New Age Islam
Wed Aug 12 2020, 05:36 PM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 22 March 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

‘Afghan American Idol’ Won By a Woman for the First Time
















Zahra Elham became the first woman to win Afghan Star, a local version of American Idol.(Twitter/Afghan Star)

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Malala Yousafzai Urges G20 to Boost Funds For Girls’ Schooling

Women Candidates Take a Stand in Thailand

News Anchors Join New Zealand Women Wearing Headscarves for Mosque Attack Victims

Saudi Camel Racing No Longer an All-Male Affair, Says Princess Jamila

Saudi Women’s Basketball Team Win Gold in Special Olympics

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/‘afghan-american-idol’-won-by-a-woman-for-the-first-time/d/118108

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‘Afghan American Idol’ Won By a Woman for the First Time

Mar 22, 2019

An Afghan woman has become the first to win a popular singing competition, with her victory coming as fears grow that women could lose hard-won rights if the US does a peace deal with the Taliban.

Zahra Elham, in her 20s and from Afghanistan’s Hazara ethnic minority, snatched first place from her male runner-up on Afghan Star -- a local version of American Idol -- in which hundreds of men and women have competed for 14 seasons.

“I popped the hearts of men out of their chests today,” a happy Elham told the audience during the contest’s finale late Thursday.

“I am so so happy, I cannot even find words to express my feelings... Today, I represent all the girls of Afghanistan. Today not only Zahra Elham but all the girls in Afghanistan have won,” she said amid cheers, applause and even tears from the admiring audience.

UK in Afghanistan

@UKinAfghanistan

Congratulations to Zahra Elham! First woman to win @Afghan_star. Great start to the year. @TOLO_TV #Afghanistan

Saad Mohseni

@saadmohseni

Amazing news from Kabul: Zahra Elham becomes the first woman to win the @Afghan_Star competition (in its 14th year). This may not seem like a big deal to people outside, but the Afghans have come a long way in not only tolerating a woman on stage but also voting for one @TOLO_TV

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Known for her high pitch and raspy voice, she had previously said she wanted to break the grasp of male winners on the competition, first launched in 2005 and one of Afghanistan’s most popular television shows.

“Your win is a slap in the face of jealous Afghan men,” Sonita Rasa wrote on Zahra’s Facebook page.

“Hope you don’t disappear after this big win and hope the situation allows you to continue to get to your dreams,” Tanin, another user, wrote.

As talks between Washington and the Taliban aimed at ending the long war progress, many Afghans fear a premature US withdrawal could see the Taliban return to some semblance of power.

Young women, keenly aware of how their gender was banished behind doors and beneath burkas under Taliban rule, are among the most vocal in warning they will not compromise their hard-won rights if the insurgents return.

The Taliban have given few details of what they want in Afghanistan, and it is unclear what a post-conflict government would look like -- but under their strict interpretation of Islam the militants have never been in favour of women, or shows like Afghan Star.

“Peace is on its way, hope the future peace has the Afghan Star contest in it,” Mustafa Azizyar, the show’s presenter said, after presenting the trophy.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/afghan-american-idol-won-by-a-woman-for-the-first-time/story-vpJZMge3P9MdWYgjuL6dYO.html

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Malala Yousafzai Urges G20 to Boost Funds For Girls’ Schooling

Mar 23, 2019

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai on Friday urged Japan and its fellow Group of 20 nations to pledge new funding for educating girls at June’s G20 summit, hosted by the Japanese.

Speaking alongside Shinzo Abe, the celebrated education activist told Japan’s Prime Minister about “the importance of investing in girls now for future economic growth and global stability.”

“As the chair of this year’s G20, I hope Prime Minister Abe in Japan will lead on girls’ education and encourage all leaders to commit to new funding to prepare girls for the future of work,” she told reporters.

“I hope he can use his G20 presidency to help my sisters in Japan, G20 countries and around the world to reach their full potential because the world works better when girls go to school.”

Malala became a global symbol for girls’ education and human rights after a gunman boarded her school bus in October 2012, asked “Who is Malala?” and shot her.

After medical treatment in the UK, she continued her vocal advocacy and became the youngest-ever person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/03/22/malala-yousafzai-urges-g20-to-boost-funds-for-girls-schooling/

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Women Candidates Take a Stand in Thailand

MARCH 23, 2019

With Thailand’s general election on March 24, its first in eight years, the nation is abuzz. Voters’ emotions range from excited to worried to outright scared, and until recently repressed public spaces are now alive with political talk, including about women candidates on the ballot.

“It’s good that there more women candidates,” says Pakawan Ariya Thanapoonsil, a 60-year-old food vendor from Thailand’s central Prachinburi province. “When I see more women on the campaign posters, I feel proud.”

Best known among them is premier candidate Sudarat Keyuraphan of the main opposition party Peua Thai, connected to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

At a campaign rally in February in Nonthaburi, a province just northwest of Bangkok, Sudarat addressed an audience of more than a thousand, who showered her with roses and kisses as she made her way to the stage.

“You choose Peua Thai and you’ll get Sudarat. You choose the other parties and you’ll get two uncles!” she said to the crowd, answering in a chorus of cheers.

But Sudarat is a rarity in Thailand, where women are severely underrepresented in politics.

“As a woman, when I fight with the army, the people sympathize with me more, and it gives a lot of inspiration to other women,” Sudarat told Asia Times in an interview. “[But] it’s quite hard work [to be a woman candidate] … and it’s quite difficult to recruit other women candidates.”

Of the 68 prime ministerial candidates in this election, just eight are women. Moreover, as of January 2019, women made up only 5.4% of the country’s military-appointed parliament, according to a UN Women index that ranked Thailand 182 out of 193 nations. For women in ministerial positions, Thailand ties for last place at 0%.

“We know that women are underrepresented as voters and in leadership positions across the globe,” says Alison Davidian, program specialist at the Women, Peace and Security division of UN Women.

“We can start working on that right now, to set the groundwork for more women to be engaged, so that we’re not relying on individual women to break down obstacles but giving women collectively more opportunities to participate.”

Many Thai voters, men included, say they don’t care about the gender of the next prime minister, as long as he or she brings about the change they’re desperately looking for.

After what many Thais see as an illegitimate takeover, a military dictatorship has been in power since 2014, leading to, in their opinion, a weakened economy and worsened livelihoods.

But while the public would, in theory, put more women in political office, they say there’s a shortage of qualified candidates.

“It would be an achievement to have another woman as prime minister,” says 47-year-old taxi driver Wanchai Poonprasit, referring to the country’s first and only female premier, Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, who was unseated in the 2014 military coup.

“It would be an achievement to have more women in parliament. … But women are not interested in politics. They don’t apply to become candidates.”

Women’s underrepresentation in government, however, has less to do with actual disinterest in politics than with the unlevel playing field that severely limits access and engagement, says Davidian. Ranging from gender discrimination to major gaps in resources and capacity building, the structural barriers are steep.

“We need to challenge the gender stereotypes that exist as part of the culture norms that prevent women from being able to run,” says Davidian, pointing to traditional attitudes that men are more capable and politically minded, despite evidence showing that greater numbers of women in office lead to improved governance, decreased corruption and more sustainable peace.

And in patriarchal societies like Thailand, such stereotypes are even more pronounced, with many still viewing politics as a man’s domain, too rough and tumble for women to handle.

According to Ruengrawee Pichaikul, director of the Gender and Development Research Institute (GDRI) in Bangkok, this public perception has much to do with Thailand’s history of political violence, ranging from the country’s many coups since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1932, to reports of rampant vote-rigging, vote-buying and other forms of electoral corruption.

Women candidates are also subjected to greater scrutiny than their male counterparts, adds Ruengrawee, whereby they’re more likely to be professionally evaluated based on their personal lives, and then judged and harassed for them.

“Women candidates can be defeated very easily due to stigmatization,” she says.

In the Malay Muslim-majority Deep South of Thailand, where some believe Islam bans women’s leadership, the prejudice is even more extreme.

Patimoh Pak Etaedaod, a Muslim MP candidate from Yala running under the Action Coalition for Thailand banner, says she’s endured online attacks for being a single mother and false accusations of using sex to advance her career.

“Men have accused me of being a mistress,” she told Asia Times. “Men have told me that you can talk about human rights but you cannot talk about women’s rights. Actually, women’s rights are included in human rights, but here it’s as if they’re separated.” Another Muslim MP candidate, Pechdau Tohmeena of the Bhumjaithai party, says she’s encountered resistance from men who don’t want to acknowledge her candidacy, despite the Islamic Committee ruling that while women cannot serve as imams, they can serve as representatives.

“I have to explain a lot,” Pechdau told Asia Times. “When I went to the mosque, the imam understands, but … in the village, they hear, ‘females cannot, females cannot,’ even though we can.”

In a 2000 Inter-Parliamentary Union survey of female parliamentarians, 37% said gender-based hostility was a roadblock to them running. Another IPU study, from 2016, found 81.8% had been the target of psychological violence.

In the Malay Muslim-majority Deep South of Thailand, where some believe Islam bans women’s leadership, the prejudice is even more extreme.

Patimoh Pak Etaedaod, a Muslim MP candidate from Yala running under the Action Coalition for Thailand banner, says she’s endured online attacks for being a single mother and false accusations of using sex to advance her career.

“Men have accused me of being a mistress,” she told Asia Times. “Men have told me that you can talk about human rights but you cannot talk about women’s rights. Actually, women’s rights are included in human rights, but here it’s as if they’re separated.” Another Muslim MP candidate, Pechdau Tohmeena of the Bhumjaithai party, says she’s encountered resistance from men who don’t want to acknowledge her candidacy, despite the Islamic Committee ruling that while women cannot serve as imams, they can serve as representatives.

“I have to explain a lot,” Pechdau told Asia Times. “When I went to the mosque, the imam understands, but … in the village, they hear, ‘females cannot, females cannot,’ even though we can.”

In a 2000 Inter-Parliamentary Union survey of female parliamentarians, 37% said gender-based hostility was a roadblock to them running. Another IPU study, from 2016, found 81.8% had been the target of psychological violence.

https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/03/article/women-candidates-take-a-stand-in-thailand/

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News Anchors Join New Zealand Women Wearing Headscarves for Mosque Attack Victims

March 22, 2019

CHRISTCHURCH: News anchors in New Zealand joined women across the country in wearing headscarves as a show of solidarity on Friday for the victims of last week’s mosques shooting.

The newsreaders covering the memorial events for the 50 people killed by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch, began broadcasts with Islamic greetings.

They included The AM Show news anchor Amanda Gillies, who said she agonized over whether to cover her hair with a peach-colored scarf.

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TV news in New Zealand on March 22.  #HeadScarfForHarmony

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"There's no way a week ago that I would have, because I would have thought it would have been deemed inappropriate, not right, that I was insulting the Muslim community," Gillies said.

"I'll be honest - I did angst over it today whether I should wear it, because I didn't want to be inappropriate or offend the Muslim community. But I know that they are so welcoming and accepting of it, and I know that a lot of women will wear it today because it just shows that we are united - the solidarity is there, the love and support is there."

Elsewhere, women across the country wore hijabs on an emotional day when the shocked  nation came together to remember those killed.

Rafaela Stoakes, a 32-year-old mother of two, said wearing the Islamic head covering gave her an insight into what it means to stand out and feel part of the minority.

On Friday morning she covered all but a few locks of her dark chestnut-coloured hair in a loose red and white scarf, crossed neatly beneath her chin and tucked into a black hiking jacket.

She was one of many women embracing #HeadScarfforHarmony, to make a stand against the hate espoused by the Australian man who killed dozens of worshippers.

Headscarves were also worn as a mark of respect by policewomen and non-Muslim volunteers directing the crowds around the site in Christchurch holding communal prayers on Friday.

Many were wearing a headscarf for the first time.

"It is amazing how different I felt for the short time I was out this morning," Stoakes told AFP.

"There were a lot of confused looks and some slightly aggressive ones," she said.

"I did feel a sense of pride to honour my Muslim friends, but I also felt very vulnerable and alone as I was the only person wearing one."

"It must take a lot of courage to do this on a daily basis."

The gesture caught on nationwide -- in offices, schools and on the streets -- as well as at the ceremonies held in Christchurch to mark one week since the killings at the hands of a self-avowed white supremacist.

Women flooded Twitter, Facebook and other social media -- which played a key role in allowing the gunman to spread his message -- with their images.

Kate Mills Workman, a 19-year-old student from Wellington, posted a selfie on Twitter wearing a green headscarf.

"If I could I would be attending the mosque and standing outside to show my support for my Muslim whanau but I've got lectures and I can't really skip them," she told AFP, using a Maori language term for extended family.

"Obviously this is all spurred on by the terrible tragedy in Christchurch, but it's also a way of showing that any form of harassment or bigotry based on a symbol of religion is never okay," she added.

"As New Zealanders, we have to make a really strong stand."

Although the headscarf has been the subject of contentious debate over gender rights in the Islamic world, for Stoakes the day has been a lesson in how pious Muslim women often do not have the option to melt away into the background when they feel vulnerable.

"We can nod and pretend to agree with people who we are afraid of, or plead ignorance if we feel in danger of confrontation," she said.

"But a Muslim is just right out there. Like a bullseye. Their hijabs and clothing speak before they do."

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1470926/media

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Saudi Camel Racing No Longer an All-Male Affair, Says Princess Jamila

March 23, 2019

JEDDAH: A camel owned by a woman will compete in an official race in Saudi Arabia for the first time, a senior figure in the sport said on Friday.

Fahd bin Hithleen, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Camel Club and the newly appointed president of the International Camel Organization (ICO), said the race is part of the closing day of the King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival on the outskirts of Riyadh, which began on Feb. 5 and ends on March 23.

“The camel race will end this Saturday with the participation of the first female in camel racing,” Hithleen said on his official Twitter account. “I congratulate Princess Jamila Bint Abdulmajeed bin Saud bin Abdulaziz for breaking into the camel world and wish her all the success.”

The festival finale will take place in the presence of King Salman.

Princess Jamila said that camel racing is no longer exclusively the preserve of men, as the ongoing reforms in the country continue to empower Saudi women and open up new opportunities for them across the Kingdom.

The Kingdom established the ICO, the first global group of its kind for camels, on Thursday with the participation of representatives from 96 countries. Riyadh was chosen as the location for its headquarters and Hithleen was appointed to serve a five-year term as its first president.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1471026/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Women’s Basketball Team Win Gold in Special Olympics

Mar 22 2019

The whole team jumps in unison, celebrating the victory, with each athlete buzzing with joy as they excitedly embrace each other. It was a moment the Saudi Arabian women’s unified basketball team is unlikely to ever forget. The team has just clinched gold in its maiden appearance at Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.

Saudi women had never participated in the Special Olympics until now. However, in this edition a group of 21 women made history by becoming the first-ever female athletes from KSA to compete across various sports including Basketball, Bocce, track and field and bowling.

Saudi female athletes are finally getting the opportunity to participate in international events like their male counter parts.

And the female athletes at the Special Olympics did not disappoint. Apart from the basketball, Saudi women’s bocce team also won a silver medal with several individuals also picking up medals.

“It is fantastic that we got to participate, the athletes were delighted when they got the news of participation. As you saw they played really well and we knew they have the capability to beat any team,” head coach of SO Saudi Arabia’s female unified basketball team Raja Al-Hammouri told PTI. “It was a very good experience for them. They have continuously competed at the national level with each other but this the first time these female athletes have participated at the Special Olympics,” she added.

The team, which features five athletes with Down Syndrome, beat Ivory Coast 26-11 to claim the top honours.

The Special Olympics, the biggest international sports and humanitarian event, saw participation from a record number of female athletes. The Local Organising Committee played a key role in encouraging not only the participation of female athletes but also of coaches, volunteers and addition staff.

“Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi is leading by example when it comes to promoting female inclusion. More than half of the LOC staff are women and key female figures are helping to drive the Special Olympics movement towards its goals,” LOC Chief Strategy Officer, Tala Al Ramahi said.

“These World Games have welcomed a record-breaking number of female athletes. Almost 40 per cent of the athletes who have competed in sporting competitions over the last few days are women, with over 2,800 females taking to the playing field,” she added.

For this edition of the game the LOC introduced more sports for women and also increased the quota.

“There is an increase of female athletes from the last edition of the games. There are 129 female athletes in the Indian contingent. There were 89 in 2015. The organising committee has increased the quota for the female participants,” SO Bharat’s National Sports Director, Victor Vaz, said.

https://www.greaterkashmir.com/(X(1)S(4p0n5kelsp2ud555ahp2n1fm))/news/sports/saudi-women-s-basketball-team-win-gold-in-special-olympics/317202.html

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