International Women’s Day: 8 Women who made the World a better place in 2014 – Part 6 – Mehrezia Labidi


We continue to celebrate the women of the world, Mehrezia Labidinot only on one day, International Women’s Day, but for as long as we can. Enjoy the post, original posted on Huffington Post:

6. Mehrezia Labidi helped enshrine gender equality in Tunisia’s post-Arab Spring constitution.

As vice-president of Tunisia’s constituent assembly, Mehrezia Labidi led the tumultuous debates over the country’s post-Arab Spring constitution. Labidi is the most senior female politician of the ruling Islamist part, Ennahda, and took a firm line for women’s rights throughout the debates, often to the disappointment of her own party. “It’s like giving birth: painful, but in the end everyone is happy when the child arrives,” she told Deutsche Welle.

The constitution that passed in January was celebrated as a breakthrough for women’s rights. Mehrezia Labidi helped push through key gender quality provisions by allying with secular politicians, the BBC explains. “I have always achieved everything I wanted myself. Sometimes I wonder whether men could compete with me,” she told the network.

Mehrzia Laabidi speaks during a Tunisian National Constituent Assembly session in Tunis on Jan. 17, 2014. (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

Mehrzia Laabidi speaks during a Tunisian National Constituent Assembly session in Tunis on Jan. 17, 2014. (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

International Women’s Day: 8 Women who made the World a better place in 2014 – Part 5 – Ukrainian pop icon Ruslana


We continue to celebrate the women of the world, Ukrainian pop icon Ruslananot only on one day, International Women’s Day, but for as long as we can. Enjoy the post, original posted on Huffington Post:

5. Ukrainian pop icon Ruslana became a champion of the country’s protest movement.

Ruslana is one of Ukraine’s most famous pop singers and brought the country to victory at the EuroVision song contest in 2004. She is also a passionate social activist, so when protests against President Viktor Yanukovych erupted last November, Ruslana became a nightly fixture on stage at the protest camp in Kiev, according to Newsweek. “A public person, musician or artist should exercise their civic activism to be the voice of the people,” she told the magazine. The Washington Post reported that some of her performances at the EuroMaidan protest hub lasted up to 10 hours.

When the protest movement was met with brutal repression, eventually leading to Yanukovych’s downfall, Ruslana was devastated but defiant. “We no longer sing or dance, despite the severe cold. We understand that today the fate of the country [that has taken] several decades to come hangs in the balance. Instead of singing, we pray,” she wrote in an email to Newsweek in February. With Yankovych now in exile and tensions high as Russian troops flood Crimea, Ruslana called for the country to join together peacefully. “Ukrainians are strong enough to unite, we understand that propaganda is designed to divide us,” she told the BBC.

Ruslana performs on an anti-government barricade in central Kiev on Feb. 10, 2014. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Ruslana performs on an anti-government barricade in central Kiev on Feb. 10, 2014. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

International Women’s Day: 8 Women who made the World a better place in 2014 – Part 4 on Catherine Samba-Panza


We continue to celebrate the women of the world, Catherine Samba-Panza, not only on one day, International Women’s Day, but for as long as we can. Enjoy the post, original posted on Huffington Post:

4. The Central African Republic’s interim president Catherine Samba-Panza gave a violence-stricken nation new hope.

Catherine Samba-Panza, a women’s rights activist and reconciliation advocate who is known in the Central African Republic as “mother courage,” was selected to lead the country in January amid devastating ethnic clashes that forced more than 1 million people to flee their homes. As CAR’s first female president, she pledged to lead the country away from the circle of bloodshed. “At the very heart of the people, I felt this desire to elect a woman who could bring peace and reconciliation,” Samba-Panza said of her presidency, according to The Guardian. She has a formidable task ahead of her. This week the UN warned of “religious cleansing” and immanent danger to civilians trapped amid the fighting, Reuters reported.

President Catherine Samba-Panza sits in the parliament building before taking the oath of office in Bangui, Central African Republic, Jan. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

International Women’s Day: 8 Women who made the World a better place in 2014 – Part 3 on Azizah Al-Yousef


We continue to celebrate the women of the world, Azizah Al-Yousef , not only on one day, International Women’s Day, but for as long as we can. Enjoy the post, original posted on Huffington Post:

3. Azizah Al-Yousef began a campaign to end Saudi Arabia’s oppressive male guardianship system.

Azizah al-Yousif has been a thorn in the side of Saudi Arabia’s conservative establishment since she launched the October 26 Women’s Driving Campaign last year. In a bid to end the Kingdom’s ban on female drivers, women posted YouTube clips of themselves driving online. “We are sick and tired of waiting to be given our rights,” al-Yousif told CNN at the time. “It’s about time to take our rights.”

Now al-Yousif is pressuring authorities to end the country’s male guardianship system, which forces women to ask the permission of male relatives to travel, work, complete education, get medical treatment or a passport. The Saudi Gazette reports that together with a group of activists, al-Yousif sent a petition to the Kingdom’s Shura council to demand reform. “This petition renews our demands as women. We want our issues to be put on the top of the Council’s priority list,” she said.

Screenshot of a video posted by the Saudi women driving campaign shows Azizah al-Yousif at the wheel. (YouTube/screenshot)

Screenshot of a video posted by the Saudi women driving campaign shows Azizah al-Yousif at the wheel. (YouTube/screenshot)

International Women’s Day: 8 Women who made the World a better place in 2014 – Part 2 on Xiao Meili


We continue to celebrate the women of the world, Xiao Meili, not only on one day, International Women’s Day, but for as long as we can. Enjoy the post, original posted on Huffington Post:

2. Xiao Meili put a taboo subject back on the map.

Xiao Meili set off the remarkable journey in late 2013 to walk more than 1,200 miles between her home in China’s capital Beijing and the southern city Guangzhou to raise awareness of sexual abuse in the country. The 24-year-old woman told Time Magazine she hopes the unusual sight of a female backpacker on China’s roads will draw attention to how authorities handle abuse and will break the social stigma victims often face. At each town along the way, Meili and her supporters post letters to local officials urging them to investigate abuse allegations, screen teachers and improve sex education.

Meili’s journey has developed a popular following on social media and she asks women in each town to walk with her or offer her a couch for the night, according to Global Voices. “China’s traditional idea is that it is dangerous for females to travel alone outside. But conversely, so many sexual abuse cases take place in places we thought were safe like schools and buses,” she told China’s Global Times. “This is not an arduous walk. Each step represents a female protest at society.”

Xiao Meili explains her “feminist walk” in a social media post. (Youku.com/screenshot)

Xiao Meili explains her “feminist walk” in a social media post. (Youku.com/screenshot)

Xiao Meili explains her “feminist walk” in a social media post. (Youku.com/screenshot)

International Women’s Day: 8 Women who made the World a better place in 2014 – Part 1 on Jamila Bayaz


Reblogged

Original posted on Huffington Post:

Happy International Women’s Day! It’s a day we celebrate the women and girls in our lives and also look to others around the world. Today in Budapest, I was out with my boyfriend and was amazed by the sheer number of flower vendors and florists which had just popped up over-night!

As Andrew quipped, the difference between love and lust can really be seen in places like this. We stopped at a florist where I was treated to a beautiful bunch of tulips and he saw a man staggering under the weight of what must have been 30 or 40 long-stemmed red roses. Whereas I was told “not to go too mad and buy the whole shop”!

But I digress – I want to talk about International Women’s Day, not just my Saturday!

Quite often, news outlets and NGOs are quick to share links about the tragedies faced by girls around the world. Malala Yousafzai’s face and story is all over the internet today, alongside stories about the ongoing global struggle against child marriage, rape, torture and abuse.

But this year, I wanted to look at some positive examples of female empowerment and some cheerier stories.

I found this on the Huffington Post and have shamelessly stolen it. I find this is a much more life-affirming way to celebrate women. Let’s look at what has been achieved and what we have to proud of as a global society, because if we keep looking at all the terrible atrocities faced by women every day, we’ll never want to try fighting the fight. These are the sort of stories which keep me motivated to keep writing about women’s rights so I hope you get something out of it too!

1. Afghanistan’s first female police chief showed the world what courage looks like.

Col. Jamila Bayaz was appointed to run security in the Kabul’s District 1 in January, becoming the first woman in such a senior front line role. The mother-of-5 is responsible for policing an area of the Afghan capital that includes the presidential palace, government ministries and the central bank. “This is a chance not just for me, but for the women of Afghanistan,” she told NBC. “I will not waste it. I will prove that we can handle this burden.”

Women in Afghanistan have faced a steep battle to reenter the workforce and public life after the end of the Taliban’s restrictive rule. They still face considerable obstacles including discrimination from an ultraconservative society and the threat of militant attacks. Afghan policewomen have been targeted by insurgents and several women in public office were assassinated in 2013, according to the Associated Press. Bayaz is undaunted: “I am ready to serve, I am not scared nor am I afraid,” she told AP.

jamila bayaz

jamila bayaz

Col. Jamila Bayaz talks on the phone at her office in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

The Soapbox

Happy International Women’s Day! It’s a day we celebrate the women and girls in our lives and also look to others around the world. Today in Budapest, I was out with my boyfriend and was amazed by the sheer number of flower vendors and florists which had just popped up over-night!

As Andrew quipped, the difference between love and lust can really be seen in places like this. We stopped at a florist where I was treated to a beautiful bunch of tulips and he saw a man staggering under the weight of what must have been 30 or 40 long-stemmed red roses. Whereas I was told “not to go too mad and buy the whole shop”!

DSC_0013

But I digress – I want to talk about International Women’s Day, not just my Saturday!

Quite often, news outlets and NGOs are quick to share links about the tragedies faced by girls…

View original post 1,529 more words

International Women’s Day: Say No To Quotas!


Re-blogged from Veritas:

Today is being celebrated the world over as International Women’s Day; a day to celebrate the achievements of those of the fairer sex, while highlighting the work that is still to be done on behalf of women in some of the forgotten corners of our world. Perhaps inevitably the conversation today will turn to towards finding solutions to the real and perceived inequalities facing women. That conversation will undoubtedly rest on quota systems. In fact, a member of the Jamaican Senate has already raised the issue, arguing that it would compensate for the disparity between men and women in the Parliament.  I’m no expert in these matters, and I do not pretend to be – these are my opinions having thought about the issue. I have no doubt that the Senator has good intentions, but I cannot support quotas on the basis of gender, especially in political representation. Here’s why.

women leaders

Quota systems in politics exist to solve inherent or structural inequalities. That is, the state engineers what is thought to be a desired result by allocating or reserving a certain amount of seats in the parliament for women, on the basis that they are women. That would be the first qualifier. While advocacy groups here in Jamaica such as the 51% Coalition have argued that the women who would occupy these reserved seats/spaces are to be qualified, they do not deny that the basic qualifier would be gender. It raises the question, is there inherent and structural inequality in Jamaican politics? By this I mean, are women prevented from running for, and holding public office simply because they are women? Of course not. A female colleague of mine only this morning tweeted that she is thankful to have been born and raised in a country where being a female was not a deterrent or an impediment. We must then question why we need to engineer the democratic process to reflect what we think it ought to look like. This betrays our impatience with the democratic process. We believe the pluralist society we consider ideal is taking shape too slowly for our liking, so we must necessarily meddle, engineer and interfere to suit or preferences. That is dangerous. That is to be rejected.

Quotas amount to affirmative action, and just as any other beneficiary of affirmative action is seen as less than, or only having attained the position they occupy because  whatever predetermined trait commended them to it, and no matter what their independent qualifications are, we run the real risk of them being shadowed by the quota system. It is my considered opinion that such a move would set back the process, rather than further it.

By favouring one sex over another, we are creating an atmosphere of resentment and animosity; the state will be playing favourites. That is not the role of government, that is not the role of the state. We diminish the capacity of women to make advancements on merit, and single them out for special treatment and remedial action. How would this be in their best interest? How would we have advanced the cause of women by using their gender as the predominant qualifier? Am I the only one who finds that offensive?

Finally, there is an inherent problem with quotas which allows for manipulation. The state ought not to play favourites, as mentioned before. Therefore, if we create quotas on the basis of gender, we may have to do it on the basis of race, then religious persuasion, or political persuasion, and possibly even sexual orientation. Only that would be fair. My question is, where would one draw the line? There is an inherent problem with seeking to adopt a strictly pluralist society, and that problem is chaos. While I can appreciate the good intentions of those who propose quotas, I believe it complicates the problem, rather than fixes it. Democracy was not intended to be engineered or manipulated by the state and its agents; it was intended to unfold at the ballot, by the people, through their vote. If the people want more women, Jews, Catholics, homosexuals, Rastafarians, blacks etc. in Parliament, let them vote them in. Do not reserve seats for them because of predetermined characteristics. I cannot support that.

GRASSROOTS JAMAICA

ImageToday is being celebrated the world over as International Women’s Day; a day to celebrate the achievements of those of the fairer sex, while highlighting the work that is still to be done on behalf of women in some of the forgotten corners of our world. Perhaps inevitably the conversation today will turn to towards finding solutions to the real and perceived inequalities facing women. That conversation will undoubtedly rest on quota systems. In fact, a member of the Jamaican Senate has already raised the issue, arguing that it would compensate for the disparity between men and women in the Parliament.  I’m no expert in these matters, and I do not pretend to be – these are my opinions having thought about the issue. I have no doubt that the Senator has good intentions, but I cannot support quotas on the basis of gender, especially in political representation. Here’s why.

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