• Wednesday, October 22, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    Women Empowering Women

    by prize winning feminist researcher Wendy Harcourt

    Why has ‘gender’ emerged as a key area of development funding in these days of reduced funds for development? How has the MDG3 Fund helped catalyze progress towards achievement of the 2015 MDG3 on gender equality and women’s empowerment? How are women overcoming violence against women, gaining economic independence, fighting for land rights and becoming more involved in decision making?

    10 inside stories on ten projects reveal how the MDG3 Fund has helped women to help end social discrimination and rights injustices and to catalyze transformative changes in women’s and communities lives worldwide.

    Using Law for Rural Women’s Empowerment in West Africa (WiLDAF-AO)

    24 Nov 2011

    How to translate rights and legal entitlements into reality for many rural women who do not know how to claim their rights nor how to seek redress over unfair treatment? Credit: Suleiman Mbatiah/IPS

    Agriculture is key to women’s livelihoods in rural West Africa and to the survival of the national economies. But despite women’s crucial work on the farms women’s rights to land ownership, control and access to land continues to be neglected.

    The importance of African women farmers has been long recognized in international development since the famous study by Ester Boserup in 1970 a message that continues to be underlined in major reports such 2010-2011 UN State of Food and Agriculture Report on ‘Women and Agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development’. More »

    Building Feminist Resistance in Iraq: OWFI

    22 Nov 2011

    OWFI women demonstrate in Baghdad raising slogans of change, right to work, and equality.

    Whereas the world in 2011 has heard of the Arab Spring and the thousands who gathered in Cairo, very few have heard of the Feb. 25, 2011 Day of Anger in the other Tahrir Square – in Baghdad.

    Nor do people follow this weekly Friday gathering of Iraqi women and men who demand their basic rights to work, water and electricity – along with the establishment of true democracy and an end to corruption and the occupation.

    The Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) has been among those demonstrating at high risk to their own security. On Jun. 10 of this year, 100 days after the government promised to meet pro-democracy demands, activists who gathered in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square were brutally attacked by plainclothes forces. Women meeting under the OWFI banner were sexually assaulted.

    More »

    Building Feminist Democracy in Mesoamerica: Just Associates (JASS)

    14 Nov 2011

    JASS Mesoamerica Regional Allies

    Latin America is a region where the global community is increasingly looking for leadership in the search for alternatives to neoliberal capitalism. The term buen vivir, or ‘good living’, is at the heart of efforts in the region to forge a more democratic and just development that rejects the violence of modern economic and militarised development. The region has suffered a violent, racist and sexist past in the name of modernity.

    Rejecting this, countries like Ecuador and Bolivia are trying to balance indigenous ways of living with community and nature and local and global notions of  economic progress. Throughout the region, governments are learning – painfully at times – that it is crucial to work not just with powerful international forces but also with their own civil society, listening to the voices of the poor men and women. More »

    Completing the Revolutions for Arab Women: Coalition Building by Karama

    07 Nov 2011

    Women protesting in Syria. Credit Karama

    The world continues to watch the Arab Spring as we head for 2011/12 winter, with some trepidation. Although one woman Tawakkul Karman of Yemen from the Region has been honoured with a Noble Peace Prize, all those women who took to the streets, blogged, tweeted, risked lives and made the revolution happen may well find themselves struggling against a backlash. During the revolution activists such as Esraa Abdel Fatah (known as “Facebook Girl” after organizing a nation-wide strike through her page in 2008) commented on how women were not violated during the protests. But now there are stories of women harassed and attacked once more post revolution the fight to end violence against women has to be an ever-vigilant demand. More »

    Mobilizing poor working women for economic equality: Women in Informal Employment: Globalisation and Organizing (WIEGO)

    25 Oct 2011

    Street Vendors. Credit: WIEGO

    In sharp contrast to the message of the 2011 World Bank Report on Gender and Equality that gender equality is ‘smart economics’ Women in Informal Employment Globalisation and Organising (WIEGO) makes no bones about it – women’s economic equality is the ONLY fair and just economics. WIEGO is not about ‘corrective development policy’ but about organizing and doing. Unlike the Bank, WIEGO does not see women as an investment but recognizes that women are the backbone of the ‘informal’ work force, the real economic work on the ground that sustains the livelihoods of millions of poor families and communities. Regardless of the development trends, and right now it seems gender is ‘in’ as the Bank’s flagship Report attests,  domestic workers, small producers, home-based workers, street vendors are keeping themselves and their families alive. WIEGO aims to support poor women’s work by ensuring they have the information and can mobilize around their rights to security and safety and a fair level of earnings. More »

    Creating a counter culture to violence: Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML)

    03 Oct 2011

    By Wendy Harcourt

    Acid sprayed on two Afghani school girls on their way to school, a 15 year old Pakistani girl found dead, killed by her brother, a son killing his mother for a suspected affair in Uttar Pradesh, these are just a few of the ‘honour killings’ reported by Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) in 2011. ‘Violence is Not Our Culture’ campaign coordinated by Women Living Under Muslim Laws seeks to put an end to violence perpetrated in the name of religion and culture in Muslim countries. With the support of the MDG3 Fund WLUML strengthens women’s individual and collective struggles for equality and their rights, in Muslim contexts where women’s lives are shaped, conditioned or governed by laws and customs said to be derived from Islam. The MDG3 Fund is supporting their work specifically in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal and Sudan. More »

    Nobel Women’s Initiative Celebrating women’s leadership and vision: In Memory of Wangari Maathai

    03 Oct 2011

    Wangari Maathai (1940-2011). Credit: The Green Belt Movement.

    By Wendy Harcourt

    The loss of Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday 25 September has been felt around the world. Feminists, environmentalists, Presidents, spiritual and UN leaders, peace activists, women and men, mourn for the passing of the Nobel Laureate. As a leader and fighter, and founder of the Greenbelt Movement in 1977 she connected African vision, knowledge and action to end environmental degradation and human rights violations of women.

    As well as her great work for Kenya and women world wide through the Greenbelt Movement, another initiative that Wangari Maathai led with vision and wisdom was the Nobel Women’s Initiative. More »

    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 »