• Thursday, August 28, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    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.

    More »

    Women human rights defenders under attack

    10 Dec 2009


    Let’s do a quick review of women and violence in the news in the last weeks.

    What's in the news on Human Rights Day?

    What's in the news on Human Rights Day?

    Why today? Because it’s the last of the 16 Days against Violence against Women, arguably the best known global campaign of the women’s movement, and also Human Rights Day.

    Today, Sahrawi activist Aminatou Haidar starts her fourth week of hunger strike at Lanzarote airport in the Canary Islands. She is so weak she has to be transported to court by wheelchair or stretcher. Last week, the head of UNHCR called on Spain and Morocco to resolve her issue on humanitarian grounds.

    The award-winning Haidar is known as the Sahrawi Gandhi for her non-violent protests for the independence of her desert country, the Western Sahara, ruled by Morocco since 1975.  More »

    Living a woman’s life

    04 Dec 2009


    Today at noon my daughter graduated from high school. In the afternoon, the email brought news about very dear friends.

    Motherhood, sisterhood, friendship.

    Motherhood, sisterhood, friendship.

    In Paris, the Chilean researcher, novelist and feminist Ana (Nicha) Vazquez Bronfman had died, aged 71. She was a beacon for a generation of Latin American women for her insights on identity  and gender. One concept she elaborated specially was “transculturation” – the permanent construction of identities in this world of global migration. In 2006 she wrote superbly about sexuality among the elderly – transgressions and secrets, she called it.

    In Rome, my friend and fellow journalist Paola Rolletta underwent the next to last chemotherapy session against breast cancer. She was jubilant to see the end of the chemical bombardment. Like antiretrovirals, chemo saves lives but is no picnic.   More »

    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.

    More »

    Family health managers

    20 Nov 2009


    Women are the agents of family health in Ethiopia. By M. Sayagues

    Women manage family health in Ethiopia.

    ...on top of all their other duties. By M. Sayagues

    Pics by M. Sayagues

    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 »

    Breakthrough for Women at the UN

    18 Sep 2009


    Guest blogger:  Ann Ninan, IPS Gender Editor

    Is there room for us as well? M. Sayagues

    A breakthrough for us as well? M. Sayagues

    The UN has finally decided to stand up for women!  A decision to create a new agency for women was taken by the General Assembly on September14.

    Our colleague Thalif Deen, IPS bureau chief in New York, was the first and only journalist to report it for the first several hours.

    But this blog is not to crow about our scoop.

    I’m quite excited by the prospect of a new women’s agency with money and political power. No longer will the world’s feminists have to lobby from the outside to put their views on the table. They have now won admission to the high table.

    Any one of those bright, articulate, activist women can emerge to lead the agency. The reality is likely to be less rosy. But chances are that, because it’s new, it will be less under the thumb of the old boy network.

    You think I’m a romantic? What the hell, there is no harm in dreaming, is there?  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 »