Red light for Burqa-wearing drivers in Bahrain

Posted on October 5, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, culture, human rights, politics, religion, stereotypes, women, men and more.

Guest blogger: Suad Hamada, IPS correspondent in Bahrain

Dressed to drive? By S.Hamada

Dressed to drive? By S.Hamada

Burqa-wearing women may lose the right to drive in Bahrain over a conflict between government and conservative lawmakers.

The government wants to amend the traffic law and grant male traffic officers the right to ask women to lift the veil and show their faces.

On the other hand, some lawmakers are loath to approve the amendment or at least demand that female traffic officers be employed for this task.

Let’s hope that in either way it will be a win-win situation for women: that they will continue to drive, and enter a job sector that has been reserved for men since the 1970s.   Bahrain doesn’t impose a dress code on women. Wearing a burqa (or Niqab, in Bahrain) is a personal choice.

OK, not all women here wear a burqa as personal choice; some do it to obey their male relatives or conservative families. (more…)

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Putting a value on our work

Posted on September 24, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, culture, media, women, men and more.

Guest blogger: Miren Gutierrez, IPS editor-in-chief

Seven PM at the supermarket. After a long day at the office, she is standing in line to pay for groceries to make dinner, stealing glances at her watch, grappling with two young kids who want her to buy some chewing gum…

Unequal sharing of the work pie. M. Sayagues

Unequal sharing of the work pie. M. Sayagues

Does this picture ring a bell? Survey after survey across the world report that women put in between 20 and 30 hours a week of domestic and family work. Unseen, unsung and unpaid, yes, but not insignificant.

Unpaid work in the home, done mainly by women, is estimated at approximately 50 percent of all productive activity even in industrial countries, and as much as 60-70 percent in many developing countries,” says Hazel Henderson in an interview with IPS.  (more…)

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Breakthrough for Women at the UN

Posted on September 18, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, human rights, media, politics, women, men and more.

Guest blogger:  Ann Ninan, IPS Gender Editor

Is there room for us as well? M. Sayagues

A breakthrough for us as well? M. Sayagues

The UN has finally decided to stand up for women!  A decision to create a new agency for women was taken by the General Assembly on September14.

Our colleague Thalif Deen, IPS bureau chief in New York, was the first and only journalist to report it for the first several hours.

But this blog is not to crow about our scoop.

I’m quite excited by the prospect of a new women’s agency with money and political power. No longer will the world’s feminists have to lobby from the outside to put their views on the table. They have now won admission to the high table.

Any one of those bright, articulate, activist women can emerge to lead the agency. The reality is likely to be less rosy. But chances are that, because it’s new, it will be less under the thumb of the old boy network.

You think I’m a romantic? What the hell, there is no harm in dreaming, is there?  (more…)

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Missing the Point? A critical review of MDG

Posted on September 14, 2009, by mercedes, under children, health, human rights, women, men and more.

Next time you read a story or a press release moaning about how country X will not reach the Millennium Development Goals, think twice - whose goal and whose target is it? We know the deadline but do we know the baseline?

Instead of striking a balance between ambition and realism, the MDGs have become “money-metric and donor-centric”, “meaningless catch-all phrases.”

So says Jan Vandemoortele, a Belgian national, a United Nations senior official and one of the architects of the MDGs, in a thought-provoking article in the July issue of  Development Policy Review of the Overseas Development Institute. (read it here)

Unrealistic? A crowded classrom in Guinea Bissau...

Unrealistic goal? A crowded classroom in Guinea Bissau...

The author recalls that the MDGs were set up in 2000 as collective targets based on extrapolations of global trends.  They are vague by definition; they are not one-size-fits-all.

Instead, one should look at countries’ historical backgrounds, natural endowments and specific problems, then adapt the Goals to each circumstance, as Mozambique, Cambodia and Ethiopia have done.

Otherwise, this puts undue pressure on the poorest countries and, given that most of these are in Africa, nurtures Afro-pessimism.

For example, the global target for education “is not realistic” for countries in conflict, he says.                              (more…)

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No longer invisible: caregivers speak out

Posted on September 4, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, HIV/AIDS, culture, human rights, media, violence, women, men and more.

Guest blogger: Glenda Muzenda, Care Work Manager at Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA)

I just attended the Grassroots Women’s International Academy on Home Based Care in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It was a mixed bag of fun meeting women from all walks and works of life from Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zambia, Ghana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

Caregiving in Mozambique. Photo: Janine Morna

Caregiving in Mozambique. Photo: Janine Morna

The Huairou Commission and the Land Access Movement of South Africa brought us together to share experiences of home-based care.

It is fascinating how in Malawi the care givers alliance has moved forward. Victoria Kalomba, of the Malawi Group of Women Living with HIV and AIDS told us that the ministry of health and social development had spearheaded a campaign to raise awareness about people infected and affected by HIV.

The process had the ministry informing the support groups of individuals who had tested positive after visiting clinics so they could be reached and helped.

I am worried about this way of outing positive people even in the aim of  mobilizing support groups. I feel that it is a human right violation to have to give information of someone’s HIV status.

(more…)

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Runner Caster Semenya: gender, sex and discrimination

Posted on August 26, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, adolescents, culture, health, human rights, media, stereotypes, women, men and more.

Open letter by South African gender activists

Courtesy of Zapiro, Mail & Guardian

Courtesy of Zapiro, Mail & Guardian

Some of those championing Caster Semenya’s cause accuse those wanting to sex-test Caster of imperialism and racism (as well as sexism). Others plead to wait before reaching a verdict, arguing that the realities of sex testing are enormously complex

Firstly to address the issue of terminology, over which there seems to be confusion. Gender is the dominant society’s views on how women and men should look, behave, what roles they should play in society, how they should perform and frequently what rewards they receive – hence gender inequity. This has usually led to lower status and discrimination against girls/women but has increasingly been seen as limiting the options and potentially harming boys/men too.

Gender is not a politically correct term for sex. Sex testing would be just that - establishing whether a person is biologically female or male. So gender testing is not the term that should be used this case, but sex testing. (more…)

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Whose pleasure? Notes about male circumcision and female sexuality

Posted on August 24, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, HIV/AIDS, culture, health, media, women, men and more.

Guest blogger: Pierre Brouard, Deputy Director, Centre for the Study of Aids, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Permanent erection, permanent pleasure?

Hard task: defining sexual pleasure. Photo: M. Sayagues

So what headlines have grabbed you lately about male circumcision in South Africa? These caught my eye:

“The death toll in the Eastern Cape’s winter circumcision season has risen to 31”
“Circumcision ’scam’ probed”
“Two on run after initiate dies”

As alarming and distressing as these headlines are – and the sad, desperate and greedy subtexts embedded in them – they don’t say much about the other big debate that is raging across southern Africa: the value of male circumcision to prevent HIV acquisition in heterosexual men, and what’s in it for women. (more…)

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Getting the UN into GEAR!

Posted on August 17, 2009, by mercedes, under Gender Masala, human rights, media, politics, women, men and more.

By Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, founding coordinator,  femLINKPACIFIC
Contributing blogger

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls

Getting into GEAR! What does this really mean in a Pacific Island state, surrounded by an ocean rising rather too quickly, that some of us are thinking about getting into gear before it becomes a sink or swim situation?

Does it mean we switch from paddling our own canoes at the pace known as “Pacific time” to powering our way into the future with the assistance of fuel guzzling outboard engines?

And as we rapidly negotiate our way through the waters, will we be protected by life jackets should there be any mishaps along the way?

(more…)

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