Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Women are crucial: We simply cannot end malnutrition if we don't invest in women, and not just because of their hugely important role as mothers. Women are critical to food and nutrition security due to the enormously important and myriad roles they play in agriculture, in their communities as workers and as producers.
Recognise inequality: Of course we have to recognise that there are multiple competing demands on women, especially the poorest. What's needed is a supportive system to allow women to make the choices that work best for them and their families. Sometimes this goes to the heart of complex and unequal power relationships in the family and the social and economic status of women in the poorest communities.
Breastfeeding powers the next generation: As the mother goes, so goes the child. Improving rates of exclusive breastfeeding is one of the best, most cost-effective solutions to ensure child survival and set the foundation for lifelong health. Successful breastfeeding promotion relies on tapping into 'influencers' in a woman's life: doctors, mothers-in-law, celebrities or media. It is important for breastfeeding to be promoted as the norm.
Covert breastmilk substitute promotion happens everywhere: An egregious tactic used to market infant formula is using medical professionals, especially pediatricians and nurses, to 'prescribe' or push formula onto mothers. I had it just happen to me when I gave birth to my second child here in the US a month ago. I was encouraged by doctors and nurses to 'supplement' my breastfeeding with formula on my baby's second day of life. Medical professionals often don't realise that their well-meaning advice can undermine a woman's confidence to breastfeed and serve as a tacit endorsement of infant formula.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Akiva Miller at Hebrew University has uploaded an article, "The Policing of Religious Marriage Prohibitions in Israel: Religion, State, and Information Technology." The abstract reads:
The State of Israel applies religious law in all matters of marriage and divorce. For the Jewish population of Israel, the law of marriage includes religious prohibitions on certain kinds of marriages, most notably the prohibition against intermarriage and the prohibition against marrying a mamzer. Over the years, Israel’s state-religious authorities have adopted a variety of methods and practices for policing these prohibitions. These include stringent procedures for premarital registration inquiries; use of databases for collecting information on prohibited persons; recording the possibility of mamzer status of newborn children; special Beit Din proceedings for handling cases of possible marriage prohibitions; Beit Din-initiated investigations of possible prohibited persons, including minors; and special “Jewishness investigations” for people of questionable Jewish ancestry. The article surveys the law and practice of these policing methods, as well as the acute social problems and injustices they cause. Lastly, the article discuses ways in which these methods change traditional Jewish marriage.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
TRANSGENDER women in Malaysia have filed a groundbreaking court case challenging a law that prohibits them from expressing their gender identity, Human Rights Watch said today. On May 22, 2014, the Putrajaya Court of Appeal is expected to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of the laws.
Three transgender women from the state of Negeri Sembilan are asking the court to strike down a state law that prohibits ''any male person who, in any public place wears a woman's attire or poses as a woman,'' which has been used repeatedly to arrest transgender women.
All three petitioners, who identify as female but are described as ''male'' on their national identification cards, have been arrested solely because they dress in attire that state religious officials deem to be ''female.''
Friday, May 9, 2014
To avoid upsetting her husband, Urmila Devi told him she’ll heed his request to vote for India’s ruling Congress party when their village of 50 families participates in national elections. Once inside the polling booth, she plans to ignore his suggestion. “I’ll vote for a different party,” Devi, 26, says outside her one-room house in Galanodhan Purwa village in Uttar Pradesh state, where she cares for her two children. “I’m concerned about women’s safety. It should be the government’s top priority.”
A growing number of women are defying traditional gender roles in India and asserting their voice in elections that began on April 7 and end on May 16. Prompting the change: Higher literacy rates, greater financial independence, and a desire to stem violence against women, which became a highly visible issue after the gang rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December 2012.
“Over the years, we’ve asked women if they voted on their own or if they voted for whoever their husbands or fathers asked them to,” says Sanjay Kumar, New Delhi-based director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, which conducts opinion polls. “Women were reluctant to tell us earlier, but increasingly they’re saying they’re voting on their own, no matter what the men say.”
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
SAO PAULO (AP) Gay rights advocates called for a Brazilian law against discrimination as they gathered by the hundreds of thousands in Sao Paulo on Sunday for one of the world's largest gay pride parades.
Sao Paulo Gov. Geraldo Alckmin announced that he would restore a historic house in Avenida Paulista, where the parade strolls, and turn it into a gay museum.
The activists and parade organizers said a law that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is overdue in Brazil. Criminalizing displays of discrimination against gays would reduce violence against members of the LGBT community, advocates said.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
So begins the story:
India’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear pleas against the controversial sodomy law that recently re-criminalized gay sex.
In July 2009, the Delhi High Court overturned a colonial-era ban on same-sex intercourse. Four years later, on Dec. 11, 2013, the country's Supreme Court reenacted Section 377 of India's Penal Code, which states, "whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine."
Monday, April 28, 2014
On April 27, this news was reported:
Japan’s first lady, Akie Abe, wife of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, joined the festivities, standing on a float (pictured, below, in white) amid a sea of 3,000 marching participants.
Akie Abe, 51, known for her liberal inclinations, wrote on herFacebook page later that she has been involved in the issue since joining a commission set up by UNAIDS and the Lancet medical journal last year, reports AFP.
“I want to help build a society where anyone can conduct happy, enriched lives without facingdiscrimination,” she wrote. “I had the pleasure of spending fun time filled with smiles. Thank you.”
Friday, April 18, 2014
"It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," the India Supreme Court said in granting rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female.
It ordered the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities, as well as key amenities.
According to one estimate, India has about two million transgender people.
"Recognition of transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue," Justice KS Radhakrishnan, who headed the two-judge Supreme Court bench, said in his ruling on Tuesday.
"Transgenders are also citizens of India" and they must be "provided equal opportunity to grow", the court said.
"The spirit of the Constitution is to provide equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender."
Friday, April 11, 2014
From Amnesty International:
The Philippine Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday to uphold a landmark reproductive health law as constitutional is an important victory for millions of Filipino women and girls, Amnesty International said.
The court’s decision, which will require the government to provide free contraception to millions of the nation’s poorest women, is being welcomed by activists across the country.
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for the independence of the judiciary and means that millions of women and girls have a right to access medical services and information they need,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Researcher on the Philippines.
In a country where 80 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, surveys have shown that 72 percent of Filipinos support the law.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
A Sydney resident who fought to be legally recognised as being of non-specific sex has hailed a High Court ruling that New South Wales laws do permit the registration of a category of sex other than male or female.
Norrie was born male but had a sex change and now does not identify as specifically male or female.
After a four-year legal battle, Norrie has won the right to be legally recognised as being of non-specific sex.
She used to wear a burqa in public, but now has had her face printed on thousands of ballot pamphlets for the provincial council in Wardak. She campaigns in person in a district, Saydabad, that is thick with Taliban.
The woman in question is 28 year-old Mariam Wardak's mother, who is running for public office in Afghanistan. More:
There is finally the sense here, after years of international aid and effort geared toward improving Afghan’s women’s lives, that women have become a significant part of Afghan political life, if not a powerful one.
On the other hand:
But their celebratory moment is also colored by the worry that those gains could so easily be reversed if extremists come back into power, or if Western aid dwindles. Those concerns have added urgency to this campaign season for women who are fighting to make their leadership more acceptable in a still deeply repressive society.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
This is an important piece of the puzzle over the future demand for lawyers. It's not just about what Wall St. is willing to pay for lawyers. There still is tremendous need for lawyers particularly in cases of family matters, landlord tenant, immigration, and cases with poor and minority plaintiffs. Such need that, as the article suggests, it constitutes an access to justice issue, if not an international human rights issue.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Today is International Women's Day:
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as 'International Women's Year' by the United Nations. Women's organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women's advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
....of Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations. And rightfully so; he is the first Korean to head that grand post.
The Secretary wears his dedication to human rights on his sleeve. And so too that sleeve contains a spot, a stubborn spot, for the rights of LGBT.
With bleak irony, South Koreans, at the same time, have proudly stigmatized the plight of their gay compatriots:
On the 21st of April, two members of the National Assembly of South Korea (the Democratic united-opposition-party) withdrew the motion on the Comprehensive Anti-discrimination Act. Since the beginning of 2000, they attempted to introduce the Anti-discrimination act two times both in 2007 and 2010....
....there was a strong apposition by both parties. In addition, religious affiliated organizations of South Korea resisted the bill on the basis of recognizing sexual minorities......
....Two anonymous members of the National Assembly expressed the reason of the withdrawal of the Act is simply put, because they did not want to be labeled as pro North Korean or as a gay assemblyman.
Friday, February 21, 2014
From the Guardian UK:
A woman in Saudi Arabia has been appointed editor-in-chief of a national newspaper, the first female journalist to be promoted to such a public position in a country with an appalling record on women's rights.
Somayya Jabarti, a former deputy editor, has become the new boss at the helm of the Jeddah-based English daily Saudi Gazette, the paper's departing head has announced.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Sunday, February 9, 2014
The story from the Hindu Times:
The death of an ailing woman student at a Saudi university has stirred controversy on social media after an ambulance was denied access under the conservative Muslim kingdom's segregation laws. Amna Bawazeer, 24, died of a heart attack in the compound of the social sciences faculty of Riyadh's King Saud University.
Local media said medics in an ambulance were denied access because they were not accompanied by a "mahram", a legal guardian or male member of her family.
From the Korea Herald:
Women in Tokyo are threatening a sex boycott against any man who votes for the front-runner in this weekend's gubernatorial election, in protest at his claim that menstruation makes women unfit for government.
Yoichi Masuzoe, said candidate, aged 65, stated in 1998 to a magazine:
"Women are not normal when they are having a period... You can't possibly let them make critical decisions about the country (during their period) such as whether or not to go to war," he said.
Friday, February 7, 2014
Yoav Dotan, Hebrew University, has uploaded "The Boundaries of Social Transformation Through Litigation: Women's and Gay Rights in Israel, 1970-2010."
The abstract reads:
The global expansion of judicial power and the rise of litigation as a vehicle for social transformation are two conspicuous social phenomena that are subject to intensive research by social scientists and lawyers alike. One of the most hotly debated questions in this regard relates to the potential value of law in general, and litigation in particular, as a strategy for social change. This article examines the question by comparing the struggle for equality by two groups - women’s rights activists and gay rights activists - in Israel during the 1990’s. The struggles of women and gay people for equality have many shared characteristics, since both challenge the traditional conservative patriarchal social model. In Israeli society, moreover, both gay rights’ activists and women’s equality activists faced the same political rival: the powerful macho-type socio-political mentality, rooted in the central status of the military in Israeli society and the strong hold of Jewish ultra-orthodox parties in the political system. The strategies that the two groups adopted to overcome these obstacles, however, were markedly different. While women’s groups adopted an elitist strategy of struggle that concentrated on legal measures, gay rights’ groups adopted a variety of strategies that emphasized grassroots political tactics. The article examines the success of each group in achieving its political objectives, and argues that the comparison between them indicates the relative weaknesses of legal and litigation-centered strategies as vehicles for social transformation.