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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 9 Nov 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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31 Female Civic Poll Candidates in Saudi Arabia Withdraw Citing Prohibitive Costs

New Age Islam News Bureau

9 Nov 2015

BRILLIANT: Four of the five girls who introduced the program against breast cancer.


 31 Female Civic Poll Candidates in Saudi Arabia Withdraw Citing Prohibitive Costs

 ‘Lady Al-Qaeda’, Haila Al-Qaseer, Says She Was Brainwashed

 Iran Appoints First Woman Ambassador to Head Malaysian Embassy

 Saudi Courts: Fingerprints to Replace Witnesses ID’ing Women

 Saudi Girls’ Program to Fight Cancer Wins Recognition

 SR20m in Aid for 4,420 Young Men and Women for Marriage

 Percentage of Women among Mumbai Hindus, Muslims Abysmal: Census

 Women in Full-Time Jobs 'Work for Nothing' Until 2016

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




31 Female Civic Poll Candidates in Saudi Arabia Withdraw Citing Prohibitive Costs

9 November 2015

JEDDAH: Thirty-one female candidates in the Kingdom were forced to withdraw from the municipal elections due to the high cost of media campaigns, low level of awareness about the importance of the elections, the absence of women’s support programs, and competitive blocs of male candidates.

One candidate, who withdrew from the elections in Madinah and preferred anonymity, said she did not find real support in the process of writing and drafting her electoral program, and was negatively impacted by the municipality’s requirement to hire a campaign manager, an expensive proposition.

Other challenges include blocs of male candidates, which minimize the chance of female candidates winning, she said.

“Based on my work in the field of charity and volunteering, I preferred not to continue as a candidate because my loss would affect the awareness program,” she explained. “I found myself with no choice but to withdraw due to these challenges, and leave the opportunity for others.”

Another candidate described the difficulty of reaching voters as the biggest challenge, due to lack of clear regulations for candidates and the low number of voters.

According to businesswoman and voter Maimouna Balfaqeeh, the initiative to involve women in municipal elections and their participation in local development should be met with some facilitating efforts, especially as female candidates discovered some of the requirements served as “stumbling blocks” in their path to electoral progress and success.

She said the challenges candidates face in the campaigns is inevitable and their active participation in the development of municipal affairs comes at a high cost.



‘Lady Al-Qaeda’, Haila Al-Qaseer, Says She Was Brainwashed

9 November 2015

JEDDAH: A woman terror convict is repenting that she made the wrong decision of joining the Al-Qaeda terror group, which, she said, always misled and brainwashed her with false propaganda.

“The Saudi judicial authorities actually showed leniency in my case. I deserved a prison term of not less than 30 years, but got a lenient sentence,” Haila Al-Qaseer, who is the first terror convict in the Kingdom, said in her first media appearance recently.

The Saudi woman has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on various charges under the anti-terrorism law.

Commenting on her attempt to escape from prison, Al-Qaseer said she did it because she thought the security men would rape her to extract information, as the leadership of Al-Qaeda had frequently brainwashed her in this regard.

“All the facts contradicted the lies that Al-Qaeda instilled in my mind about the Kingdom and the detectives. I am now very sure that I was misled and delusional,” she was quoted as saying by a local newspaper.

Speaking about what she felt during the final court verdict against her, Al-Qaseer said: “Just moments before the judge delivered the verdict, I was in a spiral... tension and pain. But when I heard the sentence, I collapsed and cried.”

Regretting over her decision to join the terror group, she said: “The road that I had chosen cost me my life and youth. My daughter lost her mother and father.”

Al-Qaseer, who is now in the women’s prison in Hair, said she collected millions of riyals while giving religious lectures, and described the members of Al-Qaeda group as a bunch of “idiots.”

Al-Qaseer, who was known as “Lady Al-Qaeda,” has been convicted with several charges of terrorism such as sheltering wanted persons, recruiting members for Al-Qaeda, financing terrorist actions and possessing arms and ammunition to be used for terrorist attacks.

The charges against her also included trying to leave the Kingdom for conflict zones without authorization of the government and participating in forging the identities of those who wanted to leave the Kingdom for fighting abroad.



Iran Appoints First Woman Ambassador to Head Malaysian Embassy

November 9, 2015

TEHRAN, Nov 9 — Iran has appointed its first woman ambassador since the 1979 Islamic revolution, naming foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham to head its embassy in Malaysia, the foreign minister announced on Sunday.

"Choosing Afkham as ambassador took a few minutes but choosing her successor took four months," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a ceremony in Tehran for the 50-year-old career diplomat who will be replaced at the ministry by a man, Jaber Ansari.

Iranian media first said back in April that Afkham was lined up for promotion to the rank of ambassador, but the reports were unconfirmed.

Zarif paid tribute to Afkham, who was also the first woman in the Islamic republic to serve as foreign ministry spokeswoman, saying she had carried out her duties for two years with "dignity, bravery and particular insight".

In turn, the new ambassador to Kuala Lumpur, quoted by state news agency IRNA, praised Zarif for "the courage to take such a decision" and for his "trust in women".

After his 2013 election, Iran's moderate President Hassan Rouhani called on ministers to appoint women to high posts and said his government would stand up against discrimination, naming three women to the country's 11 vice presidential positions.

Although deemed more liberal than those of many Arab countries, Iran's laws since the revolution have been criticised as unfair to women in cases of marriage, divorce and inheritance.

While women may hold key posts, including in parliament and the cabinet, they can not serve as judges and have not been allowed to run for president. — AFP



Saudi courts: Fingerprints to replace witnesses ID’ing women

9 November 2015

The Saudi Ministry of Justice will install a fingerprint recognition system to do away with the need for someone to testify on the identity of a woman in court, Al-Madinah newspaper reported.

A source said the ministry is working on a number of amendments in the system to facilitate the employment and presence of women in court rooms and legal directorates.

“The ministry is opening women’s sections in its directorates and facilities. The women’s offices will be fully equipped and segregated. The ministry is trying to offer employment opportunities for women to fill a large number of vacancies,” said the source.

He said the ministry needs more employees in administrative, technical and judicial positions.

“The population of the country is growing and the ministry is expanding. We are also in need of experts and researchers to develop the judicial system. The wage structure needs to improve so that the ministry’s directorates will be more attractive to job seekers,” said the source.

He said the ministry is working on placing advertisements on job vacancies and running career fairs to motivate interested applicants.

“The ministry has hired more than 5,000 people since the employment program. As many as 207 new notaries public were employed taking their total number to 1,214,” said the source.

He added the total number of judges in Saudi Arabia reached 1,810 with 92 new appointments.

“The employment program also includes a training period to ensure that all newly appointed individuals are fully experienced and qualified to occupy their positions. The ministry organized 95 different training programs for the judges,” said the source.

The source added the training programs offered are both internal and external as the ministry aims to have a well-rounded body of employees.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Nov. 9, 2015.



Saudi Girls’ Program to Fight Cancer Wins Recognition

9 November 2015

JEDDAH: Five Saudi girls have proved their mettle by introducing a first-of-its-kind educational program to fight breast cancer.

Dr. Najwa Salem, ambassador of the national initiative and executive director of the Battarjee Education and Technical Academy BETA, adopted the program on Friday.

Maryam Bashidallah, Ahdab Khashoggi, Hiyam Kerk, Amal Ghamdi and Amal Sindhi prepared the program under the supervision of Ghada Khyat and Dana Abdeen, and motivation of Rami Mekouar.

Managing Director of BETA educational program Marwa Mahmoud said the program shows the girls’ abilities in the support of community work.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Tamimi Ekalh, a specialist in medicine and plastic surgery, said men are also at the risk of breast cancer as one man in 100 gets such type of cancer every two monthss, the equivalent of one percent of the total tumors in men in the Kingdom.

He said a lot of men are ignorant about the disease and do not go in for medical tests to know if a tumor is present in their body.

Ekalh said tumors in recent years have begun to invade both men and women at an early age as a result of negligence of tests, negative health practices and heredity factors. He emphasized media's role in spreading awareness about breast cancer.

Mekouar honoured the participants and sponsors and appreciated the program.



SR20m in aid for 4,420 young men and women for marriage

9 November 2015

JEDDAH: The Charitable Society for Marriage and Family Guidance in Jeddah revealed that 4,420 men and women were provided with SR20 million to get married.

Saad Al-Zahrani, financial supervisor at the organization and member of the board of directors explained that the charity continues to provide assistance and advice to young girls on how to build a good family.

Al Zahrani said the association is also seeking to contribute in providing qualifying programs before marriage for the young men and women on how to live a happy married life to prevent divorce in the future.

Al Zahrani said they are giving these courses with the help of trainers, advisers and experts in the field of family guidance and reform.

He requested the affluent and philanthropists to financially contribute to the organization for its work to help young men and women.

Al-Zahrani said the organization helps with soft loans, and buying home furniture and gifts for the bride and other things needed by a newlywed couple to establish a home.

He also pointed out that the charity also relieves some of the financial burden of marriage banquet halls, kitchens and household electrical appliances.

He said the Charitable Society of Marriage and Family Guidance in Jeddah is a leading association working with professionalism and innovation to assist youths or orphans who can’t afford marriage and makes their married life stable through effective partnerships and team work.



Percentage of women among Mumbai Hindus, Muslims abysmal: Census

Anahita Mukherji

Nov 8, 2015

Mumbai: The proportion of women to the total population of a community is abysmal for Hindus and Muslims in Mumbai, worse than the national level, an analysis of recently released 2011 census data shows.

Women account for 48.8% of the Muslim population and 48.4% of the Hindu population at the all-India level. In Maharashtra, Hindus fare slightly better on that score.

Women account for over 50% of the Christian community across the country, the highest proportion for any community recorded by the census. This is true for Maharashtra and Mumbai, too. Buddhists come a close second: Women comprise over 49% of the population of the community. While Jains fare well, Sikhs fare poorly on that score.

While women account for 48.1% of the Hindu population of Maharashtra, they account for a dismal 45.6% of the Hindu population in Mumbai. Similarly, women account for 47.7% of the Muslim population in the state, but only 44.6% in Mumbai. While it's true that this is due, in part, to migration (more men migrate to the city for work and education), experts say it is also the result of sophisticated technology that can help one eliminate the girl child, which is not there in villages. Both factors explain why the proportion of women to total community population is better in rural areas for Hindus and Muslims at the national and state levels.

"The sex ratio is obviously low in urban areas due to an influx of men who come to cities for work. But the low proportion of women to total populations of Hindus and Muslims also has to do with the fact that the middle class has its own ethos, in which the preference for a male child is very high irrespective of religion. The middle classes want a boy to carry on their lineage. Often the preference for a boy itself results in a skewed sex ratio. For instance, a family where the first child is a boy may not want to have another child, whereas families where the first child is a girl will try for the second in the hope that they get a boy," says Abdul Shaban, professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

"The neo-middle class is ferociously carrying out sex-selective abortion. The super rich, too, don't want to have girls, as they know the property will be partitioned with sons-in-law. The stable middle class that has occupied the same position in society for generations, fares better on that front, with smaller families where both boys and girls are welcome," says feminist Vibhuti Patel, who heads the economics department at SNDT Women's University.

She said the high proportion of women among Christians was due to better literacy rates and a proactive campaign by the church against both abortion in general and sex-selective abortion in particular. "Sermons are delivered in church against female foeticide and the church magazine, Examiner, has carried articles against it. There have even been directives from Rome to combat female foeticide," she adds.



Women In Full-Time Jobs 'Work For Nothing' Until 2016

09 Nov. 2015

Women in full-time employment will in effect work for nothing from now until 2016 because of the gender pay gap, according to a campaign group.

Official figures show men earn 14.2% more per hour than women.

Equal Pay Day marks the point in the year when the average woman in effect stops being paid compared with the average man.

This year, it is five days later than in 2014, indicating that the pay gap between men and women is narrowing.

However, at the current rate of progress it will take 50 years to close the gap, says the Fawcett Society, which campaigns to promote women's rights in the labour market.

"There has never been a better opportunity to close the pay gap for good. Progress has stalled in recent years but with real commitment for government and employers, together with action from women and men at work, we could speed up progress towards the day when we can consign it to history," said Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society.

"It is time to have the conversation and ask your employer if they are ready for the new pay gap reporting requirements," she said.

The group wants employers to promote flexible working arrangements and the government to invest more in childcare.

Meanwhile, a report for the trade union body, the TUC, said that the pay gap was even more marked among high earners.

Among the top 5% of earners, men tended to earn 45.9% more than women and among the top 2% the gap was 54.9%, the TUC said.

"It is shocking the UK still has such a large gender pay differences at the top of the labour market after more than four decades of equal pay and sex discrimination legislation," said Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC.

"We need pay transparency, equal pay audits and a requirement on companies to tackle gender inequality - or face fines."