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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 28 Jan 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Malala's 16th Birthday UN Speech to Turn Into Music for International Women's Day

New Age Islam News Bureau

28 Jan 2017

Shanti Devi, joined the Pakistan Police Department as the lady constable


 Young Pakistani Hindu Girl Joins Police in Umer Kot

 Kerala Government Doctor Goes Behind the Veil to Teach Muslim Women

 23 Women Police Officers Get Training Under Australia Awards Program

 Czech Judge Dismisses Hijab Ban Complaint by Somali Refugee Woman

 Muslim LGBT Women Seek Support, Brace For Trump Presidency

 For Omani Women In Public Office, Slow And Steady Wins The Race

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Malala's 16th Birthday UN Speech to Turn Into Music For International Women's Day

January 28, 2017

LONDON: Malala Yousafzai's speech delivered to the United Nations on her 16th birthday is being composed into music to mark International Women's Day.

The composition, performed by the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, will feature extracts from the campaigner's speech, in which she called for free compulsory education for every child.

Speaking to BBC Radio 3, the child education activist who recently turned 19, said:"I am honoured and excited that my speech inspired a composer to set it to music and that it will be performed and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on International Women's Day.”

"As the speech is a call to raise our voices, it makes me very happy that it will be sung by a large choir, that so many voices will rise to share the message of education for all.

"It is wonderful that the message and the music will reach many more people through the live radio broadcast."

The composer, Kate Whitley, said: "The theme for International Women's Day 2017 is Be Bold For Change - trying to find ways to make a more gender inclusive world - which chimes exactly with what Malala's text is about."

BBC Radio 3 controller Alan Davey announced that as many as six leading female composers will guest edit parts of the Radio 3 schedule on International Women's Day.

He said the station had to do more to increase diversity, adding that "as the people's radio station - paid for by the licence fee - we need to reflect our people, the people who pay for us."

The music composition will be broadcasted on March 8, International Women's Day, at BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff and on BBC Radio 3 the same evening.



Young Pakistani Hindu Girl Joins Police in Umer Kot


UMERKOT: Shanti Devi, daughter of a local farmer Rai Chand, joined the Police Department as the lady constable and received good reception from senior police officials as the young girl belongs to the scheduled caste of the Hindu community of Manu Malhi, a small village of Umer Kot district in Sindh province.

"My father always supported me throughout my education career," she said. She said that she got her early education from a government-run school in her village and then went to the government-un high school in Umerkot. After completion of the matriculation, Shanti joined the college to complete here intermediate level education.

Shanti said she was the first lady of her community who joined the Police Department from her area. Besides education, she said that she used to help her mother in routine household work. As a police person, she said that she would help women and children in particular and everyone else in general. "I think I can understand problems of women as compared to a male police person," she said.



Kerala Government Doctor Goes Behind the Veil to Teach Muslim Women


A government doctor in Kerala has come under criticism on social media for taking a Polio vaccination awareness class for women from behind a veil.

According to local media reports, nearly 100 women participated in the thinly veiled awareness drive conducted by a medical superintendent of the government hospital at Nileswaram in Kasargode district in North Kerala.

The area has a high proportion of Muslims, which may have prompted the organizers to hang a curtain between the stage and the audience.

Given that curtains are lifted before most stage programs in Kerala, Sunday’s event has aroused curiosity, and in some cases protests, among the population.

Awareness camps are being conducted to dispel notions that vaccines are against God. Many devout people in India believe that vaccines interfere with the system that God created, and must be rejected.

Despite strong pressure from local administration, many religious people in Kerala — including those subscribing to strict versions of Christianity — refuse to allow health workers to give vaccines to their children.



23 women police officers get training under Australia Awards program

January 28, 2017

Islamabad-Women police officers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and the federal territory today completed leadership and countering gender-based violence training conducted by University of Queensland and representatives in Islamabad.

The two-week ‘Women in Policing’ course, designed and delivered under the ‘Australia Awards Pakistan’ program, will support 23 career women police officers to be competitive for appointment to positions of leadership in the Pakistan Police Services (PPS) and to enhance their ability to effectively respond to incidents of Gender-based Violence (GBV).

The University of Queensland in Brisbane is renowned for its experience in providing leadership training for women in policing. The course participants learned legal, theoretical and practical aspects of policing gender-based violence around the world, as well as within the Pakistan context. Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson congratulated the women police officers on their participation.

“The ‘Women in Policing’ course is an initiative by the Australian Government, under the Australia Awards program Pakistan, to help to counter gender-based violence in Pakistan,” Adamson said.

Australian High Commission Senior Police Liaison Officer, Philip Hunter noted that gender diversity brought greater transparency and improved ethical considerations which were critical elements when dealing with Gender-Based Violence matters.

“One of the key strategies to gaining trust is a professional and motivated cadre of policewomen, in particular policewomen in leadership roles, and Pakistan policewomen are at the forefront of that strategy,” Hunter said.

Australia Awards are part of the Australian government’s development assistance partnership with Pakistan.



Czech judge dismisses hijab ban complaint by Somali refugee woman

Jan 27, 2017

A judge in the Czech Republic has rejected a complaint lodged by a young Muslim woman banned from wearing hijab to school.

Ayan Jamaal Ahmed Nuur, a Somali refugee who was banned from covering her head at the school where she was a nursing science student, sought an apology and financial compensation from the school administration for religious discrimination against her.

Judge Daniela Cejkova at the court in the capital, Prague, rejected her request.

Cejkova declared that Nuur's suit that sought "an apology and 60,000 crowns ($2,350) in compensation was dismissed."

"The plaintiff is not entitled to another [appeals] court," the judge stated.

The controversial verdict against the young woman's hijab came despite there being no official ban on such a practice in the Czech Republic.

Ivanka Kohoutova, the school's principal, claimed putting on headwear was unhygienic for nursing students, and violated the nurses' job safety standards.

The school principle also argued that the plaintiff was never officially registered at the school and failed to submit the necessary documentation despite living in the country for years and being granted asylum status in 2011.

The Czech Republic is a secular country with a small Muslim community of only 10,000 to 20,000 members. It has no law covering the wearing of religious garments.

However, all across the European Union, xenophobic sentiments have been surging following the 2015-16 refugee crisis across Europe.

Czech President Milos Zeman, a notorious anti-refugee advocate, claimed last year that it was "practically impossible" to integrate the Muslim community into European society.

The European Court of Justice, however, has made the issue crystal clear by ruling it against the law to discriminate against women for wearing the headwear recommended by religious order.

The veiling of the head by women is common practice among many world religions, including Christianity.

Mother Teresa, known in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, wore headwear similar to Muslim women's hijab. All nuns in the Catholic Church use headwear.



Muslim Lgbt Women Seek Support, Brace For Trump Presidency

JANUARY 27, 2017

On colorful woven prayer rugs covering the hardwood floor of a church in Lakeview on Friday, 10 Muslim women observed the weekly or jummah prayer.

But these weren’t just any Muslim women. They are members of Masjid al-Rabia, established two years ago to provide a sanctuary for LGBT Muslim women who have not found welcoming environments in established mosque communities in Chicago.

“We support our own community and find resources because we have so much going against us,” said Mahdia Lynn, 29, a professional chef and freelance writer, the co-founder of Masjid al-Rabia.

The jummah prayer last week in Lakeview wasn’t on just any Friday. It was Inauguration Day, when Donald J. Trump became the 45th president of the United States. During his campaign, Trump made numerous references to Muslims that struck many as antagonistic, causing them as well as members of other minority groups to anticipate his presidency with anxiety.

Lacking backing from other LGBT groups in the Chicago area, Lynn and Zeynab Shahar, the other co-founder of Masjid al-Rabia that provides an inclusive place for worship and community for Muslim LGBT women. While the group does not have a permanent mosque structure, Lynn and Shahar refer to it as a mosque, or masjid.

In addition to offering Friday prayers, the group also holds open events where members and supporters can talk about relevant issues. About 10 non-Muslim women also attended the jummah prayer last week.

“We are working to build infrastructure for pastoral care for people who need it,” Lynn said.

Katrina Daly, 41, a professor of African cultural studies at the University of Wisconsin who attended Friday’s prayer session to observe and continue her research on the group, takes a dim view of how related Trump policies may evolve.

“He is going to discriminate against Muslims, transgender people, gays and lesbians, and he said he may take away people’s right to marry,” Daly said. “So I think we should be worried, and people should fight for their rights.”

Sadaf Sayed, 27, a member of Masjid al-Rabia who works as a student services coordinator, said: “I am not hopeful that Trump will do anything positive for any of the identities I have as a female LGBT Muslim. I don’t have a lot of faith in him right now. This is unfortunate.”

In his inaugural speech, Trump did not mention sexual orientation, and he vowed to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.”

But Trump did say that “whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag.” He added, “So to all Americans … hear these words: You will never be ignored again.”

Some Muslims think Trump should not only treat them fairly but also assist their community. “In terms of the larger [Muslim] community, I think our primary focus is to want the president to provide us a safer space,” said Shahar, 26, a Ph.D. candidate at the Chicago Theological Seminary.

Among Masjid al-Rabia’s members are also Muslim women who are straight. Caitlin Helinski, 22, an early childhood education teacher who led the Friday prayer, said, “I really do think there are some dark times ahead of us, especially with Trump’s presidency.”

Amid such painful uncertainty, its members see Masjid al-Rabia as a source of optimism and hope.

“I love to come to a space where I feel totally included as woman, as a bisexual person,” Shahar said.



For Omani women in public office, slow and steady wins the race

January 27, 2017

Muscat: For the first time in Oman Municipal Council, an entire province is being represented by only women.

When Oman held its Muncipal Council elections in December, Mariam Al Shamsi and Latifa Al Manei won the only seats for the Sunnainah province of the Buraimi governorate.

With only seven women securing seats in the 202-member body, the number seems low but it is much higher than 2012 elections when only four women made it to the council.

Oman seems to be pushing forward and realising the importance of women in a political office — albeit slowly.

“It is just a matter of time,” Al Shamsi, 36, told Gulf News. “Men will gradually accept us in public office.”

Before running for municipal council office, Al Shamsi and Al Manei were active members of their community, regularly volunteering their time at charities. They also helped run the Family Development Centre in their area which provides family counselling to local women, arranges lectures and courses for designing handicrafts and jewellery.

“Many local women have benefited from these courses as they opened their own jewellery and Omani traditional handicrafts shops,” Al Shamsi said.

Al Shamsi’s volunteer work made her a well-known figure in her small town, particularly among women.

She said getting to know people through volunteerism made her aware of the community’s issues and motivated her to get into politics.

“Women in my province want to see it more developed. They want more roads and parks,” she told Gulf News.

When she decided to run in the Muncipal Council elections, some men in her community refused to talk to her, as conservative social attitudes generally frown upon women in public office.

“I did not let it affect me,” she told Gulf News.

“I knew sooner or later they would have to accept me, and that is exactly what happened. Now they come talk to me directly if they have any requests for municipal services.”

“But, of course, more is needed to change the mindset of men towards women in the country,” Al Shamsi told Gulf News.

Currently, there is only one woman in Oman’s Shura Council, the elected lower house of the state council, which has some legislative powers.

In 1994, Oman became the first Gulf State to allow women to vote and in 2011 Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed opened the municipal council up for elections.

Noted Omani writer Zakariyah Al Mahrami believes that democracy and women’s political involvement go hand in hand.

“The more the country opens up to democracy the more women we will see in parliamentary and legislative posts,” he told Gulf News.

“In general more and more Omani women are educated and many even hold PhD degrees. This is good for the country and for democracy as women are more empowered and engaged,” he said.

“My father encouraged me to run in the municipal elections,” Sana Al Mashari, a mother of four, told Gulf News. “He was also a Municipal Council member in the 90s.”

“I had to do a lot of campaigning in my province of Amerat, which meant I was highly visible and seen,” she told Gulf News.

“My father and husband supported me throughout the whole process.”

She hopes to use her position to fight for the betterment of low-income families.

“I want to organise exhibitions where families can sell their products to help them make the ends meet,” she said.

“I want to give a voice to the voiceless,” she said.

In 2009, Oman celebrated Women’s Day for the first time where Sultan Qaboos said how education and employment opportunities have advanced the role and status of women in the country.

“We have facilitated this through regulations and laws that guarantee their rights,” he said, during a speech on the occasion.

Rahma Al Beloushi, a teacher in Muscat, thinks that women are making progress in the country.

“Omani women have proved they are capable of being a part of the political life of the country. We just need more support and acceptance from men.”




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