• Friday, April 18, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    Hibaaq Osman on Youth, Social Media, and Women in the Egyptian Revolution

    05 Oct 2011

    Hibaaq Osman. Credit: El Karama

    “I never thought in my lifetime I would see a revolution unfolding under my eyes. It was a moment of uncertainty and excitement,” Hibaaq Osman told DLD (Digital Life Design) Women in a recent video interview.

    Hibaaq Osman is founder and CEO of the IPS MDG3 partner El Karama, an Egypt based organisation for women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa.

    In her reflection, Ms. Osman shares her personal experiences and observations from the days of revolution in Egypt, including descriptions of the Egyptian people and their protective nature toward each other, for instance, the way they came down to protect one another and their property in the days when the police could no longer be found in the streets. More »

    Enhancing Women’s Dignity, New Video by TrustAfrica

    12 Sep 2011

    IPS is happy to share with its readers a new, inspiring video recently released by TrustAfrica.

    The film features TrustAfrica project “Enhancing Women’s Dignity”, and gives insight on some of the work done to build capacity to curb violence against women and increase women’s political participation. The work is being realised with funds from the Dutch MDG3 Fund.

    The video can be accessed here

    To learn more about TrustAfrica MDG3 project, visit the webpage.

    War Survivors: Body Politics and Isis-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange

    05 Sep 2011

    Isis-WICCE activities in the community livelihood projects in Soroti and Pader.

    By Wendy Harcourt*

    It is hard to recall that just a couple of decades ago rape as a weapon of war was an unspeakable subject. The appalling violations of women and children during wartime were hidden from view. Millions of women bore the brutality, humiliation, pain debilitating physical and psychological scars with no support and too often complete rejection of their community.

    Unfortunately rape in war continues but it is no longer silenced. It is upfront as one of the gravest rights abuses now punishable by criminal courts. In 2008 the UN Resolution 1820 (2008), stated that “rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide”.  The resolution calls not only for monitoring and prosecution of warring factions but also for a crackdown on peacekeepers who exploit women and children during times of conflict. More »

    Women’s Learning Partnership: The Arab Spring Feminist Style

    29 Aug 2011

    Women in the forefront of protests in Tahrir Square. Credit:Mohammed Omer/IPS

    By Wendy Harcourt*

    The Arab Spring has taken the global imagination. The Arab Spring has brought about political changes in post-revolution countries (Tunisia and Egypt), in countries currently undergoing popular, and often armed revolts (Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, and Libya) and in countries where some type of reform movement is taking place (Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, and to a lesser extent, Lebanon). But how did the use of ICTs, twitter and Facebook reach youth and in particular women in the MENA region? How did young people and women find the tools and spaces to speak about democracy and women’s rights, in cultures that barely recognize their social and political rights? How did they find the courage to go onto the streets in deviance of autocratic and repressive regimes? More »

    Donor Base for UN Women Continues to Widen

    29 Aug 2011

    Lakshmi Puri. Credit U.N.

    Sunaina Perera interviews Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women

    UNITED NATIONS, Aug 12 (IPS ) – The donor base for UN Women has continued to widen since the new UN entity was established last year,  according to Lakshmi Puri,  Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women.

    Puri, who  is responsible for leadership and management of the Bureau supporting inter-governmental bodies, UN coordination and external relations, said that Spain remains the  largest donor for total resources (core and noncore) while the UK recently announced an increase from 3 to 10 million pounds and thus became the second largest core donor. More »

    Toward a More Inclusive Urban Development – One Woman at a Time

    22 Jun 2011

    Meeting on community resilience in Manila

    By Kim-Jenna Jurriaans
    More »

    Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict International Conference – May 22-25

    17 May 2011

    A group of six women Nobel Peace Laureates is calling for a concerted global effort to end rape as a weapon of war – and other forms of sexual violence in conflict-affected regions.

    Three of the Nobel Peace Laureates—Jody Williams (USA), Mairead Maguire (Northern Ireland) and Shirin Ebadi (Iran)—will be joining over 120 civil society activists, corporate and security sector leaders, personnel from military and peacekeeping forces and academics as they gather in Canada for an unprecedented conference to develop strategies for ending rape as a weapon of war. More »

    Maternal Meltdown From Chernobyl to Fukushima

    26 Apr 2011

    Devastation from the Mar. 11 tsunami swept through Yotukura fishing village. Credit:Suvendrini Kakuchi/IPS

    Op-ed by Whitney Graham and Elena I. Nicklasson (GFW)*

    SAN FRANCISCO, Apr 26, 2011 (IPS) – On this day 25 years ago, a massive explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine released clouds of radioactive particles into the atmosphere across Russia and Europe. The catastrophe had lasting effects on people’s health, particularly on women and their unborn children. On this sober anniversary, we look back at Chernobyl and the lessons learned to ensure the health of Japanese women as the Fukushima disaster unfolds.

    Although slow to address the crisis, the Japanese government recently raised the alert level of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants from a 5 to a 7, the highest rating possible and on par with the only nuclear disaster of this magnitude: Chernobyl. By raising the level to 7, the government acknowledged the grave situation before Japan. What it hasn’t done, however, is delineate clear protocols for how people should protect themselves against radiation, particularly the most vulnerable: pregnant women and their unborn foetuses. More »

    Time for Action is Now

    05 Apr 2011

    Navi Ramgoolam

    By Loga Virahsawmy

    Lots of people thought that Prime Minister Dr. Navin Ramgoolam made history when on 8th March 2011 in front of hundreds of women at the Grand Baie Convention Centre he said “I think that finally we have to put a quota system”.  I even gave a radio interview on the matter.

    Yes, the Prime Minister did bring some hope with his announcement and we congratulate him for that. I am sure the Prime Minister must be as embarrassed as gender activists when the question of Mauritian women in parliaments is raised at regional forums. But is this the first time that we hear this kind of political discourse?

    Let us go back in memory lane. During a Gender Links Workshop, prior to the 2005 General Elections when Dr. Navin Ramgoolam was leader of the opposition he assured the hundreds of participants in the audience that his party was very much aware of this deficit (women were 5.4% in Parliament) and added “the first past the post constitutes a major impediment for women while a proportional or a mixed system can be favourable to women.” He also said “I hope that when we will be in power we will have the consensus to introduce a PR system in our electoral reform.”

    He kept his word and the Parliamentary session for the year 2008 kicked off with a good omen for women.  Prime Minister Dr. Navin Ramgoolam suggested that there should be a quota for women. He told the house that as from May 2008 all political parties will be contacted to find a consensus on this issue and the opposition agreed.

    We are now in 2011 and still hearing the same talk with no implementation.

    On several occasions the Prime Minister has officially said that Mauritius cannot sign the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. Article 12-13 of the Protocol makes provision for equal representation of women in all areas of decision-making, both public and private and suggests that this target be achieved through Constitutional and other legislative provisions, including affirmative action.

    For over four years high officials from Mauritius participated in discussion as well as the drafting of the SADC Protocol and nobody argued that the Protocol was not in line with Article 16  “Protection from Discrimination”  of the Constitution of Mauritius.  It was only in August 2008 when all Heads of States were signing the Protocol that all of a sudden Mauritius realised that it could not sign.

    But what  about the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development? This one was signed by Mauritius in 1997 and the Declaration highlights that gender equality is a fundamental human right. This declaration committs member states to having 30% female representation in parliament by 2005.

    What do we see in Mauritius 14 years after signing that Declaration? Women comprise 18.1% in Parliament and 6.4% at local government. When Heads of States cannot walk the talk, they should then not give false hope.

    The Labour Party amended its constitution in 2003 to make a special provision so that there are at least 30 percent of women in the party structure at all levels. The party’s Constitution is one thing but fielding 30% candidates is another thing.

    The Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) is the only party in Mauritius that puts quotas for women’s participation in the legislative and local elections. Yet, the 20% stipulated in the party constitution has never translated into action. The MMM thought it gave women a gift on a golden platter when it amended its Constitution on International Women’s Day 2011 to make special provision so that 30% women are in the party structure.

    What is the point of having 30% in party structures if political cannot field 30% women as candidates?

    Some falsely believe that women cannot lead. Yet, countries daring to break stereotypes and put more women in Parliament are doing really well. Rwanda, a country emerging successfully from tragic genocide has over 50% women in Parliament. South Africa, a nation that broke away from apartheid and remains the region’s economic powerhouse, has 42.1% women in Parliament. This is followed by Angola at 37.3%, Mozambique at 34.8% and Tanzania at 30.4%, all are dealing with huge challenges, but are nations largely at peace and moving towards development.  Mauritius is a country cited as a model of democracy and yet it is side lining 51% of its population.

    There will be local government elections this year. There is no need for more talks or wait for Constitution or Electoral Reforms if we want change to happen. For once Heads of Political Parties can hold their heads and prove what they can do it instead of the rhetoric and ink wasting?

    After all both Navin Ragoolam, now Prime Minister and Paul Berenger, now Leader of the opposition talked the same language on women during the electoral campaigns 2010. Navin Ramgoolam told men to be careful as at the next elections there might be more women than men while Paul Berenger said that he will make sure that there is at least one woman in each constituency.

    Why not walk the talk now on the eve of  local government elections. Time is for action.