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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 21 Feb 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Anti-Headscarf Campaigner Shaparak Shajarizadeh of Iran Calls For Vote Boycott

New Age Islam News Bureau

21 Feb 2020

An Iraqi university student covers her face with Iraqi flag as she protests to express her rejection of the newly appointed Prime Minister of Iraq, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, during ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad

(photo credit: REUTERS)


• More than Football: Kurdish Women Win Big With Syria Title

• Lucy Van Der Haar Crowned First Ever Dubai Women’s Tour Champion

• Amna Baig Is My Dream Pakistan Police Officer For She Has Empathy

• Major Sabrina Saadi, the Muslim Female Police In Israel Became The First Hijabi Police Officer In The Jewish Majority Country

• Iraqi Women Seek Rights – And To Be Part of A Change

• Women Leaders Award Honours Iconic Women From Pakistan And Abroad

• CAA: Muslim Women In Malegaon Continue Stir

• Each Additional School Year for Pakistani Girls’ Increases Future Earnings By 10pc: WB Country Director

• Turkey Will Review Measures in Women’s Rights Convention, Erdoğan Says

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




Anti-Headscarf Campaigner Shaparak Shajarizadeh of Iran Calls For Vote Boycott

February 21, 2020

GENEVA: Anti-headscarf campaigner Shaparak Shajarizadeh once believed in the potential for change in Iran but is now so despondent she is calling for a boycott of Friday’s parliamentary elections in the Islamic republic.

Shajarizadeh became a dissident in 2018 when she was arrested for repeatedly removing her headscarf in public and waving it on the end of a stick, as part of a women’s rights protest that caused a social media storm.

“The Iranian people lost their hopes ... I was among those who had some hopes. But now it is like choosing between bad and worse,” the 44-year-old women’s rights campaigner told AFP in Geneva, where she was attending an annual conference for human rights activists.

Shajarizadeh said the supposed political choice in Iran between reformist and conservative politicians was like picking between “two faces of the same coin.”

Thousands of reformist and moderate candidates are in any case being barred from contesting the elections — something that critics say could turn the vote into a choice between conservatives and ultra-conservatives.

Iranians “lost their hopes,” particularly after a bloody crackdown last year on fuel price protests, she said.

Shajarizadeh calls President Hassan Rohani, who was first elected in 2013 and again in 2017 and was once seen as a possible force for change, a “so-called reformer.”

The protest movement against Iran’s Islamic dress code began when in December 2017 when a woman, Vida Mohavedi, stood on a pillar box on Enghelab Avenue in Tehran without the mandatory long coat and raised her veil on a stick.

Enghelab means revolution in Farsi and the square and avenue are among the busiest areas in the capital.

Movahedi’s move sparked similar protests by other women like Shajarizadeh and they soon won recognition as “Dokhtaran-e-Enghelab,” or the Girls of Revolution Street.

“Young women are back in the streets,” she said — a reference to other demonstrations in recent years which have seen women taking a leading role.

During her visit to Geneva, Shajarizadeh received a prize for her defense of women’s rights in Iran but she talks about herself as an ordinary person whose life changed completely when she decided to join the protest.

She was arrested three times and beaten for her defiance.

She decided to run away, crossing the mountains into Turkey on foot with her head covered to avoid detection.

She now lives in Toronto in Canada with her husband and their 11-year-old son, from where she is still campaigning against the obligation of wearing the hijab.

The BBC has listed her as one of the world’s most influential women and she has written a book about her story with Canadian journalist Rima Elkouri.

Her lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, is a leading women’s rights campaigner in her own right and is currently in prison.

Shajarizadeh said “targeted sanctions” on the government could help change the situation in Iran but these should be designed “not to put more difficulties on the people.”

Ultimately she thinks the best agents of change are civil society movements like her own and the “real heroes” are the women who decide to show their hair in public.



More than Football: Kurdish Women Win Big With Syria Title

Feb 18, 2020

AMUDA: Samar Sheikh's neighbours used to tell her football was not for girls but the criticism stopped when her team won the very first women's championship in Syria.

The 20-year-old also finished top scorer at the end of a season that saw teams from all over Syria face off over weeks before the final that was held in late January in Damascus.

"I've been hooked on football since I was little," says Sheikh during a training session in Amuda, a town in northeastern Syria where part of the autonomous Kurdish administration is headquartered.

"I used to watch my brothers play and I've watched a lot of games," she says, as her teammates, all wearing fluorescent bibs, jog behind the coach on the artificial grass of the covered pitch.

The young Kurdish woman, sweat pearling down her face and her ruffled hair in a ponytail, recounts how she started playing when she was 15 but had to stop "because of the criticism from her family and neighbours."

She came back to it more determined than ever to overcome social and gender prejudice and it all paid off when it was with cheers that a crowd greeted her and her team off the bus after winning the national trophy.

With their medals around their necks, Sheikh and her teammates even went on a celebratory tour of Amuda, joined in dance by residents congratulating them and asking for selfies.

"I couldn't believe it," she says. "Seeing all these people in the street to celebrate our victory."

After a week-long break the team has resumed training for two hours a day.

Dalaf Hussein faced the same challenges as a teenage girl trying to live her passion for football in northeastern Syria.

Plastered on the walls of her room are posters of her favourite players, including one of Portuguese legend and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Passersby used to bother us when they saw us play in the street because it was considered a boys' sport, but we never paid attention," she says.

Hussein says she also had to deal with her parents' opposition to her playing football.

"But after our victory in the championship, there was no pushback," she says, with a chuffed smile.

Syrian society is still largely patriarchal and conservative but women enjoy greater gender equality in areas under Kurdish control.

Hussein says she hopes football will continue to grow in her region.

"Many girls have come to sign up since our victory," she says.



Lucy Van Der Haar Crowned First Ever Dubai Women’s Tour Champion

February 20, 2020

Dubai: The final stage of the inaugural Dubai Women’s Cycle Tour lived up to expectation providing plenty of action and excitement to bring the event to a thrilling conclusion.

At the end of the four-day event, stage one winner Lucy van der Haar (Hitec Products - Birk Sports) took the Red General Classification honours while also claiming the Sprinter’s green jersey, and the final day’s stage spoils went to Dutch rider Nicole Steigenga (Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport).

Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, was on hand to present the jerseys and trophies to the winners at the post-event awards ceremony.

The four-stage race took place under the patronage of Sheikha Hind Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, managed by the UAE Cycling Federation, and supported by the Dubai Sports Council.

The fourth and final Dubai Health Authority stage was contested over 112km and started and finished at Dubai Festival City.

With all to play for, the attacks started early but these were easily swallowed up by the peloton each time. The teams were clearly on edge, constantly glancing across to teammates and competing riders, eager to pounce on any opportunity they could.

It was with around 30km to go that the decisive breakaway finally came, five riders – from Team Ciclotel, Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport, Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano, Macogep-Tornatech-Girondins de Bordeaux, and Hitec attacking at just the right time and managing to open up a gap.

The group quickly agreed on a strategy to work together to maintain the gap, and with the peloton bearing down on them in the final kilometre, just managed to hold them off. It was then Steigenga who could still muster some power from tired legs to sprint for the line and take stage honours. Norwegian Amalie Lutro (Hitec) was second and Italy’s Carmela Cipriani (Aromitalia) completed the podium in third.

Van der Haar claimed the first two intermediate sprints to secure vital points. She finished in sixth place on the day, reclaiming the overall leader’s red jersey from stage three winner Tatsiana Sharakova (Minsk Cycling Club) to be crowned the first ever Dubai Women’s Cycle Tour champion.

Explaining how the race unfolded, stage winner Steigenga said: “I think it was with about 30km to go and I actually didn’t expect the breakaway then but I just followed. And at first I tried to really work hard but normally I do too much so I tried to keep it calm and I just went for the sprint at the end there.”

“My team really helped me with the bottles and support and saying I could do it. I’m really happy they gave me this opportunity because we also have a really good sprinter and she gave me the chance to go for the win. It’s really cool to win it,” added the 22-year-old who only joined Doltcini-Van Eyck this year.

A thrilled Van der Haar added: “It was super stressful and there were so many attacks going on. For me it was just a case of giving it everything to try and get that jersey. I managed to win the first two sprints so that gave me quite a lot of confidence. Then there was a breakaway at the end which was pretty dangerous.

“I’m still shocked that we’ve won it. I’m so happy. The girls all rode amazingly well so I just can’t believe that I’ve actually won a stage and a race. Everyone wanted to give it their best shot on the last day, which is understandable, so it made for a hard race,” added the British rider.

Sharakova finished in second spot in the GC and points standings with Team UAE’s stage two winner, Samah Khaled, in third.

20-year-old Colombian Daniela Atehortua Hoyos (Colnago CM Team) retained the White jersey for the best young rider (under-23) with Italian Anastasia Carbonari (Aromitalia) second and Russian Iuliia Galimullina (Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling Team) third in that classification. Britain’s Annabel Fisher (Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling Team) also held onto the Pink Climber’s jersey, with Olha Kulynych (Team Ciclotel) second and Marcela Prieto Castaneda (Agolico BMC) third.

As for the team positions, Tour winner Van der Haar’s Hitec Products - Birk Sports team finished on top with Minsk Cycling Club in second and Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano in third.



Amna Baig Is My Dream Pakistan Police Officer For She Has Empathy

February 21, 2020

Mehr Tarar

I noticed it in Netflix’s Unbelievable–a mini-series based on real incidents of sexual assault: the importance of something that has been the missing component in the handling of sexual assault cases globally for so long it became the norm. In many countries it has undergone a gradual transformation. In many countries, including mine, it is still a vague idea that uncomfortably nestles with many others whose implementation would take place in the distant, no-timeline future.

Unbelievable is about a serial sexual assaulter and police’s years-long efforts to catch him. Unbelievable is the un-layering of the blatantly patriarchal, misogynistic system’s inability to empathise with and support a victim of sexual assault. Focusing on handling of the same case by male and female police officers, Unbelievable is an unapologetic jolt to societal and systemic treatment and stereotyping of victims and survivors of sexual assault. In carefully worded empathy and humanity, the conduct of a good female police officer is a display of her perspective and treatment of a sexual assault case. Not all male cops are awful, but the majority have a predisposition to act in an insensitive nonchalance and hurried exasperation when the victim is an incoherent young female whose description of her trauma is sketchy and fluid.

In Netflix’s Broadchurch, a brilliant, three-season British crime drama that deals with the murder of a child, a shocking court trial and a serial rapist, the police duo is made up of a man and a woman. In the third season, the one on rape, in addition to the female detective, it is the male officer whose empathy is so noticeable it is like sunshine in a gloomy town that celebrates in its tininess the close bonds its inhabitants have with one another.

On being asked why she didn’t report her rape for so long one survivor says: “My GP…told me I should report it. I told her I didn’t want to. I didn’t tell anyone. Till now. I know what happens. I read the papers. I’d had a lot to drink. Plus short skirt, nice top, make-up. You think I don’t know what they’d do to me? I know how women like me get treated.”

The response of DI Alec Hardy is empathetic, unrehearsed, succinct: “Not by us.”

That is my dream Pakistani police officer. “Not by us “are the words that I wish to see translated into action when the case is of a child or a female or any other victim of abuse and violence. In a society where speaking up about sexual abuse is a taboo, victims remain hidden. The fear of judgment is so strong the pain of a violent assault takes refuge in silence. A rape victim faces a new form of assault in Pakistani police stations and hospitals. All of that must change. Some of it has. Through those who are my ideal of a police officer: kind, non-judgemental and a thorough professional.

In my search of such police officers, I thought of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Amna Baig.

I met Amna at the TEDx Islamabad 2018 where her speech was a glimpse into who she was: irrepressibly funny, self-assured yet self-effacing, very gracious. After an effusive expression of mutual admiration, we didn’t stay in touch, but we became what many truly busy–she–and wish-they-were-busy–me–are in the twenty-first century: bilateral Twitter followers. Amna is much more than an utterly warm and female-empowering Twitter buddy. She is that officer of the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) whose work ethic is representative of my ideal cop: rare but real.

A native of Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan, a NUST business school 2013 Economics graduate, Amna’s inspiration came from her retired civil servant father whose work record was a lesson in the positive difference a bureaucrat could make in ordinary people’s lives. He was in DMG, Amna opted for PSP.

Currently, Amna is posted in Islamabad with the Frontier Constabulary as an Assistant District officer.

For Amna, her PSP career has been very rewarding. She believes that it is one of the most empowering careers for a woman in Pakistan. In a society that lays a great deal of emphasis on appearances, a uniform itself is very empowering. “Societal legitimacy” is important to Amna, and PSP has that.

In Pakistan where patriarchy is so well entrenched it is like second skin, Amna has faced zero gender discrimination, neither from her seniors nor from her under-command personnel. Having served in places like Gujrat, gender discrimination has never been an issue. It was a huge surprise for Amna. Being one of the misconceptions attached with PSP, her endorsement is encouragement to female aspirants of PSP.

Another thing that Amna has noticed in PSP is that promotion is directly connected to quality of work. A good female police officer is not a fictional character. She is very much a reality in Pakistan. Hard work and competence are the key factors. The reward and reprimand are according to your work not gender.

What bothers Amna is the skewed ratio: half of the country’s population is female but only 1.6 percent is in police. The number must increase. The minuscule number serves as a multi-locked steel gate: half of Pakistan’s population is hesitant to go to a police station to report a crime.

Empathy is the keyword. That is the USP of PSP women. On several occasions, women have told Amna that the presence of a “Madam” –the formal term to address a female high-ranking civil officer–gives them courage to enter a police station. Amna wants women to report crimes. Security of life is their fundamental right. Presence of female officers in police stations is the first step. It is also the most important one.

In the world of police tainted with uneven treatment based on the material worth of a complainant, police stations are a no-go area for most people. The negative connotation attached with the fundamental right of safety and justice is a major peeve with Amna. Every day, her presence erases it. A bit.

Young women joining the police force is what would change the system, Amna believes that. A rewarding and empowering career for women, it needs more women to make it substantial and a force of change. Amna has seen the positive impact women make generally; many policemen have said to her that they wish they had a “madam” as their DPO, their senior officer. Men in uniform, having worked with Amna, think that women are more empathetic towards the public as well as the police.

Silent revolution

As Amna says, living in the 21st century our girls should have new dreams. When they look at her or any of her female colleagues, she sees hope in their eyes. That is one of Amna’s goals. That young women are free to choose. Their future should be devoid of demarcations, without the gender “unsuitability” of a career. Young women should be the master of their tomorrow. A career choice is a personal choice, and so is its “appropriateness.”

What also must change in the twenty-first century is the ratio of women in police. Amna is very vocal about it. Twelve years ago, there were only two women officers; now the number is forty-one. In her batch, there were nine officers. Seven were women. That to Amna is a big, positive ratio.

To Amna, the increasing induction of females in civil service is a “silent revolution.” The change is slow, but it is tangible.

Police career is very interesting, very empowering. That is what ASP Amna says. ASP Amna Baig loves her job. There is nothing else in the world that she would rather do. Every day is a new Netflix series happening in her office, a new case, a new interesting story to look into and solve.

The downside of a police career is subjective. The disadvantages are relative. Some people might think it is a negative thing that there are no fixed working hours. You hardly get time off, a weekend off. You are overworked. It is a compromise on your personal life. Amna is aware of all these things; she was aware of them when she joined the PSP.

Police work is teamwork, Amna is a firm endorser of that. It starts with a strong family support system. If you don’t have that your work might suffer. Police work is very draining, mentally and physically; emotional support is a requisite. You need to have a good team at work. In Amna’s words, “If you don’t have a great team at home, it is very unlikely that you’d be very good at your work. I’m very lucky. My husband is super supportive and so are my in-laws. They are the major reason I’m able to do my job well.”

Civil service has many perks. It also demands time and dedication. Many women make it to civil service, but what they lack is the right kind of support from their families. Along with many other things, this is another societal kink that has no place in Pakistan that must change to keep up with the rest of the world.

Another thing that Amna has noticed after the general oh-we-didn’t-know-Pakistani-police-officers-were-like-you response–is the prevalent misconception about police that they are not like “regular” people. She finds it hugely problematic. She feels one reason is because people have a certain image of police, that police are khatarnaak (dangerous), different from regular people. Mostly, when police are criticised, it is based on the news on the internet. Most people have not had a direct bad experience with police; the negativity builds up on someone else’s bad experiences with police.

Amna thinks it’s only fair that people speak to police officers first, and then judge. Criticism is easy. Working with insufficient human and material resources is not. Police are criticised for many things, and Amna is pragmatic. She is aware of the structural, systematic and systemic flaws of her organisation. But she also wants people to understand that police are extremely under resourced.

Empathy works. It was and is important for Amna as she feels there are certain issues that are simply women specific: domestic abuse, dowry issues, husband’s reaction on birth of a girl child, widow’s property grabbed. During her posting in Rawalpindi as ASP, Amna made special allocation of time for female complainants. Two or three days every week were allocated for cases of females; some issues were resolved at the police station level in one hearing.

There was much firefighting. Her job in Rawalpindi was difficult: security duty and maintenance of law and order. In her hectic schedule, Amna always made time for women related cases. Many times, her interactions with women felt like counselling sessions.

In her office, Amna always have time for the female constabulary. Issues in women police stations, Amna’s concern for her under-command women is empathetic and constant.

During her posting in Rawalpindi, Amna dealt with numerous cases of sexual assault. In cases in jurisdictions that only had male officers, Amna would be asked to help. Women felt comfortable with her. She listened without passing a judgment. In a machismo-scented environment where sexual assault is treated as an undesirable triviality, Amna’s kindness made a difference. It still does.

In cases of crimes against children, Amna always makes sure she is there. In Amna’s words: “I made the victims as comfortable as I could under the circumstances. I ensured they were not made to relive the ordeal. And I always went to the hospital with them for their examination.”

She is many things but most importantly, she is kind. ASP Amna Baig is a hero because her work ethic is a diurnal manifestation of that one quality that the world needs in abundance: empathy.



Major Sabrina Saadi, the Muslim Female Police In Israel Became The First Hijabi Police Officer In The Jewish Majority Country

FEBRUARY 21, 2020

Major Sabrina Saadi, a senior investigator in the youth division of the Kafr Kanna police department in Israel's Northern District, will make history as the country's first hijab-wearing police officer in the Israeli police, ynet reported.

Saadi was born and grew up in the predominately Bedouin town of Basmat Tab'un in Israel's North, and attended a prestigious high school in Haifa, where she completed her matriculation exams, later volunteering for National Service at the Coastal Police District. Following the completion of her national service, she was unable to enlist in the police force since she did not meet the qualification standards.

Suddenly, Saadi received a phone call from Israel Police deputy director Jamal Kharkash, who notified her that standards have changed regarding the admittance of religious Muslim women, allowing her to enlist in a police course and research course at the National Police College. After completing the course, she was recruited to the newly created Kafr Kanna station, which covers many community settlements, a population of 60,000 people. Saadi is the lead youth investigator at the new station, with two other youth inspectors are working alongside her.

"I grew up in a Muslim religious home, my mother is very religious and like me prays five times a day wearing a hijab. I am single and live with my family in the village. I want to send a message to religious Muslim women like me. The police force is a good home for you. The organization allows you to move forward, prove yourself and feel equal," Saadi noted.

Despite her success, reaching this point was a struggle for Saadi, who notes that she received some criticism from family members and residents of her village. She also experienced threats against her. "At the beginning of the recruitment, there were threats to hurt me. All threats were through Facebook. I am not afraid, I live by my faith and do not hurt anyone. I am only afraid of God," Saadi contended. Some religious Muslim men have also reacted to the idea of Saadi in uniform, in which she suggests that some believe she should stay at home.

Northern District police chief Shimon Lavi commended the importance of recruiting Arab women, saying that "the Northern District promotes the recruitment of women from the Arab sectir into service, in all its various policing and promotional roles, fulfilling operational roles and commands at the core of the organization."

In terms of her actual work, Saadi focuses on violent and internet crimes. "As a youth researcher, I have to constantly upgrade technologically, move forward and learn." When asked about her biggest dream, she said that it is "to go on Hajj in Mecca as the first Israeli police officer."



Iraqi Women Seek Rights – And To Be Part of A Change

FEBRUARY 21, 2020

Hundreds of women and girls this week took to the streets of Najaf, a Shi’ite holy city in southern Iraq, asserting their right to participate in anti-government protests and demand political reforms.

Their march followed a call by Muqtada al-Sadr, a powerful Shi’ite politician and militia leader, to “not mix between the sexes” in the protests, which have gripped the country since October in an effort to root out corruption and outside interference.

Bushra Al-Obaidi, a legal expert and member of a women’s advisory group to the representative in Iraq for United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, told The Media Line that Iraqi women have already proved themselves through their wide participation in the demonstrations.

“What was really special about the Iraqi women protesters in Najaf,” she said, referring to Wednesday’s march, “is the fact that they were supported by their families. I saw girls with their husbands, brothers and fathers. What was out of the blue is the fact that such a conservative city like Najaf has reached this point of acceptance…. Iraqi women broke all restrictions.”

Obaidi explains that efforts by the country’s feminist movement, which began gaining steam close to two decades ago, have paid off.

“Today, the Iraqi woman’s voice is being heard, where she has participated in the latest wave of protests more than males,” she stated.

“I have seen more female paramedics and service providers than men,” she continued. “In addition, women have been in the front rows of the demonstrations, where six of them have been killed, besides others who have been detained and jailed.”

Obaidi says that Iraqi women have made the system sit up and take notice, adding that a new government to be formed by prime minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi to replace that of caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who resigned due to the protests, is expected to have broad representation by women.

“Our demand is not only to have a number of women, but to have a qualitative number of women,” she said. “We aim to occupy 50% of the [seats in the] new government, and we have already provided our vision… to the secretary-general of the United Nations.”

The women’s demonstration in Najaf included university professors, students and housewives who marched to the square near the Najaf Provincial Council building. They carried banners saying “I was born an Iraqi to become a revolutionary” and “There is no voice that rises above the voice of women.”

Taybeh Imad, an Iraqi legal activist, told The Media Line that feminist demonstrations are very important for a democratic and free Iraq because they are disliked by the religious parties that have dominated in government.

“We strongly support protests by women to empower their position in society. Women are battered in Iraq, not only physically, but emotionally,” she said.

Imad believes that such protests are a slap in the face to whoever underestimates or undermines Iraq’s females.

“Iraqi women are revolutionaries. They say what they have to say in an infected environment that sees women as awra,” she stated, using a pejorative Arabic term for women that implies they are defective because of their gender.

Earlier in the week, hundreds of women demonstrated in central Baghdad to defend their role in the anti-government protests.



Women Leaders Award Honours Iconic Women From Pakistan And Abroad

February 21, 2020

Karachi    -          The inaugural edition of Women Leaders Award held at the Governor House, honoured and celebrated 11 iconic women from Pakistan and abroad and a dynamic man for their contributions and achievement in the fields of diplomacy, finance, social work, healthcare, adventure sports, human rights, journalism and women’s rights.

The awards ceremony was graced by Dr ArifAlvi, President Islamic Republic of Pakistan, HE Paul W Jones, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, honourable consul generals, Governor Sindh Imran Ismail, dignitaries and crème de la crème of the entertainment industry of Pakistan.

While addressing the attendees, Ms Siddiqui said, “The reason for this event is that we recognize the contributions made by women in society the world over, celebrate their stories, share the lessons they learned after crossing each milestone, and most importantly inspire the younger generation to go beyond these milestones.” Chief Guest of the event, Dr ArifAlvi President Islamic Republic of Pakistan while addressing the attendees said, “The Quaid e Azam once said that nations cannot progress without women working side by side with the men. We have witnessed that when given the opportunity women work twice as hard as men.” Hosted by Mira Sethi, the awards ceremony began with the first award being presented to mountaineer SaminaBaig, Pakistan’s first female mountaineer in recognition of her tremendous achievements in adventure sports.

The second award of the evening was given to JalilaHaider, the first female attorney of Hazara community by Sania Saeed in recognition of her selfless devotion to women and children’s rights and her outstanding work with local communities to provide opportunities to vulnerable women and children.

Barrister Khadija Siddiqi received her award from Mahira Khan in recognition of her bravery and determination to stand tall against a powerful and corrupt opposition and unsupportive society.

The next recipient was NargesAbyar, the acclaimed Iranian film director who received her award from Madiha Saeed and ZebaBakhtiar in recognition of her contributions for sensitively highlighting the plight of women and children caused by society, war and radicalism in her films and also for defying the war genre’s conventions by featuring female characters that rejected the gender norms expected of them.

The first segment of the awards was followed by a special performance of singing sensation Sajjad Ali and Zaw Ali who enthralled the audiences with their soulful voices.

Ace actor Bushra Ansari was next to receive her award from AsimaHaq and BuntoKazmi in recognition of her years of contributions to television and cinema.

The next award was given to Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland and a forceful advocate for gender equality, women’s participation in peace-building and human dignity.

The last award of the night was presented to MaleehaLodhi for her brilliant diplomatic career and contributions in giving Pakistan a positive profile at the UN as Pakistan’s former Ambassador and Permanent Representative. The award was presented by Sultana Siddiqui. The programme concluded with a special performance by HadiqaKiyani



CAA: Muslim Women In Malegaon Continue Stir

Feb 21, 2020

Nashik: The ongoing peaceful sit-in stir by a section of Muslim women of Malegaon, to protest against CAA and the proposed NRC, completed one month on Thursday.

These women had started the agitation drawing inspiration from their counterparts in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh. Haji Md Yusuf Md Illyas, the chief of the Sunni Council of Malegaon, said the peaceful stir by the Malegaon women would continue as long as the Shaheen Bagh protestors continued their agitation.

“I am unable to look after my child’s studies. But I am determined to be a part of the dharna as our future is at stake,” said Mahrul Nisha Asfaque Ahmed, who has been a part of the agitation from the start. “We are even prepared to continue indefinitely,” she added. According to her, the Malegaon women want to draw the attention to the imperative need to roll back the CAA and the NRC.

The protestors said that, on an average, more than 4,000 women are taking part in the dharna every day at the Hussain Seth compound on Agra Road. The agitation starts at 10am and concludes at 10pm. Programmes like qawwali, mushaira etc, to highlight the adverse impacts of CAA and NRC, are organised at night.

“We fear for the future of the Muslim community if the CAA and NRC are implemented. I have joined the agitation and even my family is supporting me,” added Zulekha Akhil Ahmed, another protester. Nashik rural police have been deploying personnel at the agitation venue every day. “Since women are taking part in the agitation, we have ensured that there is adequate police presence to prevent any kind of untoward incident,” said police sources.



Each Additional School Year for Pakistani Girls’ Increases Future Earnings By 10pc: WB Country Director

February 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Illango Patchamuthu on Thursday said that every additional year of schooling for a girl increases her future earnings by up to 10 per cent.

He was speaking at the second Human Capital Summit: Girls Learn Women Earn at the Pakistan National Council of Arts. Representatives from the government, academia, development organisations, commercial banks, telecom industry, startup ecosystem, fashion industry, civil society and media were present at the event.

“Pakistan could really use the untapped economic potential of women in the workforce as estimates indicate that empowering women and girls to expand their skills, access to information, mobility, and access to finance and assets can boost the economy by up to 30 per cent”, he said while addressing the participants of the summit.

The need to invest in girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment as crucial to Pakistan’s sustained growth was also highlighted.

Building upon the ‘Girls Learn, Women Earn’ initiative launched in December 2019, the summit – co-hosted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and World Bank – marked the progress being made in Pakistan in efforts to enabling girls to excel in school, and women to thrive in the workplace.

Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety to the Prime Minister (PM), Dr Sania Nishtar said, “The government of Pakistan’s Ehsaas programme has a very serious intent to drive forward the agenda of women empowerment. Ehsaas stringently follows the 50pc rule across the board for women’s inclusion in all Ehsaas initiatives including interest-free loans, scholarships and asset transfers”.

“Likewise, another programme Kafaalat, which has recently been launched by the prime minister, will ensure financial and digital inclusion of 7 million disadvantaged women across the country who will now benefit from a monthly stipend of Rs2,000 along with access to bank accounts and affordable smartphones,” she added.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Dr Shinichi Kitaoka said, “Investments in human capital, such as education, health and nutrition, are inevitable for building a progressive foundation for human security”.

“Learning from Japan’s experience, we know that countries can also enhance their human capital by thriving on trust and promoting the role of families and communities in national development. JICA will work pro-actively to build and nurture human capital by leading with trust and collaborating in the areas of education, health and nutrition as key building blocks of sustained human security for all,” he added.

The summit also discussed the challenges and constraints of the education system in Pakistan to promote girls learning were discussed by the panels. Poverty, distance from home to schools, and parental perception of schools’ safety were noted as three of the main determinants of school attendance for girls.

In the ‘Girls Learn’ panel, it was highlighted that young girls in rural areas are the least likely to have full access to education whereas the gender gap in enrollment is a persistent issue across education levels.

In order to tackle these challenges, panelists showcased the Accelerated Learning Programme which provides overage, out of school children with learning opportunities for human capital development as good practice within Pakistan.

Another panel on ‘Women Earn’ emphasised the potential for women’s access to finance and affordable, safer transport as two key areas that can unlock women’s participation in the economy. Current research shows that only 11 per cent of women in Pakistan utilise banking services, and Pakistani women are four times less mobile than men.



Turkey Will Review Measures in Women’s Rights Convention, Erdoğan Says

Feb 19 2020

Turkey will review measures implemented to curb violence against women contained in a convention the country ratified in 2012, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as telling his party officials.

Some members of parliament from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) complained during a meeting with Erdoğan on Tuesday about the falling marriage rate among young people. The politicians called on the government to devise and implement measures to encourage people to marry earlier, Cumhuriyet said.

Erdoğan said the issue had been discussed by the Turkish presidency’s Supreme Consultation Board.

“We will review the Istanbul Convention again,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey needed to increase its birth rate.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence  has for years been criticised by Turkish Islamists, who say it empowers LGBTQ+ groups and is damaging the institution of the family.

Dubbed the Istanbul Convention after the city where it was signed in 2011, the regulation obligates signatories to combat discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as take precautions against domestic violence, compensate its victims and sentence perpetrators proportionally.

Erdoğan said in a meeting last year that the Istanbul Convention was not binding, Elif Çakır, a columnist in the Islamist opposition Karar newspaper, reported.

The president sparked debate on the marriage age after he criticised young people last month for marrying late.

“Unfortunately, they do not marry at an early age. Most of them marry in their 30s, or they remain single. How can there be such a thing? The number of people who aren’t getting married is also increasing,” he said.

Following Erdoğan’s comments, a columnist for the pro-government Sabah newspaper said the government should tax single people to encourage marriage.

“My proposal is that, if people with children are making sacrifices to ensure the continuation of the system, then single people should compensate for this,” Mevlüt Tezel said.




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