Women & Leadership Links

‘Kenya: Women Seek Justice Over Sterilisation’-The Star (Nairobi)

Over 40 HIV-positive women who were allegedly sterilized against their will go to court to demand justice and possible compensation.

According to the report, most of the forced sterelisations -75 per cent- were conducted in public hospitals while the rest were carried out in private hospitals. Majority of the women are from low income cadres of society. Most of them claim they were not aware and did not understand what they were being asked to sign as they were in active and difficult labour at the time. Some of the women were also unconscious and could therefore not give consent or are illiterate and were asked to sign a document which turned out to be an authorization for the procedures.

The women also suffer from other post-sterilisation complications which include the inability to have monthly menstrual cycles apart from marriage break-ups. “Most of these people continue to live in pain silently, as they fear talking about their conditions as a result of stigmatization and discrimination,” Faith Kasiva, the lead researcher of the African Gender and Media Initiative which conducted the survey. She called for an all-inclusive public awareness campaign on reproductive health rights and choices for women living with HIV, to enable them make informed choices.

In 2010, Senegal’s gender parity law came into force, which requires political parties to ensure that at least half their candidates in local and national elections are women. The law is viewed by many as a necessary step to force change in a country with complex gender dynamics, influenced by traditional customs and beliefs, Islam and French colonialism. More than half of Senegal’s 12.5 million population is female and although women have long organised at a local level, forming co-operatives and associations to improve access to public services, this has not translated easily into power at parliamentary level.

But as the new government settles down to business, it is becoming clear that this year’s elections have been more than a test for democracy in the west African country. Sixty four of the 150 new representatives in the national assembly are women, a development cited as a landmark step towards gender equality.

“Having this record number of female parliamentarians is excellent not only for women in Senegal but in the entire sub-region,” said Hawa Ba, Senegal officer at the Dakar-based Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

Women have finally arrived.From Washington to Wall Street to Twitter, writers, academics, and business leaders are pointing to the empowerment of women as key to many of the world’s greatest challenges. They’re publicizing the research and amplifying hard facts, like the fact that when women have equal access to agricultural resources, 100 million to 150 million fewer people will go hungry.

The excitement over women’s potential and progress is warranted. But there’s still a large and disappointing disconnect between research and reality. Girls and women do indeed perform 66% of the work and produce 50% of the world’s food. But they earn only 10% of the world’s income and own a dismal 1% of its property.

The moment is ripe for action. Mid-September is the geopolitical busy season, and leaders from around the globe have descended on Manhattan for the U.N. General Assembly, the Clinton Global Initiative, and other global meetings, where girls and women will undoubtedly be a hot topic. For the first time, this game of empowerment has all the cards stacked on the right side: The relevant players, from corporations to governments and nongovernmental organizations, are beginning to recognize that it’s time to “invest in women.”

“Ninety per cent of Afghan women, a large majority, are living under cruelty and violence.”

For every execution that appears on the internet, hundreds of episodes of abuse and slavery in Afghanistan fail to attract publicity. “Najiba’s story is a small example because it got out to the media and came to the attention of politicians,” says Koofi “Cases like this happen a lot, but they’re like a silent tsunami – we don’t know about them.”

Many Afghans – from the palace of President Hamid Karzai down to local authorities – have joined a genuine attempt to boost the status of women. Violence and suppression continues, but many women now have freedom to demonstrate, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

Women in Afghanistan have a long way to go, but they also know they’ve come a long way since the days of the Taliban regime. None of them is prepared to give up the little they have gained.

A 29-year-old man was charged with “forcible compulsion” after he grinded on a 14-year-old.

The crime is sometimes referred to as “subway grinding.” Victims say the punishment for doing it isn’t harsh enough.

City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. said he wants to put the violators on a sex offenders’ list.

“The judges are wrong. They’re up in an ivory tower. They’re not a 14-year-old girl pinned in a train having this happen to her,” Vallone said. “But we shouldn’t rely on them. Albany (home to the state legislature) needs to write a law to fit this crime.”

Last year, the New York Senate passed a measure that would make grinding a felony for repeat offenders, but the Assembly struck it down.

The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare estimated in 2008 that there are between 30,000 to 40,000 women working in cabin restaurants, massage parlors and dance bars in the Kathmandu Valley, according to a report by the National Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Women and Children. Police and nongovernmental organizations put the number lower.

Instability following Nepals decade-long civil war has forced tens of thousands of women to seek employment in the entertainment sector in Nepal. Women working in dance bars, massage parlors and cabin restaurants say they suffer low pay and sexual exploitation but have few alternatives. Nongovernmental organizations and unions work are working for fair wages and safe conditions for the women. But representatives from the entertainment industry reject their interference. The government has established new pay standards and an office to monitor the industry but admits high unemployment is the underlying problem.

Every person has the right to choose their line of work, Sameer Gurung (chairman of the Nighttime Entertainment Occupational Association) says.

The association maintains that the government approves the establishments service-oriented hospitality.

Although the entertainment industry itself is legal, the exploitation of workers is not. The Supreme Court of Nepal issued a directive in 2009 to protect female workers in restaurants and massage parlors against sexual harassment in workplaces. The employers must comply with minimum standards for salaries and cant use female workers to attract customers.

The Ministry of Labor and Transport Management promulgated a new law on International Labor Day in 2011 that decreed a minimum salary of 6,200 rupees ($70) per month for eight-hour workdays, Sapkota says. But he adds that owners ignore the rule.

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