• Tuesday, October 21, 2014
  • 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/


    CSW 56: Week Two

    09 Mar 2012

    Catch up on our coverage from the past week, below, as the United Nations’ 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women comes to a close. Click here for coverage from week one.

    Female construction workers in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian women have been making headway in traditionally male-dominated fields. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

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    Muslim Women Leaders: at the Frontlines of Change

    07 Oct 2011

    New York City – The American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) announced the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality (WISE)  Conference to be held October 14-17, 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey.  “Soon the world will witness how Muslim women activists, scholars, politicians jurists and poets have assumed leadership roles largely perceived to be restricted to Muslim men, ” says Daisy Khan, Executive Director of ASMA and the organizer of this conference.

    Over one hundred and seventy five Muslim women leaders of diverse backgrounds and religious ideologies from 45 countries, from Senegal to Pakistan from Saudi Arabia to Kazakhstan, will participate in Muslim Women Leaders: At the Frontlines of Change, a global conference of WISE, a program of ASMA.

    This timely convening will highlight how Muslim women are shattering stereotypes by playing significant roles as key leaders in their societies. “Our goal is to legitimize a coherent global movement, highlighting the ground breaking advancements of powerful Muslim women who are sharing and  building on their individual experiences,” adds Khan.

    Top leaders attending the conference include Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General Dr. Nafis Sadik; Palestine’s first female judge, Judge Kholoud Al Faqeeh appointed to the Shariah Court; Esin Celebi, the descendant of the 13th century poet Rumi; Notable female Spiritual Sheikha’s Aisha Rafea (Egypt) and Seemi Ghazi (Canada); Pakistan’s Shahina Akbar a lawyer who recently was elected as a Member of Parliament.

    The conference will focus on the key roles Muslim women play in Politics, Civics & Business and Spirituality, featuring provocative debates and successful case studies including from Jamila Afghani, an educator from Afghanistan, who will showcase a unique approach to training Imams on women’s rights in Kabul and Jalalabad.

    A special session will be dedicated to women who ignited the Arab Spring. Political activists Asma Mahfouz (Egypt) will recap how she called upon Egyptians to join her on January 25th in Tahrir Square; and Nimah Nawwab (Saudi Arabia) will address voting rights for Saudi women as granted by King Abdullah and also highlight obstacles faced by Saudi Women; and Afra Jalabi a Syrian Canadian will discuss how her compatriots are maintaining a non-violent movement in the context of state brutality.

    Finally, the conference will announce the vision for the first Muftiyyah Doctoral program which will educate contemporary Muslim women to become full-fledged jurists capable of issuing fatwas. Accompanying this, the Muslim Women’s Shura Council, a global body of scholars and activists will present a religious justification for Muslim women’s leaderships in all spheres of society.

    A special Turkish panel with Cemalnur Sargut a prominent Turkish Spiritual leader joined by  Nazli Kayahan, Dilek Guldutuna and Nese Tas titled  “A Woman’s Place in Islam – Views from Turkish Women”  will provide a unique lens  into Turkish women’s interaction with Islam.

    Joining their sisters in faith will be an interfaith panel of Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn, Reverand Gwynne Guibord and Dr. Rita Sherma who will share their experiences as women spiritual leaders in Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism.

    Contact Information :
    Daisy Khan daisy@asmasociety.org
    Dominic Bocci: Dominic@asmasociety.org Ph: 212 870 2552 (ASMA)
    Caitlyn Bolton: cb@cordobainitiative.org Ph: 212 870 2552 (Cordoba Initiative)

    Website: www.asmasociety.orgwww.wisemuslimwomen.org

    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 »

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CEDAW!

    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.

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    WORLD AIDS DAY 2009

    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.

    A spiritual gift

    23 Nov 2009

    Patriarchal in all senses. By M. Sayagues

    Patriarchal in all senses. By M. Sayagues

    What drives a 17-year-old girl to enter a monastery? Today she is 30, and still happy about her choice. Her eyes sparkle and her laughter comes easy. She exudes peace.

    I will call her Gabra (gift, in Amharic), for our conversation was private. I met her at a monastery near Lalibela, the mystical city of rock-hewn churches in northern Ethiopia.

    Monastic life has a long tradition and prestige in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The oldest monastery dates from the 6th century. A monastic renaissance between the 13th and 16th century brought great moral and political authority to clergy.

    Custodians of tradition

    Custodians of tradition

    Gabra’s rock-hewn monastery dates from the 12th century. Her room is excavated in the pink tufa rock. Two built-in-the-rock platforms, covered with a thin mattress, do as couch and bed. An old cupboard holds a few plates and cooking utensils, three of the long green robes worn by Ethiopian peasants, the white headscarves that nuns wear, and two pairs of sandals.

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    Red light for Burqa-wearing drivers in Bahrain

    05 Oct 2009

    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 »

    HILARIOUS CONDOM ADS

    21 Sep 2009

    Gender Masala has been dealing with serious topics seriously …it’s time for a fun break!  Check out these hilarious condom ads from several continents. They make safe sex fun.

    Make safe sex fun. By M. Sayagues

    Make safe sex fun. By M. Sayagues

    Ranging  from sassy dialogue to black humour, these are one-minute comedies with a smart punchline. The Mother from Hell and the Spoiled Brat skits have a Borat-like humour.  And who would have thought a condom ad from India would depict anal sex?

    Click on the ad from Argentina even if you don’t speak Spanish.  Everybody who has been a teenager will chuckle about these teens, their parents and their predicament. (Watch it here)

    Laughing got me thinking about how seldom one sees humorous ads about condoms in English-speaking Southern Africa. I have seen some cool ads in Mozambique, though – I think there were Brazilian advisors involved. More »