Women & Leadership Links

Sourced by Meredith O’Connell

Britain has slipped in the international rankings on sexual equality because of a cut in the number of female government ministers, according to a study published today.

Its conclusion will embarrass David Cameron, who once pledged that women would fill one-third of places in his government. Instead, fewer than 20 per cent of his ministers are female – and several were moved out of high-profile positions by Mr Cameron in last month’s reshuffle. Five government departments, including the Treasury, are now all-male.

The World Economic Forum’s annual “global gender gap” report places Britain 18th – down from 16th last year – after being passed by Nicaragua and Luxembourg. The report measures countries’ progress on tackling discrimination against women on a variety of measures, including earnings, educational performance and political participation.

The top five places are filled by Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Ireland.

‘Cameroon: Giving Women Land, Giving Them a Future‘ – All Africa

Although women produce 80 percent of Cameroon’s food needs according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, they own just two percent of the land, according to 2011 statistics from the Cameroon Gender Equality Network.

Although the 1974 Land Tenure Ordinance in Cameroon guarantees equal access to land for all citizens, customary laws and practices that discriminate against women’s land rights prevail over statutory laws. This has taken its toll on the economic well-being of women.

The problems of access to land for women and communities have been worsened by the land grab perpetuated by multinationals and society’s wealthy, according to Fon Nsoh. He particularly cited the case of Herakles Farms in Cameroon’s South West Region as the “hottest and the most contested.”

“Land certificates for matrimonial property should be instituted in the joint names of the husband and wife so as to do away with the patriarchal system of inheritance practiced in most of Cameroon,” Nsoh said. He added that such a requirement would make it difficult for women like Kimbi to be deprived of their land by other family members if a spouse dies.

‘Kenya: Boosting Contraceptive Use to Cut Unsafe Abortions’ – All Africa

Despite the medical risks associated with unsafe abortions, many women in Kenya continue to seek these services. Experts say only a scale-up of access to, and promotion of, contraceptives among sexually active women can reduce it.

While Kenya’s pre-2010 constitution permitted abortion only when a woman’s life was threatened, Kenya’s new constitution permits the procedure when a trained health professional deems it necessary for emergency treatment, either if a woman’s life or health are in danger, or if it is permitted under any other written law.

According one of the only studies available on the subject, conducted by the Ministry of Health in 2004, some 300,000 women and girls procure abortions each year – 20,000 of which lead to hospitalization as a result of abortion-related complications.

The unmet need for contraception in Kenya is high. The 2009 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey found that 25 percent of currently married women in Kenya have an unmet need for family planning – they would like to space their children or stop having children but are not using any form of contraception.

Indian government launches ‘no lavatory, no bride’ campaign’ – The New York Daily News

The Indian government has launched a ‘no lavatory, no bride’ campaign, telling women to reject potential suitors if they cannot provide an inside lavatory.

The comments were made by India’s controversial rural development minister, Jairam Ramesh, who recently angered Hindus by pointing out there were more temples than lavatories for the country’s 1.2 billion people

More than 900 million – 75 per cent of the population – has a mobile phone subscription in India, while only half of its households have a lavatory, according to last year’s census. Only 11 per cent of homes have a lavatory connected to the sewerage system.

The problem is worse for India’s women, many of whom are forced to rise before dawn to do their ablutions under cover of darkness. There have been a number of cases reported recently of women being raped or assaulted while searching for somewhere to go to the lavatory.

Egypt to Fight Sexual Harassment by Broadcasting Attackers – Bloomberg News

Egypt launched a campaign to protect women from sexual harassment by videotaping attackers and broadcasting the images, state-run Middle East News Agency said.

Cameras will be sited in major squares and streets to capture images of men harassing women, MENA reported today, citing the Interior Ministry.

Sexual harassment is one the most common problems facing girls and women in Egypt’s streets and public places.

The National Council for Women is preparing a full anti- harassment campaign with help from the Interior Ministry, and had suggested harsher penalties for such offenses, MENA said, citing the council. The project would be finalized before the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. The festival often witnesses the highest rates and worst cases of sexual harassment, said Mervat El-Talawy, the council chairwoman.

‘Nepali women break silence about sexual harassment on buses’ – UPI

“Where do I go and report against such behavior?” asks Sapana Acharya, 18, a college student, . “Is there any law against harassment? Even if there is one, how do I prove that I was harassed? There is no evidence.”

Nepali women say they face constant sexual harassment on public buses, their main means of transportation to get to work and school. Double victimization deters them from reporting incidents, as society often blames the victims of sexual abuse here and evidence and witnesses are difficult to secure. Laws are in place to protect women from abuse, but reports and enforcement of penalties are rare.
Public buses are the main means of transportation for the majority of the population, especially women, children and people with disabilities, says Kathmandu traffic inspector Sitaram Hachhethu.

They are also the most common places for girls and women to suffer sexual harassment.

Manima Shubba, a homemaker living in central Kathmandu , stresses that women of all walks of life have faced abuse in public vehicles – including her. The only difference is the number of times they have been victims.

Malala Yousafzai did not trade in her modest head scarf for a pair of skinny jeans. She wanted to go to school.

For that, the Taliban tried to kill her. When her attackers learned that the freckled 14-year-old Pakistani might survive, they promised to finish the job. Malala, they explained, had been “promoting Western culture.”

People think ‘Western values’ is wearing jeans and sipping pop. Malala was doing none of that,” said Murtaza Haider, a Pakistan native and the associate dean of research and graduate programs at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto’s Ryerson University. “All she said was: ‘Would you be kind enough to reopen my school?’ This is what the Taliban thinks is a ‘Western value.’ This is not a Western value. This is a universal value.”

In 2003, came an arm of the Taliban, which imposed strict religious law, as it had in neighboring Afghanistan. Music was banned. Men would wear beards. And girls would no longer go to school.

This last bit did not sit well with Malala. When she was all of 11 years old, she started a diary about life under the Taliban’s thumb.

Entries in that diary were published by the BBC. Malala became something of a celebrity, featured in documentaries, insisting to visiting journalists that she still had rights — “to play,” she said, “to sing.” Most of all: “I have the right of education.” She knew she was risking her life, telling a reporter at one point that if the Taliban tried to kill her, “I’ll first say to them: ‘What you’re doing is wrong.'”

Matilde Lucio grew up in a small mud house in a Guarani community in the province of Jujuy, located in northern Argentina. She completed only a few years of primary school before being sent to help her parents work on a nearby estate. Little did she imagine that one day she would be recognized as one of  2012’s outstanding rural women by the Women’s World Summit Foundation.  On October 15, Rural Women’s Day, Matilde will be awarded one of 10 international prizes for her creativity in rural life.
Matilde and other women, with support from local and international non-governmental organizations, began to organize workshops.
“We were invited to participate in trainings being given by a local NGO,” says Sonia Gimenez, a member of the APG from El Bananal Community. “At first we were afraid, most of us women hadn´t even finished primary school, we lacked confidence and felt shy. I did not speak out or ask questions as I had no idea what they were talking about. But over time we gained confidence. During the workshops we learned about our rights as indigenous people, we now know that we have special rights that correspond to us as as pre-inhabitants of Argentina.”
“The men said it was a waste of time, that the government was not going to listen to a group of women,” says Flora Cruz, who for many years lead the Guarani People´s Assembly. “But we were rebellious. Many of us suffered violence at the hands of our husbands. It was not unusual to see a woman with a black eye – this was the cost of becoming involved in community leadership.”
‘Roman Catholic women priests?’ – The Washington Post

From the outside looking in, it seems the Vatican would be just as happy to throw all its women ministers under the bus.

First, Rome ordered an investigation of all U.S.-based institutes of Catholic women religious, the sisters most people call “nuns.” Then Rome forced what amounts to a hostile takeover of their largest leadership group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Then there is the ongoing debate over whether women can be ordained.

The Catholic Church does not ordain women as priests, and says it never did. Despite volumes of evidence of ordinations of women to the diaconate, the sacred order responsible for the church’s charity, the priesthood has always been a different story.

Why? Well, the priesthood is rooted in the action of Christ with the Apostles: “do this in memory of me”—and until recently Christianity has uniformly agreed that Christ as head of the church must be represented by a male and that the church does not have authority to digress from his choice. In modern times some members of the Anglican Communion and various Protestant denominations have created women priests and pastors, but the Catholic and Orthodox Churches retain their older tradition.

The end of the war should have provided Patricia Kollie with an opportunity to start her studies again. But last month she was expelled for being pregnant.

“We were five who were pregnant. They called us in the office. They said ‘You are pregnant. Since you feel you’re big, go home. I can’t keep you in my school,'” Kollie explained.

We took the decision in line with our own handbook,” said Principal Peter Jutee. “Article 10.2d states that we can’t keep pregnant women in school. When they give birth, we readmit them.”

The Liberia Education law is silent on what should happen to girls who get pregnant while enrolled.

Pregnancy and subsequently dropping out of school is just one of many problems limiting access to education for girls in Liberia.

Girls in the rural areas have even more obstacles in their paths. Traditional practices along with a lack of schools and financial support are some of the challenges they must overcome.

Rape and sex for grades are not uncommon here. A study by Save the Children found that as many as four out of five schoolgirls in war-scarred Liberia resorted to having sex for cash so they could pay for their education.


Heba Morayef, representative of Human Rights Watch organization in Cairo, said that some of the suggested articles in the new Egyptian constitution are worrisome because it represents a threat to the rights of women and children.

Moravef pointed out, in a statement on radio ‘Sawa’ that was then reported by the Middle East News Agency, that the article on women’s rights in the light of the term ‘Islamic Sharia’ is particularly worrisome. It conflicts with the Egyptian constitution itself and also with Egypt’s obligations with respect to non-discrimination in accordance with the International Covenant on Political and Economic rights, according to her.

She added that the previous wording of the article that was suggested last August in relation to human trafficking stated “the prohibition of slavery and trafficking in women and children”. However, the wording was changed to “the prohibition of slavery and the violation of the rights of women and children”, saying that the word “violation” is too “loose and the general and does not state the actual crime in international law, namely human trafficking”.

‘Hell’s Angels’ – Republica
When the Koshi River broke through its embankment in Kusaha [in 2008], submerging several districts in Nepal and much of Bihar, India. In four of the most affected VDCs in Nepal, the flood displaced over 70,000 people and swept away 5,000 hectares of fertile land, including Samitra Devi’s, next to the East-West Highway in Sunsari District. After the flood receded, Samitra Devi was left with sedimented, uncultivable land, bringing her daily farming activities to a grinding halt. Her only source of livelihood had been washed away.
This is the story of thousands of women in Nepal affected by floods, forced to take on new roles as household heads and rebuild their families after men temporarily leave home in search of income. While taking on new tasks, these women must still attend to their usual responsibilities, made even more grueling and protracted in the aftermath of flood. However, even as they take on more activities and greater responsibilities, most institutions undervalue their contributions to the economy, whether through agricultural work, domestic work, or home-based livelihoods and small businesses, because key decision making power usually rests in the hands of men.

There is no dearth of eye-witness accounts of women, especially those from poor communities, who have shown enormous resilience despite the disproportionate amount of challenges they face after disasters. However, just because they are resilient does not mean they should be left to fend for themselves. In the absence of an overarching international legal framework that protects the rights and dignity of disaster-affected populations, the fate of millions of disaster-affected women around the world depends on the discretion of local authorities, the capacities of humanitarian agencies, and existing disaster management policies and practices.


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