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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 19 Apr 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Jewish Women ‘Stand Shoulder To Shoulder’ With Muslim Women over Islamophobic Abuse

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 Apr 2018 

Indian-Americans, including women and children, raising slogans like “Hate Murder, hate Crime: No more. No More” held peaceful protests in front of the Indian Embassy against the gang rape and murder of young girls in Kathua and Unnao, demanding swift justice.



 Investors Urged To Encourage Saudi Women to Work in Jewellery Industry

 Record Women Candidates in Lebanon Vote, But You Can't Tell From TV

 Indian-Americans in Washington Protest In Front Of Indian Embassy against Kathua, Unnao Rapes, Demand Swift Justice

 Pakistan’s Only Female Private Bank CEO Doesn’t Want to be A ‘Token’ Woman Leader

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Jewish Women ‘Stand Shoulder To Shoulder’ With Muslim Women over Islamophobic Abuse

Ben Weich

April 19, 2018

Fifty Jewish women, including a number of community leaders, have signed a letter urging greater protection from abuse and attack for Muslim women.

The letter will be sent to every candidate standing in local council elections across the UK next month.

The impetus for the letter was a report compiled by Tell Mama, an Islamophobia monitor, which found most anti-Muslim hate crimes are directed towards women who are visibly Muslim.

It also noted that the majority of victims of incidents were female.

The letter reads: “Every day spaces like trains, buses or the streets often feel unsafe for Muslim women, and they are too often worried that they, and their children, will face verbal abuse or even physical violence.

“As Jewish women, standing shoulder to shoulder with our Muslim cousins and as mothers, sisters, and crucially as friends, we call upon every candidate in the local elections in May, to commit to addressing violence against Muslim women, or gendered Islamophobia.

“We call upon you, as potential local councillors, firstly to publicly commit to a clear strategy, and immediately to protect Muslim women on our streets, in our towns and villages, and secondly, to work with Nisa-Nashim (the Jewish/Muslim women’s network in 28 locations nationally) to develop a local policy to address this issue longer term.”

It has been signed by 50 female communal figures, including Gillian Merron, chief executive of the Board of Deputies; Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, the senior rabbi of Reform Judaism; and Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

It will be sent on the eve of Sunday’s Nisa-Nashim national conference, the largest-ever gathering of Jewish and Muslim women in Europe.

Nisa-Nashim is a network of British Jewish and Muslim Women, aiming to combat “ignorance and misconceptions in both communities, and in wider society”.

Theresa May has lent her support to the conference, saying Nisa-Nashim “demonstrates what we can achieve when we work together”.



Investors Urged To Encourage Saudi Women to Work in Jewellery Industry

Apr 19, 2018

RIYADH — Prince Sultan Bin Saud Bin Muhammad Al Saud called investors to draw Saudi women to work in gold and jewellery industry and stressed the need to benefit from their creativity in a wide sector with an annual purchasing power of over SR75 billion.

The remark was made during the official inauguration of the 7th Jewellery Salon held in Riyadh at Prince Sultan Grand Hall in Al Faisaliah Hotel.

He also urged the importance of opening academies and specialized institutes for training girls in the design and formulation of gold, in addition to marketing, selling and supporting services.

He pointed out to the Ministry of Labor resolution to nationalize gold and jewelry sector that contributes to providing thousands of job opportunities for Saudi youth and in the near future similar opportunities for women in case of academies and specialized institutes that contribute to their training and qualification to join the sector.

He called for women to benefit from the opportunity and join the sector as investors or employees.

He said: “In the next few years, investors will have a great responsibility to give Saudi women the opportunity to work in gold shops to keep pace with the changes taking place in society and to respond to Vision 2030, which aims to increase the participation of women in the labor market from 22 to 30 percent.”

He furthered said the Kingdom has the prospect to be one of the important capitals in the gold and jewellery trade with the recent rapid growth of the industry and the state's plans to promote regional and international partnerships to diversify production and investment.

As he was touring the exhibition accompanied by the chairwoman of organizing committee, Haya Al-Sunaidi, Prince Sultan praised the Saudi women designers in “The Promising” pavilion, confirming that they presented a wonderful example of the high-style Saudi women and remarkable experiences worthy to be encouraged by investors and supporters of the sector.

The exhibition was attended by a wide range of visitors and more than 50 international companies competing to showcase, the latest in diamonds, gems, rare watches and precious antiques. French, British, Italian, Swiss, American, Indian, Turkish, Emirati, Lebanese, as well as the famous Saudi companies, in addition to 12 of the promising designers where international designers were keen to attract visitors to the exhibition.

Haya Al-Sunaidi expected that “Jewellery Salon” in Riyadh would receive the same success of Jeddah’s “Jewellery Salon” of last week. She said that the four-day event has a remarkable social interaction and attracts all segments of society and not limited to women only. She noted that it boosts Kingdom's regional and international position among the world's leading countries in exhibitions and conferences, expressing her gratitude and appreciation to Prince Sultan Bin Saud for motivating participants and his great interaction with the exhibition.

“Jewellery Salon is a platform for the latest in the industry in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. It is the premier exhibition in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, featuring the world's largest and most prestigious jewelry and watch companies”. Al-Sunaidi expected the exhibition would achieve the vision 2030 pillars through strengthening partnerships with countries around the world, empowering Saudi women and boosting their presence in labor market. The event is the official portal for gold and jewelry traders in the world to join the Saudi market as one of the most attractive international markets.

Al-Sunaidi expressed her happiness at the continued support of the promising designers following the great success in Jeddah, saying: "Our present to talented Saudi women continues in Riyadh, they will be granted unique spaces to display their products next to the most famous designers in the world," pointing out that this step mirrors the social responsibility of the exhibition officials and is in line with the main strategic objectives of the convention by highlighting the local products, enhancing the spirit of citizenship and encouraging Saudi talents,” Al-Sunaidi said. — SG



Record Women Candidates In Lebanon Vote, But You Can't Tell From TV

18 April 2018

A record number of women are running in Lebanon's upcoming parliamentary elections, but they are getting much less television air time than their male counterparts, a media monitor has said.

A total of 86 women are seeking legislative office in Lebanon's May 6 vote, out of 597 candidates.

A study by Maharat, a media monitor now closely following the elections, found television coverage of the elections rarely includes female candidates.

From March 26 until April 8, it monitored talk shows, live programming, and news broadcasts, and one-on-one interviews on local television stations.

Female candidates were featured as guests just 5.89% percent of the time, Maharat said, although they make up almost 15% of the candidates.

The vote will be Lebanon's first in nine years, after the parliament formed in 2009 extended its mandate three times, citing security concerns and an unsatisfactory electoral law.

The 128-member body agreed on a new voting system last year, paving the way for next month's elections.

"The electoral law guarantees fair competition between the male and female candidates and says they could be granted equal opportunity," said Tony Mikhael, who heads Maharat's media monitoring team.

Media organizations, he said, "should support gender equality and give women the same opportunities to put themselves forward as candidates".

The country's media outlets have been providing round-the-clock coverage of Lebanon's elections, but Maharat says that comes with a price.

The organization has noted that outlets are charging candidates thousands of dollars for air time and even more for interviews.

Many candidates, particularly those coming from outside Lebanon's traditional political elite, say they cannot afford to pay for television coverage.

Of the 86 women running, only 12 hail from Lebanon's conventional political parties.

One faction -- the powerful Iran-backed movement Hezbollah -- refused to put forward any female candidates.

"We in Hezbollah don't have women for this job," said the group's head Hassan Nasrallah in a televised speech in January.

The 86 women candidates represent a more than seven-fold increase in female representation compared with the 2009 vote, when just 12 women ran for office.



Indian-Americans In Washington Protest In Front Of Indian Embassy Against Kathua, Unnao Rapes, Demand Swift Justice

Apr 19, 2018

Washington: Indian-Americans, including women and children, raising slogans like "Hate Murder, hate Crime: No more. No More" held peaceful protests in front of the Indian Embassy against the gang rape and murder of young girls in Kathua and Unnao, demanding swift justice.

They displayed banners and posters seeking justice for the minor girl who was gang-raped by six men and then murdered in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua.

They were also protesting the rape of a teenage girl in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao. The young girl has alleged that a lawmaker had raped her last summer. Scores of Indian-Americans, including women and children, turned up for a peaceful protest at the Gandhi Statue in front of Indian Embassy in Washington to express their "outrage and disgust" over the gang-rape and murder of the young girls in Kathua and Unnao.

"As the father of the minor girl has demanded, the case should be moved out from the Jammu High Court as there is not a conducive environment for a fair trial," said Syed Ashraf on behalf of Alliance for Justice and Accountability, which organised the protest outside the Indian mission in Washington.

The protestors raised slogans "Hate Murder, hate Crime: No more. No More."

"India should strengthen laws for rape against minors, and against women. They should also strengthen laws against hate crime," Ashraf said noting that the response from the prime minister was little too late.

"Silence does not help, when nation is on fire and people are traumatised," he said.

In a memorandum submitted to the Indian ambassador, the Indian American Muslim Council urged that the Indian government should do much more in protecting innocent children and minority girls from the fangs of caste based or communal politics.

In a separate statement, the Federation of Indian American Christian Organisations (FIACONA) condemned the horrific rape and murder of a child. "The details of rape and sexual assault cases being reported in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir which saw the 7-year-old Muslim girl brutally raped and killed, and Unnao, Uttar Pradesh where the victim was a teenager preyed upon by a state legislator, are shocking," the Hindu American Foundation said in a statement.

"Rape flies in the face of Hindu values, and thus compels us to offer condolences and compassion to victims and their families, and simultaneously work to ensure that the law and law enforcement work impartially and efficiently to deliver justice," it said.

"The barbarity and the bestiality involved in the killing of this little girl show the depraved and criminal mindsets of those who perpetrated such heinous acts. The ghastly way this girl was raped and murdered has indeed shaken the nation to its core and terrorised the people of conscience across the world," said Indian Overseas Congress in a statement.



Pakistan’s Only Female Private Bank CEODoesn’t Want to Be A ‘Token’ Woman Leader

Apr 19, 2018

Sima Kamil is a reluctant role model in Pakistan.

The 61-year-old chief executive officer walks into a 21st-floor meeting room at United Bank Ltd.’s headquarters in Karachi and right away says she doesn’t want to be viewed as a “token” woman and would prefer to discuss the bank’s strategy. Yet she recognizes that as the only woman heading a private sector lender in Pakistan -- and one of the very few women leading companies in the country -- she has a responsibility that goes beyond her job.

“It’s a privilege and a burden at the same time,” she says in an interview in a building overlooking the sandstone school her father attended, amid the urban sprawl of the nation’s largest city. “They roll you out. I’ve tried to avoid that and it’s not always easy; some people feel I should do it because it’s part of my duty, so there’s a balance to be struck.’’

Kamil’s rise through the ranks of Pakistan’s intensely male-dominated banking industry in the conservative Islamic republic is nothing short of extraordinary. Her appointment last year was a further milestone in a country that became the first Muslim-majority nation to elect a female premier, yet where about one-fifth of all women marry before they turn 18 and many still face routine domestic violence and repression.

Women from Pakistan’s elite have long held high political office. The most prominent was former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who hailed from a dynastic feudal family and was assassinated in 2007. From a less privileged background, Kamil’s path to the top came with considerable family support.

Karachi, the sleepy port city where Kamil grew up

Kamil’s father grew up in Karachi when it was a sleepy port city before Pakistan’s violent partition with India in 1947. Her mother’s side of the family was uprooted during the tumultuous separation. They travelled from Eastern Punjab to Lahore by train -- a mode of transport that routinely led to some of the worst ethnic violence during the period.

Surviving the move, her maternal family intently focused on education. Kamil’s mother studied philosophy at college and her father met his future wife at a poetry reading in Lahore. Her mother continued to enjoy and compose Urdu poetry and demanded the best schooling for her son and daughter. “She was the driving force,’’ Kamil says.

Kamil enrolled at Karachi Grammar School, one of the city’s most prestigious establishments. Listing Margaret Atwood and Graham Greene as authors she enjoys, she became a keen student of literature and history.

“If I had my wish those are what I would have studied and that is still what I read; I never read books on economics,” she says. Her family wasn’t wealthy and “didn’t have the luxury to send me off” to study arts or humanities.

Kamil moved to London and acquired an MBA from City University. Though she won a place to study development economics at Oxford her family couldn’t afford it. Instead, she returned to Pakistan to work for American Express Co. in Karachi.

About three years later Kamil landed a job at ANZ Grindlays Bank first in Karachi and then Lahore. The move to the other city upset her parents as it’s rare even today for women in Pakistan to live alone. Most reside with their family until they are married and even then many continue to live at home or move in with their in-laws.

Kamil’s ascent is all the more remarkable given the slow pace of progress for women in Pakistan. Just 22 percent of the nation’s female population is employed. That’s up only slightly from 20 percent in 2008, according to World Bank data; it compares with 24 percent in India and a 43 percent average rate in East Asia and the Pacific. Violence against women is common and human rights organizations estimate about 1,000 so-called “honor killings” occur annually in Pakistan, though legislation was passed in recent years to protect women.

“To pass a bill is nothing,” says Khush Bakht Shujat, a 69-year-old senator from Karachi and one of Pakistan’s first female TV anchors. In many households men aren’t educated and “sometimes they are hiding behind religion, sometimes they are hiding behind rituals.”

Nonetheless, Kamil was ambitious and rose through the ranks at ANZ Grindlays, spending two years in the mid-1990s in Melbourne. She moved again to Pakistan to become head of credit and then corporate regional executive before the lender’s takeover by Standard Chartered Plc in 2000. In 2001 it was at Habib Bank Ltd., the nation’s largest lender, that she found her mentor, Rafiuddin Zakir Mahmood, who was CEO until 2012. She was hired to run a regional corporate banking unit and was promoted to head the division in 2004.

Managing a bank ‘unheard of for a woman’

Kamil’s education gave her a reputation as an upper-class, English-speaking Pakistani. So in bank branches Mahmood sought to see if Kamil could connect with the work force and had her converse with staff who spoke only Urdu and Punjabi. After Kamil passed those tests, Mahmood promoted her to head the lender’s branch network in 2011. In that role she managed thousands of employees, which was “unheard of for a woman,” Kamil says. “It shocked everybody in the bank because they thought I couldn’t do it.”

She brought about the highest annual average current account deposit growth in the industry, placing it first among Pakistan’s banks. With her eye on the top job, Kamil was appointed CEO last year at the lender’s main rival UBL -- whose headquarters is a stone’s throw away. “It’s always an ambition for anyone who is in senior management at a bank,” she says.

She acknowledges obstacles yet says she wasn’t treated in a sexist way.

“Sexism is you can’t do this because you’re a woman, I have not encountered that,” she says. “But, yes, as a woman when you go in a new role you get tested and people take a bit of time if they are not used to working with women to relate to you.”

Success came from Kamil’s abilities to galvanize her troops, according to three former colleagues, who asked not to be identified so they could speak freely about Kamil. She wasn’t authoritarian and gained respect through her focus and drive, they said.

In Kamil’s own words she rewards outperformers, while being clear about expectations and holding conferences with those who fall behind. An early riser in a country with a late-night culture where dinners and gatherings finish after midnight, Kamil starts sending emails at 6.30 am, sometimes to the annoyance of her colleagues.

On the weekends Kamil likes to cook with her husband, a lawyer she married 12 years ago. Kamil has a 30-year-old stepdaughter who now lives in the US and has had the “luxury” to study history and English at university in the UK “We’re very proud of her; she would never work in a bank,’’ Kamil laughs.

Some cultural norms in Pakistan are slowly changing. The #MeToo movement has resonated within the country, across social media and in marches in cities, though Kamil says that has been only for “the high level, the elite or whatever you want to call them.” For women in lower classes or in rural areas it’s harder to speak out, she says.

Lax enforcement of gender employment laws

Gender employment laws in Pakistan are laxly enforced, from the 10 percent female staff quota in the public sector to the requirement that corporate boards must have at least one woman. There are only six women in Pakistan who have reached the highest pay grade in the public sector and prejudice over domestic roles means many women aren’t promoted, says Farzana Bari, a former director of the Gender Studies department at Islamabad’s Quaid-i-Azam University.

“They will not actually open gates for them,” Bari says. “The state has responsibilities through affirmative action.”

Kamil acknowledges that’s also the case at her bank. While higher than the public sector requirement, only 16 percent of UBL’s employees are women and most are found in branches. She wants to raise that number to about 25 percent. She also says there is no gender pay gap at the bank “if women meet the mark.”

“We need to make sure that we can encourage them to come into middle and senior management roles,” Kamil said in a Bloomberg Television interview Thursday. “That’s our challenge.”

She also aims to double current account deposits to Rs 920 billion ($7.9 billion) within five years in a country where only 13 percent of the more than 200 million population has a bank account. Many are bullish and the bank has 16 analyst buy ratings, the most among the Pakistan’s largest banks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Yet Kamil says her task at the 59-year-old lender has barely begun. And while she may have changed some perceptions of what women can do in Pakistan, Kamil thinks merit will make her a better role model.

“That will take a bit of time, respect is not earned in a year -- if I give results then that will be far more powerful for women than just saying she got there,” Kamil says before she walks out to her next meeting -- where she will be the only woman.

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