• Thursday, November 26, 2015
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    Gender Masala - Notes on gender - A spicy mix

    This blog brings out the flavour of gender issues, from the network of IPS writers and friends. Gender Masala is part of the Inter Press Service project Communicating for Change: Getting Voice, Visibility and Impact for Gender Equality. Check it at www.ips.org/mdg3/

    Famous and infamous births

    21 Dec 2009

    By Paula Modersohn Becker

    By Paula Modersohn Becker

    When is a photo of a woman giving birth considered pornographic? Take your pick:

    A. When it is shown in a pornographic magazine, film or website.
    B. Never.
    C. When it is emailed to government officials urging action to improve public health.

    One could argue about A and B but this blog is about C.

    Earlier this year, in Zambia, Chansa Kabwela, news editor at the feisty opposition newspaper The Post, was charged with circulating pornography with intent to corrupt public morals. More »


    18 Dec 2009

    Ask the woman sitting next to you in the bus, train, plane, taxi-brousse or donkey cart what is CEDAW, and most probably you will draw a blank look. C’est quoi?

    Yet CEDAW – Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women – has likely impacted on her life and her daughters, if she has any, in many ways, from pension and inheritance rights to the passport they hold.

    Quilt made by women of Kyrgztan. (Unifem)

    Quilt made by women of Kyrgztan. (Unifem)

    CEDAW, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly 30 years ago today, is the global Bill of Rights for Women, the first international human rights treaty devoted to gender equality.

    Through its 30 articles, CEDAW has boosted women’s rights worldwide in many ways.

    More »

    In Women’s Words: A Hard Pill to Swallow

    14 Dec 2009

    Credit: Samantha Smit/IPS

    Credit: Samantha Smit/IPS

    Dec 14, 2009 – In this week’s podcast you will hear of:

    * a young girl’s daily struggle to survive…
    * how South Africa’s progressive gender laws only live on paper
    * and how changes to the law in Egypt are slowly empowering women.


    Women human rights defenders under attack

    10 Dec 2009

    Let’s do a quick review of women and violence in the news in the last weeks.

    What's in the news on Human Rights Day?

    What's in the news on Human Rights Day?

    Why today? Because it’s the last of the 16 Days against Violence against Women, arguably the best known global campaign of the women’s movement, and also Human Rights Day.

    Today, Sahrawi activist Aminatou Haidar starts her fourth week of hunger strike at Lanzarote airport in the Canary Islands. She is so weak she has to be transported to court by wheelchair or stretcher. Last week, the head of UNHCR called on Spain and Morocco to resolve her issue on humanitarian grounds.

    The award-winning Haidar is known as the Sahrawi Gandhi for her non-violent protests for the independence of her desert country, the Western Sahara, ruled by Morocco since 1975.  More »

    Q&A: India’s Anti-Women Laws Dropping from the Books Liza Jansen interviews Indian Jurist SUJATA MANOHAR

    03 Dec 2009

    Sujata Manohar  Credit:Bomoon Lee/IPS

    Sujata Manohar Credit:Bomoon Lee/IPS

    UNITED NATIONS, Dec 2 (IPS) – The 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) this month has brought women’s rights champions from around the world to the United Nations to share their success stories. One is Sujata Manohar, who helped create a national law in India that bars sexual harassment in the workplace.

    “Some people believe the traditional way of life is better, but they are not in the majority and there is a clear move towards elimination of all kinds of discrimination,” says Manohar, a Supreme Court justice.

    CEDAW, adopted in December 1979 by the U.N. General Assembly, is an international human rights treaty exclusively devoted to gender equality and is often described as an international bill of rights for women.

    The Convention consists of 30 articles defining discrimination against women and an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. More »


    01 Dec 2009

    We share the wish of Marie Mendene Owono:  SEND AIDS AWAY.

    By M. Sayagues

    By M. Sayagues

    Marie Mendene  is an extraordinary activist from Cameroon and one of the first African women to say publicly that she lives with HIV, in the 1990s, when AIDS was a disease of shame and blame.

    This is one of my favourite photos about AIDS in Africa. I took it at Sunshine, her NGO in Douala, in 2003, before antiretroviral treatment became widely available. Only a few Cameroonians in cities could get the life-saving pills.

    The day I took the photo, Marie had queued for seven hours and  received only half of her monthly ARV pills. She was understandably upset about the poor logistics and delivery of medicines. AIDS magnified all the inadequacies of health systems.

    That was then. Today, nearly three million people in Africa are on ARV treatment. This seemed like a dream then, but activists were campaigning hard to make it come true.

    Marie had a clear vision of activism. “We should go beyond the begging bowl and the appeal to compassion, beyond the stage of being used to do prevention and awareness, and become part of real-decision making around AIDS,” she told me.

    Marie is to the right in the pic, with a fellow activist.

    MDG 3, What is the role (and Responsibility) of the Media?

    29 Nov 2009

    Representatives of Media and Civil Society Organisations Attended the IPS Seminar in Rome

    Representatives of Media and Civil Society Organisations Attended the IPS Seminar in Rome

    The IPS Support Group Meeting was held on 26 November in Rome, Italy. As part of the IPS programme of work ‘Communicating for Change: Voice, Visibility and Impact for Gender Equality‘, this year’meeting analysed the role of media in covering issues related to MDG3: Promote gender equality and empower women.

    The seminar was celebrated during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence (25 November – 10 December) giving voice to journalists and gender experts from around the world who debated on how information and communication contributes to stop violence.

    Robert Dijksterhuis of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, introduced the key themes of the seminar addressing the responsibility of the media when covering gender issues. The Dutch Ministry set up the MDG3 Fund: Investing in Equality to raise awareness about the third development goal’s priorities. More »

    RIGHTS: Nigeria Failing To End Discrimination Against Women

    28 Nov 2009


     Salma Ahmad Kano

    KANO, Nov 28 (IPS) – Nigeria ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985 without reservations. But few of its citizens have ever heard of the document. Day-to-day life for women in Nigeria is shaped less by international conventions than it is by the diverse cultures, traditions and religions found in the country.

    Hauwa Usman* is a recently-widowed woman from Fanisau village near the northern Nigerian city of Kano. Slim and dark-skinned, this young woman’s face carries signs of long, exhausting emotional strain. She says she was born during the Murtala Muhammed regime, making her 33 or 34 – a little older than CEDAW. 

    Article 16 of CEDAW confirms that men and women have the same right to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage; it also says that the marriage of a child has no legal force – instead requiring that laws specifying a minimum age for marriage be passed.  More »

    Watchdog citizen journalism against gender violence

    27 Nov 2009

    The sisters can do it by themselves. By A. Vilanculos

    The sisters can do it by themselves. By A. Vilanculos

    The buzz in Mozambique during the recent elections was not the TV debate among presidential candidates debate (there is none) or their programs  (all vague).

    What had tongues wagging was citizen’s journalism, dispatches by ordinary folk about electoral irregularities from the Rovuma to the Maputo rivers.

    Good stuff: government cars illegally used for campaigning, with cellphone pics of their registration plates (until officials wised up and started covering up plates and ministry logos with party posters). Reports of youth tearing downs other party’s posters, fistfights, intimidation, and police lack of impartiality.  More »