New Age Islam News Bureau
28 March 2015
Muslim women protest about France’s decision to ban the veil. PHOTO: AFP
• Liberian Women Seeking Gender Parity in Constitutional Review
• Fortune Ranks Surabaya Mayor Risma among World’s Greatest Leaders
• Nigerian First Lady Wrong to Claim 70 Percent of Ministers Are Women
• Nigeria: Arise Women Takes Preventive Healthcare to Schoolgirls
• Pakistani Girl Who Lost a Leg in 2005 Earthquake Competes In Ski Race
• Muslim Women’s Association of Pittsburgh Holds Fundraiser for Needy Women
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Pregnant Muslim Woman in France Attacked For Wearing Headscarf
28 March, 2015
A headscarf-wearing Muslim woman in her final month of pregnancy was violently assaulted in southern France this week by a man who accused her of wearing a hijab to hide her hair.
The 29-year-old woman was hospitalised on Tuesday after being attacked on a street in Toulouse, southern France.
According to her account, the attacker pulled on her veil, grabbed her by the hair and threw her to the ground, where he hit her several times.
The young women lodged a complaint of racist abuse a day after the attack on March 24. She was interviewed by investigators of departmental security at the clinic she is recovering in.
“There is no reason to doubt her word,” said a police source, referring to the possibility of the establishment of a sketch of the attacker who fled.
The victim’s husband, Mounir, 33 said his wife took her two daughters to school when she was attacked.
“One of them grabbed her hair, pulled on her veil while insulting her [saying] ‘None of that in our country’ … He threw a lot of punches… His friend, who was not involved in the violence, told him to stop,” he was quoted as saying by La Depeche du Midi.
In a statement, the Socialist deputy of Haute-Garonne, Christophe Borgel, said “there was no doubt” about “the racist and anti-Muslim character of this aggression”.
“The [French] Republic does not tolerate any racist attack…will not tolerate any aggression because of the religion of one of its citizens,” Borgel wrote.
The spokesperson for the Regional Council of the Muslim Faith (CRCM) in the Midi-Pyrénées, Abdellatif Mellouki, said he had “deep concerns” about “an increase in extremist acts.
While the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called the incident “shocking,” saying the law enforcers seeking the attackers.
“No French person can be attacked or threatened based on their origin or religion,” he said in a statement.
Liberian Women Seeking Gender Parity in Constitutional Review
28 March, 2015
Since the Ascendency of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the Presidency of Liberia, there has been a growing anthem for more women participation in the governance structure of the country. As the constitution review process is ongoing, women in Liberia are now using this opportunity to demand that their participation in all sectors is guaranteed by the constitution.
Ahead of the National constitution conference slated for Gbarnga this year, the women of Liberia are proposing to the CRC that it takes seriously the issues of gender inequality that is currently permeating the Liberian body politics. Gender and Social Protection Minister Julia Duncan-Cassell, Senator Jewel Howard Taylor and Rural Women in Liberia President, Korpo Howard have signed recommendations pushing for equal representation for women in elected and appointed positions.
Gender Minister Cassell said the review process should be able to seriously consider changing the gender language in the constitution adding that it should be gender responsive. The Minister said that the new constitution should guarantee equal representation of women in all elected, selected or appointed positions.
"We want the constitution to guarantee equal representation of women in all elected, selected or appointed positions in both public and private sectors," Minister Cassell said. Minister Cassell reading the recommendations to the Constitution Review Committee stressed that women should have fifty percent elected and appointed positions in political parties.
The demand by these women that their participation is constitutional has sparked debate, with critics saying that women's participation should be based on competence rather than law. Critics continue to argue that the law that is being proposed is meant to benefit a few educated women while at the same time ignoring implications for the future.
The Executive Director of Patriotic Alliance of Liberia (PAL) Korvah Jorgbah argues that the recommendation for a fifty-fifty participation is undemocratic adding that it has no space in Liberia's growing democracy. "The fifty-fifty participation is undemocratic, democracy is all about competition and competence, we at the Patriotic Alliance of Liberia condemns this proposal by these women," Jorgbor said.
Jorgbor said, employment in Liberia should be based on competence rather than fighting for the percentage to be allotted to a certain sex. "If you are qualified and capable, you should be given the opportunity irrespective of your sex, they are not looking at the future embarrassment this law will cause Liberia," Jorgbor said.
According to him, the laws recommended are meant to benefit few educated women who want to be recycled in government. "Those few women who are qualified just want to be in government, we can't be appointing people or electing based on sympathy, people should merit it," Jorgbor said.
"This is a weak and lazy recommendation, the current constitution gives equal rights to every Liberian, Ellen became President without a fifty-fifty law, if we have women who are qualified and can make up six percent of a government, should we deny them that opportunity?", Jorgbor asked. The Gender Minister highlighted women's participation, children's rights, protection of marriage and protection from discrimination.
"We want a constitution that protects all persons from discrimination irrespective of gender, marital status, health, age and disability and circumstances of birth," Minister Cassell said. "We want the constitution of the Republic of Liberia to reflect a gender responsive language by referring to, "he" and "she" in reference to men and women, boys and girls."
Minister Cassell speaking at the Ministry of Information said the inclusion of a strong gender and women's right agenda in the new constitution would create a gender balanced society. The Gender Minister added that women of Liberia are looking forward to seeing issues raised during the town hall meeting, nationwide consultation across the country at the conference.
Women and marriage
Minister Duncan-Cassell said marriages in Liberia should be protected by the new constitution, adding that it should protect women from forced marriage. "We want a constitution that protects the institution of marriage in Liberia. We want a constitution that protects individuals from forced marriage and recognizes the three types of marriage statutory, customary and common law," she said.
The Gender and Social Protection Minister said, children should be protected and recognized regardless of the circumstance of their birth. Minister Cassel said the review process is a perfect opportunity to guarantee the rights of women in the constitution. "We believe this is a one chance to unlock the doors that have been blocking women's advancement in Liberia," Cassel said.
Minister Cassell said women have been actively engaged in this review process since January 2013 and because it is the only opportunity to integrate gender in the constitution. Liberia, like many democracies, faces the challenge of identifying and implementing strategies for matching the numbers of women and men in politics.
Entrenched traditional norms, cultural practices, limited education of women and institutional frameworks have hindered gender equality in Liberia. Attempts by the global community to mitigate these inequities have been widely ineffective. Local efforts in Liberia, including civic education, have not led to gender equality in national governance, according to the International Foundation for Electoral systems.
Liberia stands at the 90th place in the world in female representation in parliament with 3.5 percent of women making up the National Legislature. There are currently four women in appointed positions in the executive branch of government and there are three women senators and seven in the House of Representatives.
Fortune Ranks Surabaya Mayor Risma among World’s Greatest Leaders
28 March, 2015
Jakarta. Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini has been named as one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders by American business magazine Fortune.
Risma, as she is popularly known, is ranked 24th on the list, above Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun and Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She is the only Indonesian included.
“Elected as Surabaya’s mayor in 2010, Rismaharini has transformed her city of 2.7 million people into a new kind of Indonesian metropolis, one that celebrates green space and environmental sustainability,” the magazine said.
Other notable leaders included were China’s Xi Jinping, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is ranked top of the list.
In February last year Risma was named world mayor of the month by the City Mayor Foundation.
Risma, who has a degree in architecture, rose to fame in 2005 as the head of the Surabaya park department which is responsible for rejuvenating the city’s parks and developing more green spaces.
The mayor has been praised for her hands-on approach to the city’s problems, such as picking up trash along the roadside or getting out of her car and directing traffic.
But not everyone has been happy with her performance. Last year, she received both praise and criticism for closing down Indonesia’s biggest red light district, also known as Dolly. She sent sex workers back to their home towns with a small amount of money to start new businesses.
Nigerian First Lady Wrong to Claim 70 Percent of Ministers Are Women
28 March, 2015
Nigeria's first lady has claimed that 70% of the ministers serving in her husband's cabinet are women. But their share is less than half that.
Nigeria's first lady Patience Jonathan, trying to drum up support for her husband's re-election campaign, told a women's rally of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi state earlier this month that 70% of the ministers in her husband's cabinet are women.
"Jonathan looked at us and said, women, I am giving you the position of the chief justice of this country. [Finance minister] Okonjo-Iweala is a woman, [petroleum resources minister] Diezani is a woman. Seventy percent of his cabinet is women," the president's wife was quoted as saying.
At another rally in Sokoto, where Jonathan was represented by women's affairs minister Zainab Maina, local press reported her speech stated that 13 women - less than half of the total - served in the 31-member Nigerian cabinet.
Of course, both cannot be right and Africa Check decided to investigate. So just how many female ministers does Nigeria have? And how does it compare with other countries in Africa?
Africa does comparatively well
Taken against other parts of the world sub-Saharan Africa boasts relatively high levels of female political representation at the top levels of government, though this record is not matched lower down in government.
According to the 2015 Women in Politics map, the Cape Verde islands off the west African coast have the highest representation of women in ministerial positions on the continent, with nine out of 17 ministers (53%).
Globally, that is second only to Finland, where 10 out of 16 ministers, or 62.5% of its cabinet, are women. Several African countries are also well-placed. Among them are:
South Africa, where 15 out of 36 ministers are women, or 41.7% of the total;
Rwanda, where 11 out of 31, or 35.5%, are women, and
Burundi, where 8 out of 23, or 34.8% of the total, are women.
A high number of female cabinet ministers does not necessarily mean a high number of women in parliament. Despite the large number of women in ministerial positions, fewer than 21 % of parliamentarians in Cape Verde are women. Rwanda though, which also does well at the ministerial level, boasts the world's highest female parliamentary representation, at 63.8%.
On average, 22.2% of African parliamentarians are women, putting the region ahead of Asia, the Arab States and the Pacific nations.
Nigeria lags behind
Nigeria's efforts at increasing the proportion of women in politics do not rank highly on the continent, however.
In 2011 the Jonathan administration was credited with appointing women to close to 33% of cabinet positions. This was more than the 30% reserved for women under affirmative action guidelines contained in the National Policy of Women that was adopted in 2000. However, since then, the number of women in top government positions has dropped.
In January this year, only seven out of Nigeria's 29 cabinet ministers were women, representing slightly fewer than a quarter. A cabinet reshuffle on 18 March brought in two new female ministers, taking their share to 31%.
As for parliamentary representation, Nigeria ranks among the lowest in the world with only 6.7% of MPs being female.
Conclusion: Both claims are wrong
Female representation in politics across Africa has increased in recent decades. But Nigeria, the continent's most populous nation and largest economy, is not among the best performers.
The claims made by the first lady and the women's affairs minister were important ones; all the more important as politicians of both main parties seek the votes of men and women across Nigeria in the run-up to Saturday's presidential elections.
With only nine ministers, or under one third of the current Nigerian cabinet, female, they were also both plain wrong.
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Africa Check is a non-partisan organisation which promotes accuracy in public debate.
Nigeria: Arise Women Takes Preventive Healthcare to Schoolgirls
28 March, 2015
A huge mobile clinic, bus-load of drugs, an ambulance, doctors of different specialities, more than 100 volunteers and members announced the presence of Women Arise at Queens' College, QC, Yaba, last Friday in Lagos for a health outreach programme.
At the end of the event, over 200 people ad been examined, treated and given drugs free-of-charge. The beneficiaries were mostly QC students as well as staff and residents in the neighbourhood.
Asked why the intimidating presence, Pastor (Mrs) Siju Iluyomade, Founder of Arise Women, a non-governmental organisation, and Convener of the outreach, said it was time everyone realized that health, especially for the girl child, was important for nation building.
Mrs Iluyomade, a lawyer and old girl of QC, said: "Our working principle is that preventive health management is cheaper than curative health care.
"So, with funding from members and well-meaning Nigerians, we take all-round health programmes to women and the less-privileged in places such as Makoko, Maroko and others." She added that the outreach to QC was particularly significant because the college is a message of unity across ethnic and religious divide, and humanity is the focus of Arise Women. Dr. Okorie Emmanuel, a volunteer, works with Best Care Hospital, Ikoyi. But as he attended to persons after persons, monetary benefit was clearly far from his mind.
He said: "To serve humanity makes you feel good. It is not new to me. During my National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, year, I was with the Nigerian Christian Corpers Fellowship, NCCF. "We used to go to interior villages with Rural Rugged evangelism outreach and health care." For Omoniyi Timileyin, a senior student of QC, the programme and the Arise Women Founder were inspirational.
She said: "In my time, I will come back here and renovate the hall or the gymnasium." "We will never stop this outreach," Mrs Iluyomade said, as she moves about, encouraging somebody hear and praying for another there. And that is what Mrs Amao Oluwafunmilayo, another beneficiary, earnestly desires. "They should not stop. Every Nigerian woman needs this kind of outreach", Amao said.
Pakistani girl who lost a leg in 2005 earthquake competes in ski race
28 March, 2015
Insha Afsar was one of the thousands of victims who suffered from the devastating earthquake that shook northern parts of Pakistan on October 8, 2005.
Afsar lost a leg when her house came down on the tragic day. But she has not let that stop her from pursuing her passion.
This week, Afsar competed in a ski racing competition in the US Paralympic Alpine National Championships and was seen storming down the slalom course at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
She now attends Berkshire Academy in Massachusetts and is sponsored by the Loon-based New England Disabled Sports (NEDS). Afsar was one of the 40 athletes participating in the competition.
In a 2006 photo essay published in TIME, readers caught a glimpse of Insha Afsar, a seven-year-old girl who lost a leg when her house collapsed on it during an earthquake in Kashmir. The stark photograph of a girl in a red coat struck a chord with TIME readers and staffers. In the Feb. 5, 2007 edition of TIME, managing editor Rick Stengel wrote about Asfar:
“In April 2006, we ran a three-page photo essay by Yuri Kozyrev documenting the state of refugees in Kashmir after the catastrophic earthquake that took the lives of 75,000 people and displaced 3 million more. One of Yuri’s pictures was of a slight girl in a hooded orange parka who had lost her leg in the quake. Two days after the magazine appeared, TIME’s news-desk supervisor, Eileen Harkin, got a call from a member of the Shriners organization in Los Angeles. It wanted to help the girl. With clues from Yuri’s notebooks and the assistance of his contacts in several relief organizations, we located the girl, Insha Afsar, 7, in a camp in Kamsar, just north of Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. TIME news director Howard Chua-Eoan personally paid for her to travel to the U.S. with her father for treatment. The Shriners arranged for free medical care for her, while the Heal the Children Foundation found a family in Connecticut to put up Insha and her father. She has since been fitted with a special prosthesis, which will have to be adjusted as she grows.”
Afsar said she loves her new life in America, which includes a new talent as a ski racer.
Muslim Women’s Association of Pittsburgh holds fundraiser for needy women
28 March, 2015
The Muslim Women’s Association of Pittsburgh sponsored a fundraising event in support of their newly opened Guest House for women.
The association is a Muslim Charitable Association comprised of Muslim women from all over the city. It has been in continuous operation since the1900s.
The Guest House was established to provide temporary housing for needy women and children. It began operating in 2014. It also helps women and children to access resources that meet their needs, such as job training and affordable housing.
Currently, the Muslim women volunteers support the work of the house. The fundraising event was held at Salem’s conference center located at 2911 Penn Ave., in Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District, on March 14. Dinner was catered by Salem’s. There was a $20 donation payable at the door.
Invited speakers included Adrianne Lane, residential services supervisor from Pittsburgh’s Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh; Susy Robison, director of Outreach and Volunteer Services at the Homeless Children Fund; and Arshad Hafeez, a motivational speaker.
Donated funds went to maintain the guest house, provide security and pay the employees.
The event was open to everyone.