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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 9 Apr 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pak Jirga Orders Woman’s Slaying in the Name Of “Honour”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egyptian women have long suffered from sexual harassments including those from mobs. (File photo: Reuters)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hijab Fashion in Egypt: A Lot More Than Meets the Eye

Widows, Divorcees Decry Conditions for House Grant in Saudi Arabia

Only Woman in Algeria Poll Race ‘Won’t Hold Back’

Egypt Sets Out Law on Sexual Harassment

Egyptian female activists form 'anti-coup' coalition

Saudi Rewarded For Refusing To Sell Veil

Women Agree Fame, Fortune Help in Indonesian Election Campaign

Liv/Giant Expands Support of Afghanistan Women's Cycling Team

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pak-jirga-orders-woman’s-slaying-in-the-name-of-“honour”/d/66483

 

 

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Pak Jirga Orders Woman’s Slaying in the Name Of “Honour”

10 Apr, 2014

A Jirga (unelected council), headed by an influential landlord, ordered slaying of a woman in the name of “honour” on Wednesday.

In a separate case, the same landlord ordered to give two minor daughters of a person charged with “honour” as Vani – a traditional custom in rural areas of the country wherein girls from the family of the male accused of crime are forcibly married to those of the aggrieved one. The landlord when on to imprison the accused in his private jail, and ruled to slay minor girls, 10-year-old Zubaida and 7-over-old Abida, if they were not handed over to the landlord in three days.

Incidents of independent rulings by such unelected councils have started surfacing more abundantly in past months, with a Jirga ordering a gang-rape of a 40-year-old woman by five men in the Punjab in January.

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/04/09/national/jirga-orders-womans-slaying-in-the-name-of-honour/

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Hijab Fashion in Egypt: A Lot More Than Meets the Eye

10 Apr, 2014

A little more than 10 years passed between my first visit to Cairo and this one, my second. I remembered Cairo as it was, with its noisy streets, the lively downtown area with its European-style architecture, the crowding in the market area, the high sidewalks, the mosques, the Coptic churches, the restaurants and the cafes. One change was particularly visible and could not be ignored: In Cairo of the 1980s, one could find quite a few women walking downtown with not only their heads uncovered, but also in short sleeves. During the 1990s, sleeves got longer and head coverings multiplied, and proliferated even more as time went on.

Today, it seems that most women in Egypt wear the traditional head covering, the Hijab. That is nothing unusual: religion is growing stronger in Arab society as a whole, and in Egyptian society in particular. Every traveller who visited Cairo from time to time during these years could easily see the change in the Egyptian women’s dress habits and the spread of the Hijab and even of the Niqab, the veil that covers all or part of the face.

Like most foreign tourists who visit Muslim Arab countries but do not live there, I, too, looked at this phenomenon with sadness, and deciphered it with the simple explanation of increasing hardship, increased religious observance and the return of women to their traditional role in patriarchal society. For me, the Hijab was a symbol of women’s inferior status in Egyptian society and a symbol of women’s subjugation and oppression in general.

But occasionally, I saw some things that did not correspond to my theory. For example, the store windows of the Al-Motahajiba fashion chain (the name means “covered” in Arabic) displayed a large selection of veils and head coverings in various colours alongside an impressive collection of women’s accessories that included sexy baby dolls, black leather underwear with silver studs, fishnet stockings attached to garters and even a Hijab made of transparent fabric attached to a nightgown that was transparent as well. When I asked myself how these items could go together, I thought: In the privacy of her own home, for her husband’s eyes only, a woman may wear sexy, seductive garments, and it is even desirable that she do so. In the public space, in any case, Egyptian society still prefers that women cover themselves and see (sometimes through netting only), but not be seen in any way.

Despite what I thought, at the same time I got a chance to see Egyptian teenage girls, wearing head coverings, going out with their boyfriends after school in a boat on the Nile River, dancing with them and for them to music that came from the tape recorder they had brought along. I also saw them in their workplaces wearing jeans and clingy tops, heavily made up, wearing high heels and a Hijab. And many times I saw veiled women walking on the streets with their parents, and their mothers were bare-headed and wore their hair unbound.

It was only when I stood in line at the entrance to a well-known Cairo nightclub, with a young woman wearing a Hijab in front of me, that I let that dissonance trickle into my mind and disturb my perception. “You can’t go into the club like that,” the guard at the entrance said to the young woman in the Hijab. “This is a Harrama” (a place that serves alcohol), “and it doesn’t make sense that you should come here wearing a Hijab.” The young woman did not hesitate for a moment. She removed the pin that held her Hijab in place, shook her hair free and knotted the fabric behind her neck, as if it were a fashionable head covering or even a bandana to keep her hair out of her face. The fact that religious law forbade her to be in that nightclub at all did not seem to disrupt her plans for the evening. She went in and met her friends inside. Some of them were wearing head coverings, while others were not. Some of them drank alcohol while others did not. Men and women danced together there until the wee hours of the morning.

During my next visits, I had the chance to get to know some feminists who wore the Hijab. It appears that for many women, the Hijab has become not only an article of clothing identified with religious tendencies of whatever sort, but also, and mainly, one that defines identity. And many times, that identity is an oppositional one: local rather than global, “eastern” rather than “western.” In other words, they are saying: Do you, the women in the West, want to expose your bodies? We actually want to cover ours! Are your fashions dictated by America? Ours come from Saudi Arabia! But more than that, many women have made the hijab into a symbol of Islamic feminism, turning it into a source of empowerment.

Hijab Fashion, a monthly fashion magazine for Muslim women, was established in 2004. It is published in London and distributed throughout the Arab world. Like many women’s magazines in the world, Hijab Fashion has columns about relationships, family, health and beauty care, and recipes. It also has articles about careers and essays that occasionally present feminist opinions that would do radical Western feminist movements proud. But the magazine’s most interesting feature is the wide variety of styles of head coverings and dress appropriate for Muslim women that it shows. For example, it covers the new trend of caftans from Morocco, the new line of women’s Abayas from the Persian Gulf states, or the last word in Hijabs from Saudi Arabia. And there are lots of Hijabs — in lots of colours, styles and for a variety of purposes.

Another event that contributes a great deal to the field is Hijab Fashion Week, an annual event that takes place in London. At this event, men and women fashion bloogers, stylists and designers of “modest fashion” from all over the world meet and show their new creations, not only to sell their designs to the various clothing chains, but also to make the hijab fashionable and legitimate, and try to change the negative opinion of it that is prevalent throughout the Western world, which sees it as a symbol of women’s subjugation and oppression.

Interestingly, in Hijab Fashion magazine and also in fashion shows that feature the hijab and traditional clothing styles, as well as on the websites and blogs dedicated to the topic, the clothes are not always presented as a way of conforming to Islamic law and the religious life (though such websites and blogs do exist). Much of the fabric used for the head coverings comes in bold, and sometimes even loud, colours, and a good deal of the clothing designs that accompany the Hijabs include tight-fitting trousers, clingy blouses or dresses that accentuate the contours of the female body. Both these things go entirely against Muslim religious law, according to which women must wear garments that conceal the shape of their bodies and avoid colours that draw too much attention.

So what does all this mean? That the Hijab is actually something fun and that all Muslim women are happy as can be that their status is so good? No. Certainly not for the most part. Many young women in Egypt talk about the social pressure that leads them to cover their heads, mainly because of the looks they get from men and women in their family, neighborhood, school or workplace. Some even develop skin infections where the fabric rubs their faces. Many men make marriage to a woman conditional upon her covering her head after the wedding, and many religious parents raise their daughters to wear the Hijab without giving them any choice in the matter.

But just as there are various styles of head coverings and different ways to tie the Hijab, every Hijab has its own story. In Yousry Nasrallah’s 2009 film, “Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story,” there is an independent woman character whose husband makes their marriage conditional upon her covering her head, and she refuses. The film has another character, a saleswoman in a high-end perfume shop, who describes herself as “cut in two”: she wears no head covering at work, but wears the Hijab at home. A third character, a conservative woman, wears the Hijab but drinks beer — and alcohol consumption is forbidden in Islam.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/.premium-1.584878

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Widows, Divorcees Decry Conditions for House Grant in Saudi Arabia

10 Apr, 2014

DAMMAM — Widows and divorcees are facing difficulties registering with the Ministry of Housing in order to realize their dreams of owning a residential unit in the ministry's housing projects, Al-Hayat daily reported.

The ministry is asking these women to present a "family provision deed" from the court that proves they are the providers for their families.

Courts, however, are asking these women to present a letter from the Ministry of Housing saying that the women are eligible for housing units before they can be issued such a deed.

Housing Minister Shuwaish Al-Duwaihi said the housing projects are to provide citizens with residential units according to a royal decree that was issued last year.

"These residential units are for families and not individuals, and widows and divorcees have to present a deed proving that they are the providers for their families," he said.

Many divorced and widowed women have expressed annoyance at such a requirement, pointing to the obstacles they are facing to obtain such a deed.

A woman who is a cancer patient said that she repeatedly visited the courts to obtain the required deed, but to no avail.

"There are plenty of women who are in a similar situation, and this requirement only shows that decisions are taken arbitrarily and without proper consideration," she said.

Some judges considered the Housing Ministry’s requirement to be valid and claimed that obtaining deeds from the courts does not take any time if all documents are provided.

A judge in Dammam's appeals court denied that courts are asking for letters from the Housing Ministry to issue family provision deeds.

"We did not ask for such a letter and issuing deeds only requires filling out a certain form at the court that is submitted to the court head and then referred to a specialist to complete the process," he said. Such processes do not take more than a week, he said.

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20140410201418

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Only woman in Algeria poll race ‘won’t hold back’

10 Apr, 2014

KOLEA, Algeria — A string of white pearls around her neck, her hair tied in a bun, Louisa Hanoune, the only woman running for Algeria's presidency, holds out her palms and declares: "I have clean hands".

The remark triggers an outburst of celebratory ululations and chants of "Louisa! Louisa!" among supporters of the 60-year-old leftist candidate, who is widely popular in Algeria, even among conservatives hostile to feminism.

"I have clean hands," she declares in a husky voice. "I have not held back, I have not sold off any businesses, I have not oppressed women."

She was speaking at a gathering in Kolea, about 40 km west of Algiers, where many women were among the roughly 300 supporters of the head of the Worker's Party, who has been a member of parliament since 1997.

The April 17 election is "an unprecedented review of the history of independent Algeria," argues the veteran leftist whose campaign calls for "Audacity" and "For a Second Republic".

Explaining the slogans, Hanoune says it "is 52 years since independence, we must finish with the one-party system which is stripping the people of their sovereignty".

Algeria needs the "audacity to tax the wealthy... to suspend the Association Agreement with the European Union and accession to the World Trade Organization, and to withdraw from the Arab Free Trade Area," she adds.

Her targets are multinational companies and "foreign hands" which she accuses of slipping into civilian clothing and trying to drag the country into new violence.

In her third campaign for the presidency, Hanoune also has in her sights Ali Benflis, seen as the main challenger to incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, for whom she does not hide her admiration.

"She knows the president is surrounded by wolves, and she is trying to get closer to him in order to unmask them," reasoned Abdelkader, a taxi driver in his 40s.

Benflis was absent from the last leadership contest, in 2009, in which Hanoune came a distant second, officially scoring 4.2 percent to Bouteflika's landslide 90.2 percent, although she alleged widespread fraud.

A nationalist and a communist, Hanoune is often described as "Algeria's Chavez".

"I'll do better than him," she says in reference to the late Venezuelan president. "He had the courage to liberate his country from the grip of the IMF and the World Bank, but failed to cancel debt."

A charismatic orator, Hanoune raised the Trotskyist Worker's Party, which was founded secretly in the 1980s, to the ranks of one of the main political parties in the National Assembly.

Her convictions were forged in an uncompromising struggle to annul the Family Code, passed in 1984 and still standing, which relegates Algerian women to the status of second class citizens.

But unlike other Algerian feminists, she isn't considered part of the Westernized elite who speak French and are widely despised among the general public.

A law graduate from the University of Annaba, Hanoune is bilingual and has a rare command of Arabic for an Algerian leader, mixing classic and street Arabic to make herself understood by ordinary people.

It was in July 1991, at a gathering broadcast live on state television, that many Algerians first discovered the outspoken politician, as she demanded the release of the main leaders of the now-disbanded Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) after their imprisonment.

During the devastating civil war that erupted months later, following the military-backed decision to cancel elections that the Islamists were poised to win, Hanoune steadfastly called for a negotiated solution.

At the height of the bloodshed, Hanoune never abandoned her apartment and party headquarters in the working-class Algiers district of El Harrach, even as most of her rivals moved to safer neighborhoods.

"I refused the offer to live in Club des Pins," she said of the resort west of the capital where some of the political elite took refuge at the time.

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20140410201496

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Egypt sets out law on sexual harassment

10 Apr, 2014

Egyptian lawmakers have proposed new legislation that for the first time specifically defines and sets out punishments for sexual harassment, amid an alarming rise in assaults on women.

There is currently no specific law outlining sexual harassment, except for three articles in Egypt’s penal code that were sometimes applied to cases of attacks on women.

But a draft law defining the offence and setting out penalties has been sent to the cabinet for approval, the Cairo-based Ahram Online reported an aide to the justice minister as saying on Wednesday.

The proposed law defines a harasser as someone who “accosts others in a public or private place through following or stalking them, using gestures or words or through modern means of communication or in any other means through actions that carry sexual or pornographic hints,” Ahram Online reported.

Aide Ahmed el-Sergany told reporters that the draft will be revised by the cabinet before referring it to the president to formally issue it “soon.”

According to the proposed law, a harasser will receive a prison sentence, a fine or both.

An offender could serve between one and ten years in prison, and a fine ranging from around $1,433 to $2,866.

The law also stipulates three-to-five years in prison for those harassing females at their workplaces or schools, while those participating in mob sexual harassment will receive sentencing of up to five years.

The draft defines mob sexual harassment as an act when two or more individuals assault a woman. A person who sexually assaults a woman while holding a weapon will get a sentence of up to five years.

Women woes

Egyptian women have long suffered from sexual harassments including those from mobs.

One case in March went viral on social media when a female student at Cairo University came under mass sexual assault by male students. The blonde student was wearing black pants and tight long-sleeved pink shirt.

The issue of sexual harassment was put firmly on the agenda after this episode, according to el-Sergany.

For activists, the case underlined the need to change public attitudes especially when the university’s president, Gaber Nassar, criticized her for the way she was dressed. A well-known TV presenter, Tamir Amin, went on a tirade on his show, saying the student was “dressed like a belly dancer.”

Amid an uproar on social media, both Nassar and Amin apologized for their comments. But Amin still went on to say women should wear “appropriate” clothing when they go out.

After the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, there have also been multiple mass sexual assaults on women during protests over the past three years.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/04/10/Egypt-sets-out-law-on-sexual-harassment.html

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Egyptian female activists form 'anti-coup' coalition

World Bulletin / News Desk

10 Apr, 2014

Nine Egyptian anti-coup women's groups have united to form a coalition with the stated aim of stepping up efforts to end what they describe as last summer's "military coup" that unseated elected president Mohamed Morsi.

"The alliance aims to encourage more activity by women in resisting the military coup," alliance head Hoda Abdel-Moneim told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

Launched on Wednesday, the "Revolutionary Coalition of Egyptian Women" includes nine anti-coup women's groups.

"The coalition aims to mobilize women in the upcoming period to resist the coup and provide them with a unique experience fighting injustice," the coalition's founding statement reads.

Abdel-Moneim said the alliance would attempt to document human rights violations against women.

"We're preparing major surprises across the country," she said.

Female Morsi supporters have played an active role in ongoing demonstrations against last summer's military ouster of the democratically elected president.

Last November, an Egyptian court sentenced 21 female Morsi supporters – including a number of minors – to 11 years in jail each, which led to an international outcry. The girls were later given suspended sentences, however, after their lawyers appealed the ruling.

Granddaughter of Muslim Brotherhood founder's struggle

With a spare bed always ready for friends on the run, Wafaa Hefny is not your average English literature professor.

In her spare time, the 47-year-old veiled academic is trying to save the Muslim Brotherhood, the outlawed group that Egypt's army-backed authorities brand a "terrorist group", by ensuring it remains committed to peaceful change and rejects violence.

With most Brotherhood leaders, including Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Mursi, now behind bars, the granddaughter of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna is one of the movement's few influential figures still at large.

Hefny wants to prevent a frustrated younger generation of supporters from taking up arms in the face of one of the toughest crackdowns on the group in its 86-year history.

"The harder the state presses us, the more committed we should be to peaceful activism. That is what gives us strength. Violence would be very dangerous for us," she said.

"There are some young Islamists and others trying to get our youth to become violent. We have to stop this."

Resorting to violence would be disastrous because the movement would lose its moral high ground and provide an excuse to the government to crack down even harder, Hefny said.

To give the young an outlet to let off steam, Hefny organises clandestine meetings where they can use social media, write film scripts and design anti-government logos.

Children as young as 10 daub graffiti on walls mocking Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general who ousted Mursi last July after mass protests against his rule. Sisi is tipped to win next month's presidential election in Egypt.

"This is starting to move things and give them ideas ... To keep people going so they can discover new things," said Hefny, a tall imposing figure who lives in a middle class district.

Hefny also directed a play starring Brotherhood youth which had a simple and ambitious plot: the movement would one day return to power and Sisi would face a court martial.

Apart from the crackdown by security forces, Brotherhood youth face many other challenges. They are demonised by the state press, thousands of their comrades are in jail and jobs are all too scarce in Egypt's gloomy economic climate.

Hefny said jailed members such as Mursi had diminishing sway while emerging new leaders were offering the young a greater say in how the famously hierarchical movement is run.

Its exiled secretary general issued a lengthy statement on Tuesday underscoring the Brotherhood's history of peaceful activism and rejecting the use of violence.

The letter from Mahmoud Hussein was the highest level statement from a senior figure not jailed in the crackdown.

Egyptian authorities have not provided evidence to back their accusations that the Brotherhood is involved in terrorism.

Though adamantly opposed to violent reprisals, Hefny said she believed men in the security forces who have abused detained women members of the Brotherhood should be publicly shamed.

"We harass these security men who rape. We send messages to them and write on their houses. We say 'your father or son did this' and this will pressure them to stop'," said Hefny.

Hefny, who teaches at Al-Azhar University, said she was constantly reminded of the risks she faces because of her work for the Brotherhood. Secret policemen sometimes ask her neighbours for information about her, she said.

Asked why she was not already in jail, Hefny smiled and recalled her grandfather who was assassinated in 1949.

"This is love that comes from the spirit of Hassan al-Banna," said Hefny, who uses an old model cellphone she thinks cannot be tapped. "Also my mother prays for me every day."

http://www.worldbulletin.net/headlines/133407/egyptian-female-activists-form-anti-coup-coalition-updated

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Saudi rewarded for refusing to sell veil

10 Apr, 2014

A Saudi Aramco official gave a local woman SR25,000 (Dd24,5000) for refusing to sell her 'burqu' (face veil) to a European woman during an exhibition in Germany.

The woman, identified as Umm Noura, was reported to have refused an offer by a European lady to pay her 1,000 euros (Dh5,000) in return for her traditional 'burqu', saying the veil reflected her “identity and country’s culture,” Okaz daily said.

Badr Al Qadran, production director in the state oil operator Saudi Aramco, was at a cultural festival organized by Aramco in south Saudi Arabia when he was introduced to Umm Noura, who was among local women at the traditional food stand at the festival.

“Qadran asked Umm Noura why she refused to sell her burqu to the European woman. Umm Noura told him that it represented her identity and the Saudi culture and that she was worried the burqu could be offended by that lady,” the paper said.

“Qadran admired Umm Noura’s behavior and gave her 5,000 euros as a gift for refusing the European woman's offer despite her poor financial status.”

http://www.emirates247.com/news/region/saudi-rewarded-for-refusing-to-sell-veil-2014-04-09-1.544907

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Women Agree Fame, Fortune Help in Indonesian Election Campaign

10 Apr, 2014

JAKARTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – It was a voter education class, a campaign speech and an advice session rolled into one, and PPP legislator Okky Asokawati had the rapt attention of her female audience throughout her 90-minute speech, stopping only for the call to prayer.

The 40 or so women, seated on a blue carpet in a narrow alleyway one balmy March afternoon, heard Asokawati weaving together Quranic verses, the correct voting procedure, women’s health and her young daughter’s near-death experience with an appeal for their votes.

Asokawati, wearing a vivid green headscarf – the colour of her United Development Party - and the neck-to-toe robe of an orthodox Indonesian Muslim woman, is one of a record number of women vying for seats in the April 9 parliamentary election - 38 percent of 6,608 registered contenders.

Including elections at the same time for regional, provincial and district assemblies, there are 83,000 women among the 240,000 candidates.

Women's rights activists rejoiced on March 12 when the Constitutional Court strengthened the 2012 Legislative Election Law which requires parties to ensure 30 percent of their candidates are women.

The Court ruled that women should get priority if male and female candidates in a constituency had the same number of votes, and that women candidates could occupy the first three positions in a party list, going further than the requirements set out in the Election Law.

Their joy was tempered by the fact that, without reserved seats, the law and the court ruling will not necessarily get more women into parliament in a country notorious for money politics and political dynasties.

Entering politics is difficult for anyone without a big surname, wads of cash or celebrity star power, said Dewi Candraningrum, chief editor of women’s magazine Jurnal Perempuan.

“Right now, many female politicians are facing challenges to enter political parties because the system is very corrupt. Those who have built support in the grassroots but have no financial support find it difficult to enter the battle,” she said.

Eva Sundari, a rights activist and lawmaker with the opposition PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle), agrees.

“Most parliamentarians come from wealthy families. The party's recruiters will nominate the most likely ones to be elected including artists, and popular and rich (people),” so representatives of the poor are left out, she said.

In a sign of disenchantment, half the women respondents in a recent study by the Indonesian Women Research Institute said they did not feel national female legislators represented them. Another study found that over 40 percent of women elected in 2009 were from political dynasties.

RIGHTS NOT IMPROVED

Rights activists also say women’s rights have not improved despite a rise in the proportion of women elected to the national parliament to 18 percent in 2009 from 11 percent in 2004, and the fact that women’s participation in provincial and district governments, at 16 percent and 12 percent respectively, is at a record high.

In 2013, the National Commission of Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) recorded 342 regulations that discriminate against women and minorities, more than double the figure recorded in 2009.

Asokawati said she believes Islam treats women fairly. But her party, the Islamic PPP, has publicly stated its opposition to the Gender Equality and Justice Bill, and many of the regulations in question were issued by the local leaders of non-Islamic parties.

High-profile corruption scandals involving female Indonesian politicians have also dented the argument of some rights activists that women politicians are less corrupt than men.

Still, Michelle Bekkering, Indonesia country director at the International Republican Institute (IRI), says that around the world there are many proven benefits of increased female participation in politics, including higher Gross Domestic Product and lower rates of poverty and illiteracy.

The IRI, an NGO, has been training women candidates from all eligible parties in five provinces to improve their capacity to run campaigns that reflect the concerns of voters, Bekkering said. “No country can get ahead when it is leaving half of its citizens behind,” she added.

CELEBRITIES AND DYNASTIES

Asokawati, a former top model and one of some 50 celebrities contesting the elections, admits her popularity is an asset and makes her electable, but says it is unfair to separate members of parliament who are public figures from those from the grassroots.

What is important is a good work ethic and for legislators to be able to relate to their constituents, she said during a break from campaigning.  “You should throw away your ego when you become an MP,” she said.

Vera Febyanthy, a legislator from the ruling Democrat Party seeking a third term, also bears a well-known name. Asked why and how she entered politics, her candid reply was “because my dad is the founder and funder of this party. Politics is in my blood.”

But the 43-year-old said her performance had convinced voters she was not relying on her family name to stay in parliament. She also rejected the assertion that female parliamentarians do not represent grassroots women.

“We are not appointed. We are elected by the people who we interact with (at the grassroots level),” she said.

All the candidates Thomson Reuters Foundation spoke to emphasized the importance of the quality of female candidates and said parties should not just be filling a quota.

TOWARDS CLEANER POLITICS

Women’s rights groups and NGOs like IRI are holding workshops and training sessions to change the way election campaigns are run, focusing on door-to-door campaigning instead of traditional canvassing using free food and t-shirts, dangdut singers and lofty speeches in public spaces.

“Our message to women is: ‘Run as a clean candidate. Voters in this country are tired of money campaigns. Also, you do not have the money’,” IRI’s Bekkering said. Some women candidates lost homes and assets after the 2009 elections when they were unable to repay the money they had borrowed to finance their campaigns, she said.

It is a message that veteran activist Binny Buchori believes in. She is running in East Java for Golkar – the party of former dictator Suharto – for the second time, against Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, the son of outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and 95 others.

After decades of urging the government to consider the plight of the poor, Buchori said she decided to change the system from within, including reforming her party.

“Politics is too important to be given to a powerful few,” she said in early April, in a phone interview between campaign events.

“I believe in Golkar’s own struggle to be a different party. Golkar has a very strong support base and very good infrastructure. What they need actually is good people to reform the party.”

http://www.trust.org/item/20140408130759-vb4xl/

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Liv/giant expands support of Afghanistan women's cycling team

10 Apr, 2014

NEWBURY PARK, Calif. (BRAIN) — Liv/giant has increased its support of Mountain2Mountain, a program that helped create the first-ever National Women's Cycling Team in Afghanistan.

Last year the bike brand supplied six new race bikes and gear to the team and assisted in shipping other donated gear to Afghanistan; this year it will donate 53 new Liv/giant bikes, including 30 women's road bikes and 12 women's mountain bikes, plus gear and apparel to outfit the team.

Mountain2Mountain is a nonprofit organization founded by Shannon Galpin, a 2013 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. Galpin, who is based in Colorado and has visited Afghanistan more than a dozen times, is now an official Liv/giant brand ambassador.

Mountain2Mountain's mission is to improve the lives of women and girls in regions of conflict. Since 2006, Galpin has worked in Afghanistan to create opportunities and empower women. Last year she helped facilitate Liv/giant's support of the Afghanistan team as it makes a bid to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.

"Liv/giant's support is instrumental to helping these brave women and girls realize their dreams," said Galpin. "Because of cultural stigmas, cycling is considered controversial for women in Afghanistan. So just by riding their bikes, and training to be athletes, these women are challenging gender barriers and promoting opportunities in their country."

"I am heading over this spring with all the bikes and gear to support the national team in Kabul, and to start a new mountain bike team in another part of the country," Galpin said. "It's a very exciting time, in the wake of elections there, to see cycling opportunities expand across the country."

http://www.bicycleretailer.com/international/2014/04/09/liv-giant-expands-support-afghanistan-womens-cycling-team#.U0aRS6hdUqM

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