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  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    It’s Still a Man’s World, Especially at the Top

    24 Mar 2011

    IPS covers the International Women’s Media Foundation report 2011.

    By Andrea Lunt

    NEW YORK, Mar 23, 2011 (IPS) – Long known as a “boy’s club”, the worldwide media industry continues to struggle with gender equality, with new research showing women are still underrepresented in the majority of newsrooms across the globe.

    The study, conducted over a two-year period for the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), covered 170,000 people in the news media and involved interviews with 500 companies in 59 countries.

    On average women are underrepresented in all media positions, in sectors ranging from news media ownership, publishing, governance, reporting, editing, photojournalism, and broadcast production. More »

    WAM! It Yourself Events Planned Locally, Globally to Promote Gender Justice in Media

    22 Mar 2011

    March 16, 2011 (Cambridge, MA, USA) – Women make up half the world, but our voices and stories are barely represented by the mass media. Women, Action & The Media (WAM!), a non-profit based in Cambridge, MA, is doing something to change that with the second annual WAM! It Yourself, a decentralized conference promoting gender justice in media, from March 20 to March 27. This year’s program includes 10 events in seven cities worldwide as well as online.

    WAM! It Yourself features a wide range of events over the course of eight days, planned by local volunteers in cities around the world. Boston will host a Women’s Film Festival on Saturday, March 26th. Nairobi will be teaching advocates for girls and women how to get their stories to break through into the media narrative. New York City is presenting a day-long conference for women in journalism. Other cities hosting conferences, workshops, panel discussions, happy hours, and more include Chicago, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Vancouver.

    Three other events will take place online, enabling anyone with an internet connection to participate in WAM! It Yourself. Hardy Girls, Healthy Women will host a web conference titled “Girl Activism!: How Girls’ Voices Can and DO Make A Difference”. Deanna Zandt will host two sessions of “Women Write Wikipedia: A How-To Webinar,” directly addressing the recently revealed dearth of women writers on Wikipedia. And Nist.tv is hosting a series titled “Video Women on Women in Video,” with female online video producers answering questions about their work.

    Jaclyn Friedman, founder and Executive Director of WAM!, says, “WAM! It Yourself connects people around the world working to build a more just media, while also strengthening ties within local communities. With an international community taking action together, WAM! It Yourself is a step in creating a world where gender equity in media is a given.”

    Registration is still open for all of the events. Please visit our website for more details on the events and information on how to get involved.

    Contact: Jaclyn Friedman, Executive Director
    Women, Action & The Media
    Phone: 617-876-5310
    Email: wam@womenactionmedia.org

    DevelopmentPlus Top 25 Articles on Women, Gender and Feminism in Development

    22 Mar 2011

    In the last  years Development has featured many important articles about gender and development, women’s rights and feminism in development. Since 2005 there have been entire issues devoted to those themes: Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health (2005 Vol 48 no 4 ) Women’s Rights and Development (2006 Vol 49 no1) Gender and Fisheries (2008  Vol 51 no2) Sexuality and Development (2009 Vol 51 no1) Power, Movements, Change (2009 Nov 51 no2 ) and Gender and Empowerment (2010 Vol 53 no 2). In all issues there is a strong gender component that runs throughout the editorial line and is integrated or featured in many of the articles.

    As a way to mark March 8th (International Women’s Day) DevelopmentPlus invites readers to take look at the 25 most innovative (but by no means all) articles published in Development on women’s rights, gender and feminism in development.

    You can download them NOW for FREE during the month long March offer of  the Palgrave ‘Free for All’  Promotion.

    Read more

    Global Fund for Women Releases “Top 10 Wins for Women’s Movements”

    08 Mar 2011

    San Francisco, CA -  On the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the Global Fund for Women (GFW) looks back over the past year and celebrates extraordinary victories won by its grantee partners in “Top 10 Wins for Women’s Movements.”

    From progressive new national and international legislation to mass mobilizations for peace, the “Top 10” stories showcase the creative and bold approaches women’s groups have used and also reflects the growing power and sophistication of the global women’s movements. “In spite of the backlash and resistance that such movements often face,” says Charlotte Bunch, Global Fund Board Member and Professor at Rutgers, “These victories are a valuable reminder that women are still an important force in the world making advances for social change and human rights.

    Topping the list is the forthcoming International Labor Organization (ILO) standards that will protect tens of millions of domestic workers, most of whom are women and migrants. The ILO process was initiated after countless hours of organizing by domestic workers across the globe under highly restrictive working conditions and with limited infrastructure.

    Women’s movements are also celebrating the first successful use of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) by women in the Philippines who used the UN convention to appeal a domestic rape case. Women’s groups also used the European Human Rights Court to overturn Ireland’s abortion ban. Also making the list is Nigerian women’s success in defeating the regressive “Nudity Bill”. In each of these victories, Global Fund grantees were at the forefront of the fight for women’s right, justice and equality.  Last but not least, the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt made the list because of their promising impact on the lives of women and people of the region, and for inspiring social justice movements worldwide.

    For more information about the Top Ten Wins or to schedule interviews, please contact Deborah Holmes, dholmes@globalfundforwomen.org or 415.248.4849.

    About the Global Fund for Women

    The Global Fund for Women is the largest publicly supported grantmaking foundation that advances human rights by investing in women-led organizations worldwide. Our international network of supporters mobilizes financial resources to support women’s contributions to social justice, equality and peace. Since 1987, the Global Fund has awarded over $82 in grants to more than 4,000 groups in 170 countries.

    ITUC Tell Us the Stories of Women Workers

    07 Mar 2011

    The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has just launched a series of stories written by young women who have been involved in the Decisions for Life Campaign.

    The Campaign supports and empowers young women, individually and collectively, to make well-informed decisions about work, career and family, have access to secure jobs, earnings and social benefits, demand equal opportunities at work, and improve their leadership and negotiation skills. (…)

    The campaign is part of the MDG3 Decisions for Life project, which focuses on young women workers in eight large occupational groups in the service sector, and aims to achieve better working conditions for young women and increase the number of young women as trade union members and leaders.

    The project already reached more than 100.000 young women workers who now feel empowered to take their decisions in life and related to work and family.  Read more here and check out the new publication: Decisions for Life: Empowering young women workers, it contains stories and experiences of young women who bring about change.

    Women’s stories will be posted  every Monday on the ITUC “Women at Work” blog. Check out the first story here — Experiences of being a call centre worker.

    Huairou Commission to hold first Global Summit on Grassroots Women’s Leadership and Governance. NY, March 3-8, 2011

    02 Mar 2011

    The Huairou Commission, a global network of women’s organizations operating in 54 countries, is hosting the first Global Summit on Grassroots Women`s Leadership and Governance from March 3 – 8, 2011, in New York City.  The Global Summit, which directly follows the 55th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), will be an opportunity for grassroots women working to increase their leadership and participation in national and international decision-making processes to join with other women leaders to share strategies, debate challenges and create platforms for collective action. Grassroots women leaders from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe will further meet with partners and stakeholders from academia, government, NGOs and the private sector to establish partnerships to advance women’s global leadership.

    “Women from urban and rural poor communities across the world are too often seen as passive recipient of aid and services, instead of practitioners and innovators in development,” says Sarah Silliman, Director of Programs at the Huairou Commission. “This global summit provides a unique and necessary exchange space for women activists who are experts in the development needs of their communities to showcase and build on each other’s work.”

    March 7 – 8 marks the main Partnership Summit at which grassroots leaders will share initiatives that reduce local poverty and advance gender equality with policy makers, development workers, researchers and other activists working to empower women as political leaders and decision makers.  The Partnership Summit will identify areas of collaboration between grassroots organizations, professional partners and institutions, and develop a collaborative statement which will outline common objectives and future commitments to empowering grassroots women to represent their priorities and take formal leadership in decision-making processes on local, national and global levels.  This event will be held at The Church Center for the United Nations, 777 First Avenue at 44th Street in Manhattan, New York City.

    At the Grassroots Summit from March 3 – 5, women from low-income communities in 26 countries who have shown exceptional leadership in Huairou’s Governance Campaign and MDG 3 Initiative will exchange successful strategies for community development, and influencing policy and decision-making processes in local and national governments. During three days of workshops, the Grassroots Summit aims to promote cross-regional peer learning, and encourages participants to identify the effects of international geopolitical and institutional arrangements they face locally. As experts on the needs of their communities, local women leaders will establish key organizing benchmarks that promote democratic, gender-equitable development. They will then share their action plans at the Partnership Summit from March 7-8. The Grassroots Summit will be held at Jennings Hall, 260 Powers Street in Brooklyn, New York City.

    About the Huairou Commission Governance Campaign

    Over the past three years, the Huairou Commission Governance Campaign leveraged and invested over $1.5 million from the Dutch government, UN-Habitat and UNDP to initiate and scale up grassroots women’s leadership in local development practices, understanding and engagement in decision-making processes, and partnerships with local authorities and stakeholders. Over 50 grassroots women’s organizations and networks have taken the lead in the Huairou Commission’s Millennium Development Goal 3 and Local to Local Dialogue initiatives, with impressive results they will share at the Summit.

    The Dutch government’s decision to invest directly in grassroots women’s organizations upon realizing that Millennium Goal 3 was lagging behind marks a shift in the attitude of donors toward recognizing the importance of empowering the recipients of aid to take ownership over development processes in their communities. These investments in capacity building and knowledge exchange on the ground have to be maintained in years to come both financially through private and state donors, and institutionally through entities like the new U.N Women. It is only by recognizing and investing in women as key element in global sustainable development that the challenges facing communities the world over will be adequately addressed and overcome.

    For more information on the summit and how to participate, please visit our website www.huairou.org or contact Sarah Silliman at Sarah.Silliman@huairou.org. Phone: 718.388.8915.

    Ordinary Women Have Extraordinary Stories to Tell

    01 Mar 2011

    Loga Virahsawmy. Credit:Courtesy of Loga Virahsawmy

    Rousbeh Legatis interviews LOGA VIRAHSAWMY of Gender Links

    UNITED NATIONS, Mar1, 2011 (IPS) – Ordinary women’s voices are too often ignored when it comes to solving their own problems, admonishes Loga Virahsawmy, Director of the Southern African NGO Gender Links, Mauritius and Francophone Office.

    As a freelance journalist and gender activist, Virahsawmy has spent years analysing how Southern African media cover women, and recently completed a study in 15 countries that showed a discouraging lack of improvement from previous years.

    On the sidelines of the 55th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, Virahsawmy spoke to IPS about the importance of hearing the voices of ordinary women and the shortcomings of mass media. Excerpts from the interview follow. More »

    Contributing to Gender Equality through Creative Methodologies – Isis-WICCE @CSW55

    01 Mar 2011

    Since 1974, Isis-WICCE has continued to promote communication mechanisms amongst women to address violence against women and promote gender equality.  This was reflected through Isis-WICCE’s presentations during the 55th Commission on the Status of Women on Access and Participation of Women and Girls to Education, Science and Technology’.

    Isis-WICCE uses ICTs as a strategy to reclaim women’s human rights. The documentation of women’s experiences of war and peace using video documentaries and digital stories, has contributed to a database of women’s history of war and a record of women’s home grown solutions to peace. The tools are also critical to social change as they show the human face of armed conflict; show indisputable evidence of abuse in advocating for justice and end to impunity; and legitimize violence against women as a crime.  The documentation of women’s peace initiatives affirms the indigenous peace work and the need for women to be at formal peace negotiation processes.  Isis-WICCE has also been accessing technology to women [refugees, professional groupings, first time users] with its first-ever women’s ICT public access [internet café] in Kampala, Uganda.

    Women trained in the public access and in the Exchange programme institute have been able to perform skits and package video-drama to sensitise communities on dangers of violence; and use radio to run programmes for awareness creation.  Further more, Isis-WICCE uses simultaneous interpretation equipment to facilitate bilingual communication of anglo-phone and franco-phone speaking women leaders from conflict regions to share survival strategies; and has used mobile applications and social media blogging to address vulnerabilities for women infected with HIV/AIDS.

    In addressing challenges faced by women with HIV/AIDs, an advocacy message sent to community leaders by women trained in use of mobile telephone applications reads, thus:

    Clan leaders, we call upon you to respect the rights of widows, they have a right to own property. Stop men from grabbing property from widows and orphans [translated from local language]

    Education remains a key driver of economic growth and social change.  Through creative learning and education methodologies, Isis-WICCE has realized shifts in knowledge, skills and behaviour in its peace building and conflict transformation programme with women leaders in S.Sudan. This has in part enhanced the realization of MDG3 [on the need to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment by reducing disparity in education].  Isis-WICCE worked with over 60 women leaders to build their capacities towards being change agents in S.Sudan’s post-conflict processes [2009-to date]. A number of training methodologies were employed to ensure a favourable learning environment for women.

    The methods of delivering training included: undertaking training needs assessment to inform the training modules; use of popular training methodologies such as codes and skits; having women-only space for participants to speak up in a non-intimidating atmosphere; and listening to the participants as part of their healing process on their traumatic experiences of war.

    Other methodologies were: hosting field exchange visits to strategic institutions and sites to acquire coping mechanisms; carrying out centering sessions and meditation processes to raise participants’ spiritual consciousness to development work and recommit them to the work they are doing in the communities; held cross-cultural dances for women to be in touch with their traditions even if many had been displaced from their communities by war; follow-up and support to women over the practical use of the skills; as well as the use of learning-by-doing approach, where women had the opportunity to implement field activities using the skills acquired from the training programme and as a way of giving aback to communities. The above methodologies contributed to a holistic learning and education approach that enabled women leaders to internalize and be able to transfer the skills in their communities.  Fifteen women on the training programmme have already taken up political leadership while others continued to undertake new activities on peace building, involving over 6,000 people in the communities of S.Sudan. In appreciating the programme, one woman leader stated that:

    ..Thank you for allowing me to perform and making other participants dance to my cultural music.  My tribe is a minority as many of our people were killed in war and others have migrated, our tribe is nearly extinct.  I felt good, loved and respected by this gesture.

    The twin-strategies of documentation [using ICTs] and education have contributed to access and participation of women and girls to education, training and technology.  By using international frameworks such as BPfA, UNSCR1325 and MDG3, Isis-WICCE continues to address the challenges faced by women in armed and post conflict settings, and link their issues, voices, concerns and resilience to debates taking places at international levels.

    These interventions have been made possible by the various development partners of Isis-WICCE.

    By Harriet Musoke
    Isis-WICCE

    CSW 55, Parallel Event – Women Transforming the Development Cooperation System and Practices

    28 Feb 2011