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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 4 Jan 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Muslim Woman Passed over as Romania’s PM Named Deputy

New Age Islam News Bureau

4 Jan 2017

‘Girl of the Year’ Doll Is African-American, Photo: American Girl


 First Black American Girl Doll of The Year, Could A Muslim Doll Be Next?

 Sugar Land-Area Woman in Hijab Says Man Called Her Family 'Terrorists'

 Saudi Women Now Work At Airports

 Zambia Women's 'Day Off For Periods' Sparks Debate

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Muslim Woman Passed over as Romania’s PM Named Deputy

January 3, 2017

Bucharest (Romania), Jan 3: A Romanian economist who had been poised to become the country’s first female and Muslim prime minister was offered a job as deputy premier today after the country’s president declined to nominate her for the top government job. Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the Social Democratic Party which won the December 11 election, said that Sevil Shhaideh, the party’s first choice for premier, would serve as deputy premier and as regional development minster, a spot she briefly held in 2015. President Klaus Iohannis decided against nominating Shhaideh, a political novice, because of concerns over the support her Syria-born husband had expressed for Syrian President Bashar Assad on social media. Parliament is expected to approve the 26-member coalition government tomorrow. It has four more ministries than the previous technocrat-led government and eight of the portfolios are held by women. Dragnea named close ally Carmen Daniela Dan to the key post of interior minister, which would make her the first woman to hold the post.

The nominee for foreign minister is Teodor Melescanu, 75, who entered the foreign ministry during the communist era. Melescanu previously served as foreign minister from 1992-1996 and for a few days in 2014. He also headed Romania’s foreign espionage agency. The Social Democrats will govern with the junior Alliance of Liberals and Democrats “We have a program to govern,” Prime Minister-elect Sorin Grindeanu, a regional politician who was nominated last week, said. “It urges us to show responsibility, modesty and respect for Romanians.”



First Black American Girl Doll Of The Year, Could A Muslim Doll Be Next?


American Girl Doll Company (owned by Mattel) finally took customer feedback to heart and introduced their first black doll of the year, Gabriella McBride. Each January for more than a decade, they have unveiled the doll of the year and accessories that coincide with her story. They had a few historical dolls of color but this is a first for the doll of the year.

This is a long time coming and couldn’t be more important in 2017. The American public has been pounded by divisive rhetoric throughout 2016; and, we are hurting. Our country needs to heal. We need to teach our children that the strength of our nation is in our diversity, not in fear mongering.

Gabriella McBride is a dancer who is advocating for her art center to remain open. Despite suffering a speech impediment, she uses poetry to express her activism. I love this subtle expression of the struggle that black Americans go through in America. At least that is how I am interpreting the story they chose for her.

Girl of the year dolls retire at year end, but Gabriella will be available beyond 2017. I would like to add her to my doll collection. My daughter is a teenager now and no longer plays with dolls, but we amassed quite an American Girl doll collection and took our doll collecting very seriously.

I loved playing with dolls as a young girl in the 1970s. I had sealed my childhood dolls away in storage to give to my daughter someday but it was not to be. My childhood dolls were stolen when our home was being renovated. I think this is partly why I embraced the American Girl doll phenomenon with my daughter as she was growing up.

We have the beautiful Hispanic doll, Josefina and the Hawaiian girl of the year doll, Kanani. (I was really into Kanani since my husband and I got married in Maui.) But most of the American Girl dolls are white. I have Asian friends that struggle with wanting to find Asian dolls their children can play with and feel good about.

Back in 2009, I wrote a letter to the American Girl Doll company asking if they were planning to create a Muslim American Doll. They have a Jewish American historical girl doll named, Rebecca, which I think is great. They wrote a letter back to me and you can read it right here:

This response is dated, but seemed pretty firm in telling me that the American Girl Doll Company had zero intention of ever creating a doll that expresses the Islamic faith. And the letter is telling me that the Rebecca doll expresses her Jewish faith— but only because Jewish immigrant Americans contributed to society. (So in other words, Muslim immigrant Americans have not contributed to society?)

At the time, this letter was a punch in the gut for me. I had a daughter not only in the doll-playing stage but that I was raising as a Muslim American. My daughter asked me why there was a Jewish doll and not a Muslim doll. And honestly, I never gave my daughter a straight answer as to why that was so.

ictures from the American Girl website of Jewish doll Rebecca and her menorah and dreidel set.

The arrival of the first black girl of the year has prompted the memories of this correspondence for me. I find the reasoning invalid. (Sorry AG Company!) I am a long-time customer. I remained one even after receiving this letter.

I would like to educate (and I invite readers to help) on the great contributions Islam has not only brought to the planet (umm- Islam brought us algebra, trigonometry, the theory of relativity and coffee (Coffee!) to name just a few things) but also educate on contributions Muslims brought and continue to bring to America.

American Muslim history is a rich one. This article from Islam101 alone provides a laundry list of contributions Muslims have made to American society from its earliest days. Muslim Americans are doctors, lawyers, activists, engineers, educators. Muslim Americans are educated and charitable.

Some famous Muslim Americans in politics, sports and civil rights movements include: Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Hakeem Olajuwon, Keith Ellison. Muslim Americans have served in our armed forces and have died for our country. Remember the gold star family of Captain Humayun Khan, an American Muslim soldier who died in the line of duty? This Muslim American hero’s father, Khizr Khan, held up a copy of his ACLU Pocket Constitution at the Democratic National Convention and stated to Donald Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing and no-one.”

Our country seems to have gone back to the 1950s - threatening the progress we have made in civil rights and recognizing the strength of our diversity. It’s a scary time in America right now. Now more than ever- we need American organizations to use their marketing power and financial influence to courageously defend the values that make us strong. And many companies do actively use their marketing prowess to help drown out the voices of hate.

One such company is Penzey’s. They are a spice company who like American Girl, is based out of Wisconsin. Penzey’s stands firmly and openly about their values recently stating, “Cooking trumps racism.” I have bought spices for myself and as gifts. (They are fantastic by the way.) And I plan to pay close attention to wear I spend my dollars moving forward.

We simply cannot afford to spend our money on organizations that promote hate- even subtlety or in secret. If we want to live in an America that defends our values of diversity, the mighty dollar is one of our most important tools. We must actively pursue commercial transactions with organizations with integrity in this manner. We must only spend our dollars on goods and services from companies that openly defend the values of our Constitution and the inalienable rights of all Americans.

As for American Girl, I am happy about their new doll, Gabriella. She is beautiful. I hope to add her to my collection. And I’m hopeful they will have a change of heart about their decision that Muslim immigrants have not contributed to the fabric of American society. It’s simply not based in truth.

To give your feedback to American Girl Doll Company, you can call them at: 800-845-0005 or write to them at the following address:

P.O. Box 620497, Middleton, WI 53562-0497

Being the change we want to see in the world is not just a feel good saying but a very real and active state of mind we all need to be in for 2017 and beyond.

Are you with me? We can do this.



Sugar Land-Area Woman in Hijab Says Man Called Her Family 'Terrorists'

January 3, 2017

When 21-year-old Shifa Abuzaid decided in May to begin wearing a hijab, she said her parents worried it might bring about incidents like the one she says she recently experienced.

A man passing Abuzaid, along with her younger cousins and siblings, called them a "bunch of terrorists" on Saturday in Sugar Land Town Square, Abuzaid recounted in a Facebook post that has since been shared on the medium more than 2,500 times.

Abuzaid was the eldest of her family members present at the time. The youngest was 10.

The group had been walking to their car after lunch when they passed the verbally abusive man and a woman, Abuzaid said in a phone interview Tuesday. Abuzaid was walking in front and was the only one with a hijab, a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women. 

When they passed the couple, she said she tried to appear friendly, as she often does because of the political climate regarding Muslims. She smiled.

But the younger kids stopped in their tracks after the couple passed, she said. They told Abuzaid what they had heard the man say. She felt shocked -- then she decided to try to talk with him about it.

As Abuzaid told it, she followed the man into a store. She said they asked him politely why he had called them terrorists. She found his reaction was confrontational.

Her sister began to cry as the man got close to her face, and when her 15-year-old brother stepped in front of her, Abuzaid alleged the man pushed him.

The man then began to deny their account, Abuzaid said. A manager at the store, Sur La Table, stepped in to help. The store had called security, and the man and woman left. (The company did not immediately return a request for comment.)

A police officer who later arrived told Abuzaid he couldn't do anything because no one was physically harmed, she said. (Sugar Land Police Chief Douglas Brinkley said they have since re-connected with the family to talk with them again.)

So, at 4:29 p.m. Saturday, Abuzaid posted her account of what had happened along with a short video her cousin recorded of part of their exchange with the man. Ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations, she said she wanted people to know this man might be there.

Abuzaid still doesn't know his name -- and points out that he didn't know hers, either. Nor did he likely know she was a student at the University of Houston, born in the United States.

"You don't even know my name," she said. "You don't know my story."



Saudi Women Now Work At Airports

Jan 4, 2017

JEDDAH – Saudi women are now in the front rows of airports guiding passengers. This became possible after years of they asking those interested in the development of women’s work to widen the scope and include them in all sectors that need a female cadre for customer services.

The move is in line with “Vision 2030” that includes a dramatic outline for the development of women’s work.

To know about their experience, Al-Madinah daily met with a group of female employees who work in this field.

Asrar Mushee said: “I am proud of being one of the first Saudi girls in a new field entirely for women in the aviation industry, and specifically in the airport.

“It is a challenge to prove our capabilities and to prove to the community and the whole world that we are capable of success and innovation in all areas when we have the opportunity, and from my experience I can say: It is distinctive since we serve passengers, visitors and make them feel satisfied with what we are giving them.”

Mai Farhat says: “I thank the company for giving us a chance to attend this high-level work and intensive training, especially since this is a great achievement to prove skills and capabilities of the Saudi girl.”

Abrar Saidi said: “We thank God and then Arabia Gulf Air, which embraced this idea.”

Samer Abdul Salam Al-Majali, CEO of Arabia Gulf Air, says: “The company has a headstart in employing women, which includes 10 employees working under the name of “airport movement employee” and we are working to raise the number to 21 at the end of March 2017.

He said the company entrusted several tasks to female employees that were reserved for men in the past such as data input and passengers information verification, boarding passengers and providing services to first-class passengers, families and people with special needs.

He stressed that the company has worked on choosing the right employees and providing them with intensive training so they can be equipped to address the difficulties that they will face as the first group of women in the field.

“The company is keen on empowering female employees,” he added.



Zambia Women's 'Day Off For Periods' Sparks Debate

By Kennedy Gondwe

4 January 2017

This is no doubt why a provision in the country's labour law that allows female workers to take off one day a month is known as Mother's Day, even though it applies to all women, whether or not they have children.

The legal definition is not precise - women can take the day when they want and do not have to provide any medical justification, leading some to question the provision.

"I think it's a good law because women go through a lot when they are on their menses [periods]," says Ndekela Mazimba, who works in public relations.

Ms Mazimba is neither married nor does she have children but she takes her Mother's Day every month because of her gruelling period pains.

"You might find that on the first day of your menses, you'll have stomach cramps - really bad stomach cramps. You can take whatever painkillers but end up in bed the whole day.

"And sometimes, you find that someone is irritable before her menses start, but as they progress, it gets better. So, in my case, it's just the first day to help when the symptoms are really bad."

Women in Zambia do not need to make prior arrangements to be absent from work, but can simply call in on the day to say they are taking Mother's Day.

An employer who denies female employees this entitlement can be prosecuted.

Ms Mazimba's boss, Justin Mukosa, supports the law and says he understands the pressure women face in juggling careers and family responsibilities.

A married man himself, he says the measure can have a positive impact on women's work:

"Productivity is not only about the person being in the office. It should basically hinge on the output of that person."

But he admits there are problems with the current system in terms of losing staff at short notice and also the temptation for people to play the system:

"It could be abused in the context that maybe an individual might have some personal plans they wish to attend to so she takes Mother's Day on the day.

Not everyone is so supportive of Mother's Day, and there are many women among the critics.

Mutinta Musokotwane-Chikopela is married and has three children.

She has a full-time marketing job but never takes Mother's Day, arguing that it encourages laziness in working women.

"I don't believe in it and I don't take it. Menses are a normal thing in a woman's body; it's like being pregnant or childbirth," she says.

"I think women take advantage of that, especially that there's no way of proving that you are on your menses or not."

Ms Chikopela says the provision should have been made more clear in the law.

"The problem in Zambia is that we have too many holidays - including a holiday for national prayers. So I guess Mother's Day makes those that love holidays happy."

The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the umbrella body representing the country's workers, is also a supporter of the law.

But the entitlement "would have to be forfeited" if a woman were to take it on a day that she was not on her period, says Catherine Chinunda, national trustee at ZCTU.

"We have been educating women about Mother's Day, telling them that on that day, they are supposed to rest and not even go shopping or do other jobs because that is wrong," she says.

The law itself provides no guidance about what is allowed and it would appear that very few, if any, employers have internal policy guidance in that respect.

She dismisses the idea that men should also get a day off every month, as has been suggested by some:

"Men sometimes go to drink and miss work…. they don't know how it feels to be on menses."

But while praising the concept of Mother's Day, some argue that the reality is bad for business.

"Imagine a company that has a number of employees and six or seven take Mother's Day on the same day. What will happen to productivity?" he asks.

Labour Minister Joyce Nonde-Simukoko, a former trade union activist, tells me that Mother's Day was initially informally observed in the 1990s before eventually being brought into law.

But she has stern words for anyone thinking of using the entitlement to bunk off work:

"If you absent yourself yet you are found in a disco house, then it will not be taken as Mother's Day.

"You shouldn't even leave town, be found doing your hair or shopping. You can be fired. For example, somebody was found farming after taking Mother's Day and she was fired."

One of the problems with the law is that it does not make this explicit, leading to confusion among employers and employees alike.

But perhaps even more than the practical benefits, it is the intention and the spirit of the legislation that many Zambians support.

As Linda Kasonde, a senior lawyer, tells me:

"The reason why mother's day is important within the Zambian context is that it recognises that women are the primary care-givers in our society - regardless of whether they are married or not."





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