by Jane Martinson, The Guardian, UK - Last month, in a fit of anger, Laura Bates tweeted a screenshot of a Facebook page called "Drop kicking sluts in the teeth" to the beauty company Dove. Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism project, had become increasingly frustrated by how difficult it was to persuade Facebook to take down what she and many others perceive as gender-based hate speech – so she decided to contact those who advertise on the site instead. Dove's logo and ad appeared on that same page, and the beauty company's response was swift. They made it clear they don't choose the pages on which their ads appear, while also pledging to resolve the issue. Bates was pleased by how seriously they had taken the situation. She started contacting other advertisers, who responded similarly, with one, a web-hosting company, stating it would remove all its ads from Facebook.
By Katerina Zacharia, Role Reboot, US - As we drank our coffee that night, I tried to see my life and career through his eyes. I realized that when he worked in the city, women weren’t at dinner meetings. And women who were, well, that was not the scenario into which he wanted to insert his daughter. He struggled enough to make sense of my life as a single mother, sole parent living far from her family.
by Zubeida Mustafa, Dawn, Pakistan - Election 2013 has proved to be an enigma. We are a people in a hurry and immediately after the polling took place on May 11 we had started jumping to conclusions. The facts had still not been ascertained fully, and without facts (and figures in the case of polling which is essentially a numbers game) how can one form informed opinions? What we have is a babble of judgements pronounced in line with the political leanings of various observers and on the basis of reports — not all of them authentic — circulating on the internet and in the media.
by Christiane Hoffmann, Der Spiegel, Germany - The German left used to have a corner on the market when it came to progressive social issues. But Chancellor Merkel has transformed the conservatives, attracting huge quantities of women voters along the way. They've become a hot political commodity in this year's upcoming election, with the opposition struggling to catch up.
by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, The Atlantic, USA - In 2009, Afghan President Hamid Karzai used his powers of presidential decree to put a law to protect women on the books. This weekend the measure failed to gain parliamentary approval, raising once more the question of whether women's legal rights will be a casualty of Afghanistan's political and security transition.
by Hazel Healy, New Internationalist, UK - Mixed in between the sunflowers, you can see the tips of pine trees, peering over the rim of settlements. And then, plots of pine and eucalyptus, which alternate with the standing maize. These clumps of fast-growing, exotic trees belong to the forest entrepreneurs. Six companies are fighting to get a foothold; the biggest investor is Chikweti Forests of Niassa. Funded by mostly Scandinavian but also European and US capital, they have grand plans. Together, they have planted around 32,000 hectares on 50-year leases, but aim for close to 600,000. If they succeed, Niassa will become home to the largest expanse of industrial forestry in Africa. A company PowerPoint presentation optimistically predicts tens of thousands of jobs and 22 trucks thundering along this road every hour, come 2035.
by Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon.com, USA - It’s yet another story of how social media can apparently become a tool for abuse — and evidence of it. But the lesson seems all wrong. In Chicago this weekend, prosecutors announced three teenaged boys will be tried as adults for aggravated criminal sexual assault after allegedly raping a 12-year-old girl — and posting a video of the attack on Facebook.
by Rebecca Solnit, Middle East Online, UK - Ten years ago, my part of the world was full of valiant opposition to the new wars being launched far away and at home -- and of despair. And like despairing people everywhere, whether in a personal depression or a political tailspin, these activists believed the future would look more or less like the present. If there was nothing else they were confident about, at least they were confident about that. Ten years ago, as a contrarian and a person who prefers not to see others suffer, I tried to undermine despair with the case for hope.
A decade later, the present is still contaminated by the crimes of that era, but so much has changed. Not necessarily for the better -- a decade ago, most spoke of climate change as a distant problem, and then it caught up with us in 10,000 ways. But not entirely for the worse either -- the vigorous climate movement we needed arose in that decade and is growing now. If there is one thing we can draw from where we are now and where we were then, it’s that the unimaginable is ordinary, and the way forward is almost never a straight path you can glance down, but a labyrinth of surprises, gifts, and afflictions you prepare for by accepting your blind spots as well as your intuitions.
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, USA - 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?)