Women & Leadership Links

 Sourced by Meredith O’Connell
We need more women leaders. Women tend to see the whole picture. For society to advance, we need more women in public service at all levels – local to global. They bring a unique perspective often missing in global challenges,” President [Tsakhia] Elbegdorj told the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, taking place at UN Headquarters in New York.

With mothers wanting a better life for their children, the Mongolian leader said too many of them suffer when their children struggle – whether it is for lack of human rights or economic opportunity – and highlighted their valuable role in society.

“My 92-year-old-mother reminds me daily to serve all people with respect – especially women, children and the elderly. Women are the backbone of the family and the bedrock of a nation,” he said. “They bring life into the world. They sense the cries of an infant. Their instincts are to care for the old, the sick and those in need. Our mothers, sisters and daughters share a core value of caring for others.”

Noting that education is the “most basic” human right and the fundamental building block for human development and free societies, President Elbegdorj said that the way to empower women is to ensure that girls share the same education opportunities as boys.

Edna Adan has spent much of her life being first.  The daughter of  a prominent medical doctor in Somaliland,  she was the first girl in her country to learn to read, the first Somali woman to drive, the first certified nurse-midwife,  and the first lady of Somalia — her husband was Prime Minister Ibrahim Egal.

“It was something I’d always wanted to do – to build a hospital,” Adan told ABC News. “I could have retired and lived somewhere else in the world, but I think I would have found it difficult to live with myself.   I would have been spending a lot of time playing bridge or worrying about do I wear Gucci or some other fashion designer’s scarf or watch or belt….”Instead, in 1991,  Adan cashed in her pension from the World Health Organization,  sold all of her jewelry and belongings – including her favorite car, a Mercedes – and spent $300,000 of her own money to build a hospital.

Somalia has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. Every year, one baby in eight dies in infancy while nearly 4,000 Somali women die in childbirth.   Yet when Adan wanted to build the first maternity  hospital in her country, the only available plot of land was a garbage dump in the slums of Hargeisa.

Today, the Edna Adan University Hospital has treated over 14,000 patients and delivered more than 12,000 babies.

Are Sikh Women Allowed to Wax?‘ – The Wall Street Journal

When Balpreet Kaur, a young Sikh American, discovered she was being widely mocked on the Internet for her facial hair, she proudly pushed back. A picture of Ms. Kaur went viral on the Internet this week, with many commenting on the unusual amount of hair on her face.

The Sikh code of conduct, approved by the committee in the 1930s, forbids followers from “tempering with the hair with which the child is born.” A U.S.-based Sikh group, the Sikh Coalition, was of the same opinion. On its website it said that “Sikhs are not supposed to cut hair from any part of their body. All Sikhs are thus supposed to have unshorn hair, and Sikh women are to maintain a separate identity and not shave.” They blamed the fact many women flout this rule on “societal pressure.”

Some Sikh women have openly opposed the guidelines, saying it should be a matter of personal choice. “It doesn’t make me a sinner if I wax,” says 33-year-old Gursharan Sandhu, who spends her weekends doing community service at a local Sikh temple in New Delhi. “These are century-old beliefs….We need to move on with changing times,” she adds.

 

Swedish furniture giant IKEA has landed itself in hot water in its home country after women and girls were airbrushed out of some of the pictures in its Saudi Arabian catalogue.

A local version of IKEA’s yearly catalogue, published on its Saudi website, shows images that are identical to those in other editions save for one detail: the women are gone.

The removal of women from the pages of the Saudi edition, including a young girl who was pictured studying at her desk, has prompted a strong response from Swedes, who pride themselves on egalitarian policies and a narrow gender gap.

“You can’t remove or airbrush women out of reality. If Saudi Arabia does not allow women to be seen or heard, or to work, they are letting half their intellectual capital go to waste,” Ewa Bjoerling, the trade minister, said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia applies strict rules of gender segregation, banning women from driving and requiring them to have permission from a male guardian before traveling or receiving medical care.

While the Arab World may not have the best track record for female empowerment, the UAE stands as the exception to the rule. Research shows UAE women have equal access to education and they outperform men in academic settings.

What is more, studies have found Emirati women start their own businesses for much more than monetary gain. According to a survey conducted last month by Abu Dhabi University (ADU), in collaboration with Qatar University, UAE female entrepreneurs do not enter the workforce out of necessity, rather for a sense for accomplishment inspired by a need to help others and contribute to the local economy. Furthermore, as Raja Easa Al Gurg, President of the Dubai Business Women Council within the Dubai Chambers notes, “entrepreneurship provides the desired social flexibility between a woman’s traditional role in the home and widely emerging career aspirations.”

Prominent Emirati businesswomen and UAE organizations are gathering to discuss key topics about Emiratisation, leadership, innovation and youth at the 4th Annual Women in Leadership Forum Middle East and Africa, organized by the French business information company Naseba.

In ancient times, the sons of almost every family in the region of Upper Dolpa would jointly marry one woman but the practice of polyandry is dying out as the region begins to open up to modern life. But polyandry prevents the practice of each generation of a family dividing their holdings, and food supplies just manage to cover the locals’ basic needs.

Marriages are typically arranged, with a family picking a wife for their oldest son and giving the younger brothers the chance to wed her later. In some cases the wives will even help raise their future husbands, entering into sexual relationships with them when they are considered mature enough.

Unlike most men in conservative, predominantly Hindu Nepal, husbands in polyandrous marriages handle domestic duties, helping with cooking and childcare, while women are in charge of the money. Polyandry also works as a form of birth control as a woman can only get pregnant so many times, regardless of how many husbands she has.

The polyandrous household doesn’t usually acknowledge which husband is the biological parent, with the children calling father and uncles “dad”. Polyandry breaks many Western sexual taboos and often fascinates outsiders, but locals see it as natural and beneficial.

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