Archive for March, 2011« Older Entries
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
By: Shirin Ebadi
March 7, 2011
Not so long ago, my colleague Nasrin Sotoudeh was the lawyer so many of us human rights defenders in Iran would call when our government harassed us or put one of us, or one of our family members, in jail. Sadly it is now Nasrin who is in jail. The government’s accusations against her include acting contrary to “national security”, “propaganda against the state”, and “membership” of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, an organisation I founded in 2001. The government has also accused her of failing to wear hijab, the traditional Islamic covering for women. On some of these trumped-up charges she has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, and is now banned from practising law for 20 years.
This courageous 45-year-old mother of two young children is one of many in Iran who are targeted – and punished – for speaking up for the rights of others. Women are all too frequently on the receiving end of the Iranian regime’s wrath – as we know from the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to be stoned to death for allegedly committing adultery. But what makes Nasrin’s case especially poignant is that it raises a fundamental question about Iran’s future. If the people who come to the defence of people whose human rights are violated cannot do their jobs, who will ensure that such values as equality and justice are upheld in Iran?
Iranian authorities arrested Nasrin at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison last September, during a visit to a client who is a political prisoner. Since then Nasrin has spent most of her time in solitary confinement. To protest against her illegal arrest, Nasrin has gone on several hunger strikes. Iranian officials have denied her access to a lawyer, and for the first month she was not allowed to talk to her family, even on the phone. At one point authorities detained her husband for speaking publicly about his wife’s case.
Why is the Iranian government so afraid of Nasrin Sotoudeh? It is clearly frustrated that an Iranian woman’s work is shining a light on the deplorable human rights situation in Iran. Nasrin is fearless in taking on cases that other lawyers carefully avoid, and for that she has earned respect around the globe. She took on the case of Zahra Bahrami, a Dutch-Iranian who was arrested for participating in post-election demonstrations in 2009. Zahra was denied her right to an appeal and, despite the intervention of Dutch authorities and a call by the European Union not to go ahead, she was executed without warning on 29 January.
Nasrin was my lawyer in a complaint I filed against Kayhan, a conservative newspaper, and she also defended me when Iranian authorities seized my assets in 2009. Nasrin has also taken on cases involving juvenile executions – Iran is one of the few countries in the world that still puts children to death. Nasrin’s case, among others, is making Iran’s failure to uphold basic human rights increasingly obvious. This is why some countries are pushing for a United Nations human rights council resolution on Iran, with a special rapporteur to carry out investigations into human rights abuses there. Such a push is encouraging, but it will still take a few more countries to reach a majority within the council.
Before her arrest the authorities summoned Nasrin to the tax office and froze her assets. While she was there she realised that the government was carrying out similar “investigations” of at least 30 other lawyers. If Iran is jailing its human rights defenders we need to step up efforts to ensure that justice is upheld there. Such concrete international action would be, in my mind, the best way to honour my colleague Nasrin.
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
By Annie Lennox – Oxfam Ambassador & Entertainer
March 8, 2011
A girl waits for aid to be distributed at a village in eastern Congo. In this war-ravaged nation, it is safer to be a soldier than a woman.
We can fly to the moon, but can’t seem to put an end to gender-based violence.
It shocks, disappoints and angers me that in a world where man has travelled to the moon and where we can connect to people anywhere on earth instantly online, men and women are still not equal.
The statistics are sobering. Across the globe, gender-based violence causes more deaths and disabilities among women of child-bearing age than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.
Even in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo, it’s safer to be a soldier than a woman.
Women do two-thirds of the world’s work for a paltry 10 per cent of the world’s income, and own just 1 per cent of the means of production. Until recently, in the British Parliament, there were more men called David and Nick than female MPs. On the centenary of International Women’s Day, I urge you to stop and think.
Last year, I did just that. I attended the Millennium Bridge event in London, one of 119 bridge events involving 20,000 women across four continents. It was a moving and powerful show of strength. I saw many wonderful women standing up for equality, justice and peace. But I was struck by how many other amazing women weren’t there. It seemed that some people must think we already have equality. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes, huge gains have been made since 1911, but we still have a mountain to climb. We need to persevere with this for the sake of our daughters, our granddaughters, and the generations to come.
Motivated and inspired, I became convinced that collectively we could make a loud noise. I want this year’s centenary celebrations for International Women’s Day to be a turning point, a catalyst for tangible and positive change.
Despite the fact that half the world’s population is female, women’s rights have become marginalised as a ”minority issue”. Many young women feel that the label ”feminist” is, at best, irrelevant to their lives and, at worst, a stigma to be avoided at all costs.
The concept of feminism and its principles of equality and anti-sexism need to be refreshed and reclaimed by a new generation.
We should embrace Feminism. From Malawi to Melbourne, women are being short-changed on life chances. From India to Illinois, women face violence just for being female. Of the 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty worldwide, the vast majority are female. For many, just getting an education is a struggle, major decisions such as who to marry and when to have children are made for them by others, and without economic independence or a say in their own futures, the chances of women escaping the poverty trap are nearly non-existent.
Whether you’re a woman or a man, this affects you. And you are part of the solution. The impact of inequality is felt by every woman worldwide – your friends, your family, your colleagues, your neighbours, the people you emailed today, the woman in the car next to you, the faces you saw on television and the voices you heard on the radio.
How many have been abused or faced discrimination today? The 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day is a moment in time. Let’s make it a moment that counts. Let’s make it a moment that lasts.
Articles Source: Oxfam
Monday, March 21st, 2011
When Pacific activist Sharon Bhagwan Rolls began her first round of chemotherapy today (March 2) in Fiji, she took an entire community of readers with her, via an online blog aimed at breaking the Pacific silence on women and cancer. The FemLIKpacific Executive Director, who was diagnosed in 2010 with breast cancer and has a masectomy in November, launched http://www.asomewhatnewsharon.wordpress.com/ , late last year, documenting her journey with one of the Pacific region’s top four threats to women’s health.
“Each woman’s journey with cancer is something that needs to be shared ….how little we share when it comes to our own health as women,”
says Rolls of her decision to blog her journey through cancer. She credits inspiration in her writings to cancer survivors — mentors who
are also well known pioners in the Pacific women’s movement such as Anne Walker and Ruth Lechte — but also to those who lost their lives
The blog, a Pacific first in terms of a leading Pacific woman opening up on ‘taboo’ area, covers the beginnings of Rolls’ diagnosis and features poetry, insights, her forays into research; and the physical, mental and emotional adjustments she documents with wit and poignancy as she lifts the veil on the ‘c’ word. In one post–
My optometrist verified for me today just how connected the different
parts of our body are. Well Sian had already said so but it sounds a
little funny, don’t you think ….get diagnosed with cancer, remove a
breast, eye condition worsens – some women even lose a sense of
balance after a mastectomy!
We talked today, as he tut-tut-tutted over balancing the lens for the
left and right eyes, long and short distance, about all the available
natural remedies for cancer …soursop, “tulsi” in fresh juices, in fact
he gave me a photocopy of references, a very healthy food guide ….all
He also related the story about one of his patients – a farmer from
Tailevu whose son died at a very young age of cancer. The farmer
travelled to Australia for his son’s funeral and somehow found out
about the miracle of the soursop….he went home and planted a field of
soursop trees, so that no one else would go without…..
This time last year, Baghwan-Rolls was doing her usual rounds of 1325 and community media advocacy at the global gender meet for the United
Nations in New York. A regular face at CSW, who in 2010 was honoured with an appointment to the UN expert group on UN SCR 1325, Baghwan has worked for a decade making FemLINKpacific a global name in community media and women peace and security activism, calling on Pacific
ambassadors, helping to suggest text, clarifying issues for Pacific delegates, strengthening global networks for Pacific issues and concerns around women, peace and security, and the media.
The issues around breaking the silence on women’s health and bodies is a common feature of CSW meetings and have been an agenda item over its history. This year, the 55th Commisson has been no different, with panels on HIV/AIDS, women and reproductive health, the gendered nature of household labour and caregiving, all echoing the need to address the genderd inequalities around women’s health and access to
information on their bodies. These issues, linked by the challenge of placing more information and decisions on health into the public
domain are also featured in the milestone SPC regional review of 15 years of the Beijing Platform for Action which features Health as the
third of 12 areas of critical concern for the world’s women.
Rolls, who spent last week in regional womens media/peace and security meetings in Fiji in the leadup to her treatment starting today, has
taken that activism to a new level with her personal insights resonating in the context of CSW 55 — a CSW where her absence has
been noticed. But she is philosophical about the need to step back and change gear as her treatment continues.
“The work doesn’t stop. For CSW, while we have to juggle funding and time and also availability of a team, we’ve had network partners in NY
since collaborating first with IWTC and now the GEAR campaign, the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and our GPPAC partnership,” she
says, “you don’t have to be at CSW every year to make an impact or input, and in fact our focus is more around strategizing around the UN
Security Council Open Debate on “1325″.” “One thing is for sure, taking a step back isn’t about slowing down the work but more substantively creating space for our “next generation” of Femlinkpacific leadership and I am looking forward to a new role within Femlinkpacific,” she says.
As the CSW 55 Outcomes text weaves its way towards the endorsed ‘agreed conclusions’ expected this Friday 4 March, it is that innovative claiming of online spaces and solidarity which mirrors this UN meeting’s own innovative process in opening up spaces and solidarity for the world’s women.–Lisa Williams-Lahari, Pacific GAP.
Stretches across my heart
Actually where my left breast used to be
The growth, the tumour
A reminder of the many wounds
Twenty plus stitches
Put me back together
The scar reminds me
Of what shouldn’t happen again
Time for a new beginning
Not the rekindling of all wounds
Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
The second of three Leadership and Rights workshops facilitated by the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and the SWPMG Program, was carried out over the weekend (March 11th to 12th) to benefit women from local councils in the Western division. Though a much smaller group compared to the first training workshop in Suva, participants showed great interest and enthusiasm in learning relatively new concepts to them including Employment and Human Rights. Most were very vocal in the various discussions and activities that took place.
The workshop also included sessions on the media and its role in reinforcing gender stereotypes. Participants were asked to identify various local advertisements and television programs that potrayed women and men in their popular stereotypical roles. This module was not used in the previous workshop due to time constraints. All other sessions were presented which included: Gender, Human Rights, Leadership, Emploment Rights Grievance Procedures and Disciplinary Proceedings.
Participants were mainly from Sigatoka, Nadi, Tavua, Rakiraki and Ba Town Councils. The workshop was held at the Waterfront Hotel in Lautoka. Though this was the case, the workshop did not have any participants present from the sugar city.
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