New Age Islam News Bureau
Pakistani schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai poses for pictures with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a photo opportunity at the United Nations in the Manhattan borough of New York.- Reuters
• Tunisia Islamist Chief Urges Men to Wed Divorcees and Women Over 30
• Malala Urges Young People to Campaign for Change
• Senegal Tech Hub Teaches, Encourages and Inspires Women
• Expatriate Women Prefer Dad’s Sponsorship to Job
• Bangladesh Summit Calls For Concerted Efforts For Gender Equality
• Nigeria: Stakeholders Request Better Coverage of Women, Girls Issues
• Nigeria: Increasing Awareness on Girls, Women Issues
• New Law Pushes Tunisia to Protect Women
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Crack Unit of Female Soldiers Hunting Islamic State Kidnappers
19 August 2014
A crack unit of female soldiers is on the trail of Islamic State killers who have captured 3,000 innocent women in Iraq.
Thousands of non-Muslim women and girls have been kidnapped by Islamic State thugs on the rampage in the country over the past two weeks.
They face the terrifying prospect of being forced into marriage, sold as sex slaves or shot if they do not convert to Islam.
Now hundreds of women from the Turkish PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ party) have crossed into Iraq to help push the IS fighters out of the north of Iraq.
They are striking fear into the hearts of the Jihadist thugs who believe if they are killed by a woman in battle they will not reach heaven.
Heavily-armed female fighters joined hundreds of men from the PKK and fought against the insurgents under U.S. air cover.
They are working with the Iraqi Kurdish region Peshmerga forces around the regional capital of Erbil and the Sinjar Mountains, where thousands from the Yazidi religious minority have been trapped by the rapid advance of Islamic State fighters.
Peshmerga means ‘those who face death’. Once mountain guerrillas fighting for Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq, these forces are now working for the Kurdistan regional Government against the Islamic extremists.
“Our support is just as important for the Peshmerga as these US strikes - bombings alone cannot get rid of guerrilla groups,” said Sedar Botan, a female PKK veteran commander. We will keep fighting until all of Kurdistan is safe.”
he Kurds are one of the world’s largest stateless groups and their population spans parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The PKK’s decades-long war for autonomy from Turkey has gained it international notoriety.
Loathed by millions of Turks for its campaign against the country’s police and conscript army, it has executed unarmed recruits and placed roadside bombs that have killed women and children.
But PKK guerrillas are assisting in the Kurdish ground offensive in conjunction with U.S. air attacks to retake the Mosul Dam from IS units.
The US and UK governments have long regarded the PKK as a terrorist organization in its fight against Turkish authorities for Kurdish rights.
But Iraqi terror expert Nasser Kataw said: “There has been a re-drawing of battlefield alliances as people who were once enemies have joined together to try and defeat the scourge that is the Islamic State.”
Tunisia Islamist Chief Urges Men to Wed Divorcees and Women Over 30
19 August 2014
Tunis (AFP) - Rached Ghannouchi, head of Tunisia's powerful Islamist Ennahda party, called on young men to marry divorcees and women over 30.
"We want to draw attention to imbalances in family life, the rising divorce rate, the drop in the age of marriage," Ghannouchi said in a recording broadcast on private radio station Mosaique FM.
Recalling that Prophet Mohammed married wife Khadija when she was more than 40, the Ennahda chief said he wants to "encourage young people to wed women of advanced age."
"Today, 30, 35, and 40, is still young," he said, telling older women not to give up "hope of marrying."
"We also encourage youths and men not to be put off by divorcees. Our divorced girls deserve respect."
Ghannouchi was speaking on women's day, an annual holiday in Tunisia commemorating a 1956 law granting women several new rights and abolishing polygamy and men's right to repudiate women.
"We assure you we are determined to achieve greater equality for men and women," Ghannouchi said.
"Ennahda will not impose any particular clothing on women, the hijab for instance. It is a woman's right to be veiled (or) not to be veiled," the Ennahda leader added.
The Islamist party won Tunisia's first free elections on October 23, 2011 after the uprising that overthrew President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali earlier that year.
It has said several times it will respect women's established rights, though its opponents accuse it of wanting to go back on them.
Tunisia is preparing for a parliamentary election on October 26 and a presidential election on November 23.
Malala urges young people to campaign for change
(AP) / 19 August 2014
Malala also urged the young people to believe in themselves because “we are all the same” regardless of fame or whether you live in a rich developed country or a poorer developing country.
Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taleban for campaigning for girls’ education, told more than 500 young people on Monday that they should start working right now to change the world.
The 17-year-old said raising her voice helped bring a change for girls who were not allowed to go to school in Pakistan’s troubled Swat valley where she lived until she was shot. Malala spoke at an event to launch 500 days of action to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals to fight poverty, which include ensuring that every child has a primary school education.
“So my message to you is that you raise and highlight the issues that you are facing and you are suffering,” she said.
Malala also urged the young people to believe in themselves because “we are all the same” regardless of fame or whether you live in a rich developed country or a poorer developing country.
“We all have talents and we all are special, so just continue your hard work, continue your campaigns and you are going to be the leaders of this world, you are going to be the future of this world,” she said. “And if you want to see your future bright and if you want to see development in our future, and if you don’t want to see so many troubles already put for us, then we should try and start work right now.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, sitting beside her, echoed Malala saying “each and every one can make a difference,” even a fifth grader who saves just one drop of drinking water or turns off a light bulb.
“Be proud of yourself,” the UN chief said. “At the same time be responsible as a global citizen. Then we can change this world.”
The UN chief said there are still 1.2 billion people who don’t have access to clean drinking water and 1.4 billion who don’t have electricity and global action is crucial.
World leaders agreed in 2000 on anti-poverty goals including cutting extreme poverty by half, halting the HIV/AIDS pandemic and increasing the number of people with access to clean water and sanitation by the end of 2015.
Ban said “against the predictions of cynics” the UN goals have helped the world unite and cut poverty in half, increase the number of girls attending school, and reduce deaths from malaria, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases.
But challenges remain including achieving equality for women, reducing maternal and child deaths, reaching universal education, and improving sanitation — and the UN is working on new goals for 2030.
Senegal Tech Hub Teaches, Encourages and Inspires Women
19 August 2014
The Jjiguene Tech Hub in Senegal was created by a group of tech-savvy female entrepreneurs, who are using it to teach other women how to thrive in the technology industry.
The Jjiguene Tech Hub was created with the purpose of trying to boost the number of women in Senegal’s information technology (IT) business. Jjiguene means “woman” in Wolof, which is the most commonly spoken language in Senegal.
According to the BBC, less than 30 percent of women have jobs in the IT industry and the number of women in the tech field in Africa is well below the global average.
Organizations and companies such as the Jjiguene Tech Hub, however, could be on the fast track to change that.
“We want to be a role model for girls and girl women in tech,” said 26-year-old Awa Caba, one of the co-founders who is also a specialist app designer.
Some women at the hub are there to work on their own entrepreneurial efforts, while others are student working to enhance their knowledge of the tech world.
Kate Manon Sio, 18, is one of the youngest students at the hub.
The BBC reported that Sio was originally going to study languages or some form of communications, but her interest in the tech world may have changed her plans.
“Initially I wasn’t excited about it, but I changed my mind because I realized that technology is very, very interesting, particularly for girls,” she told the BBC.
These are the types of revelations that young women in Africa may never have without the help of resources like the Jjiguene Tech Hub.
In addition to teaching women about technology, the hub also focuses on building confidence in the young women
“Here at the hub they have really pushed me,” Aminata Balde, a 22-year-old telecommunications student, told the BBC. “I learned how to be confident as a girl. [Before] I was always afraid to express myself or to handle stuff.”
At the hub the majority of young women are in their 20s, working tirelessly to become tech savvy moguls, but there is not a strict “no boys allowed” policy.
A few men have been a large part of the hub’s success by working with the group of all- female co-founders.
Ismayla Ba owns the IT company Oasis Media Group, and he has provided financial support for the women’s tech hub.
“I wanted to support these young women and their project,” Ba said. “It’s important. And why not work together?”
The 58-year-old entrepreneur shares office space with the woman at the hub.
Ba said he believes women are “more serious and rigorous” workers than men are, in “many domains, not just in technology.”
The center, which is located in a middle-class suburb of the country’s capital city Dakar, has seen a rather swift growth over the past two years.
What started out as only four women attending on a regular basis has now grown to 65.
Expatriate women prefer dad’s sponsorship to job
19 August 2014
Many expat women are still reluctant to transfer their sponsorships from their male guardians onto their employers despite new Labor Ministry laws.
Abeer Aslam, a human resources consultant in Riyadh, said many expat women just don’t have the guts to leave their comfort zone of security under their family sponsorships.
“Most expat women have grown up here and cannot risk being sent out of the country if their visas get canceled,” she said.
“The implications of transferring sponsorships should be clearly stated. Such a step should be a source of security, not a source of anxiety.”
“In addition, there should be a comprehensive website containing information on how to transfer sponsorships and clear laws stating that women can revert to their original sponsors in the event they quit or are dismissed without having to leave the country.”
Private schools in the Kingdom are hiring Saudi teachers since many expatriates chose to not transfer their sponsorships.
Demand for female teaching jobs is the highest in the Kingdom in comparison to other career options.
A study by the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) found that 76 percent of Saudi women have since been on the hunt for teaching jobs.
Hiba Khurshid, a Pakistani teacher, was previously working at a school in Riyadh, but lost her job because she remained on the sponsorship of her male guardian.
“I believe that the nationalization scheme within the female work force has caused more ethnic division among minorities,” she said.
Fresh graduates from universities in the Kingdom are also struggling to find jobs since companies are just as reluctant to sponsor expats for fear of upsetting the Saudi-expat ratio.
Afifa Khan, an architecture graduate from Effat University, is one such example.
“Companies are no longer as happy sponsoring expats for fear of being penalized under the Nitaqat nationalization scheme,” she said.
“We are also not well-paid and this affects the way we are treated. The constant fear of being sent on final exit is what stops many from leaving the sponsorship of their male guardians.”
Bangladesh Summit Calls For Concerted Efforts For Gender Equality
19 August 2014
Concerted efforts are needed to ensure gender equality and women's empowerment in the country, speakers said at a summit in the capital yesterday.
Global Citizens' Forum on Sustainable Development organised a four-day summit titled “Sustainable Development-2014 (mission for 100 years)”, chaired by Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad (BUP) Chairman M A Jalil.
Managing Director of Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation Md Abdul Karim called for engaging government and non-government organisations and the civil society to ensure gender equality and women's empowerment in the country.
He stressed on implementing existing laws and formulating new ones as per requirement.
He highlighted that maternity leave of six months is ensured in Bangladesh which is absent in many other countries.
The former secretary said Bangladesh had achieved the Millennium Development Goal regarding women's empowerment.
Citing a report of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistic (BBS), member of the board of trustees and academic council of the BRAC University Professor Salma Khan said 80% of women in the country were tortured at some point in their lives, either by their husbands or the in-laws.
The survey showed that 70% of the women do not get access to properties which they are entitled to by law, she said.
Women in Bangladesh contribute 48% to the Gross Domestic Product while 80% of them contribute to agriculture, so if they were given a favourable environment, they could achieve a lot, said the speakers.
Nigeria: Stakeholders Request Better Coverage of Women, Girls Issues
19 August 2014
AS part of efforts aimed at ensuring women and girls get better media coverage, the first stakeholders' forum of the Report Women! Project was held in Lagos recently where leaders of civil society organisations and media editors unanimously identified the need for increase and improvement in the reportage of girls and women rights as human rights in Nigeria.
The forum was put together by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) and the Royal Netherlands Embassy.
The Stakeholders' roundtable, according to the promoters of the meeting, was part of activities for the Report Women! Project, which started with the monitoring of seven Nigerian newspapers in May 2014.
In a statement from the Centre made available to The Guardian, the roundtable reviewed the perspective of civil society and media practitioners on the status of media coverage of girls and women as well as chart a way forward towards mainstreaming their rights into news reporting.
In her welcome remarks, WSCIJ Coordinator, Motunrayo Alaka spoke on the purpose of the stakeholders' meeting, as the Centre thought it necessary to seek the input of non- governmental and media organisations, who have been working on girls and women issues, in a bid to bring all on board as partners.
The meeting, she felt, is an acknowledgement of past contributions to the promotion of girls and women's issues as well as the Centre's strategy to avoid repeating unnecessary mistakes on the project by learning from forerunners.
Speaking at the meeting, Senior Economic Officer with the Netherlands Embassy, Mr. Taco Westerhuis, who gave the goodwill message, highlighted the embassy's commitment to girls and women's issues, focusing on the rights of women and encouraging justice and fairness.
Explaining that the embassy is proud to be associated with the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism on the project, he observed that the civil society plays a vital role in contributing to its success.
The President of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs. Ifeyinwa Omowole, represented by Ms. Dupe Olaoye-Osinkolu, the association's Lagos chapter chairperson, spoke on the importance of increasing reportage of girls and women in the Nigerian media. Olaoye-Osinkolu, who rhetorically asked if there could be a world without women and girls, envisioned a time when women will have a level playing field, with no antagonism towards reportage of women issues and space dedicated to women related stories.
The release also stated that a panel discussion on media's commitment to reporting women - Insider/Outsiders' perspective had Mr. Musikilu Mojeed of Premium Times, Ms. Amy Oyekunle of Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), Dr. Abiola Afolabi-Akiyode of Women Advocacy, Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), represented by Ms. Emmanuella Azu, Ms. Stella Sawyerr of Tell Magazine, and Ms. Joke Kujenya of The Nation Newspapers.
They concluded that women and girls lack adequate reportage due to many reasons including constrains in media management, lack of understanding of media operations by many women and stereotypes both in the newsrooms and in the society.
Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, represented by Ms. Cynthia Mbamalu, who spoke on 'The media and the human rights status of girls and women', noted that the lapses in the Nigerian system enable abuse, inequality and injustice, especially of girls and women. For him, the culture of silence that is present in Nigeria helps abuse to thrive while injustice that is left unaddressed will continue to cause harm hence the need for the civil society, media and government agencies to stand up against human rights abuses of any colouration.
The Centre also used the forum to present its findings of the one-month monitoring of seven Nigerian print media's reportage of girls and women, which showed that most national newspapers understand the need to mainstream girls and women but have to do a lot more reporting away from the weekend 'soft' stories dedicated to women.
The second panel with Ms. Kadaria Ahmed of Reinvent Media and Mrs. Doris Yaro of the Gabasawa Women and Children Empowerment Initiative, Borno discussed, 'Girls and Women, what is worth reporting?'
Ms Ahmed maintained that it is important to mainstream gender issues as human rights issues and to achieve that would require having more women in management positions in newsrooms.
Yaro, who commented on rape and allied abuse victims in northern Nigeria, women a new lease of life without breaching the high level of confidentiality required for such issues.
The Founder of Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Reporting, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, who moderated the meeting, emphasised the need for the media to live up to its fourth estate responsibility by taking up its mandate to set the agenda for all human rights issues, including women and girls' issues.
Nigeria: Increasing Awareness On Girls, Women Issues
19 August 2014
Lagos — There is no gainsaying in the fact that girls and women have always been at the receiving end of most of the policies in many places of the world. This fact is recognized even by the United Nations hence have created platforms that aired the local voices of the girl-child and women.
It is for this reason that it has become pertinent to improve on the methods of reporting issues that relate to the girl-child and women especially in Nigeria.
It is for this purpose that the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) and the Royal Netherlands Embassy joined hands to organise the 'Report Women' stakeholders' meeting which had in attendance leaders of civil society organisations, editors of media houses, human right activists for the purpose of discussing and charting a new way to better report on girls and women's rights in Nigeria.
The roundtable was part of activities for the 'Report Women' project which started with the monitoring of seven newspapers in May 2014.The meeting was also held to review the perspective of civil society and media practitioners on the status of media coverage of girls and women as well and chart a way forward towards mainstreaming their rights into news reporting.
WSCIJ Coordinator, Motunrayo Alaka in her welcome address on the purpose of the meeting explained that the Centre thought it necessary to seek the input of non- governmental and media organisations who have been working on girls and women issues at the inception of the project in a bid to bring all on board as partners.
According to her, the meeting is an acknowledgement of past contributions to the promotion of girls and women's issues as well as the Centre's strategy to avoid repeating unnecessary mistakes on the project by learning from forerunners.
Also, Senior Economic Officer with the Netherlands Embassy, Mr. Taco Westerhuis while emphasising the Embassy's commitment to girls and women's issues, stated that it focuses on the rights of women and encourages justice and fairness.
He added that the Embassy is proud to be associated with the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism on the project, while also emphasising that the civil society plays a vital role in contributing to it success.
President of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs. Ifeyinwa Omowole also stressed the importance of increasing reportage of girls and women in the Nigerian media. Omowole who was represented at the event by the NAWOJ Chairperson, Lagos state chapter, Mrs. Dupe Olaoye-Osinkolu posed the question- 'can anyone imagine a world without women and girls?'
She envisioned a time when women will have access to a level playing field where there is no antagonism towards reports on women issues and how much space is dedicated to women related stories.
However, a panel discussing Media's commitment to reporting women Insider/Outsiders' perspective consisting of Mr. Musikilu Mojeed of Premium Times, Ms. Amy Oyekunle of Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), Dr. Abiola Afolabi-Akiyode of Women Advocacy, Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), represented by Ms. Emmanuella Azu, Ms. Stella Sawyer of Tell Magazine, and Ms. Joke Kujenya of The Nation Newspapers concluded that women and girls lack adequate reportage due to many reasons including constrains in media management, the lack of understanding of media operations by many women and stereotypes both in the newsrooms and in the society.
Furthermore, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, (NHRC), Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, represented by Ms. Cynthia Mbamalu, speaking on the topic, 'The media and the human rights status of girls and women' stated that the lapses in the Nigerian system enable abuse, inequality and injustice, especially of girls and women.
New law pushes Tunisia to protect women
19 August 2014
Fighting violence against women is a major concern worldwide. Several countries have witnessed cases of violence against women, and Tunisia is no exception. Despite the existence of “forward-thinking” legislation in the Arab world, this fundamental violation of women's rights lingers.
With the resurgence of Islamist ideologies in Tunisian society, violence against women is increasing by the day. According to some of these ideologies, women are second-class citizens, a body or an object, according to their interpretations of religious precepts. According to these ideologies, women have to deal with the burden of traditions and a sexist mentality of male dominance.
On Aug. 13, 2014, the Constituent Assembly will consider the anti-women violence draft-law, as announced by the secretary of state in charge of family and women's affairs, Neila Chaabane. She said this law reflected the content of Article 46 of the constitution, which outlined that the state should take the necessary measures to eradicate violence against women. It's about time.
The Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD) began a campaign in early 2014 for the enactment of an anti-women violence law with the aim of encouraging the state to end the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators, and to define the public and private spaces where violence is practiced and adopt preventive measures.
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, defines “violence against women” as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
In Tunisia, several reports have pointed to the scale of such a phenomenon, as evidenced by the survey of the National Board for Family and Population (ONFP), published in 2012. According to the study, about one in two women said they had been subjected to violence during their life, 47.1 % in urban areas and 48.7% in rural areas. Educated women were less affected, but the rate remained high: 49.5% of victims among the illiterate, with 41.66% of victims with higher education. The study shows that the main perpetrators of such violence are spouses, who are responsible for 47.2% of the physical violence cases, 68.5% of the psychological violence cases, 78.2% of the sexual violence cases and 77.9% of the economic violence cases.
M.L., a young entrepreneur, told Business News: “I do not dare talk about it because I know my family will say, ‘It's not so serious. It's not like he is beating you.’ I have a problem with my husband. He controls everything and suppresses me. Having my own business, I make a better living than my husband. At first, this was not a problem for him, but over time this has changed. Now he confiscates all my earnings. He tells me, ‘I'm the man and I am the one who should manage the household finances.’ He resorted to verbal and emotional abuse so that I give in and entrust him my bank accounts.”
Economic violence takes many forms in Tunisia. Some women are banned from working while others have their wages confiscated. Physical and psychological abuse of women is widespread in marriage, resulting in extreme cases of murder or suicide.
A report from the ONFP confirms that family members also practice violence against women, making up 43% of physical violence, 22.1% of economic violence and 16.7% psychological violence.
A high-school student who lives on the outskirts of Tunis told Business News, “The violence against me inside the family started during puberty. I have an older brother who started pressuring me. It started with banning me from wearing certain clothes, ‘to protect me from predators,’ as he said. During my adolescence, I had a group of friends with whom I wanted to go out, but my brother refused: ‘No outings before you are in the custody of your future husband. Only then will you be able to go out as much as you want,’ he used to tell me. I reacted by going out in secret, and one day he found out, and this is when it all went downhill. He started beating me at every opportunity and locking me in the house. He used to take me to school and wait for me. The problem is, when I used to tell my mother, she would answer, ‘He is your big brother; he is educating you.’”
Similar cases are widely spread in Tunisia, but they occur under the table because of the regressive mentality of men who think that, as males, they have to impose their domination over “the weaker sex.”
Cases of girls who are sold by their family to work as cleaning women, while the family members confiscate the girl’s salary, are also present in Tunisia. It is a flagrant economic violation that is still not talked about today.
Another taboo is incest practiced by fathers, uncles, cousins or brothers. There are no accounts on this subject due to the shame that makes the victim shut down and suffer from permanent psychological problems.
Women also suffer from violence outside the scope of family, with the ONFP reporting 21.3% of such cases as occurring in public places, such as on the street or at work.
R.S., a former employee at a private company, told Business News her story. “After I got my diploma, I was aware that it is going to be hard for me to find a job. But I was so happy to be recruited by a small, promising company. A soon as I started work, my boss started making inappropriate advances. It started with insinuations and ended with aggression in the workplace. I will spare you the details, as I still feel ashamed and guilty for not being able to defend myself. I had to quit my job after this incident without filing a complaint because of fear of dishonor and threats from the boss.”
Outside the scope of family, 14.8% of women are subject to psychological violence and 9.8% to physical violence. You won’t be able to find a Tunisian girl who hasn’t been a victim of verbal or physical aggression on the streets or on public transportation.
To live free of violence is a basic human right. After the adoption of Article 46 in the constitution and the removal of reservations on the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Tunisian authorities ought to abide by the provisions of this convention and work on its implementation. Gender-based discrimination and violence is widely spread in Tunisia. Tunisia must change the regressive attitudes and practices entrenched in society.