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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 14 Feb 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Ten Laws That Unashamedly Discriminate Against Women

 

 

 

Female fighters form a key part of the Kurdish security forces in Iraq and Syria (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

 

 

 

 

 

Luton Rabia School 'Undermining British Values' In Treatment of Girls

Covering Hair Not Brains — World Hijab Day India

Social Media Accused Of Weakening Family Bonding

Muslim Woman: Feminist or Defender of Patriarchal Order?

Row over Solo Singing of Women Grows in Iran

A Look at the Kurdish Women Battling On the Front Lines against Islamic State Jihadists

Sheikha Bodour Advocates For Larger Role for Women in UAE

Iranian women are the most educated and emancipated in the Middle East

Kenya Looks for HIV-Safe Birth Control

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/ten-laws-that-unashamedly-discriminate-against-women/d/101531

 

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Ten Laws That Unashamedly Discriminate Against Women

February 15, 2015

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Despite a global push for greater equality 20 years ago, many countries' laws show that men and women are still far from enjoying equal rights. Here is a snapshot of some of the more blatantly discriminatory laws.

MALTA: If a man kidnaps a woman, he can escape prosecution if he marries her.

SAUDI ARABIA: Women are barred from driving. A 1990 Fatwa says "women's driving of automobiles ... is a source of undeniable vices".

IRAN: A law passed in 2013 allows men to marry their adopted daughters from the age of 13.

INDIA: The law states that sexual intercourse between a man and his wife is not rape.

NIGERIA: Violence "by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife" is lawful.

RUSSIA: Women are barred from 456 jobs including those of train or truck driver, steelmaker, leather cutter, fire-fighter, sailor or aircraft mechanic. YEMEN: A wife "must permit (her husband) to have legitimate intercourse with her when she is fit to do so" and "must not leave the conjugal home without his permission unless for a legitimate reason..."

LEBANON: A rapist is not liable to prosecution if he marries his victim.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: The wife must obey the husband and "is obliged to live with her husband and follow him wherever he sees fit to reside".

KENYA: The 2014 Marriage Act presumes marriages under customary or Islamic law are polygamous or potentially polygamous, regardless of the first wife's views.

Sources: Equality Now, Justice for Iran

(Reporting by Emma Batha, Editing by Tim Pearce)

http://www.firstpost.com/world/ten-laws-that-unashamedly-discriminate-against-women-2098511.html

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Luton Rabia School 'undermining British values' in treatment of girls

February 15, 2015

An Islamic school is "undermining British values" and "limits girls to knitting and sewing" in technology classes, Ofsted inspectors say.

Rabia Girls and Boys School in Luton had "not met" standards needed for an independent school, the watchdog said.

Ofsted said the school practised "unequal treatment of girls and boys" and teaching quality was "inadequate".

The school said it was focused on "making the improvements needed to raise standards".

Rabia Girls School, based in Portland Road, was set up in 1995 as a single-sex independent private primary and secondary school in Luton.

It was the first Islamic school to open in the town and later became a joint boys and girls school due to increased demand.

But in May last year, Ofsted judged the school as "inadequate", while a follow-up visit in September 2014 said it still required improvement.

Unequal access

The inspection of May 2014 found pupils "were not taught a broad range of subjects in sufficient depth" and that girls "had too little career guidance", with their work experience placements limited to a nursery.

Despite some improvements, including the introduction of lessons in history and geography, the report said "the school's own work undermines the promotion of fundamental British values in its unequal treatment of girls and boys".

It said the balance between secular activities and Islamic studies differs between genders, with boys given more time to study national curriculum subjects.

The report, published on Monday, said older girls do not have the same opportunities to study science as "they do not have the same access to laboratory facilities that the boys have," while a newly introduced design and technology curriculum "limits girls to knitting and sewing".

The school currently caters for 269 five to 16 year olds.

A statement released on behalf of the Board of Governors and head teacher Mirza Akbar said the report had included "many positive comments".

It said the standards not met "were at the final stages of completion".

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-31452814

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Covering Hair not brains — World Hijab Day India

Shaan K, The Milli Gazette Online

February 15, 2015

On the occasion of ‘World Hijab Day,’ an annual event every 1st February, some students from Karnataka decided to celebrate the eve to encourage both Muslim and non-Muslim girls to wear headscarves, and experience life of a Hijabi woman at least for a day.

The main objective of this event was to showcase freedom and traditional aspect of hijab to the people, who misinterpret scarves as method of oppression & ill-treatment of females by males in the Muslim societies. At the same time, it also aimed to stop the physical judgment of a female student, & promote judgment based on intellectual abilities.

To achieve these goals the programme was ornamented by several activities like social experiment, quiz, scarf try-out & refreshments giving girls an opportunity to wear scarf for some time in the day, & get real life experience of hijab for them. It also created a connection between Burqa-clad and non-covering women. In others words it provided support for the hijabis, which they lack in many campuses.

This World Hijab Day platform was a source for the hijabi lasses to have their opinions heard. Many of them gave their feedbacks in writing and verbally as well. Numerous non-hijabis tried different forms of hijab in various styles for the first time.

Even boys of were invited to the event. Though few attended but they visited the venue only to discover a warm welcome by innumerable placards that scratched their conscience, wall charts that inspired them to sport beard and question chits that they needed to respond instantly. Lads were enthused by some vivid presentations, which had a niqabi and a jeans girl standing alongside asking who you would rather choose as their life-partner?

The event started in the afternoon and went until sunset. Positive responses were received from the participants who were subjected to various experimentations and had participated in tests and questionnaires.

http://www.milligazette.com/news/11791-covering-hair-not-brains-world-hijab-day-india

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Social media accused of weakening family bonding

February 15, 2015

A psychologist says that social networks, WhatsApp in particular, humiliate the Saudi and Gulf men.

During a lecture on skills in promoting family bonding, organized by Women's College of Education at Dammam University, Mustafa Abu Al-Saad warned that social media publish negative thoughts about marriage, ease divorce through making it familiar to the community, as well as provide wrong percentages for divorce cases.

The lecture was organized in collaboration with Weaam Organization and Establish Your Life Center. The attendees were mostly university students.

Al-Saad said that one of the main causes behind the rise of divorce rate is family consulting centers that try to solve family problems, even if they are not qualified to do so. He explained that in Saudi society, marriage partners get to know each other only after marriage, and that true love between couples flourishes after one to two years of marriage.

"Love is the basis of the universe and relations, and man should love woman to get her respect, while woman should respect man to get his love," he added.

Al-Saad said: "If the man takes care of his appearance only, he becomes like a doll that tries to please other."

Al-Saad added that the common perception of Saudi and Gulf families is that they suffer from high rate of separation and divorce, although the divorce rate in the GCC does not exceed 2 percent.

According to him, major challenges facing the family are the lack of dialogue between husband and wife, unclear priorities and economic pressure.

Divorce cases are fewer among long-time partners because of their ability to resolve family problems, while the newly-wed resort more to divorce as a solution to any problem they face, Al-Saad stressed.

"Most couples have the wrong idea that for a successful marriage both partners should have identical views on everything." Al-Saad said.

Abdulrahman Al-Ghannam said that social media are a big source that can give you an advantage or disadvantage in having a relationship with your partner.

Al-Ghannam said: "When you are dealing with social media, you are dealing with big data. It’s simply not possible to read the 1 billion tweets or What'sApp broadcasts produced every two-and-a-half days. In order to properly understand this data, we need to make use of computer-assisted processing and combine this with human evaluation to put information in context."

Abdullah Nasser Al-Osaimi, a student, said information, regardless of its accuracy, spreads rapidly through social media, reaching and influencing millions of readers.

He said: "In special instances, false information and stories achieve viral status, where a large number of people receive the material within hours. Unfortunately, oftentimes the information is incorrect, yet people accept it as true."

http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/704661

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Muslim woman: Feminist or defender of patriarchal order?

February 15, 2015

In recent years, we have witnessed an increasing visibility of Islam both in Turkey and around the world. With greater social mobility, Muslims are seeking to increase not only their economic, but also their social and cultural capital, thus acquiring an ability to penetrate into the social sphere. At the same time, they are faced with the opportunity and necessity of reassessing their values, beliefs and practices. The educated, urban Muslim woman, whose influence in social life has increased, is at the center of this process. She is criticized by some for adapting to the secular world, and by others for not being modern enough. But in any case, she is regularly subjected to definition and labeling. What about the Muslim woman's own identity and self-definition? The way the Muslim woman constructs herself as a subject from the perspective of her value system is not an object of much interest neither in our country nor in the world. Hence, this piece is for those who are open to an alternative approach.

Obligatory feminism

Pious women (most of them wearing the headscarf), taking part in the public realm, leading a professional life and engaging in activism for a more equitable society are subjected to various definitions. While usually viewed as feminist or Islamic/Islamist, these women are also sometimes described only as Islamist or fundamentalist. Although we see the term fundamentalist used less frequently in recent years, the designations "feminist" or "Islamic feminist" in particular, subject these women to a coarse categorization against their will. Actually, this attitude reflects the view that the Muslim woman cannot be a subject, and that her ideas about herself cannot be reliable. As such, it ceases to be a situation seen in everyday life alone, but gains currency in intellectual and academic arenas as well. Thus, a social-scientific approach that claims to give priority to understanding slips into self-denial from the very beginning.

At an international conference last year, an American sociologist who presented a study on Kuwaiti women, referred to them as "Islamic feminists." In fact, she forcibly attached a label to these women that they themselves deemed unsuitable. Indeed, during the presentation, she said "Actually, these women objected to being called feminists. Nevertheless, I define them as Islamic feminists anyway." With this statement, she not only adopted an Orientalist stance that claims authority to define the East at will, but also illustrated the fact that when the Muslim woman is in question, even the methodology of uncovering the meanings people ascribe to their behavior - one of the fundamental principles of the social sciences - could be laid aside.

Again, a dialogue between a women's rights activist and Nazife Şişman, one of Turkey's leading female intellectuals, represented an attempt to rebuke Muslim women who have a false consciousness. As is understood from Şişman's account, her interlocutor did not find her explanation that she is not a feminist very convincing, and went so far as to insistently try to persuade her that she is a feminist. In another instance, Miriam Cooke, known for her studies on Arab women, said she did not understand why Şişman refuses to call herself a feminist.

Muslim woman's demand for rights

Interestingly enough, being a defender of her civil, social and political rights as a public subject, the Muslim woman is exposed to an attribution of "feminism" against her will. On the other hand, it is deemed legitimate to deprive her of these rights, contrary to that attribution, on the grounds that she has internalized the patriarchal religious order. In this way, the Muslim woman who has had difficulty for decades even with receiving public service, let alone giving it, is construed as the "other" to the modern woman. But when the same woman demands a fairer role distribution, she deserves to be defined as feminist. We need to call attention to several issues to understand the contradiction here. First of all, the designation feminist has been turned into a term, which covers every kind of pursuit for rights, by women. And every demand for improving women's social status and solving her problems is regarded as feminism. In this manner, the Muslim woman's demand for rights is described in women's studies in the West as "Islamic feminism." In Turkey, on the other hand, secular feminists try to disengage themselves from pious women, whom they see as socio-culturally inferior, through the designation "Islamic feminist." However, even those women with a distinctive religious identity, who actually do define themselves as feminist, say that the term Islamic feminism should be essentially used for only those people who apply feminist critique to religious texts. So, this reductionism restricts not only those women who feel lukewarm toward feminism, but also Muslim women who are interested in feminism or consider it as a part of their identity.

On the other hand, the Muslim woman who has no thought of losing sight of her religious anchoring cannot be analyzed by a secularist, civilian, political and intellectual elite who has not yet broken free from a monolithic approach to modernization. This is because this new profile does not fit existing mental templates. That intellectual conformism within such circles, together with an unwillingness to share the public realm, leads to a sort of reaction that contains hatred, too. Indeed, despite efforts toward a fairer sharing, which have been occurring now for more than 10 years, it is noticed that the public realm in Turkey is still dominated largely by secularist civilian-economic elites. In spite of all the exaggerated discourses, the relative freedom in public space obtained by the religious section of society in general, and pious women in particular, is not enough to break the decades-long secularist hegemony. Considering that the balance of economic power in Turkey is still heavily skewed toward the secularists, the situation becomes clearer.

Feminists can't make jam?

Those who believe they are competent to comment on the identity of pious women are not limited to secularist elites or social scientists. Along with them, some conservative segments of society also feel qualified to comment on who is feminist and who is not, by taking certain cultural criteria as a basis. As a result, those departing from the traditional role of women can be faced with the pejorative epithet "feminist." Some of them are described as feminist because of their intellectual concerns, some for having an area of interest different from her husband's, and some for not knowing how to make jam. A different type of confusion emerges here. Pious women's ties with Muslim women in history - those who had engaged in science or had formed their own opinions and been highly respected - in general and intellectual Ottoman women in particular, have been severed. Pious women have managed to access higher education despite all restrictions and have subsequently entered into public space after having been kept out of the social arena. But they may be met with surprise at times, not only by secularists, but also those segments of society that are unaware of women's past heritage.

How does the pious woman define herself amid all these debates raging around her? It must be noted, that she can define herself by avoiding a monolithic approach, that there are a few pious women who identify themselves as feminist. But the newly-emerging public woman profile also includes those women who try to create opportunities of living out their faith in the modern world and who describe themselves as Islamist. There is a larger group of women, however, who avoid ideological orientation, and are content with describing themselves with the epithet "Muslim," a word chosen by God. Seeing feminism as a distinctive stage in the story of the Western woman, while not denying the contributions of the feminist experience, this new woman's profile depicts society not as an arena where women and men compete, but as a space where they live in harmony and cooperation. Although realizing this vision of harmony and cooperation brings many problems along with it, the search for an alternative to feminist discourse continues, accompanied by concepts such as rights, justice and trust. But this entirely respectable effort meets with contempt, objections and even attacks from secularist and feminist circles.

At the international Women and Justice Summit held by the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM) in Istanbul on Nov. 24-25, 2014, there was an attempt to bring forward a gender justice discourse that offers an alternative to the hegemonic feminist discourse of equality. In fact, this initiative also reveals the courage of the subject of this article: the newly-emerging public pious woman's profile. Offering a discourse of justice, that also envisages equality at points where the equality discourse is deficient, is interpreted by some as a backward step for women. However, it accompanies searches in the intellectual world, which has realized that existing discourses are not sufficient to improve women's status in society, passing beyond mere equality. I think it is within the bounds of possibility for pious women to attain a discourse and a stance that does not conflict with their world of values, on the condition that a rigorous study is conducted into the possibility, and new areas of debate are opened.

*Assistant Professor at Marmara University, Faculty of Theology]

http://www.dailysabah.com/opinion/2015/02/13/muslim-woman-feminist-or-defender-of-patriarchal-order

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Row over Solo Singing of Women Grows in Iran

February 15, 2015

There is a growing row between Hassan Rouhani’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and conservative Iranian clerics over the issue of women’s singing in Iran. At least two Grand Ayatollahs said earlier this month that they will not allow women’s (public) singing.

Defending his Ministry, Ali Jannati, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, said on February 5, “Certain individuals aiming to damage the Ministry have started providing misinformation to the Grand Ayatollahs, Friday Imams, and Members of the Parliament, falsely telling them that the Ministry has provided permissions to women for solo singing.” He added, “No licenses have been issued for female solo singing.”

Although efforts by Iranian clerics to prohibit and prosecute public singing by women have spanned over three decades, the cause of this most recent confrontation is the release of a new album in which a male and a female singer have performed together.

The mounting criticism, however, is a new development, given that albums featuring female singers were issued the required licenses by previous administrations, even though conservative clerics have long disapproved of such recordings.

Criticizing the growing pressure on his ministry, Ali Jannati said, “I feel there are groups who did not choose this administration, and they don’t believe in it; hence they have formed organized and calculated centers for propaganda against this ministry.”

Earlier, Hossein Noushabadi, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Spokesperson, said on January 31 that the album at the center of the attacks does not feature solo singing by a woman, and that it had met all the standard requirements prior to its release.

“We will stop any film, book, or music that is anti-Islamic and anti-revolutionary,” threatened Grand Ayatollah Hassan Nouri Hamedani during his theological class on February 4, adding, “No action can normalize women’s singing, and we will stop it.”

Nasser Makarem Shirazi, another influential Grand Ayatollah, said during his February 4 class that “People are upset,” because the Culture Ministry is stepping over “revolutionary values” one by one.

Criticism by conservative clerics over women’s participation in musical performances both as instrumentalists and as vocalists has been intensifying over the last year. In 13 provinces across Iran women were banned from live performances, and over the past few months, several concerts with female participants have been cancelled or forced to eliminate their female members in order to perform. Such cancellations did not take place even under the previous conservative administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and reflect hardliners’ increased assertiveness, especially regarding women’s participation in the public sphere, since the election of the centrist Hassan Rouhani in June 2013.

http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2015/02/singing-of-women/

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A look at the Kurdish women battling on the front lines against Islamic State jihadists

Women forced to serve Islamic State war machine

February 15, 2015

MEET Nassrin Abdallah. With her diminutive height and broad smile, it doesn’t seem like she should strike fear into the hearts of hardened Islamic State jihadists.

But this 36-year-old Syrian Kurd woman has been at the tip of the spear of the Kurdish forces that last month liberated the symbolic city of Kobane from Islamic State militants.

“In Kobane, women were fighting on all fronts, in all the trenches against a brutal enemy,” she told cheering crowds during a visit to Paris this week.

As the head of the armed wing of the Kurdish PYD, Nassrin has led both men and women into battle against Islamic State fighters who have overrun large areas of Iraq and Syria.

“We kept the promise we made to the people and we won the day,” she said to thunderous ­applause.

According to Nassrin, around 40 per cent of the Kurdish fighters battling over the town on the ­Syrian-Turkish border were women.

Some, like her, are hardened warriors but also joining their ranks were mothers who sent their children over the border to the safety of Turkey, then rushed off to join their sisters in arms.

Fighting alongside Nassrin are other powerful female commanders who have achieved legendary status on the battlefield.

Women like Narine Afrin, who played a key role in the defence of Kobane. Or Arin Mirkan, who blew herself up on October 5, killing dozens of Islamic State fighters encircling the town.

In total, there are 4000 women fighting in the armed wing of the PYD, say Kurdish officials, who refuse for strategic reasons to disclose the total number of people who have taken up arms.

Over and beyond the military aspect of the victory over Islamic State in Kobane, it has been seen as a triumph for women, who are repressed in areas under the death cult’s control, obliged to wear the veil and, in the case of the Yazidi minority, forced into slavery.

“Da’ish is a major danger for women and their status,” said PYD co-president Assia Abdallah in Paris.

The PYD has close links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a three-decade insurgency in southeast Turkey and is listed as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and some of its Western allies.

But in a sign of growing international recognition, Assia Abdallah and Nassrin Abdallah held talks on Sunday at the Elysee Palace with French President Francois Hollande — the first such meeting of its kind.

Like the PKK, the PYD has a policy of placing equal numbers of men and women at the head of their political and military structures. In the Kurdish zones of Syria, they decree that women should have the same rights as men and forbid girls from marrying before the age of 18.

They have also outlawed “honour crimes” and “violence and discrimination” against women, as well as polygamy, which is nevertheless permitted in Islam.

Nassrin, a former journalist from the northeast of Syria, is unmarried but otherwise gives away very little about her private life.

The hardest thing about the battle is the lack of weapons and ammunition, she says.

Is she not frightened of these Islamic State fighters, who have videoed beheadings and burned hostages alive?

Quite the reverse, she says.

“They are scared of fighting against women. They believe they will not go to Paradise if they are killed by a woman.”

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/terror/sisters-in-arms-kurdish-women-take-the-fight-to-islamic-state/story-fnpdbcmu-1227217774711

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Sheikha Bodour advocates for larger role for women in UAE

February 15, 2015

DUBAI // Women in the region should be given a larger role in decision-making to enable them to become equal partners in all political forums, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan said this week.

Chairwoman of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Sheikha Bodour said there should be more diversity at the top to avoid creating obstacles for women.

“When we talk about obstacles, there are three main ones that impede women’s empowerment,” she said in a talk at the Government Summit titled Arab Women: From Vision to Leadership. “They are society, legislation and women themselves.”

She gave the example of children who are told from an early age that when they grow up they must choose between work and motherhood.

“It’s unfortunate because, as a mother, I have to choose every day,” she said. “We also prepare men since infancy, but we should say that behind every great woman, there is a great man.”

Her mother, Sheikh Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development, said the most important element for a society was women who are empowered and educated.

“It is the priority,” she said. “When a society doesn’t focus on female education, you see after a while that it does not provide women with enough opportunities. In the UAE today, we’ve seen that education for women has been a priority since the inception of the state and women were able to access many sectors because of education.”

She said the country focused on providing grants to educate girls in other countries.

“This is done in Pakistan and Yemen to achieve gender equality,” Sheikha Lubna said.

“There are special programmes that are the focus of many organisations and [they are] entrenched in the state’s principles.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, attended the talk.

“His presence is proof of empowering women in society and this, by itself, is the methodology adopted by the Government,” Sheikha Lubna added. “The UAE ranked first [in the region] in the Global Gender Gap Report issued by the World Economic Forum in 2013. Last year, the UAE also launched an initiative at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council encouraging the access of women to education.”

But policies need to be put in place to strengthen women’s role in the region.

“Policies send a strong message to society,” said Ghada Wali, Egypt’s minister of social solidarity. “But we need to support policies with legislation.”

According to a McKinsey study on GCC women in leadership, female representation in top management is less than one per cent.

“It’s very low globally, too,” said Princess Ameerah Al Taweel, of Saudi Arabia. “But we should have the ambition to reach at least two per cent next year. We need to remember that since our early history, men and women worked alongside each other and we need to develop that Muslim woman mentality.”

cmalek@thenational.ae

http://www.thenational.ae/uae/sheikha-bodour-advocates-for-larger-role-for-women-in-uae

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Iranian women are the most educated and emancipated in the Middle East

February 15, 2015

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Since the 1979 revolution, Iranian women have made great strides and are in many respects better off than their counterparts in other Muslim countries in the region. However, their work is not done yet; they still have a long journey ahead," said Shahindokht Molaverdi, vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran for Women and Family Participation Affairs.

Ms Molaverdi spoke to AsiaNews after she was in the Vatican for a meeting with a delegation of the Pontifical Council for the Family. On the same occasion, Iran's vice president also met with Pope Francis in a private audience. Later she spoke with reporters.

During the press briefing, she noted that Iran's female population stands out in the education field. "There is no comparison with other Muslim countries in the region in terms of education, university enrolment and percentage of graduates. At present, 60 per cent of university students are women. Half of all educated people are women."

Such a good literacy level also has positive effects on health. "Women's well-being is better than in other countries," Ms Molaverdi told AsiaNews.

However, "When it comes to participation in the economy, the journey is still long," the vice president explained. "The same goes for income. For the same job, women earn less than men."

One of the most important points of the current government's programme "is to increase the presence of women in politics and decision-making positions," she said. "Our goal is to give women access to the economic and policies resources they are entitled to and deserve. For now, we plan to increase by 10 per cent the number of women in senior positions each year."

Likewise, "We are looking for ways to make sure that more women run in the upcoming parliamentary elections, through quotas for example," she said. "This way, women now constitute 27-30 per cent of all Members of Parliament in Afghanistan. In Iraq, they are 35 per cent."

"However, quotas are not the only way forward," she added. "We are studying other ways to reach the same goal. One would be for parties to have more women leaders or have more of them run for office in the country's various elections."

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Shahindokht-Molaverdi:-Iranian-women-are-the-most-educated-and-emancipated-in-the-Middle-East-33460.html

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Kenya Looks for HIV-Safe Birth Control

February 15, 2015

NAIROBI— The Kenya Medical Research Institute said women using the popular birth control injection known as Depo Provera are at risk of HIV infection.

After observing 228 Nairobi women using various contraceptives, researchers found that women using Depo Provera have higher levels of a chemical suspected of making them more prone to HIV infection compared to those using other contraceptives.

Makena Majira, a student, said many of her college mates "fear getting pregnant [more] than getting the other [sexually transmitted] infections."

"Most of them fear getting pregnant because they are not ready to take care of the unborn baby," she added.

While an increasing number of girls and women are going to the pharmacy to get birth control pills without a doctor's prescription, researchers say, they may be neglecting the fact that HIV has claimed the lives of millions worldwide.

This kind of behavior has prompted health researchers in Kenya to explore ways to educate women about contraceptives and keep them safe from infectious sexual diseases such as HIV.

Doctor Elizabeth Bukusi, who works with the Kenya Medical Research Institute, said in one of their studies, researchers found that one particular drug has contributed to the increase of HIV.

She said the question was whether HIV was associated with the use of certain contraceptives, and in particular Depo Provera, which is widely-used in sub-Saharan Africa.

"It's a discrete injection. Women find it convenient because they go for it once every three months," she said. "So the question is, is it because we have a large number of women using this product in the same area where you have a lot of HIV? So this association is one that has been found, but we had no study to answer this question yet."

To explore the association further, researchers are looking into whether ingredients in the drug are responsible for the increase in HIV infection, or if it has to do with the sexual behavior of its users.

Health researchers say that while male condoms are readily available, not all women have the option of insisting their partners use them. Female condoms, however, are costly and hard to find.

Due to this, Bukusi says researchers have come up with innovative preventative technologies such as Microbicides, which, in gel-, film-, or ring-form, stops the woman from getting infected once it is inserted within the vagina.

"And we are particularly thinking about a mechanism that young women can use to protect themselves from getting HIV," she added. "Women aged 16 and 25 are at highest risk of getting HIV. And so we are looking at options that will allow these women to manage their reproductive lives in a healthy manner."

According to the World Health Organization, Kenya has the fourth highest number of HIV infections in the world. The country's health officials say at least 100,000 people are infected annually.

Health observers say as researchers work on preventative HIVmeasures, there is need to create awareness to keep more people safe and healthy.

http://www.voanews.com/content/kenya-looks-hiv-safe-birth-control/2642894.html

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/ten-laws-that-unashamedly-discriminate-against-women/d/101531

 

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