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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 26 Aug 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Arab League: UAE Sets Example of Women's Integration in Political Systems

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 Aug 2017

Salma al Baloushi, centre, Etihad’s first woman pilot, and Mariam Al Obaidli, right, technical engineer. Reem Mohammed / The National



 Peace Activist Mobilizes Rural Women in Western Afghanistan

 Iran’s VP Has a Harvard Doctorate but Why Her Wardrobe Has Become a Controversy

 Triple Talaq Petitioner Faces Threats, Wants Protection

 More Women Shelters in Balochistan Urged

 MyWin Needs To Produce More Women Entrepreneurs, Says Najib

 State Bank of Pakistan Launches Financing Scheme for Women-Run Small Businesses

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Arab League: UAE sets example of women's integration in political systems

August 25, 2017

The UAE is a role model for the integration of women in decision-making process and in government advisory council positions, an Arab League official said.

Inas Mekkawy, director of women, family and childhood department, praised the UAE’s progress in empowering women.

She noted the efforts of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, president of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, to promote not just Emirati women but also Arab women's role in society.

Ms Mekkawy comments come ahead of Emirati Women's Day on August 28.

She congratulated the UAE and the Arab world on the occasion, while highlighting the UAE's success in integrating women into the political system whether by encouraging young women to enter diplomatic fields.

Emirati women now occupy 66 per cent of government jobs, including 30 per cent of senior decision-making positions and 15 per cent of specialised academic posts.



Peace activist mobilizes rural women in western Afghanistan

25 Aug 2017

HERAT - Following the lively debate at a UN-backed women’s peace conference in April, a Herat activist has carried forward her vision for women’s involvement in conflict resolution and recently organized her own symposium for some 60 women in a remote district of the western province.

“Women in the western province are determined to be a part of bringing peace to the country, and will not wait for anybody’s permission to do so,” said Shakila Haqdoost, Head of the Women’s Council in Herat’s Ghoryan district, in an interview with the United Nations following the peace symposium she organized for women in her district.

Ms Maqdoost says the framework for women’s involvement in conflict resolution and peace-building exists in Afghanistan’s National Action Plan, which is based on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

Security Council Resolution 1325 reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction. It stresses the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

Earlier this year, in April 2017, a western regional conference on women and peace took place in Herat. That conference was led by the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Dilbar Nazari, and the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Jamila Afghani, and was organized by the Herat regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

UNAMA’s political chief, Pernille Kardel, spoke at the April event to stress the importance of Afghanistan’s peace process involving people from all walks of life, social groups and ethnic communities.

She underlined the critical importance of including Afghan women. “We must have an expanded role for women and girls in the home, community, schools, at mosques and in workplaces,” she said.

Ms Haqdoost, who was present at the April conference, says she took those words seriously. Three months later, in a mud-brick house used as meeting place for the Women’s District Council, she gathered 60 women from several Ghoryan villages to strategize on transforming Afghanistan’s National Action Plan on Security Council Resolution 1325 into local action.

“We need to convey our message to the government and people that even with the difficulties and challenges we face, we can hold such conferences in remote areas,” she said to the women gathered for the meeting. “You are brave women, and you have the courage to bring peace and stability to your villages and to your country.”

Ms Haqdoost says the discussion focused on ways to address the specific problems in Ghoryan, a district that has a high poverty rate coupled with reportedly high levels of drug addiction. The district is located on the border with Iran, a 1.5-hour drive from the provincial capital.

“If we do not fight for our rights and for peace and security for our families, we will not see any positive change,” she told the Ghoryan women.

Working in groups, the participants explored ways to increase women’s engagement in the peace process in line with Afghanistan’s responsibilities under Security Council Resolution 1325 and its commitments under the National Action Plan.

At the end of the conference, participants agreed to work together to increase awareness of women’s rights, particularly in rural areas, and to focus on highlighting the effective role women can play in promoting peace.

In addition, they proposed a restructuring for the District Peace Council to prioritize women’s participation in the peace process, and resolved to lobby local government officials toward that end.

“The women’s conference organized by Ms Haqdoost shows the level of interest among women in being drivers of positive change, not only at the level of provincial capitals, but also in the villages,” said Primrose Oteng, a Political Affairs official working at UNAMA’s Herat office.

“Localization of UNAMA’s initiatives in support of the mission’s vision for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, where Afghan people, including women, lead and own their own peace processes, is what we are looking toward,” she added.

UNAMA has been working with local communities in the western region, and in other areas of the country, to create platforms using radio, social media and television for Afghans to engage in local dialogue and discuss pressing issues affecting their communities, notably the importance of local-level peace initiatives and the participation of women at all levels of Afghan political and social life.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.



Iran’s VP has a Harvard doctorate but why her wardrobe has become a controversy

Aug 26, 2017

Just a couple of weeks into her appointment, the new Iranian vice president’s decision to abandon her fashion style for the all-encompassing black chador is raising questions among women in the Islamic Republic: especially after she said President Hassan Rouhani personally asked her to wear the traditional women’s garment.

Although Laaya Joneidi typically used to wear a hijab--the headscarf that is mandated by law in today’s Iran--and a long coat with pants, her switch to the more conservative chador serves as a political statement in and of itself in the Islamic Republic.

And coming after Rouhani failed to nominate any women to serve as ministers in his Cabinet, some are questioning the moderate cleric’s campaign promise to bring more women into the government.

“Not only could Rouhani not appoint a woman minister, but also he could not appoint a vice president who does not wear the chador either and forced her to wear the chador,” tweeted Hamid Mashayekhi Rad, an Islamic seminary student and activist.

The controversy began when a government website posted a photograph of Joneidi, who earned a doctorate from Harvard in comparative law and international commercial arbitration, wearing the long black chador, exposing only her face. Social media exploded with posts referring to her as a “chadori.”

The controversy only grew after Joneidi, one of two female vice presidents in Rouhani’s new government, gave an interview to the reformist daily newspaper Sharq.

“Mr. Rouhani, because of the protocol of the Cabinet, asked me to wear the chador,” she told the newspaper. “I respected his demand.”

(From left: Iran’s three women vice presidents: Massoumeh Ebtekar, Shahindokht Molaverdi and Laaya Joneidi).

The criticism then found a target in Rouhani, whose re-election campaign promised women spots in his 18-minister Cabinet. The cleric had no women ministers in his first term, and when he announced appointees for his second term, earlier in August, there were again no women among his picks.

The following day, Rouhani named two women as vice presidents, including Joneidi.

“Mr. Rouhani, based on which law or your protocol forced Laaya Joneidi to wear the chador?” tweeted Amene Shirafkan, a journalist who works at Zanan-Emrooz or Today’s Women magazine.

Unwritten rules of Iran politics

The chador controversy underscores the unwritten protocol rules for those in public office and government in Iran — rules that also affect men. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif famously wore a goatee before entering Rouhani’s government, but later grew the full beard common for those in power.

The chador has a long history in Iranian politics. The sisters of Shah Reza Pahlavi famously tossed theirs away in public in the 1930s, before it was outlawed. In the 1979 Islamic Revolution, women who took to the streets to rally in support of the clerics embraced the chador. After the revolution installed the clerics in power, the hijab became law.

In theory, women not wearing the chador are to wear baggy clothes and coats as to not accentuate their form.

However, in Tehran today, some fashionable young women wear tighter clothes with a scarf loosely covering their head, technically meeting the requirements of the law while drawing the ire of conservatives. Morality police enforce the government-mandated Islamic dress code, while others have protested the requirement on social media.

Women in government find it tougher to resist the demand to wear the chador.

Masoumeh Ebtekar famously gave up her style for a chador when she became a vice president under former President Mohammad Khatami in 1997. In 2000, a lawmaker threatened to beat Elaheh Koulaii, a hijab-wearing lawmaker from Tehran, if she didn’t wear a chador. She stood her ground and refused.

Soroush Farhadian, a Tehran-based political analyst who backs reformists, says that not wearing a chador remains a taboo in Iranian politics. By asking Joneidi to wear one, Rouhani was trying to avoid a confrontation with hard-liners, he said.

“The taboo was broken by Koulaii in the parliament, but it is not broken at the government level yet,” Farhadian said.



Triple talaq petitioner faces threats, wants protection

Aug 25, 2017

KOLKATA: Ishrat Jahan, one of the five petitioners in the triple talaq case, on Friday wrote to the West Bengal chief minister, seeking security for herself and her children after allegedly facing threats from in-laws and neighbours following the Supreme Court verdict.

"Some of her neighbours and even her in-laws are accusing her of having gone against the interests of her community," Nazia Elahi Khan, legal adviser of Ishrat Jahan, said here.

"Ishrat and her children are being subjected to abuses and threats by her neighbours and some of her in-laws who also stay at Pilkhana in Howrah, the locality where she lives with her children," Khan said.

"I have written a letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seeking protection for me and my children," Ishrat told PTI.

"Copies of the letter have also been forwarded to the Howrah City Police Commissionerate and the local Golabari police station," she said.

"I'm being subjected to abuse ever since the judgement was passed. I'm being accused of being a bad person," she said.

"Does someone become a bad person if she speaks for her rights?" asked Ishrat.

Ishrat's husband had divorced her over phone from Dubai in 2014 by uttering 'talaq' thrice, a practice that was struck down by the apex court on August 22.

She has a 13-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son.

Stating that she was "extremely happy with the historic Supreme Court judgment," Ishrat and her legal advisor wrote to the chief minister that she was being subjected to "threat calls, teases and abuses".

"I urge you to take steps for providing security to me and my children," she said in the letter.



More women shelters in Balochistan urged

Saleem Shahid

August 26, 2017

QUETTA: The Balochistan Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution asking the provincial government to set up Darul Aman to provide shelter to women who were victims of domestic violence in the six divisional headquarters.

The resolution was moved by Yasmin Lehri of the National Party in the session presided over by Speaker Raheela Hameed Khan Durrani.

The resolution was passed when only 14 of the 65 members were present in the house, while quorum requires at least 17 members.

None of the members from the opposition and treasury benches pointed out that the quorum was not sufficient to pass a resolution and the assembly proceedings continued despite the shortfall.

Addressing the house, Ms Lehri said that Darul Aman facility was not available in Sibi and other districts of Balochistan for victims of domestic violence who were forced to leave their homes.

“The Darul Aman facility is available only in Quetta, and women facing domestic violence in far flung districts of Balochistan have no option but to continue being tortured,” she said, adding that the situation of the Darul Aman in the provincial capital was not ideal as well as it lacked basic facilities, including health and education.

Provincial ministers Dr Hamid Khan Achakzai, Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal and MPA of National Party Dr Shama Ishaq supported the resolution, suggesting that special fund should be allocated for the purpose in the next budget.

The assembly also passed another resolution moved by Shahida Rauf of Jamiat Ulema-i- Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), urging the National Highway Authority (NHA) to take practical steps to prevent fatal traffic accidents along the National Highway in Balochistan with the cooperation of the provincial transport department.

“Check and balance system should be introduced in Balochistan for avoiding such fatal incidents in future,” Ms Rauf suggested in her resolution, adding that there was no check on underage drivers and possession of driving licence across the province.

Other members of the assembly also expressed their concern over increase in traffic incidents on the highway and how driving licenses were issued by the authorities concerned without taking test.



MyWIN needs to produce more women entrepreneurs, says Najib

August 26, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak wants MyWIN Academy to produce more women entrepreneurs with the necessary business sophistication, oriented towards the future, and harnessing the power of technology.

He said MyWIN Academy would stay true to its two central pillars — “Women” and “Innovation”,  as it was an important part of the country’s innovation ecosystem to provide a female perspective on innovation.

“Innovation on its own is gender blind, but as a responsible government we believe in taking a holistic approach. An “inclusive innovation” approach must include all segments of society, so it is important that women are provided with all the support necessary to fulfill their dreams.

“One of MyWIN Academy’s target groups is, naturally enough, entrepreneurs,” he said in his speech when officiating MyWIN Acedemy in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, here tonight.

Also present was Adviser on Women Entrepreneurship and Professionals Development, Prime Minister’s Department, Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

MyWIN is a company limited by guarantee established by the Prime Minister’s Department.

It was approved by the Malaysian Cabinet in January 2014 as an avant­-garde institution that drives transformative innovation to empower women in leadership and entrepreneurship.

It aims is to unleash innovative power of women through the ‘Educating, Inspiring and Connecting’ approach. MyWIN intends to pull together the strength, wisdom and talent of Malaysian women with the objective of creating a new innovation ecosystem.

Najib said women who underwent training at the academy would have the ability to contribute to the nation, and to go not just regional, but also global.

As part of MyWIN’s efforts, the academy had been organising the ’Performance. Empowerment. Acceleration. Knowledge’ known as PEAK Programme, aimed at developing women leaders who will go on to become respected figures within their fields / industries.

Najib believed that graduates of PEAK Programme could be an inspiration and role model to all the young girls.

“I am very proud of the 366 women who have benefited from the PEAK Programme. MyWIN has transformed their mindsets, and opened them up to new avenues to success. I recently also received thank you letters from some of them.

“I am told that there were some women who had lost their jobs, or many who left their careers to focus on their families. Through their involvement in PEAK Programme, many of these women have now become successful entrepreneurs and innovators,” Najib said.

He said some had realised their dreams of owning their own businesses, among them is Faridah Halina Zairi, who was once unemployed, but now owns a social enterprise café that hires underprivileged youths, as well as others like Ku Hasnur Afiza, who had subsequently gotten funding and support from various government agencies to bring their innovative ideas to life.

“And for those like Madame Puvanesvari Subramaniam who are existing business-owners, they are now able to bring their businesses to the next level, but what is most striking is how all these women who wrote to me credit the PEAK Programme for boosting their confidence and empowering them to make a difference.

“Stories like these are testament to the transformative power of leadership programmes like MyWIN,” he said.

To the graduates of the PEAK Programme, and also the young women under the Women on a Mission programme, Najib hoped they would continue on this journey of excellence, and that they would be able to use all that was learned from MyWIN to contribute back to the community.

On another note, he said Malaysia had made great strides since the government announced the Economic Transformation Programme in 2010.

“Some people underestimate us...and some members of the opposition deliberately distort the Government’s record. But we proved them all wrong when the second quarter growth figure for 2017 came out, it posted at 5.8 per cent.

“Others are aware of this too, the latest that we just heard earlier this week is that IKEA — one of the best known furniture retailers in the world, is going to invest RM908 million to set up one of its largest regional distribution and supply chain centres, here in Malaysia,” he said pointing out the ETP outcome.

The confidence that firms like this, and international institutions like the IMF, the World Bank and the international rating agencies have shown in Malaysia, would not be possible without the enormous contribution made by women in Malaysia, he said.

Quoting the Nikkei Asian Review’s ‘Malaysia has come a long way in women’s socioeconomic advancement’, Najib noted that women constituted two-thirds of the student body in Malaysia’s public universities.

Nikkei Asian Review also said that from 2013 to 2016, women’s labour participation exceeded 50 per cent, after stubbornly hovering at 45-48 per cent since the 1980s.

“Indeed, we brought 700,000 more women into the workforce between 2009 and 2016. But there is still far more to do to reap what should be a huge gender dividend in Malaysia.

“Therefore ,we need to increase women’s participation in the workforce, while also placing great emphasis on building women’s productivity and innovative capability,” he added.

Najib said he was leased that one of MyWIN’s target groups is professional women, creating the next generation of women innovators in the corporate sector is very much in line with our continuous efforts to increase the number of women in decision making roles in the corporate sector.

“We have made significant progress on this front, a total of 35.8 per cent of the public sector’s decision making positions are now held by women, while in the corporate sector, I am very proud to say we have reached our target of 30 per cent.

“The government is now pushing this agenda even more aggressively because as I have said before: when women succeed, we all succeed. Currently, women account for only 16.8 per cent of directors positions in the top 100 listed companies on Bursa Malaysia.

“Not only the government is  looking to increase the figure, but as I had announced at Invest Malaysia last month,  starting from from 2018, the government will name and shame PLCs with no women on their boards. So you know we mean business,” he said.

With programmes and initiatives like the ones set up by MyWIN Academy, Najib believed Malaysia would be on track to meet these targets and once it reached the targets, it will not stop as the government will keep pushing in order to meet the targets of putting women decision making positions.

Najib also announced the setting up of MyWIN Academy Advisery to further push women’s empowerment and innovation.

He said he would chair the council while Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing would be the deputy chairman.

The prime minister said the council would help the government’s overall push to increase women in decision-making positions in the public and private sectors. — Bernama



State Bank Of Pakistan Launches Financing Scheme For Women-Run Small Businesses

August 26, 2017

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa on Friday launched a financing scheme for small businesses run by women entrepreneurs with no refinancing cost and wide risk coverage.

The Refinance and Credit Guarantee Scheme for Women Entrepreneurs in Underserved Areas was launched in Quetta as one-fifth of the funds earmarked for the programme would be spent in Balochistan.

Speaking on the occasion, the central bank governor reiterated his commitment to sustainable and inclusive economic growth across Pakistan. “Women are central to this growth paradigm,” he said.

Bajwa emphasised that for the first time in Pakistan’s history a scheme with 0% refinance rate and 60% risk coverage for small businesses run by women entrepreneurs had been rolled out.

“This scheme is an affirmative action by the State Bank to encourage the flow of funds to small enterprises run by women in underserved areas of Pakistan. The scheme earmarks at least 20% of funds for Balochistan,” he said.

The financing facility will help women entrepreneurs set up new businesses or expand the existing ones. The SBP will provide refinance to banks at 0% and the maximum financing amount will be Rs1.5 million.

The maximum financing period will be five years with a grace period of up to six months. The end-user rate will be 5% locked in for the financing period.

Bajwa expressed the hope that banks would make all-out efforts in making the scheme a success, but cautioned that the SBP would monitor progress of the scheme closely.

Balochistan Assembly Speaker Rahila Durrani, who was chief guest on the occasion, praised the SBP’s scheme for small businesses, particularly of Balochistan. She voiced hope that such attractive financing schemes would help poor women overcome their financial problems and bring prosperity to the entire province.

Earlier in the day, the SBP governor called on Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai. He talked about SBP’s special focus on agriculture, small and medium enterprises and low-cost housing in all underserved areas of Pakistan, particularly Balochistan.

The SBP governor also met with members of the Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI), who apprised him of the issues being confronted by the business community.

Bajwa assured the QCCI members of his help in addressing their genuine grievances.




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