Our biweekly news bulletin on issues related to international women's health and human rights. Click on the headlines to read the full story.
Economic & Political Rights
Women in Saudi Arabia: Unshackling Themselves
The Economist (May 17, 2014)
The tide in Saudi Arabia is running in women’s favor as women are slowly gaining rights, an expanded role in government, and prestigious jobs as newspaper editors and lawyers. Despite these reforms, there is still a long way to go until women have equality—many discriminatory laws and practices against them remain. What also remains? A multitude of different opinions among women on their ultimate role in society and tactics to achieve their goals.
Feminist Roma Women Defending Their Rights in Spain
Gabby De Cicco, AWID (May 17, 2014)
AWID interviews Maria José Jiménez Cortiñas and Aurora Fernández, President and Secretary of Asociación Gitanas Feministas por la Diversidad (AGFD), an organization dedicated to fighting discrimination against Roma women. They describe how these women face “three-fold” discrimination: for being women, Roma, and part of an ethnic minority, which leads to ridicule, stereotyping, racism, etc. The interview describes the work and action of AGFD and identifies changes to be implemented at the local and national level.
Gender Discrimination is at the Heart of the Wage Gap
Anthony Carnevale and Nicole Smith, Time Magazine (May 19, 2014)
This article details the injustice of the gender wage gap in the United States, where women earn 77% of what men earn. Harvard economist Claudio Goldin uses wage data for men and women with identical degrees and experiences, showing that gender discrimiatnion is the leading cause for this injustice. Methods to close the gender wage gap include the Paycheck Fairness Act and shifting the norms and stereotypes communicated to youth, and the way we view working women.
International Law & Organizations
World Health Assembly guest speakers focus on gender-based violence and newborn health
World Health Organization (May 20, 2014)
The World Health Organization is currently hosting the World Health Assembly. This press release discusses a presentation by Dr. Christine Kaseba-Sata, First Lady of Zambia (WHO Goodwill Ambassador against gender-based violence) and Melinda Gates, co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They call for improved maternal health and remind the audience of the responsibility that the health sector has to address violent discrimination against women. Later this week, the Assembly will release a new action plan for newborns that will have a “triple return on investment.”
UN Refugee agency takes a big step to make women’s and girls’ lives SAFEr
Megan Gerrard, Women’s Refugee Commission (May 21, 2014)
This past week, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) released the Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Strategy seeking to transform the way refugees and vulnerable people meet their energy needs. Currently, women and girls bare the brunt of obtaining energy for communities through dangerous and unhealthy practices such as biomass collection. This new act, seeking to develop new, healthier, safer, and more sustainable energy practices in refugee communities, will therefore directly protect and improve the health and environment of women and girls. More information on SAFE can be found here.
Reproductive Health & Rights
Iran’s population drive worries women’s rights, health advocates
Michelle Moghtader, Reuters (May 27, 2014)
Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei recently called for an increase in Iran’s population to replace the drive to encourage contraception dating from the 1980s. Health and women’s rights advocates fear that this could lead to an increase of AIDS, force women to stay home and focus on child rearing, as well as “undermine” the position of women in society.
Pregnant Pakistani woman’s public stoning draws outrage
Fahran Bokhari, CBS News (May 28, 2014)
25 year old Farzana Parveen was brutally stoned to death by her own family due to her choice of defying the decisions to wed one of her cousins. Instead, she married Mohammad Iqbal out of choice and was muredered in this “honor killing” while pregannt. Honor killing is no particularly uncommon in Pakistan; unfrotunately, what makes this case unusual is that it occured outside Lahore’s “hihg court”, supposedly one of the safest sites int he country. ACtivisits and members of the opposition party suggest that this demonstrates poor law enforcement and lack of desire by authorities to support women’s rights.
Sudanese Woman Sentenced To Death For Apostasy Gives Birth
Harriet Sherwood, The Telegraph (May 27, 2014)
27-year-old Meriam Ibrahim recently gave birth to a baby girl in a Khartoum prison. She has been sentenced to death for her marriage to a Christian man, which resulted in her getting charges for apostasy and adultrey. Although she has denied the charges and told the court she grew up as a Christian, authorities refuse to remove her death sentence. The international community, including the United Kingdom and the United States, have criticized her sentence and asked for her release.
Youth & Adolescents
Egyptian doctor to stand trial for female genital mutilation in landmark case
Patrick Kingsley, The Guardian (May 21, 2014)
Egyptian doctor Raslan Fadl is set to stand trial for the death of a 13-year-old schoolgirl who reportedly died due to a complication in a FGM operation last year. Although FGM is illegal in Egypt, it is still widely practiced. Many Egyptians, particularly those living in rural areas, support FGM. Activists hope that this landmark case, though expected to be “short and procedural”, will be a stepping stone towards the halting of this violent practice.
Schools warned over FGM risk to girls during summer holidays
Alexandra Topping, The Guardian (May 25, 2014)
Summer is typically the season with the highest occurance of FGM; therefore, the British Departmnet of Education has urged schools to be vigiliant in working to prevent FGM prior to summer holiday. Teachers and administrations have een urged to be attentitve to keeping their female students safe in order to prevent FGM.
Imam Baba Leigh: 'FGM is not a personal issue. It is a worldwide issue'
Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian (May 21, 2014)
A prominent Muslim cleric and activist, Imam Baba Leigh, has come out in support of a campaign to end female genital mutiliation. Leigh, originally from the Gambia, but now residing in the United States, has been a target of the government due to his advocacy and political clout. He "supports a campaign by Jaha Dukureh, a 24-year-old survivor of FGM, to petition the US government to create a comprehensive plan to end FGM and provide services to people who have already been subjected to the practice." Leigh's support of ending FGM is proving influential, emphasizing that it is a cultural, rather than religious, practice and a violation of human rights that will eventually be ended.
Op-Eds & Events
Why it’s time to put women’s issues at center of foreign policy
Janet Fleischman, CNN (May 16, 2014)
Fleischman exhorts the Obama Administration to prioritize women’s issues in its foreign policy agenda. At the beginning of Obama’s term, women’s empowerment, education and other issues related to women’s health were a central component of his foreign policy plan. Since then, the momentum has slowed. The tragic kidnapping of the Nigerian schoolgirls reminds us of the importance of gender equality.
End the Stigma: Why Menstruation Matters to Women’s Rights
Kriti Sharma, Huffington Post (May 28, 2014)
Kriti Sharma writes on the importance of endigms stgima on mensturation, particularly in the context of women and girls with disabiliities. Often, wome who have disabilities are discriminated against and are abused when they menstruate; consequenetly, ften they either drop out of schol or have a forced steraliziation. Sharma argues that mensturation, a basic human right, should no longer be allowed to be taken away for women, used as a stigma, or take away their dignity.
The African Women’s Education Terror Antidote
Pius Kamau, Huffington Post (May 16, 2014)
Written on behalf of the organization Africa America Higher Education Partnerships (AAHEP), Pius Kamau’s opinion piece focuses on the idea that the best way forward for Africa is through education. He argues that the West must rethink where its African development funds are invested towards educating African girls and women. Education of African women is “indifferent at best," highlighted by the Boko Haram terrorist case. A paradigm shift towards a society that values education of women would greatly benefit the continent.
International Day Against Homophia and Transphobia Taking Place in Over 120 Countries
Huffington Post (May 17, 2014)
May 17th, 2014 is the ninth annual International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHOT), the largest LGBTI solidarity action in the world. Beginning in 2004, across the globe, people participate in marches, demonstrations, debates, and acts of solidarity. International leaders also participate in importance discussions regarding violence, HIV funding, safety and security of LGBTI refugees. The theme of this year's IDAHOT is “Free Expression” and is turning into the largest to date, with millions of individuals gathering bravely in solidarity for basic human rights.
To learn more about the other 2014 events that are taking place around the world as well as the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia please go to www.dayagainsthomophobia.org and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
A roundup of stories related to women's health, development, law, culture and human rights from around the world.