• Wednesday, July 23, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    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 »

    Putting a value on our work

    24 Sep 2009


    Guest blogger: Miren Gutierrez, IPS editor-in-chief

    Seven PM at the supermarket. After a long day at the office, she is standing in line to pay for groceries to make dinner, stealing glances at her watch, grappling with two young kids who want her to buy some chewing gum…

    Unequal sharing of the work pie. M. Sayagues

    Unequal sharing of the work pie. M. Sayagues

    Does this picture ring a bell? Survey after survey across the world report that women put in between 20 and 30 hours a week of domestic and family work. Unseen, unsung and unpaid, yes, but not insignificant.

    Unpaid work in the home, done mainly by women, is estimated at approximately 50 percent of all productive activity even in industrial countries, and as much as 60-70 percent in many developing countries,” says Hazel Henderson in an interview with IPS.  More »

    Missing the Point? A critical review of MDG

    14 Sep 2009


    Next time you read a story or a press release moaning about how country X will not reach the Millennium Development Goals, think twice – whose goal and whose target is it? We know the deadline but do we know the baseline?

    Instead of striking a balance between ambition and realism, the MDGs have become “money-metric and donor-centric”, “meaningless catch-all phrases.”

    So says Jan Vandemoortele, a Belgian national, a United Nations senior official and one of the architects of the MDGs, in a thought-provoking article in the July issue of  Development Policy Review of the Overseas Development Institute. (read it here)

    Unrealistic? A crowded classrom in Guinea Bissau...

    Unrealistic goal? A crowded classroom in Guinea Bissau...

    The author recalls that the MDGs were set up in 2000 as collective targets based on extrapolations of global trends.  They are vague by definition; they are not one-size-fits-all.

    Instead, one should look at countries’ historical backgrounds, natural endowments and specific problems, then adapt the Goals to each circumstance, as Mozambique, Cambodia and Ethiopia have done.

    Otherwise, this puts undue pressure on the poorest countries and, given that most of these are in Africa, nurtures Afro-pessimism.

    For example, the global target for education “is not realistic” for countries in conflict, he says.                              More »

    Italian Women – The Horror

    10 Sep 2009


    Guest blogger: Miren Gutierrez, IPS editor-in-chief

    Have you seen the Italian documentary Il corpo delle donne (available with English subtitles)?

    It is horrifying, like a horror movie.

    “Women –real women— are an endangered species on television, one that is being replaced by a grotesque, vulgar and humiliating representation,” says an introduction to the documentary by Lorella Zanardo.
    women_han_
    This picture shows a woman hanged from the ceiling, like a ham, surrounded by legs of ham. This and other images, taken from real TV shows, speak for themselves.

    Il corpo delle donne is a 25-minute terrifying documentary that undresses the degradation of women in Italian television. More »

    Runner Caster Semenya: gender, sex and discrimination

    26 Aug 2009


    Open letter by South African gender activists

    Courtesy of Zapiro, Mail & Guardian

    Courtesy of Zapiro, Mail & Guardian

    Some of those championing Caster Semenya’s cause accuse those wanting to sex-test Caster of imperialism and racism (as well as sexism). Others plead to wait before reaching a verdict, arguing that the realities of sex testing are enormously complex

    Firstly to address the issue of terminology, over which there seems to be confusion. Gender is the dominant society’s views on how women and men should look, behave, what roles they should play in society, how they should perform and frequently what rewards they receive – hence gender inequity. This has usually led to lower status and discrimination against girls/women but has increasingly been seen as limiting the options and potentially harming boys/men too.

    Gender is not a politically correct term for sex. Sex testing would be just that – establishing whether a person is biologically female or male. So gender testing is not the term that should be used this case, but sex testing. More »

    Whose pleasure? Notes about male circumcision and female sexuality

    24 Aug 2009


    Guest blogger: Pierre Brouard, Deputy Director, Centre for the Study of Aids, University of Pretoria, South Africa

    Permanent erection, permanent pleasure?

    Hard task: defining sexual pleasure. Photo: M. Sayagues

    So what headlines have grabbed you lately about male circumcision in South Africa? These caught my eye:

    “The death toll in the Eastern Cape’s winter circumcision season has risen to 31”
    “Circumcision ‘scam’ probed”
    “Two on run after initiate dies”

    As alarming and distressing as these headlines are – and the sad, desperate and greedy subtexts embedded in them – they don’t say much about the other big debate that is raging across southern Africa: the value of male circumcision to prevent HIV acquisition in heterosexual men, and what’s in it for women. More »

    Star Trek hopelessly outdated

    07 Aug 2009


    Guest posting by Miren Gutierrez, IPS editor-in-chief

    Master and commander - a male.

    So 1960s...Star Trek masters and commanders are all men.

    The other day I saw Star Trek. What an uncreative film. Listen, women: in the year 2387, men will still wear the pants and command the ship, while leggy women are busy being ornamental in mini skirts.

    I don’t expect films to campaign for human rights, especially films of this nature. Space odysseys just have to be entertaining, surprising, ingenious. But Star Trek was just unimaginative, reproducing the social prejudices of the sixties, when the TV series on which this film is based started. As if nothing had changed…

    More »

    Women, justice and memory

    29 Jun 2009


    Remembering in Rwanda. Courtesy Anne Aghion

    Remembering in Rwanda. Courtesy Anne Aghion

    What happens when the relatives of the murdered confront their murderers? What happens if they have to live with the murderers?

    This is the theme of “My neighbour, my killer”, a film about Rwanda’s extraordinary attempt at reconciliation. This documentary by Anne Aghion, which premiered in New York two weeks ago at the Human Rights Watch film festival, follows a gacaca or community court during five years.

    Rwanda has set up some 12, 000 gacaca where killers face the relatives of those they killed during the genocide in 1994. (Read an interview with Aghion here).

    More »