We've compiled a series of articles related to women and health/medicine, development, law, culture and human rights. Click the headlines to view the original articles. You are welcome to share this news brief with friends. We would love to hear your feedback on the articles in the Piazza discussion forum.
The Untold Story of the Ukrainian Revolution
Foreign Policy in Focus (Natalia Karbowska) - February 27th, 2014
Anti-government protests have rocked Ukraine, where the government has responded with violence. In just a week, over 80 people were killed when the government cracked down. Many citizens are looking to try President Viktor Yanukovych [since deposed] on charges of mass murder. During the uprising, women refused to stand by the sidelines or defer to male activists by "working in the kitchen." Women broadly mobilized in support of the opposition, acting as lawyers, teaching self-defense courses, and braving government-sanctioned violence and the threat of arrest.
Women in the Workplace & Economic Development
20 years of progress and challenges in women’s equality and empowerment - report
Thomson Reuters Foundation (Lisa Anderson) - February 12th, 2014
A recent report from the United Nations Population Fund finds that, although women have gained rights in many countries, in no country do women have as much political or economic power as men and many challenges still remain. The report was released 20 years after the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development that “changed the face of women’s rights.” This article discusses many of the report’s positive and negative findings.
Saudi Newspaper Appoints First Female Editor
Wall Street Journal (Ahmed Al Omran) - February 17th, 2014
A Saudi Arabian English-language newspaper recently became the first Saudi newspaper with a female editor-in-chief when Somayya Jabarti took on the role last week. The former editor-in-chief of the newspaper appointed Jabarti and said, "It was not a question of gender but of merit that decided and earned her this opportunity."
Politics Counts: Why ‘Women’s Issues’ Won’t Bridge the Gender Gap
Wall Street Journal (Dante Chinni) - February 14th, 2014
This article has an informative chart that shows the issues that "should be an absolute priority for 2014" separated by gender. More women than men believed that increasing minimum wage and withdrawing almost all combat troops from Afghanistan qualified as absolute priorities, while more men than women believed that reforming intelligence system with more oversight should be a priority.
"Women's empowerment, women's rights must be part of development agenda"
Association For Women’s Rights in Development - AWID (Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kygryzstan) - February 24th, 2014
Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan Statement to 58th Session on CSW. The Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan is a non-profit that recently released a statement outlining many of the discriminations and discrepancies that women in Kyrgyzstan face. The statement continues to describe many changes that need to be implemented to empower women in Kyrgyzstan among which include political empowerment, education for girls, enforcement of anti-violence laws, the halt of bride kidnapping, and polygamy.
Sustainable Development Goals: Where Do Gender Equality and Women’s Rights Stand?
Association For Women’s Rights in Development - AWID (Alejandra Scampini) - February 28th, 2014
AWID takes a close look at to what extent a series of conversations between governments and civil societies about sustainable development goals have considered women's rights and gender equity.
Law & Policy
Hamid Karzai orders changes to draft law amid fears for Afghan women
The Guardian (Emma Graham- Harrison) - February 17th, 2014
President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has listened to protestors who are against the newly proposed Afghani law that would prevent relatives of victims of domestic violence from testifying in court. Karzai has "backed away from [the] law" and has decided that the law must be amended.
Fighting for Women’s Rights in Swat Valley
France 24 (Taha Siddiqui) - February 27th, 2014
In one region of Taliban-controlled Pakistan women are standing up against the existing practice of elderly men controlling justice and enforcing the law. Women have formed their own justice system, known as the jirga, so that women's legal issues, such as those regarding honor killings and dowry, are no longer resolved by men alone.
Rollback of Women’s Rights: Not Just in Afghanistan
National Geographic (Eve Conant) - February 20th, 2014
In Afghanistan, 87% of women have experienced violence and only 2% own land. This article details some of the rollbacks of women's rights in the Arab world, including the new controversial domestic violence law in Afghanistan that prevents relatives of a battered woman to testify on her behalf in court even if they witnessed the crime. The article also describes a series of new Indonesian laws that require that women wear the hijab, ban them from straddling motorcycle, and legalize FGM. Virginity tests have also been proposed in Indonesia.
Women’s Rights Advance in Morocco
Israel National News (Dalit Halevy, Tova Dvorin) - February 24th, 2014
A women's rights advance happened in Morocco when the government banned a loophole in the law that previously allowed men guilty of sexual assault to girls under 18 to escape jail time if they married their victim. The suicide of one such 16 year old girl who were forced to marry her attacker prompted the changes to the law.
South Africa’s Law to Stop Hate Crimes Against Gays
Association for Women’s Rights in Development - AWID (IPS News) - FEbruary 14th, 2014
In South Africa, some lesbians fear becoming victims of "corrective rape," during which men rape lesbians in the name of making them straight. A new policy called the "Policy Framework on Combating Hate Crimes, Hate Speech and Unfair Discrimination" will be the foundation for a new law that will punish hate crimes, including those against the LGBT community and racial attacks.
Violence Against Women and Sexual Minorities
For Defying Village Rules in India, A Penalty of Rape
Wall Street Journal (Preetika Rana) - February 20th, 2014
A village chief and 12 other villagers raped a local woman when they learned about her plans to marry a Muslim man who was not a part of their community. The article describes how this "rough justice" is common across many parts of rural India as a means to "enforce traditional social norms." The woman was also made to pay a $800 fine for wanting to marry outside of the community. One man from the same village stated, "I think it's a very lenient punishment for the crime they committed." He also believes that the woman faked the rape and that she "should have been prepared to face the consequences of having relations with a man outside her community."
Sri Lanka Denounces Push to Open War Inquiry
New York Times (Gardiner Harris and Dharisha Bastians) - February 25th, 2014
The Sri Lankan government recently denied the UNHCR's call for an "independent international investigation" regarding international war crimes committed in Sri Lanka. Increased sexual violence in the northern part of Sri Lanka was among the issues that the UNHCR wanted to investigate.
Many in China Can Now Have a Second Child, but Say No
New York Times (Dan Levin) - February 25th, 2014
Due to the rising cost of childrearing, many families are not expressing interest in having more children, despite the changes to the One Child Policy which would allow them to do so. The new policy enables married couples in which just one parent (instead of both) is an only child to have a second baby. While the policy enables between 5-20 million couples to have more kids, only about half are planning to do so according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Seven months pregnant and working in the fields
BBC News (Sonia Narang) - February 23rd, 2014
This article discusses the issue of pregnant women in Nepal having to perform intense agricultural work throughout their pregnancy. Although maternal mortality has been decreasing in the country, it is still common for women to perform strenuous labor throughout their pregnancy, which both negatively impacts women’s health as well as the health of the unborn baby. Although husbands are beginning to notice this detrimental impact on their children’s health, in many communities, labour continues to define women’s contribution to society; thus, pregnant women feel responsible to continue to work and improve their family’s status.
Secret Societies Make Liberia One of the Hardest Places to End FGM
VOA News (Emma Batha) - February 7th, 2014
Female gential mutilation (FGM) is an ancient and engrained part of Liberian culture. Many FGMs are organized and led by Sande, a woman's secret society that has tremendous power within the country. Their power, influence, and political clout hinders other leaders and journalists to speak out against these human rights violations, for in this country where 2/3rds of women have been cut, speaking out has even led to death threats. Many activists are therefore shifting their advocacy efforts to counties within Liberia that are not as influenced by Sande.
The End of the “Developing World”
The New York Times (Daya Olopade) - February 28th, 2014
This opinion piece discusses why describing countries as ‘developing’ or ‘developed’ is no longer useful. Rather, it argues that we should describe the world as “fat” or “lean.” Countries that are “lean” are those which keep scarcity in mind regarding consumption and work to be innovative due to limited resources. On the other hand, “fat” economies are surrounded by abundance and plenty. This new description of countries challenges the preconceived notion of “impoverished” and “hopeless” developing countries that should follow developed, “fat” economies; rather, this new terminology embraces “lean” economies’ ability to be efficient and innovative with limited resources.
This bulletin is a publication of International Women's Health & Human Rights (IWHHR). It was prepared by Ashley Jowell, Lara Mitra and Kevin Hsu. For more information, please visit www.internationalwomenshealth.org
A roundup of stories related to women's health, development, law, culture and human rights from around the world.