New Age Islam News Bureau
27 September 2020
• Shamsea Alizada the Afghan Girl Tops National Varsity Exam after Surviving Blast at Study Centre
• Jessikka Aro, Finnish Journalist, Lost International Women Of Courage Award For Criticising Trump
• To Resolve Water Crisis, MP Village Women Cut Hill To Make Way For Water Into Pond
• On World Tourism Day, Let’s Dissect ‘Safety’ As a Restriction on Solo Trips For Indian Women
• India One of Those Countries Where Women Are Provided Paid Maternity Leave Of 26 Weeks: PM Modi At UNGA
• Pandemic Will ‘Take Our Women 10 Years Back’ In the Workplace
• Japan's Democracy Is Biased Without Women Participation: LDP Lawmaker
Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau
Shamsea Alizada the Afghan Girl Tops National Varsity Exam after Surviving Blast at Study Centre
Sep 27, 2020
Shamsea Alizada, Afghan girl tops national varsity exam
KABUL: Shamsea Alizada’s story could so easily have ended when she was just 15. A coal miner’s daughter whose family had moved all around Afghanistan seeking safety and the chance for her and her siblings to get a good education, Alizada was among the lucky who evaded the suicide bombing that killed dozens of her fellow students at a Kabul tutoring centre two years ago.
But if it was luck that saved Alizada, now 17, it was resilience and hard work that made her a national inspiration when it was announced on TV on Thursday that she had achieved the highest score out of nearly 2,00,000 students on Afghanistan’s national university entrance exam. Her mother saw it and gave her the news. “I thought she was kidding. But when I entered the room, I saw the brightest smile on my mother’s face,” Alizada said. “Yesterday’s smile was something else. Her smile was a gift and made my day. It was better than gaining the highest score in the country.”
A generation ago, she would probably never have gotten the chance. Under Taliban rule, girls were prevented from going to school. It is the success of Alizada and young Afghans like her that have provided one of the few bright spots in the decades of war since: More girls are not only going to school, they are also starting to translate that into social mobility.
Jessikka Aro, Finnish Journalist, Lost International Women Of Courage Award For Criticising Trump
26 Sep 2020
Jessikka Aro, Finnish Journalist
The US state department “owes an apology” to a Finnish journalist who saw the International Women of Courage Award, bestowed in part for her work on Russia, taken away because she criticised Donald Trump on social media, a prominent senator said.
“Secretary [of state Mike] Pompeo should have honoured a courageous journalist willing to stand up to Kremlin propaganda,” said Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, about Jessikka Aro, an investigative reporter.
“Instead, his department sought to stifle dissent to avoid upsetting a president who, day after day, tries to take pages out of [Vladimir] Putin’s playbook. The state department owes Ms Aro an apology.”
Aro was due to receive the award in March 2019. Rescinding it, the state department insisted she had not been a finalist and blamed the confusion on a “regrettable error”.
But Foreign Policy magazine reported that Aro was punished “after US officials went through [her] social media posts and found she had also frequently criticized President Donald Trump”.
Menendez said the posts concerned “President Trump’s ‘fake news’ attacks on the media”. In one tweet, Aro said Trump and Putin’s summit in Helsinki in July 2018 meant “Finnish people can protest them both. Sweet”.
On Friday, the state department Office of the Inspector General confirmed criticism of Trump caused Aro to lose the award.
CNN quoted its report as saying: “Every person interviewed in connection with this matter acknowledged that had [the Office of Global Women’s Issues] not highlighted her social media posts as problematic, Ms Aro would have received the IWOC award.”
According to the OIG, ambassador to Finland Robert Pence said that “although he appreciated Ms Aro’s work, the risk of embarrassment to the first lady [Melania Trump] and the department was too great to have her appear on stage at the awards ceremony.”
In March last year, the ambassador, a Republican donor not related to vice-president Mike Pence, told the Senate committee he had not been “worried” by Aro’s posts. The then acting director of the Office of Global Women’s Issues said the posts had “not really” caused the withdrawal of the award.
Aro told CNN: “In my heart I feel like an international woman of courage. That the Trump administration can’t take away from me.”
To Resolve Water Crisis, MP Village Women Cut Hill To Make Way For Water Into Pond
27 September 2020
“For the past 18 months, the women here have decided to provide water to our village Angrotha.
Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh) [India], September 27 (ANI): Around 250 women from Angrotha village painstakingly cut a hill over a period of 18 months to build a path for water to make its way into a pond in the village, which was struggling to deal with water shortage.
Babita Rajput a local woman said, "We have been working for over 18 months to channel into the village, the water that used to freely flow in the forest and thus could not be used. So, the women in the village formed a group and it was decided to cut the hill to a length of about half kilometers and make way for the water to fall into a pond in the village."
Vivitabai Adivasi from Angrotha village, said, "We are doing this for ourself there is water shortage here.We are unable to farm and our livestock was also suffering. About 250 women dig a way for water to flow into the pond in our village. It took us about 18 months to complete this work."
Another villager Ram Ratan Singh Rajput said, "For the past 18 months, the women here have decided to provide water to our village Angrotha. They have cut a hill and made a waterway. The women are also working on removing several stones that are present in the path of the water flow."
On World Tourism Day, Let’s Dissect ‘Safety’ As A Restriction On Solo Trips For Indian Women
By Spatika Jayaram
September 27, 2020
When I began attending a residential college, 1500 miles away from where I lived, I was gripped with the curiosity to explore the opposite side of the country. Everyone I spoke to there, would tell me about the comedic pitfalls from driving up mountain roads, or group photographs clicked in the sunset backdrop. After 3 years of waiting for this, I finally decided to take off on my own. Media representations of solo trips tilt toward the notion of self-discovery or worse still, finding love, and restrict themselves to international settings. Indian movies like Queen and Tamasha feature female protagonists finding themselves abroad, adapting to the cultural climate there.
In most such movies, the trips cater to a select section of the female population that can afford to take weeks off from daily chores, and do so, at a large expense. At the other extreme is the portrayal of traveling in India, which focuses more on the friends in whose company the trip is undertaken, than the trip itself. My trip to Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh lay in that underrated intersection, between traveling in India and traveling alone.
This was a question that popped up from many friends, when I decided to go, not only on this trip, but in any form of inter-state travel, bringing me to the other reason why traveling in a group is popular.
We cannot hide the fact that safety levels for women vary across socio-economic sections. Staying in apartments guarded by security officers or having reliable means of transportation are privileges. But this isn’t an assurance that holds up uniformly, given that several cases of harassment and sexual crimes have involved perpetrators previously known in some capacity to victims. That being said, the backgrounds we belong to define the people and environments we interact with, or are prevented from interacting with, in our day-to-day lives.
Media representations of solo trips tilt toward the notion of self-discovery or worse still, finding love, and restrict themselves to international settings. Indian movies like Queen and Tamasha feature female protagonists finding themselves abroad, adapting to the cultural climate there. In most such movies, the trips cater to a select section of the female population that can afford to take weeks off from daily chores, and do so, at a large expense.
My choice to go on this trip was made because I could spare a few thousand rupees towards traveling for leisure. It was within similar circles of girls, that I found an unwillingness to travel and live alone in India, heavily based on concerns of safety. I heard many female friends speak of how much safer a solo trip would be, had it been abroad. Safety is thrown around generically, which makes it all the more necessary to understand when it is a mere luxury and when it truly speaks of women as a whole.
When I went on that trip, I had to spend a great deal of time in crowded buses and dimly lit stops in mountainous terrain with poor connectivity, that my more affluent friends may have perceived as nothing short of a dramatic movie beginning. The hesitancy to send daughters to live and travel alone in India, is valid in the context of surging rates of crime. I am not trying to downplay the importance of speaking about safety, but there is a fine line where this simply becomes a limiting factor for young women, with safety concerns acting as agents of control.
I found many parents who would simply refuse to let their daughters study or intern in a different city, after passing out from school, despite having the means to do so. Being conditioned this way resulted in uncertainty among the same friends when I’d ask them about journeying in the vacations. Being withheld from opportunities to remain alone affected the extent to which many were comfortable with it when presented with that chance, however close to home. One reason I went on that solo trip was because the girls I asked, well into their college years, preferred the comfort of a large group, as opposed to a duo. They spoke of traveling, meeting strangers and adapting to local establishments in an alien sense.
I once came across a post by a girl that spoke of how she passed her time in cab rides in constant anxiety, staring at the navigation system to ensure that the driver followed her designated route. This was widely empathised with for portraying how poor safety levels were.
Maybe the post was true in the sentiment conveyed, but it also propagated platitudes that we take for granted. There is a subtle distinction between staying anxious, and staying alert, regardless of the mode of transportation used. But that simply scratches the surface. How many women possess the luxury to say no to government buses, shared auto rickshaws and walking, be it at day or night? Having to stay anxious in all scenarios involving unknown men and localities, is problematic in the bias it displays. How responsible is it to encourage a culture of spending time in such environments remaining paranoid about where we are and when we reach?
I heard many female friends speak of how much safer a solo trip would be, had it been abroad. Safety is thrown around generically, which makes it all the more necessary to understand when it is a mere luxury and when it truly speaks of women as a whole.
Watching these movies with women on solo trips abroad inevitably brings up a pertinent question—How many Indian women can afford to even state international safety standards as excuses for not traveling alone here, let alone use them? The traveling abroad alternative is also linked to holding an added mistrust towards the non-upper class non-upper caste man while exploring Indian terrain, based on unfounded generalizations of where women are really safe. Such a mode of thought rarely functions in foreign trips, thus making it a convenient alternative for those who can use it.
In such a system, a walk to the market that an average woman might take through a sparsely populated area might be treated as avoidable. Caution and demeanour are traits that adapt with exposure, and constantly backing away for safety, obstructs the very chance of allowing these to develop. Yes, it is true that there are incidents, but when I spoke of traveling alone, I heard concerns that transcended the boundaries of safety, because they no longer applied to all women.
The conversations I had, highlighted how the privilege to stay safe was not recognised by many women, and oftentimes used as a reason to shelter oneself. They convert being cautious to being fearful. We pay for such preventive measures adopted by continuing to remain in bubbles.
My college experiences led me to conversations that I may not have had, had I found a circle to travel with after going that far to study. We are at an age where more female travelers sit across Indian landscapes because movements in the past have paved the way for it. It is hence imperative that we ask for more inclusive female representation, when presenting the solo traveler narrative. It is also high time we began including privilege in conversations of safety and acknowledging it, when it serves to exist as merely a shackle to progress, and exploration.
India One Of Those Countries Where Women Are Provided Paid Maternity Leave Of 26 Weeks: PM Modi At UNGA
26 September, 2020
New York/New Delhi [US/India], September 26 (ANI): In his address to the UN General Assembly's general debate on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined how the world's largest democracy has moved forward with the vision of a "Self-reliant India" along with paying more attention to the health of women in the country by providing them Paid Maternity Leave of 26 weeks.
"In the changed circumstances of the post-pandemic era, we are moving forward with the vision of a "Self-reliant India". A Self-reliant India will also be a force multiplier for the Global Economy. Today, it is also being ensured that there is no discrimination in extending the benefits of all the schemes and initiatives to every citizen of the country," Prime Minister Modi said.
Addressing the general debate of 75th United Nations General Assembly, he added, "India is one of those countries where women are provided Paid Maternity Leave of 26 weeks," further highlighting the progress made in regard to the rights of members belonging to the transgender community. "In India, the rights of transgenders are also being secured through necessary legal reforms."
Prime Minister Modi further told the assembly that about 600 million people have been freed from open defecation and 500 million people have been provided free access to healthcare.
"Following the mantra of Reform-Perform-Transform, India has made great efforts to bring about transformation in the lives of millions of its citizens," he said.
"In just about 4-5 years, 600 million people have been freed from open defecation. This was not an easy task. But India has achieved it. Within just about 2-3 years, more than 500 million people have been provided access to free health care services. This again was not an easy task," the Prime Minister said.
Earlier, the Prime Minister said that India's coronavirus vaccine production and delivery capacity will help all humanity in fighting the pandemic.
Pandemic will ‘take our women 10 years back’ in the workplace
27 Sep 2020
Substantial research has shown that most professional gender gaps are in fact motherhood gaps; women without children are much closer to parity with men when it comes to salaries and promotions, but mothers pay a large career penalty.
Women tend to take on more of the burdens of caring for children and the family. To go to work, they need someone to help with that care. But fathers have been slow to change their behaviour. And without subsidies, private child care can be prohibitively expensive.
Workplaces already tend to penalise women who choose to work fewer hours or need more flexibility, and that, too, is proving to be exacerbated in the pandemic.
“The bottom line is that, based on decades of research, we know that there was one institution that was effective at limiting gender inequality and encouraging women’s participation in the workplace, and it was early childhood education,” said Claudia Olivetti, an economist at the University of Chicago.
Now the pandemic — and its hobbling of schools and child care providers — is taking that away, too, piling pressure on working mothers, like me.
Around the world, working women are facing brutally hard choices about whether to stay home if they haven’t already been laid off. And the effect may be particularly severe in countries like the United States, where the pandemic is compounding inequalities that women already faced as a result of the lack of guaranteed paid maternity leave and affordable child care.
Israel is both an example of subsidised child care’s power to narrow gender gaps at work and a cautionary tale about how easily the pandemic can shatter that fragile progress.
The Israeli government provides free early childhood education from age 3 and means-tested day care for many babies and younger toddlers. As a consequence, before the pandemic, women’s overall labour force participation had reached 74%, significantly higher than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average of 66%, according to a recent report from the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies, an Israeli think tank. The gender wage gap, though persistent, was narrowing.
Then came COVID-19. Schools and day care centres closed in mid-March, and the child care that had allowed so many mothers to work was gone.
Women already held more precarious positions in the workforce — working fewer hours, for less money, with shorter tenures and in lower-ranking jobs than men. The loss of child care limited many working mothers’ hours and availability even further, meaning they were often the first to be selected for layoffs and unpaid leave, the report concluded. And it noted that many families appear to be deciding that if they need one parent to give up a job and prioritise child care, it should be the lower-paid parent — usually the mother.
Sveta Skibinsky Raskin, a mother of five who lives in Jerusalem, worked as a writer while her children were in school and day care. But when the schools closed, she had to stop. “I tried for a week, and I just couldn’t do it,” she said. “I can’t work in an environment that constantly requires my attention.”
Even when schools reopened in May, they were too unpredictable to rely on, she said. As we spoke, her two oldest children were self-isolating at home after some classmates tested positive for the virus. Now, with the country back in lockdown to combat a second wave and schools closed once again, “a lot of women are having to make difficult choices,” she said.
Before the pandemic, many American mothers were effectively forced to stop working for some period of time because they could not afford paid child care. And research shows that the longer a woman is out of the workforce, the more severe the long-term effects on her earnings will be.
A 2018 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that an employment gap of four years or more leads to a whopping 65% reduction in annual earnings, compared with a 39% decrease after a one-year break. As school closures force women out of the workplace for a year or two more than planned, that will have lifelong consequences for their financial stability.
A July report from McKinsey Global found that in the United States, where women made up 43% of the workforce, they accounted for 56% of COVID-related job losses — though it is unclear how much of that is specifically because of day care and school volatility.
By contrast, Sweden, which heavily subsidises day care and has one of the highest rates of female labour participation in the developed world, has kept schools and day care centres open throughout the pandemic. Although this has been questionable as a public health strategy — Sweden’s death rate from the virus has been higher than its neighbours — it has allowed working parents to avoid the burdens of lockdown.
As with most social phenomena, this plays out differently for wealthy women than for poor ones. Research shows that when high-earning couples have children, they tend to divide responsibilities, with one parent stepping back from a career to take on the increased care duties, and the other making work a priority — and in heterosexual couples, it is usually the mother who steps back.
Once on the “mommy track,” women make less money and have fewer opportunities for advancement. “If the woman is the secondary earner, then it is less costly at the margin to cut her hours” when a crisis like the pandemic hits, Olivetti said.
Poorer families tend to have more parity between the parents’ earnings, but they rely on both incomes to survive and are also more likely to have jobs that must be done in person rather than remotely. When schools and day cares close, there is no one to care for young children or supervise older ones’ remote schooling if both parents work. But if one stays home, the family faces financial catastrophe.
“Trying to help working families ease this child care constraint — it’s not just a gender inequality issue; it’s also an income inequality issue,” Olivetti said.
Women from minority and immigrant backgrounds are even more vulnerable to the pressures of lockdown, said Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan, who runs the Zinthiya Trust, a charity serving disadvantaged women in Leicester, England.
“They are often living in overcrowded living situations. Many had three, four children living in just a two- or three-bedroom flat with extended family,” she said. “Many were also dealing with domestic violence.”
The loss of school and day care, Ganeshpanchan said, “is going to take our women 10 years back because the only way for women to improve their public participation is by reducing the extra burden of caring responsibilities they have.”
Japan's democracy is biased without women participation: LDP lawmaker
A senior Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker has urged her party to squarely face the lack of female presence in Japanese politics, saying the country's democracy will remain biased without a significantly higher number of women involved in decision-making at both the parliament and local assembly levels.
Former Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, who has made no secret about her aim of becoming prime minister, asserted that women are hardly represented in the Diet even though they make up half of the population and 40 percent of the LDP membership.
Photo taken in November 2019 shows Tomomi Inada (2nd from L), then executive acting secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, launching the party's Headquarters for Promoting Women's Active Participation. (Kyodo)
"If women do not have a place to discuss policies they want to see enacted, Japan's democracy cannot help but be biased," she said at a recent press conference in Tokyo.
Inada herself has faced hurdles -- first in turning from a lawyer to become a politician and most recently, in running for LDP leadership. Yoshihide Suga won the LDP presidency with the backing of the majority of LDP factions and replaced Shinzo Abe, who stepped down due to health reasons.
"I saw faction politics suddenly taking center stage during the presidential race...but I found it quite peculiar that Mr. Suga, who belongs to no faction, was elected through the power of factions," Inada said.
Her faction, the biggest in the LDP that has deep ties with Abe, discouraged her by backing Suga, then the chief Cabinet secretary under Abe.
During the LDP leadership race, a group of female lawmakers including Inada proposed to Suga and two other candidates that the winner place more women in the Cabinet and key party posts. Suga, however, only appointed two women to his Cabinet.
Given the LDP's stable rule and no strong opposition force present, Inada said Japan may only get a female prime minister "when the LDP holds a sense of critical urgency to better Japanese democracy."
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, 68, was the LDP's first-ever female candidate in the 2008 presidential election, but there has been no one to follow.
Japan ranked 121st in the World Economic Forum's ranking on gender equality among 153 countries surveyed last year, and its percentage of female lawmakers in the House of Representatives stood at 9.9 percent in August.
"In order to enhance Japanese democracy and ensure Japan a bright future, I want to create a society in which women have more of a voice in politics," Inada said.
"I'd like to realize a free democratic and diverse political landscape that even in Japan, women aim to become prime ministers and girls who see them aim to become politicians," she said.
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