Tag Archive | "UNIFEM"

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Arab Women Caught Between Extremes

Posted on 05 March 2010 by admin

Women wearing the traditional Hijab attend the Commission on the Status of Women conference at U.N. headquarters. Credit:Bomoon Lee/IPS

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 4, 2010 (IPS) – The status of women in a predominantly male-chauvinistic Arab world continues to fluctuate from one extreme to another.

The political and cultural life in the region, by and large, has been characterised by the good, the bad and the ugly.

On the one hand are child marriages and honour killings (deemed barbaric) in the rigidly conservative countries, and on the other, are the appointment and/or election of women to high office (hailed as impressive success stories) in the relatively liberal countries.

“Women can already been seen in greater numbers in our parliament, ministries, judiciary, armed forces and police, and they have also assumed very senior positions in both public office and the private sector,” says Hala Latouf, head of the Jordanian delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women.

She also proudly notes that Jordan now has women governors, mayors, judges and ambassadors, in addition to women chief executive officers (CEOs) in key industries and businesses, consultative bodies and chambers of commerce and industry.

“The new draft law on elections is expected to allocate even greater number of (parliamentary) seats for women,” she declared.

On an equally positive note, Dr. Jouhaina Sultan Seif El-Issa, vice chairperson of Qatar’s supreme council for family affairs, points out that Qatari business women account for more than 50 percent of the total equity investors and dealers in the Doha Stock Market.

At the same time, the number of women-owned companies in Qatar now amount to nearly 1,500.

She said Qatar has established two Foundations: one, for child and women protection, and the other, to combat human trafficking.

Still, says Nadya Khalife of Human Rights Watch, most governments in the region discriminate against women in personal status laws which govern their everyday lives, including issues of marriage, divorce, custody and guardianship, and inheritance.

In an interview with IPS, Khalife said that some provisions in penal laws also allow for perpetrators of so-called honour crimes to receive a mitigated sentence or be exempt from punishment based on “family honour”.

“These crimes are typically committed in cases of adultery or sex outside of marriage,” she said.

And some countries in the region, she pointed out, do not have laws to protect women from domestic violence.

“Women are often not encouraged to report abuses to police and find difficulties in seeking redress,” she added.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Thursday that most of the 5,000 honour killings reported to take place every year around the world do not make the news, nor do the other myriad forms of violence inflicted on women and girls by husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and other male and sometimes even female family members.

“In the name of preserving family honour, women and girls are shot, stoned, burned, buried alive, strangled, smothered and knifed to death with horrifying regularity,” she added.

Although she did not identify any countries by name, Pillay said the problem has been exacerbated by the fact that in a number of countries domestic legal systems, including through discriminatory laws, still fully or partially exempt individuals guilty of honour killings from punishment.

“Perpetrators may even be treated with admiration and given special status within their communities,” she added.

A study released by the Washington-based Freedom House early this week singles out 15 countries in the region as having recorded “some gains in women’s rights” over the past five years.

Kuwait, Algeria and Jordan saw the most significant progress while Iraq, Yemen and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories – enduring internal conflicts and/or religious extremism – are the only countries to record overall decline.

Nadia Hijab, an independent analyst who works on gender, human rights, and the Arab-Israeli conflict, told IPS that Arab women are constantly making progress in securing political, economic, and social rights – but it is slow and incremental.

The obstacles are huge: women’s rights are tied to the struggle for democracy, defining the role of religion in the state, and the drive for equitable development, she said.

“That there is progress is a testament to the increasingly sophisticated and determined efforts of women’s groups that are pushing the boundaries of debate in all these areas,” she said.

Hijab said that as in many other parts of the world, the key is recognition that women are equal partners within the family and under the law.

This is why it is such a success when women gain the right to grant their nationality to their husbands and children, as they have in Algeria: it is recognition of their equal status at home and in the public sphere.

Similarly, the fact that there are women judges in Morocco and Lebanon sends a very powerful message in a region where some countries still consider women legal minors, Hijab declared.

She said the region is also heavily impacted by internal and cross-border conflicts that set women back.

In Lebanon, progress made by women’s groups ground to a halt recently when the country was in a political stalemate over the election of a president and formation of a government.

In the occupied Palestinian territories, gains women made in political development and economic empowerment have been set back as Palestinians struggle against the occupying Israeli forces’ encroachment on their lands and rights, Hijab said.


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Haitian Women Refuse to Be Sidelined

Posted on 04 March 2010 by admin

A mother comforts her child as he receives tetanus and diphtheria vaccinations provided by the World Health Organisation. Credit: UN Photo/Sophia Paris

By Marguerite A. Suozzi

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 3 (IPS/TerraViva) Women in Haiti are more vulnerable than ever to attacks on their dignity and gender-based violence after the massive Jan.  12 earthquake crippled the already struggling nation. Continue Reading

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In Mideast, Gap Lingers Between Political and Legal Rights

Posted on 03 March 2010 by admin

Aseel al-Awadi is one of four women elected in 2009 to Kuwait's Parliament. Credit: Kuwait-Ra'ed Qutena/creative commons license

By Charles Fromm

WASHINGTON, Mar 3 (IPS/TerraViva) Last year, Kuwaitis elected their first female members of Parliament. Yet in countries like Yemen, child marriage remains common and personal status laws still discriminate against women in matters concerning marriage, divorce and child custody. Continue Reading

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ZIMBABWE: Informal Sector Lures University Graduates

Posted on 02 March 2010 by admin

Women informal cross border traders negotiate a minefield ranging from bus drivers, customs officials and dangerous and unfamiliar environments. Credit:Trevor Davies/IPS

By Ignatius Banda

BULAWAYO, Mar 1, 2010 (IPS) – From the rickety old buses that miraculously make long cross-border journeys to the frustrating red tape at the border post, from fending off sexual advances from bus crews and customs officials to losing goods worth thousands of dollars, 28-year-old Irene Moyo has seen it all.
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RIGHTS: Rise and Fall of Gender Empowerment

Posted on 02 March 2010 by admin

UNIFEM Executive Director Ines Alberdi says the fund has channeled 30 million dollars to projects that combat gender violence. Credit:UN Photo/Mark Garten

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 1, 2010 (IPS/TerraViva) – The 45-member Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), presiding over one of the largest gatherings of women at the United Nations, listened Monday to dozens of speakers spelling out the successes and failures of gender empowerment worldwide.
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Accountability for Gender Equality Commitments Vital

Posted on 01 March 2010 by admin

Since 2000, gender equality and women’s rights advocates have been saying that progress on normative frameworks and agreements has been steady, but that implementation has lagged far behind.

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AFRICA: “Women’s Decade”: Greater Attention to Implementation

Posted on 26 February 2010 by admin

The promise of Africa's Decade for Women is action on the various declarations and conventions which have not yet delivered gender equality. Credit: Mercedes Sayagues/PlusNews

By Omer Redi

ADDIS ABABA, Feb 22, 2010 (IPS) – Fears that the impact of the global economic meltdown would affect funding to various development areas have been rife. Already, several governments have cut their budgets for HIV and AIDS and bilateral and multilateral funding partners have done likewise.
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THAILAND: Women with HIV Break Silence, Confront Stigma

Posted on 26 February 2010 by admin

Veena Panudej at her workplace. Credit:Marwaan Macan-Markar/IPS

By Marwaan Macan-Markar*

TRAT, Thailand, Feb 20, 2010 (IPS) – Veena Panudej makes a living in the night like so many other women and men in this quiet eastern corner of Thailand. They work under the light of the stars in rubber estates spread beyond this city close to the Cambodian border.
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SOUTHERN AFRICA: Women Traders Demand Support

Posted on 26 February 2010 by admin

Informal traders in the SADC region sell a wide range of goods: wood and stone carvings, clothes, furniture, electrical goods and doilies. Credit: Ntandoyenkosi Ncube/IPS

By Ntandoyenkosi Ncube

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 19, 2010 (IPS) – Support for regional trade is one of the cornerstones of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). But the focus has been on large scale trade in goods and services, ignoring one important group trading throughout the region. Continue Reading

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1995 - IPS TerraViva Beijing and Huairou reporting archive
54th. Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
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