by Zubeida Mustafa, Dawn, Pakistan - As a new government enters the corridors of power in Sindh it will find itself empowered with an innovative and sensible document that lays down the gender guidelines for official policies in the province. It was a smart move on the part of the Sindh Women Development Department to launch its Provincial Policy for Women Empowerment two days before the elections. One significant objective of this document is to “mainstream the women’s perspective in all development work and governance.”
by Kathleen B. Jones, Open Democracy, UK- It is time to give Firestone her due. Rereading her today, more than forty years after her work made its best-selling debut, I am struck (again) by the visceral power of her argument and the urgency with which she proffered her case for feminist revolution. It’s no wonder that many women, myself included, credit this book with changing their lives. Even if we disagreed with some of her most imaginative musings, she opened our eyes to the deep-rootedness of women’s oppression.
by Leisa Sánchez, IPS News, Italy - At the age of 20, Damián Valencia speaks knowledgeably about every aspect of gender equality. He is a member of Cascos Rosa, a young people’s initiative working for cultural change against machismo and violence against women in Ecuador. “We seek and promote gender equality and equal rights and opportunities for men and women,” said Valencia, one of the founders of the network of young people – originally all men – united against machismo, whose members call themselves Cascos Rosa (Pink Helmets).
by Asel Kalybekova, EurasiaNet, US - Seven years ago Aijan was walking home from her waitressing job in central Bishkek with two girlfriends. They did not notice the three men following them. As two men tackled the other women, one dragged Aijan, 21 at the time, into a waiting car.
by Shazia Mirza, The Dawn, Pakistan - I will be thinking of all the women who have been denied the basic right to express any kind of silent opinion. Who have been denied the right to put any mark on any ballot paper that may make a change to their already powerless and dictated existence.
by Kaori Shoji, Japan Times, Japan - This bilingual thing … they say that it’s a both curse and a blessing. Watakushigotode kyōshukudesuga (私事で恐縮ですが, A thousand pardons for having the gall to talk about myself), but I think of it more like a stigma. It’s not the same for millenials — they were born and raised in a kinder and more lenient Japan, whereas us old-timer eigo-tsukai (英語使い, English-speakers) have had it tough since day one.
by Janet Gunter, Global Voices, Netherlands - Against a backdrop of growing concern about ‘land grabs‘ in Africa and the conversion of smallholder agriculture to large-scale commercial agriculture, a leak from a controversial economic development plan has raised alarm in Mozambique, as well as Brazil and Japan, two key donors.
by Sonia Perez Diaz, The Independent, UK - Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt's conviction of genocide is a historic moment in a country still healing from a brutal, three-decade civil war and his trial offered Guatemala's oppressed indigenous communities their first chance to be heard, human rights activists said.
by Katrin Kuntz, Der Spiegel, Germany - Not far from the glistening beaches of Bali, mentally ill people are kept in chains or locked up in small shacks. Locals simply don't know what else to do with them. But psychiatrist Luh Ketut Suryani has made it her job to set them free.
by Dahlia Scheindlin, +972, Israel - It’s simple sexual harassment – not a uniquely Israeli problem. One of the top television news personalities in the country, Emmanuel Rosen, has been accused by a large number of women of harassment over the years and there are rumors of rape. After a lengthy expose in Haaretz on April 26 (Hebrew) aired the claims of about 10 female colleagues, he went on leave of absence from Channel 10. The police began an “examination” which as of Monday turned into a formal “investigation.” Here in Israel it is a major news story making the headlines almost every day since it broke at the end of April.
by Shahira Amin, RIA Novosti, Russia - Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter on May 5, and crowds thronged the streets near the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo’s Abbassiya district. Traditionally, Easter is a time of celebration and joy here, as Coptic Christians mark the resurrection of Christ, and end their forty day fast. But the mood this year was somber, marred by the memory of a brutal attack on the Cathedral by security forces a month ago.
by Zubeida Mustafa, Dawn, Pakistan - At a time when secular-thinking liberal Pakistanis are under attack from the Taliban, reading Azadi’s Daughter by Seema Mustafa (no relative) proved to be a thought-provoking exercise for me.
Sub-titled Journey of a Liberal Muslim — that is how the author describes herself — the book resonated with me powerfully although India and Pakistan are believed to be worlds apart politically, socially and culturally.
But are they? Fahmida Riaz created quite an uproar in New Delhi when she categorically pronounced a few years ago, “Tum bilkul hum jaisey nikley/ Ab tak kahan chupay thay bhai”. (You turned out to be just like us/ Where were you all along, brother?)
By Emily Heist Moss, Role Reboot, USA - In 2004, pregnant and waddling across the expanses of Google’s parking lot, Sheryl Sandberg realized something obvious: There should be parking spaces reserved for expectant mothers. She made the case to the CEOs and they promptly agreed and accommodated. There had been no hostility, only obliviousness; no one at the top had ever been pregnant before. Until that moment, that point of view had never had the ear of the CEOs.
by Sarah Campbell, Open Democracy, UK - Alarming numbers of parents are being separated from their children indefinitely in the UK for the purposes of immigration control. It is difficult to imagine any other situation where children could have such scant attention paid to their welfare, says Sarah Campbell.
by Anne Wolf, Good Governance Africa, South Africa - Was it coincidence or was it deliberate? Following the January 2013 terrorist attack at the natural-gas complex in the Saharan town of In Amenas, the Algerian government once again spurned the adoption of modern mobile phone standards. The government blamed administrative procedures for its decision. Others viewed this rejection as the regime’s latest step to curb dissent.
by Lucy Siegle, The Guardian, UK - A week on, the Rana Plaza catastrophe in Bangladesh is now the deadliest catastrophe in the history of the garment industry, with the death toll exceeding 500. The gruesome accounts of rescuers cutting off limbs from trapped workers (sometimes without anaesthesia) surely leaves a stain on brands that no new collection, celebrity endorsement or micro-trend can wash away? Doesn't it?
by Ángela Meléndez, IPS News, Italy - The Constitution of Ecuador adopted in 2008 establishes a broad range of rights for indigenous peoples and nationalities, including the right to prior consultation, which gives them the opportunity to influence decisions that affect their lives. Nevertheless, recent mining and oil drilling projects have put the government’s commitment to respecting the right to consultation to the test, and spurred indigenous organisations to take action.
by Naomi Klein, The Nation, USA - The movement demanding that public interest institutions divest their holdings from fossil fuels is on a serious roll. At last count, there were active divestment campaigns on 305 campuses and in more than 100 US cities and states. The demand has spread to Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Britain. And though officially launched just six months ago, the movement can already claim some provisional victories: four US colleges have announced their intention to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks and bonds, and in late April ten US cities made similar commitments, including San Francisco (Seattle came on board months ago). But I now realize that an important target is missing from the list: the environmental organizations themselves.
by Lys Anzia, Women News Network, USA - Standing on top of centuries of history within Tibetan Buddhism the Nobel Peace Laureate known privately as Tenzin Gyatso, and publicly as a monk called His Holiness The Dalai Lama, has once again voiced his controversial wishes that the next choice for the 15th Dalai Lama after his death should be a woman. It does not come as a surprise by many of his supporters that the Dalai Lama is innovative in his approach to the old tradition. The Dalai Lama has been an avid supporter for many years of women who are working for human rights, compassion and a better world.
by Zubeida Mustafa, Dawn, Pakistan - In the ongoing violence-stricken election campaign there is a lot of talk about the economy and how that needs to be fixed to improve people’s lives. The political parties in the fray have apparently come to realise that public discontent focuses on the rising level of unemployment, spiralling inflation and growing poverty.
Hence the candidates have responded to popular concerns by making promises that offer the people a heaven on earth. The party manifestos are full of populist rhetoric meant to appease the voters. Those who understand the flaws in the official system and know that structural changes are needed to rectify the wrongs can see through the hollow pledges being made and the inadequacy of the approach adopted. It is therefore not strange that all parties shy away from specifics, and strategies in various sectors are not even defined.