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.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
From the Telegraph UK, a story about higher education in Britain:
In at least 20 institutions, there are twice as many female full-time undergraduates as males. The growing divide in further education follows a similar trend at school level, where girls now outperform boys in all age groups and subjects.
The head of UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, sort of like our College Board) said:
“Young men are becoming a disadvantaged group in terms of going to university and this underperformance needs urgent focus across the education sector.”
And concluding thoughts: "The growing divide is becoming a more pressing issue than the number of applicants from poorer homes, said the chief executive of Ucas, the universities admissions service."
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Yuvraj Joshi has an article--"The Trouble with Inclusion"--forthcoming from the Virginia Journal of Social Policy and Law. The abstract reads:
Attempts are being made to include members of excluded groups in societal institutions. Inclusion has been proposed as the solution to the injustice caused by exclusion. Yet, inclusion does not always achieve justice and might sometimes perpetuate injustice. This Article provides a framework for understanding inclusion that may fail to achieve social justice and uses this framework to assess the inclusion of lesbians and gays within marriage (marriage equality) and of women and minorities within organizations (organizational diversity). The former case study examines the legal and social movement for recognizing same-sex marriage while the latter engages a range of contemporary debates, including workplace diversity, gays in the military, women in armed combat and gender mainstreaming at the UN. Each shows that inclusion is less likely to achieve social justice where it misconstrues injustice, maintains the status quo, decouples from justice, legitimizes the institution or rationalizes injustice.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
....who will marry his lesbian daughter. It looks more like a bid to rebuke the daughter, not a serious endeavor to get her hitched. (it takes two to tango, doesn't it? And the glorious cosmopolitan place that is Hong Kong--where English (along with Chinese) is the official language--isn't exactly breeding ground for arranged marriages.)
(Gigi Chao, with unnamed dogs)
The daughter in question, Gigi Chao, seemed calmly defiant:
"Respectfully, we can only be true to ourselves, communicate bravely and directly, and be patient. I am confident that we are on the right side of history, so, as they say, it gets better," she said.
"Honestly, I think recognising same-sex relationships is a good start for the lawmakers, instead of sweeping the issue under the carpet and pretending it doesn't exist, which is degrading."
Presently, Hong Kong does have a law banning gender discrimination, but it's not comprehensive:
The Sex Discrimination Ordinance, enacted in 1995, offers protection in seven areas, including employment, education, housing and participation in government activities. However, while it covers discrimination on the grounds of gender, marital status and pregnancy, it does not cover sexual preference.
Friday, January 24, 2014
The European Parliament, one of the legislative bodies of the European Union, will decide soon whether prostitution is a violation of a women's human rights.
From the Telegraph (UK):
A ground-breaking report has today been accepted by one of the Parliament’s more influential bodies. Just a few hours ago, the committee on women’s rights and gender equality voted through a report arguing that prostitution is a fundamental violation of women’s rights. This means it will go to a full Parliament vote in Feburary.
The report is couched in the formal language used by legislators, but what it is proposing is a massive cultural change. For centuries, supporters of prostitution have argued that it’s the oldest profession and has to be tolerated, if not legalised.
Verbal and physical abuse isn’t confined to street prostitution, with one academic study concluding that women who work indoors still face ‘physical, economic and sexual violence from their clients, including serious assaults’. That’s not surprising, given that research on men who pay for sex show that they tend to have a ‘degrading image’ of women.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Last week, Nigeria enacted a law whose most conspicuous parts read:
"Persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison."
"Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison."
The law also makes it a criminal offense to advocate for gay rights as well.
Thursday, September 19, 2013