex ratios in India - less than 850 girls per 1,000 boys, indicating a distinct bias against girls.
But now they are among 30 girls from Gwalior, Bhind and Morena who are being trained in the art of photography by Unicef and the department of women and child development of the Madhya Pradesh government.
'I had not touched a camera before. It is exciting. Now I can show what I feel,' Priya, a Class 10 student of Rabindranath Tagore School from Bhind district, said after attending her first session of a three-day workshop that began here Wednesday.
'There are so many problems we face but we can hardly share that with anyone. Perhaps photography will help.'
Dove Continues Movement to Make Beauty a Source of Confidence, Not Anxiety
When girls feel bad about their looks, 70 percent disconnect from life—avoiding normal daily activities like attending school or even giving their opinion—which can put their dreams on hold, and jeopardize their potential as future leaders, decision makers, and role models.
The Dove brand believes beauty should be a source of confidence, not anxiety, which is why the Dove brand is bringing together the nation’s most influential women, and girls’ organizations to launch the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem.
Everyone can make a difference in a young girl’s self-esteem, and this new initiative invites all women to inspire and encourage the next generation to reach their full potential.
How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb? Having studied at an all-girls school for most of my life, it was always amazing that the punchline to this joke was almost always guaranteed a laugh.
Even at a school dedicated to the advancement of African women in postcolonial Kenya, the idea of feminism appeared to translate to radicalism and images of bra-burning rallies. So if someone told me two years ago that I would be wading into a discussion on the label “feminism” I would probably have laughed in their face. Being called a feminist was usually a setup to a disparaging observation about the state of one’s personal life. For instance Wangari Maathai, the first Kenyan to win the Nobel prize and long recognised as a feminist and hailed as a heroine in the west, was received in Kenya in a manner that can best be described as lukewarm.
Former Bollywood actress helps women escape abuse through organisation she set up
Somy Ali used to be a Bollywood actress. But after helping a Bangladeshi neighbour escape a decade of abuse by her husband, his father and brother, she decided to set up a non-profit organisation, No More Tears Inc in 2006.
Ali funds her organization in part by giving 10 percent of the revenue from her clothing company, So-Me Designs.
“These people have become part of my family,” she said. “There is nothing more gratifying than rescuing a woman.”
To eliminate gender disparity in all levels of education by 2015, based on the ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education; increase the number of women in paid employment outside the agricultural sector and increase the number of female MPs.
Case study: Bangladesh – The women of Bangladesh fought alongside men to liberate the country in 1971. Now, they have prominent leaders in politics, and increasing educational equality. Fariha Karim reports.
Data Explore data sets on MDG3 The Guardian’s datastore brings together development data sets from around the world to create a unique, dynamic, searchable repository - organised by various indicators and by MDG.
Reports Making the MDGs work better for women UNIFEM’s report argues for the maintaining and scaling up of investment in gender equality, and provides examples of successful practices and approaches that governments, donors and civil society can take to make MDGs work better for women.
Further research UN Girls Education Initiative offers news, events and campaign information, further reading and information on girls education by country.
BRIDGE supports gender advocacy, bridging gaps between theory, policy and practice. This includes Cutting Edge Packs on key gender issues, a global resource database and a Gender Experts market place.
Campaigns and projects
UK Campaign for Female Education is looking for supporters to carry out a range of activities aimed at helping girls to go to school in rural Africa - for example joining their newsletter provides a year’s worth of pens.
Womankind is looking for people who can speak publicly about women’s global struggle against injustice and inequality and promote WOMANKIND in their local communities.
One World Action aims to build citizen capacity and female participation in democratic and policy processes and is inviting supporters to become Women’s Rights Champions:.
Ireland Banúlacht carries out an annual programme of workshops and short courses with women’s organisations in Ireland. Their classes analyse issues such as poverty, alienation, disadvantage and injustice through a global lens and from a gender perspective.
Plan Ireland Because I am a Girl campaign to fight gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and break the cycle of poverty - ways to get involved include sponsoring a girl, raise funds by running the Flora Mini Marathon or make a donation to the Girl Friendly School project in Togo.
Africa African Women’s Development Fund is a grant-making foundation which supports local, national and regional organisations in Africa working towards women’s empowerment. They suggest holding a Movie Night or African-themed house party to help support their work.
GirlsNet is a social and multimedia programme that seeks to empower young disadvantaged South African women and girls through skills development, networking and partnership building to advance gender equality.
Australasia Care’s Walk in Her Shoes campaign invites participants to walk 8,000 steps per day over a month or organise a community walk-a-thon to raise awareness about time spent by women in developing countries walking to collect firewood, water or tending to their fields: leaving little time for education and healthcare.
International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics is an online workspace designed to serve the needs of those involved and interested in advancing women in politics. The site invites you to consult experts and take part in discussions around women entering the political process.
Invest in Women Inspirational video produced by the Dutch foreign office arguing that investment in women and girls is an investment that benefits all of society.
Food Security and the Rural Female Farmer A 17 minute documentary video (Spanish with English subtitles) that highlights the day-to-day issues and systemic challenges faced by rural female famers in Chile.
Transforming women’s lives Video on how the women of Katine have faced the challenges of transforming gender roles and responsibilities in a traditional rural Ugandan community.
We are seeking to keep these pages relevant and current - so please mail email@example.com with the subject line “Resources - MDG3” if you know a great resource you think should be included.
Pink Saris (2010 TIFF film): “There is no higher power than a woman.”
2010 Toronto International Film Festival doc, “Pink Saris,” by veteran director Kim Longinotto has been picked up by New York-based Women Make Movies (WMM). The film, about Northern India’s Gulabi Gang, will have its world premiere at the upcoming festival, which Longinotto will attend.
“Pink Saris” is described as “an unflinching and often amusing look at an unlikely [group of] political activists and their charismatic leader; in extraordinary scenes, [protagonist] Sampat launches herself into the center of family dramas, witnessed by scores of spectators, convinced her mediation is the best path for these vulnerable girls. Her partner Babuji, who has watched Sampat change over the years, is less certain.” Sampat Pal and Gulabi Gang are Nothern India’s women vigilantes in pink who fight for vulnerable women who are abused by their families and in-laws.
“Mark my words, it will be women who bring democracy to Iran.”
Today, the Observer focuses on several Iranian women who have emerged as the face of women’s rights in Iran in recent times. One of these is Shiva Nazar Ahari – a 26-year-old human rights campaigner – the charges against whom are among the most serious that can be levelled in Iran: muharebeh (enmity against God), a crime, in theory punishable by death, originally intended to be used against armed gangs and pirates, not dissidents.
As a celebration of its 11th anniversary, the African Union (AU) held ceremonies honouring five female scientists. The anniversary marks the transition of the Organization of African Unity into the African Union on September 9, 1999.Each of the winners of the Regional Scientific Awards will receive a cheque of $20,000.
Dr Hassina Mouri, an Algerian woman who achieved an award for her work as a professor of geology at Johannesburg University, South Africa, argued that the money is ‘less important than the forum it provides as a role model for other women and girls’:
“We have been discussing with the other sisters that it is one of the best ways to encourage the other females to follow the same paths, and to work hard,” Mouri said. “Not just to believe in ‘the gender’, that we are females so we can get promoted or get awards, but to work hard; because the award comes with hard work, not because we are females.”
The first lesson that I keep telling over and over again: There is no free lunch in life. Please don’t feel entitled to anything you don’t sweat and struggle for. Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist, reminded us that “many women may not get all they pay for in this world, but they will certainly pay for all they get.” You’ve got to work your way up hard and continuously. And I know I don’t have to say this: Don’t be lazy, do your homework, pay attention to detail, take great care and pride in your work. Don’t assume a door is closed; push on it. Don’t assume if it was closed yesterday that it is closed today. Don’t ever stop learning and improving your mind. If you do, you’re going to be left behind.
The second lesson is to assign yourself. My daddy couldn’t stand to see us unengaged in constructive work. And he used to ask us when we had come home from school, “Did the teacher give you any homework?” If we’d say no, he’d say, “Well, assign yourself some.” Don’t wait around for your boss or your friends or teachers to direct you to do what you’re able to figure out and do for yourself. And don’t do just as little as you can to get by. And as you grow up and become citizens?please don’t be a political bystander and grumbler. I really hope every one of you will register to vote and vote every time. A democracy is not a spectator sport. And if you see a need, please don’t ask, “Why somebody doesn’t do something?” Ask “Why don’t I do something?” Initiative and persistence are still the non-magic carpets to success for most of us.
The third quick lesson: Never work just for money. Money alone won’t save your soul or build a decent family life or help you sleep at night. We’re the richest nation on Earth, with the highest number of imprisoned people in the world. Our drug addictions and child poverty [rates] are among the highest in the industrialized world. So don’t ever confuse wealth or fame with character. And don’t tolerate or condone moral corruption, whatever it is and whether it is found in high or low places. Be honest and demand that those who represent you be honest. And don’t ever confuse morality with legality. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Martin Luther King told us, “everything Hitler did in Nazi Germany was legal, but it was not moral.” Don’t give anybody the proxy for your conscience.
The fourth lesson: Don’t be afraid of taking risks or of being criticized. An anonymous saying is, “If you don’t want to be criticized, don’t do anything, don’t say anything and don’t be anything.” Don’t be afraid of failing; it is the way you learn to do things right. Don’t be afraid of falling down; just keep getting up. And don’t wait for everybody to come along to get something done. It’s always a few people who get things done and keep things going. Our country and our world desperately need more wise and courageous shepherds and fewer sheep who do not borrow from integrity to fund expediency.
Fifth lesson: : Listen to the sound of the genuine in yourself. “Small,” Einstein said, “is the number of them who see with their own eyes and feel with their own heart.” Try to be one of them. There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in [yourself]. And it is the only true guide [you] will ever have. If you cannot hear it in yourself, you will spend all of your life on the end of strings that somebody else pulls. Today, there are just so many noises and so many competing pulls on us. I hope that you’ll find ways and times and spaces to be silent to listen to yourselves and to listen for other people.
Last lesson: Never think life is not worth living or that you can’t make a difference. Never give up. I don’t care how hard it gets, and it will get very hard sometimes. An old proverb says, “When you get to your wit’s end, that’s where God lives.” Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “When you get into a tight place and you think that everything goes against you until it seems that you can’t have another minute, never give up then, for that is just the place and the time when you will see the tide turn.” So I hope when you get discouraged and afraid, you will hang in with life and remember and imagine and keep striving to build a new world. As Shel Silverstein said, “Listen to the mustn’ts, child/ listen to the don’ts/ listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts/ but then listen to the never haves and listen close to me/ anything can happen, child/ anything can be.
Healthy women deliver for their families, communities and nations.
Women’s unpaid household, caregiving and farm work worldwide equals about a third of the world’s Gross National Product.
Women’s income is more likely than men’s to go for food, education, medicine and other family needs.
Death or disability of a mother raises death and illness rates for children, destroys families, takes children out of school and lowers household and community economic productivity.
Women are the sole income earners for 25 to 33 percent of all households.
In 2001, the U.S. Agency for International Development estimated the global economic impact of maternal and newborn mortality at US$15 billion in lost potential production per year – half associated with women and half with newborns.
The return on investment in women is enormous.
Investment in educating girls one extra year beyond the average boosts their eventual wages 10 to 20 percent.
Investment in female secondary education yields returns in the form of higher wages that range from 15 to 25 percent, according to Yale economist Paul Schultz.
Credit extended to women increases household consumption about twice as much as men’s borrowing.
Providing emergency obstetric services and equipment to save women’s lives also creates the capacity to perform operations and transfusions for accidents and other emergencies.
Investing in family planning services lowers the rate of unintended pregnancies, which reduces unsafe abortions, which reduces health care costs.
In some low- and middle-income countries, hospitals spend up to half their obstetric and gynecological budgets to treat women with complications from unsafe abortions.
A 1993 World Bank study found that antenatal and delivery care and family planning were among the six most cost-effective health interventions for low-income countries.
Investment in women creates a “virtuous circle.”
Educated, employed and economically productive women are more likely to use health care systems.
One study found that unemployed women have more than four times the chance of maternal death than employed women, and a greater chance of maternal health complications and illness after childbirth.
Women who use maternal health services are more likely to use other reproductive health services, such as HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, and family planning.
Women who use maternal health care services are also more likely to obtain vaccinations for themselves and their children.
Job status is more important to improving maternal health than overall household economic status, perhaps because paid work increases women’s power over household resources.
The necessary investment is well within reach.
Several reports estimate that the package of services essential to make significant improvements in maternal health would cost less than US$1.50 per person in the 75 countries where 95 percent of maternal deaths occur.
The World Health Organization estimated that international development assistance for maternal and newborn health totaled US$530 million in 2004. WHO estimated it should be an additional ten times as much ($5.5 billion per year) to achieve MDG#5 by 2015 in the 75 countries where 95 percent of maternal deaths occur.
Projections suggest that such funding requirements could be met if countries invested 15 percent of their national budgets in health and if official development assistance climbed further towards 0.7 percent of Gross National Income in the OECD countries.
That sum is only 0.016 percent of global GNP and 2 percent of aid, well within the grasp of donor countries. And it would return three times as much in the maternal and newborn productivity that would otherwise be lost.
Malalai Joya (Pashto and Persian: ملالۍ جویا) (born April 25, 1978) is an Afghanpolitician who has been called “the bravest woman in Afghanistan.” As an elected member of the Wolesi Jirga from Farah province, she has publicly denounced the presence of what she considers warlords and war criminals in the parliament. She is an outspoken critic of both the Taliban as well as the present Afghan government of Karzai and its western supporters.
"…When her time came to make her 3-minute statement, she tugged her black headscarf over her hair, stepped up to the microphone, and with emotional electricity made the speech that would alter her life.
After she spoke, there was a moment of stunned silence. Then there was an uproar. Male mujahideen, some who literally had guns at their feet, rushed towards her, shouting. She was brought under the protection of UN security forces.
In a nation where few dare to say the word “warlord” aloud, Joya had spoken fiercely against a proposal to appoint high clergy members and fundamentalist leaders to guide planning groups. She objected that several of those religious leaders were war criminals who should be tried for their actions—not national heroes to influence the new government.
Despite the commands of Assembly Chairman, Joya refused to apologize.”