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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 25 Apr 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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52 percent of Saudi Women Lack Skills ‘A Myth’ To Join Workforce: Study

New Age Islam News Bureau

25 Apr 2018

 Fatimah Salem Baeshen currently serves as a spokeswoman for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC



 Fatimah Baeshen, spokeswoman for Saudi embassy in DC

 Team of All-Women Shop Inspectors Dispatched In Madinah

 Complaint Upheld Over Times Story about Girl Fostered By Muslims

 Indonesian Women's Group Not Sweet On Sugar Firms

 Women Driving Lessons Cost 6 Times More than For Men

 Achieving Gender Equality for a Better Pakistan

 Iran: Women Actively Participate In Protests In Tehran, Mashhad, Karaj

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




52 percent of Saudi Women Lack Skills ‘A Myth’ To Join Workforce: Study

April 25, 2018

RIYADH — More than half (52%) of women in Saudi Arabia believe the perception that they are not equipped with the necessary skill sets to join the workforce in the Kingdom is the biggest myth hindering their success and employment. This is according to a new research from LinkedIn – the world’s largest professional network with over 546 million members – that examines the barriers and opportunities to female hiring. At the same time, more than 60% of Saudi women and recruiters agree there is great progress and efforts in the Kingdom towards achieving Saudi Arabia’s vision to increase women’s participation in the workforce from 22% to 30% by 2030.

The research is part of LinkedIn’s ‘Hear It From Me’ (Esmaaha Menni) campaign which encourages women in Saudi to showcase their skills and build their professional brand on the platform in order to be found and hired for key roles across Saudi companies, fulfilling the country’s 2030 Strategy goals.

According to the research, one in two (52%) recruiters believe that gender equality leads to higher productivity while (40%) believe the key benefit of hiring men and women equally is that it advances a creative culture, indicating a willingness to provide more opportunities for women. However, while they are ready to join the workforce, (37%) of Saudi women believe employers still need to do more to hire them in key roles and more than a third (38%) find that the hardest thing about getting a job in Saudi Arabia is finding the right opportunity to match their expectations.

Looking at LinkedIn’s insights, it was noted that more than 63% of Saudi women members have indicated completing Bachelor’s Degrees, exceeding other developed countries, such as the United States which comes at 57%. On the other hand, over 17% have completed a Master’s Degree, demonstrating the efforts Saudi women are taking in equipping themselves with the necessary knowledge and skill sets. The top three fields of study for women in Saudi are Business Management & Administration, followed by Computer science and Health science.

There are currently various efforts from companies and entities in the Kingdom that support gender diversity. Amongst which comes Takamol, the government company and partner of Ministry of Labor and social development in Saudi Arabia and which directly supports women’s employment in the kingdom.

Dr. Ahmad Al-Yamani, CEO of Takamol said: “Since the establishment of Takamol Holding, the employment of women and increasing their participation in the workforce has been a crucial priority and one of the reasons behind the success of the firm’s initiatives and projects. In fact, women make up 33% of the total number of employees at Takamol. In line with the Saudi Vision 2030 which aims to increase women’s participation in the workforce, Takamol Holding launched several programs to empower women in the Saudi workforce including Wusool, Qurrah, Tojjar which is an electronic platform and Bahr. At Takamol Holding, we will continue, through our social development partnerships, to support all initiatives and projects aligned with the Vision, which can only be achieved through the mutual cooperation of both men and women who are able to fulfill our highest ambitions and contribute to a positive economy.”

In recent months, great progress has been made in the Kingdom specifically for women joining leading positions in the Saudi workforce. One great example is Dr Hayat Sindi who was one of the first female members to join the consultative assembly of Saudi Arabia. She is also a member of the Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General as well as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

Commenting on the role of society to help women enter the kingdom’s workforce, Dr Hayat Sindi, Member of the consultative assembly of Saudi Arabia, Member of the Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador said: “Indeed, a lot is being done in Saudi Arabia to empower women. Over the coming few years, it is crucial that we continue to take positive actions to increase women’s role in major industries such as science and technology. This can be achieved through making careers in these industries more accessible and attractive to women. We also need to continue extending our support to more women professionals to help transform them into leaders in their respective fields through providing the courses and education needed. This will help unleash women’s potential faster and would be a win for society.»

From LinkedIn’s side, Reem Mohamed, Head of Public Sector for KSA at LinkedIn, said: “As LinkedIn, our main mission is to connect everyone in the global workforce with economic opportunity. Today we have around 4,500 job opportunities available in Saudi Arabia on LinkedIn and so we are encouraging professionals to use our platform to build their professional brand and as a result become more visible to potential employers and recruiters.”

He added: “In this new era, creating a skilled and balanced workforce can only be achieved through collaborative actions from both sides. LinkedIn’s role is to bridge the gap between employers and professionals by providing a platform where these two audiences can easily find and connect with each other. For the women who are keen to further their careers, they need to ensure they are visible to recruiters by using platforms such as LinkedIn, so they can start to change this narrative, and the Kingdom can thrive by creating a more productive and creative workforce.” — SG


Fatimah Baeshen, spokeswoman for Saudi embassy in DC

25 April 2018

Fatimah Salem Baeshen currently serves as a spokeswoman for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC, since September 2017. Prior to that, she was a civil servant and economic consultant, and held positions at Aon, the Islamic Development Bank, the World Bank, Emirates Foundation for Youth Development, and the Saudi Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Economy and Planning.

Baeshen is a socioeconomic strategist with more than 15 years of experience in the fields of intersection of economic reform, human rights, private sector development and civic engagement. Baeshen is the first woman to hold a spokesperson’s position in the Saudi government.

Baeshen was born in Saudi Arabia, raised in the US, and grew up in Oxford, Mississippi. She graduated from Oxford High School in Oxford, Mississippi in 1997, attained a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with distinction from the University of Massachusetts in 2002, and a Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago in 2009 where she wrote her thesis on “Islamic Finance Regulation in Secular Markets.”

Recently, she served as a director at the Arabia Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Washington DC, in 2017.

Baeshen has a number of publications to her credit from the Islamic Finance News (IFN) which include “Abu Dhabi to the Rescue” issued in December 2009, “Al-Rajhi Bank: Still Growing Strong” issued in November 2009, “What Happens When Sukuk Default?” issued in December 2009, “A Modern Oasis” issued in November 2009 and “Kuwait Forms a Front” issued in December 2009.

Baeshen has also written columns for Arab News and Time.

She is one of the most important and prominent female Saudi figures as she is focused on the economic empowerment of Saudi women.



Team Of All-Women Shop Inspectors Dispatched In Madinah

April 25, 2018

Manama: In a new breakthrough for women in Saudi Arabia, a team of Saudi women inspectors carried out their first market tour in Madinah.

The team was dispatched by the all-women Municipal Council, the first to be set up in the kingdom.

The deployment in the second most sacred city for Muslims was made months after women were deployed to inspect shops in Makkah, the most sacred city, for the first time during the Haj season in September.

In November, Madinah Municipality announced it was setting up the first all-women city council in order to provide women with full municipal services while investing in their creative competencies and empowering them.

On Tuesday, Mayor of the Madinah region Mohammad Bin Abdul Hadi Al Amri launched the first inspection tour and said the deployment was in line with the empowerment of women as set in the goals and aspirations of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and National Transformation Programme (NTP) 2020

Human Resources General Director Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Tuwaijri said field tours by the women inspectors would generate numerous new ideas that would help ease the work process and enable women to partner with men as the twin forces steering development forward, Saudi daily Okaz reported on Wednesday.

The Women’s Council will provide the full range of municipal services, including issuing licences for all commercial activities and for construction and carrying out field inspections to ensure full compliance with the law and with trade regulations.

Most comments on social media applauded the decision to set up the Women’s Council and saw in it a new opportunity for women to build on their aptitudes and boost social and economic reforms.

Several users said that women would be much more understanding and tolerant than male inspectors when dealing with situations.

Those who opposed the field visits claimed women would face major difficulties during inspection tours and should be confined to office work. However, they did not provide definitions of “major difficulties.”

Women in Saudi Arabia have made huge strides as the country opens up under an ambitious reform drive that has given them several rights, including holding, attending and participating sporting events and obtaining Saudi driving licences starting June 24.



Complaint Upheld Over Times Story about Girl Fostered By Muslims

24 Apr 2018

A press watchdog has upheld a complaint against the Times over its coverage of the fostering placement of a young girl in east London.

Notice of a ruling by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) was published on the front page of Wednesday’s print edition.

In August last year, the Times reported that a “white Christian child” had been left distressed after being placed with two Muslim households in Tower Hamlets.

However, the initial claims soon proved to be a one-sided account, as further details emerged, including the revelation that the girl’s own grandmother – with whom she was ultimately to be placed – was herself a Muslim and did not speak English.

Tower Hamlets council complained about an article on the front page of the newspaper’s 30 August edition – the third front page dedicated to the story that week – in which the newspaper had implied a judge had ruled against the council by ordering that the then five-year-old girl be removed from the Muslim household and placed with her grandmother. In fact, it was the council that had requested the girl be placed with her grandmother.

Under the headline: “Ipso upholds complaint against Times”, the paper says in Wednesday’s edition that Ipso has ruled the article breached rule one of the editor’s code, which concerns accuracy.

The Ipso ruling, which was published in full on page two, called the 30 August article a “distortion” of the issue.

“The article gave the impression that the judge had found that the placement was a ‘failure’ by the council; and that this was why she was ‘removing’ the child from her current foster carers, and placing the child with the grandmother.” This was incorrect.

The ruling added: “The impression given by the article was that the judge’s decision represented a finding against the complainant’s assessment of the child’s needs in organising the foster placements. This was not what the court had decided, or an implication of what the court had decided.”

The furore surrounding child AB, as she was known in court documents, was prompted by a front-page article in the Times headlined: “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” on 28 August last year.

The paper reported that a “white Christian child” had been placed with two Muslim households by Tower Hamlets council over a period of six months. According to confidential local authority reports, a social services supervisor had described the child crying, asking not to be returned to one foster carer because “they don’t speak English”.

The report included a pixellated photograph of the girl in the company of a woman – said to be her foster carer – wearing Islamic dress.

The Daily Mail picked up the story on its front page the following day under the headline: “MPs’ anger as Christian girl forced into Muslim foster care.”

The former Mail Online columnist and commentator, Katie Hopkins, tweeted an image of the front page, asking: “Which individual at Tower Hamlets was responsible for the abuse of this little girl?”

The Daily Mail and Mail Online did not have a photograph of the girl at the heart of the case. Instead, they used a stock picture of a Muslim family to illustrate the story in print and online. But they altered the image to cover the woman’s face with a veil.

The family court judge, Khatun Sapnara, took the rare step of publishing a court order that contained details that contradicted the original reporting of the case.

The child’s maternal grandmother was revealed to be a “non-practising Muslim”.

It was revealed the grandmother did not speak English, with the order saying she required a translation of the document. The grandmother also expressed a desire to “return to her country of origin and care for the child there”.

It is understood the foster carers at the heart of the case were left distraught and upset by the reports and Tower Hamlets council received abusive phone calls from both sides of the Atlantic.



Indonesian women's group not sweet on sugar firms

April 25, 2018

An Indonesian women's group is stepping up its battle against two state-run sugarcane companies as it prepares to file a lawsuit alleging they have destroyed the environment and caused women and children to suffer.

The move comes as the government is now considering diverting US$2 billion from a state fund to roll out welfare projects for palm oil farmers who are also allegedly suffering at the hands of big plantations.

However, the government risks being subjected to more criticism over the sugarcane behemoths as they both fall under the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises. They are tasked with providing sugar for Indonesia's western and eastern territories, necessitating the conversion of huge tracts of land.

PT Perkebunan Nusantara in Cinta Manis district of South Sumatra province and PT Perkebunan Nusantara in Takalar district of South Sulawesi have reportedly converted 20,000 hectares and 2,000 hectares, respectively, into sugar plantations.

"We will fight the two companies in court because they have impoverished women, grabbed people's land and destroyed the environment," Puspa Dewy, executive director of Women's Solidarity, told on April 23.

The group claims the companies have caused a total of 40,000 people in 22 villages to become mired in poverty.

Dewy said local residents, farmers and other groups are now teaming up to fight back.

In Indonesia, women's empowerment is gaining steam, with an estimated 1,200 women taking part in the second Women's March in Jakarta in March to push for new regulations to protect women from violence.

Meanwhile, Women's Solidarity claims it has gathered evidence showing a number of illegal acts committed by the two companies and is now ready to go to court.

"There are many cases where farmers, particularly women, have lost their land," Dewy said.

"This has forced them to become daily laborers or even migrant workers because their land has been taken from them by force," she said.

In 2021 the two companies' permits to operate will expire so people must voice their opposition now in a bid to ensure the permits are not renewed, she said.

"We have urged the government to steer away from this kind of exploitative development model by focusing on investment and industrialization," she added.

The group has also teamed up with NGOs tasked with protecting the environment to bolster its case as it prepares to litigate.

Tia Paramitha, 38, a farmer in Ogan Ilir of North Sumatra, said the sugar company in her area has seized her land and that of many other families, forcing her to seek employment overseas for the last two years in Malaysia.

"Many farmers have lost their livelihoods," Paramitha told

"Now with the help of non profit groups, we are trying to fight back."

Father Frans Sani Lake, director of the church-funded Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) for the Kalimantan region, said he supports the farmers who are resorting to legal measures to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

He said converting their land to pave the way for mega-projects, including sugarcane plantations, is robbing people of their right to eat and earn an honest living.

"The government must ensure farmers' rights are respected and follow the recent recommendation of the United Nations on food," he told on April 23.

Father Peter Aman from the Indonesian Franciscan Order of the JPIC, said the upcoming lawsuits were morally justified and stand a fair chance of succeeding as it appears that laws have been breached.

"This is a form of feudalism and capitalism endorsed by the government because these state companies are impoverishing people, taking their land and forcing them to work abroad or in other regions," he said.

He said the government must provide subsidies to the farmers by way of compensation.

Officials from the companies were not immediately available for comment.



Women driving lessons cost 6 times more than for men

April 25, 2018

DAMMAM — The cost of driving lessons for women range between SR2,000 and SR3,000 as compared to SR450 for men, according to the head of the Saudi Society for Traffic Safety Dr. Abdulhameed Al-Mejel.

Driving schools for women will be completely different from those of men and will be run by female trainers and supervisors who are highly-qualified, Al-Mejel was quoted as saying by Al-Watan Arabic daily on Tuesday.

He said the fees will be commensurate with the quality of driving lessons and training provided to women.

“Many women have participated in awareness workshops and forums and shown a high-level of preparedness and compliance with the traffic and safety rules,” Al-Mejel said.

Around 600 women have so far enrolled in training courses and are being given driving lessons.

They are provided with all the information they need to operate a vehicle and observe safety rules.

Meanwhile, Princess Abeer Bint Faisal, the wife of the emir of the Eastern Province, opened the Women Driving Awareness Forum under the theme “My Driving...My Will” on Monday.

The forum will continue for four days at Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University in Dammam.

The event is organized by the Saudi Society for Traffic Safety and focuses on preparing women for driving.



Achieving gender equality for a better Pakistan

Dr Musarat Amin

APRIL 25, 2018

The presence of misogyny and sexism has devastating consequences for any society. Especially because women don’t get the opportunities to excel in their career or any other facet of life. The chauvinistically constituted structure of society itself limits women’s access to resources. To allow such a state of affairs to continue would be to ignore the constant violation of women’s fundamental human rights. This country’s urban areas have gradually begun to change in this regard, but rural areas remain trapped in the darkness of male chauvinism. Women often face constant domestic violence, and risk expulsion from their homes if they speak out against such barbarism.

Developed countries have realised the potential of their women, and this has been a milestone in their progress and development. Women work side by side with men in rising China as well. The Chinese workforce takes full advantage of women’s talent. In Pakistan however, there is a lack of qualified women, and few if any, are ever appointed to positions of real power.

In most policy making circles, women are mere participants without any real powers to exercise. The situation is the same in diplomacy. Women are rarely given the portfolio of chief negotiator in negotiations with important countries like India or Afghanistan.

In war, women and children suffer the most. Perhaps this is why international peace organization acknowledge women’s indispensable role in preventing war and achieving sustainable peace. ‘Women Waging Peace’, a grassroots peace movement comprising thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women marched on Jerusalem in 2015, demanding peace between Israel and Palestine. However, mainstream international media paid no attention to the movement.

Women’s role in sustaining peace has also been recognised by the United Nations (UN). Its Resolution 1325has urged the UN Secretary General to expand women’s role in UN operations; including as military observers, humanitarian workers and civil police. The resolution urges all member states to take effective measures to protect women from gender-based violence and armed conflict. The Pakistani government — to say the least — has not been efficient in implementing this resolution in letter and spirit.

In many parts of the world — including Pakistan — women are perceived as frail. This is a socially constructed concept, as history is replete with great women who have hailed from multiple vocations. They have even been rulers; such as Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh of Egypt; Theodora; Empress of Byzantium; Amalasuntha, queen of the Goths; Suiko of Japan; Isabella of Castile and Razia Sultana of Delhi.

In a patriarchal society like Pakistan where women are kept highly dependent on men, they are prevented from make decisions about their own life. This includes important and life-altering decisions like if, when and whom to marry. How can we expect that such a society will ever progress or develop?

We Pakistanis love perceiving ourselves as victims, and often claim that it is the conspiracies of other nations which keep our country from progressing. Meanwhile, we ignore our own flaws — including how women are treated in this country.

Currently we are in the ending stages of a prolonged war against terrorism. Peace is slowly returning to conflict areas. If this process is to be accelerated, women ought to work side by side with men. More women’s schools and vocational institutes are urgently needed. Change can be achieved through such an approach, and it is needed urgently.

Women’s seats remain vacant in various Pakistani departments — often because of sexist ideas that permeate our society. The clergy makes things worse by encouraging sexism in the name of religion, culture and social norms. However, this same clergy fails to provide any meaningful insight into the brutal sexual violence that occurs against women and minors in this country, nor has it been able to come up with a plan to stop such incidents from happening. They remain preoccupied with their meaningless slogans and keeping women confined to the household.

Pakistan’s quota system maintains a limited levels of women’s participation. Qualified women from engineering and medical universities lose opportunities because of the limited number of seats available. Government’s must consider eliminating this system, and come up with a mechanism to ensure merit so that the best talent is recruited regardless of gender. Including in diplomacy and other conflict resolution related fields, as this would promote peaceful resolution instead of escalation.

Woman are fully capable of leading and participating in decision making, and contributing to a country’s economy and society. It has been proven that achieving gender equality helps improve societies by preventing conflict and boosting economies, and we cannot afford to ignore this any longer.



Iran: Women actively participate in protests in Tehran, Mashhad, Karaj

25 April 2018

Several protests took place in Tehran and other cities across Iran on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, where women actively took part in them.

Young women studying in College of Environment in Karaj staged a protest. The college’s female students chanted in unison, “The status of students must be determined.”

Based on a decision made by Eassa Kalantari, head of the Environmental Protection Organization of Iran, the College of Environment will not admit new students in the new academic year and is going to be turned into a training center for environmental protection guards.

The decision was accompanied by expulsion of a number of professors and members of the Faculty of Science from the college which has led to student protests since April 21, 2018.

In another protest, depositors of Caspian Institute in Tehran gathered in front of the company’s branch on Fatemi Ave. and demanded to have their deposits back.

In another protest across from the Court of Financial Crimes, protestors set fire to a banner bearing the portrait of Valiollah Saif, President of the Central Bank. They also signed a petition demanding that the President of the Central Bank and his deputies be banned from leaving the country.

On the same day, investors whose money has been plundered by Padideh Institute, gathered in protest outside the Supreme Court of Justice. They chanted, “O’ Supreme Court of Justice, justice, justice” and “sell Padideh and give our money back.”

Also in Mashhad, people plundered by Afzal Tous Institute gathered in protest in front of its building on Sajjad Blvd. and chanted, “If Saif flees Iran, there would be an uprising throught the country” and “One less embezzlement could solve our problem.”




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