Photo: This combination photo shows actress who have made allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein. (AP/File)
Women’s Sections in Notary Offices to Open Soon in Saudi Arabia
Iceland Becomes First Country To Legalise Equal Pay
Algeria Breast Cancer Survivors Shunned As ‘Half-Women’
This British Woman of Kashmiri Origin Is Taking the Hijab to the Global Market
Israel Charges Palestinian Girl Who Slapped Soldiers
Muslim Storefront Aims to Encourage Women to Be Entrepreneurs
Women Are Leading In Iran. Where Is Their Voice Of Support From The Left?
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Top Hollywood women launch anti-harassment plan
AFP | Published — Tuesday 2 January 2018
WASHINGTON: More than 300 major actresses and female writers, directors, agents and other entertainment executives unveiled an initiative on Monday to tackle pervasive sexual harassment in Hollywood and working- class jobs across the US.
Time’s Up includes a legal defense fund that has so far raised some $13.4 million of its $15 million goal to provide subsidized legal support to women and men who were sexually harassed, assaulted or abused in the workplace.
The plan gives special focus to low-wage agriculture workers, housekeepers, janitors, factory workers and waitresses.
“Harassment too often persists because perpetrators and employers never face any consequences,” read a “letter of solidarity” on the group’s website.
The open letter, published as a full-page ad in The New York Times and the Spanish-language La Opinion, opens with “Dear sisters” and closes “in solidarity.”
Time’s Up also calls for more women in positions of power and leadership, as well as equal benefits, opportunities, pay and representation for women, and urges the media to turn the spotlight on abuses in “less glamorized and valorized trades.”
“We remain committed to holding our own workplaces accountable, pushing for swift and effective change to make the entertainment industry a safe and equitable place for everyone,” the letter reads.
It also vows to tell “women’s stories through our eyes and voices with the goal of shifting our society’s perception and treatment of women.”
And it calls on women to wear black at Sunday’s Golden Globes as a statement against gender and racial inequality, as well as raise awareness about the group’s efforts.
The movement was formed after a deluge of allegations disrupted or ended the careers of powerful male leaders in entertainment but also in big business, politics and the media, sparked by the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal.
Time’s Up members include actresses Cate Blanchett, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman and Meryl Streep, Universal Pictures chair Donna Langley, feminist writer Gloria Steinem, lawyer and ex-Michelle Obama chief of staff Tina Tchen and Nike Foundation co-chair Maria Eitel.
Women’s Sections in Notary Offices to Open Soon in Saudi Arabia
Ruba Obaid | Published — Tuesday 2 January 2018
JEDDAH: Saudi female lawyers welcomed the decision to open sections for women in courts, as they believe this move will facilitate procedures for women, especially in family and marital cases.
Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani approved the opening of new women’s sections in notary offices, and the creation of special areas to receive women to respect their privacy.
He also directed the quick preparation of trained female staff to work in women’s sections and notary offices to provide the necessary services with the required speed and accuracy.
Sawsan Al-Qadhi, a Saudi lawyer, believes that there is still a long way to go toward involving women in the Saudi judicial system. “This decision can be helpful in providing assistance for females and provide jobs for female graduates, but its ultimate impact is not enough for us as legal practitioners and lawyers,” she told Arab News.
She added: “It is not unusual for women to work in courts in Saudi Arabia; they have always been there, but mostly in charge of minor responsibilities like reconciliation, checking and guarding. I surely support opening up new fields of work for women, but I believe that women should have decision-making power just like men. We see young Saudi women working everywhere, but the working mechanism always depends on men.”
Asked about the future of women working in courts, she said that women may get the chance in the future to work as judicial assistants but they may not be able to get positions beyond that; it has to do with judicial law, which is known to be a complicated issue.
According to Abdul Aziz Al-Naser, an adviser to the minister of justice, women’s sections in notary offices in Riyadh, Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah and Dammam, will open soon.
Al-Naser said in an interview on Saudi TV that these jobs would be offered to Saudi females holding master’s degrees in different fields.
Iceland becomes first country to legalise equal pay
A new law making it illegal to pay men more than women has taken effect in Iceland.
The legislation, which came into force on Monday, the first day of 2018, makes Iceland the first country in the world to legalise equal pay between men and women.
Under the new rules, companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies.
Those that fail to prove pay parity will face fines.
"The legislation is basically a mechanism that companies and organisations ... evaluate every job that's being done, and then they get a certification after they confirm the process if they are paying men and women equally," said Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association.
"It's a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally," she told Al Jazeera.
"We have had legislation saying that pay should be equal for men and women for decades now but we still have a pay gap."
Iceland, an island country in the North Atlantic Ocean that is home to approximately 323,000 people, has a strong economy, based on tourism and fisheries.
For the past nine years, it has been ranked by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the world's most gender-equal country.
The Global Gender Gap Report uses markers such as economic opportunity, political empowerment, and health and survival to gauge the state of gender equality in a country.
Since the reports began in 2006, Iceland has closed around 10 percent of its total gender gap, making it one of the fastest-improving countries in the world.
The new legislation was supported by Iceland's centre-right government, as well as the opposition, in a parliament where nearly 50 percent of all members are women.
"I think that now people are starting to realise that this is a systematic problem that we have to tackle with new methods," said Aradottir Pind.
"Women have been talking about this for decades and I really feel that we have managed to raise awareness, and we have managed to get to the point that people realise that the legislation we have had in place is not working, and we need to do something more," she added.
The Icelandic government plans to completely eradicate the wage gap by 2020.
Gender inequality worldwide
According to the latest WEF report, the top five best performers in the global gender gap are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden.
Yemen, on the other hand, is currently the lowest-ranked of the 144 countries measured in the report.
The war-torn country has been low-performing in terms of economic participation and opportunity for several years.
Fifty-two countries fell below the global average in 2017, including China, Liberia and the United Arab Emirates, while 60 saw their overall gender gap decrease.
Hungary was the only European country to be ranked lower than the global average, having scored poorly on political empowerment.
Algeria breast cancer survivors shunned as ‘half-women’
AFP | Published — Tuesday 2 January 2018
This file photo shows Linda, an Algerian mother-of-three who was abandoned by her husband after being diagnosed with breast cancer, sitting in Algiers on Nov. 15, 2017. (AFP)
ALGIERS: As if losing a breast to cancer was not traumatic enough, Algerian mother-of-three Linda was then spurned by her husband for being “mutilated” and a “half-woman.”
“Cancer? It’s nothing compared with being rejected after 18 years of marriage,” the 50-year-old medical assistant said, still clearly upset years later.
Linda is one of hundreds of Algerian women to have been abandoned by their husbands or fiances after being diagnosed with breast cancer, a charity says.
Thousands of women are found to suffer from the disease every year in Algeria, leaving many with no option but to surgically remove a part of their body deeply associated with their feminity.
Hayat says her fiance dumped her after she told him she had an emergency operation to remove a breast.
“He told me: ‘I want a whole woman, not three-quarters of one’,” the 30-year-old student said, bursting into tears.
Samia Gasmi, the head of a cancer charity, says many women are dropped by their husbands just after they are diagnosed, leaving them alone to face drastic treatment — and sometimes even without a roof over their heads.
“Some sink into depression,” said the head of Nur Doha, which means “Light of Day” in Arabic.
“Others end up in shelters because they have nowhere else to go once their husbands abandon them.”
In a country where breast cancer is viewed as a private matter, patients are often reluctant to speak up — even sometimes hiding it from their own family.
“These women view their illness as shameful,” Gasmi said.
One woman refused to tell her own sister, she said, while another started wearing the Islamic scarf before chemotherapy so her husband’s family would have no idea when her hair started falling out.
One patient “chose to die with her two breasts rather than accept any removal.”
All women interviewed by AFP refused to appear in front of a camera and refused to give their second names.
Sociologist Yamina Rahou says this feeling of shame comes from the “pain of having a body part that symbolizes feminity amputated.”
Patients who have had a breast removed feel they no longer fulfil the role society demands of a woman, the researcher at the Social and Cultural Anthropology Research Center in Oran said.
Theologian Kamel Chekkat, of the Algerian Clerics Association, insisted men rejecting their wives after they have a breast removed is un-Islamic.
“It has nothing to do with religion, it’s education,” he said.
Islam “urges spouses to support each other,” he said, and an honorable man should look after his wife.
But not all men follow the code of conduct.
Saida, a doctor who is now 55, says she met her husband at university.
We “married for love. He even took part in protests for women’s rights,” she said.
But when she had a breast removed to fight cancer, he sought a divorce and custody of their son even before she had been released from hospital.
To add insult to injury, she said, he cleaned out her bank account.
“I hit rock bottom,” Saida said. “I didn’t have the energy to fight everything” at once.
Between 9,000 and 10,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed a year in Algeria, according to Farid Cherbal, a professor and expert in cancer genetics at the University of Algiers.
That is five times more than 20 years ago, which experts say is due to better means of detection, as well as lifestyle changes such as less physical activity, unhealthy diets and smoking.
Around 3,500 Algerian women die of the disease a year, Cherbal says.
Leila Houti, an epidemiologist and lecturer at the University of Oran’s medicine faculty, said breast cancer was often diagnosed too late.
Among the survivors who have become single, some despair of ever finding a life partner again.
“Who will want a woman like me?” asked Safia, a 32-year-old who has lost 10 kilogrammes (1.5 stone) in a year due to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
But life is beginning to improve for others.
Saida, the doctor, won custody of her son.
Five years after her operation, Hayat, the student, is healing after therapy, breast reconstruction abroad and the support of friends and family.
And Linda, shunned by her husband for being a “half-woman,” is in remission and doing well with her children’s support.
With hindsight, she said, cancer actually freed her of a man who beat her and stole her salary.
This British woman of Kashmiri origin is taking the hijab to the global market
Qazi Wasif posted 4 hours ago 8 shares
Mehreen Amjad, a British-born entrepreneur of Kashmiri origin – started the Coco Hijab London e-commerce platform in January 2016 when she found it difficult to find hijabs – a veil worn by Muslim women, and stoles, in the UK.
Having had prior experience in the fashion industry Mehreen says that being a hijab lover and having worked in the field for many years, she understands what women want and are looking for.
“As I wear the hijab I felt that I should take the initiative to source these products and launch a brand which was accessible and relatable to women,” she says.
Kashmiri in origin, Mehreen was born and raised in the UK. She grew up in a business environment and was taught that every goal could be achieved through hard work and dedication. Her father had multiple businesses that her parents managed.
While wearing the hijab itself was the inspiration to start Coco Hijab, Mehreen also experienced that wearing a hijab outside an Islamic country had become increasingly difficult due to the growing fear of Islamophobia.
It prompted her to launch a mainstream brand that would encourage women to wear the hijab and take pride in it without being judged.
The website features all types of hijab, including a limited edition collection, accessories and a special section dedicated to Cashmere.
“Coco Hijab is an extension of what I believe in, and my aim is to make the hijab accessible to all. I want women to take pride in what they believe in and not hide away from the hijab.”
Mehreen believes that the hijab is a part of her identity and is a statement for those who meet her.
She has a ‘no model’ policy and all the women featured on her website are Muslim women who love wearing hijab. Mehreen believes that Coco Hijab provides a platform to Muslim women to step forward and not only tell their stories but also share their journey with the hijab and the styles that best represent them.
I find people don’t appreciate and value the hijab for what it truly has to offer.”
Faith in the concept
After completing her course in law, Mehreen went on to purchase a franchise of Mail Boxes and currently owns one in St Johns Wood and Kilburn where they specialise in business setups, but Coco Hijab was a concept she always wanted to pursue.
Women always face obstacles just because of the gender inequality in the corporate and business world; however, Mehreen feels blessed as people around have been supportive.
It took her two years to launch the website (cocohijablondon.com)
She has various people to assist her with operations, including a photographer, graphic designer and other freelancers.
Mehreen says that it was important to have people from different backgrounds and faiths in order to ensure that Coco Hijab didn’t lose sight of the goal which is diversity.
“Diversity is important when you’re trying to spread a brand and message,” she says.
“When you start up any business you have to be prepared to work long hours. Socialising becomes a thing of the past and so do your hobbies. A business needs to be nurtured, only then will it grow,” she adds.
Mehreen was initially nervous about the startup as she was not sure about people’s reactions. Also, the e-commerce business is a complex one but her perseverance paid off and she witnessed a steady growth in her business, and now wants to expand.
“I tried not to lose focus on my goal as that can cause chaos in establishing a brand. I believe in keeping it simple and do something that’s within my area of interest.”
Mehreen understands that doing any business is a risky proposition but the key to success comes from a focus on a goal and being realistic about achievements. She believes that business takes time and one has to learn to be patient.
She wants to expand her business to other parts of central London and to other parts of the world as well.
For her future ventures, she is planning to collaborate with designers from Kashmir.
Israel charges Palestinian girl who slapped soldiers
Reuters | Jan 2, 2018, 10:43 IST
RAMALLAH: An Israeli military court on Monday indicted a teenage Palestinian girl who was filmed last month in the West Bank slapping Israeli troops who refused to respond.
Palestinians have since hailed Ahed Tamimi, 16, as an icon in their fight against Israel. In Israel, the footage sparked debate about the soldiers' refusal to react.
The court indicted Tamimi on several accounts including attacking soldiers as well as for previous altercations with Israeli forces. It extended her remand for eight days.
She was filmed in December outside her family home, pushing, kicking and slapping the soldiers, who fended off the blows without retaliating. Her father Bassem has said she was upset when she approached the soldiers after her 15-year-old cousin had been shot with a rubber bullet. The military confirmed rubber bullets had been used following what it said was a violent demonstration, but had no information about who was shot.
Bassem called Monday's indictment a "political trial" saying Israel dug up old incidents as well as the one filmed in order to "justify her arrest."
Tamimi was arrested at her home in a pre-dawn raid three days after the confrontation, amid an uproar in Israel.
Tamimi has made headlines in the past, most famously in 2015 when she bit a soldier's hand as he held her brother in a chokehold in an attempted arrest.
She is from Nebi Saleh is a village of about 600 people, most of them members of Tamimi's extended family. For eight years, villagers along with Israeli and foreign activists have protested weekly against Israeli policies in the West Bank.
In a separate case, the family of a female Palestinian lawmaker who has been jailed without charge since July said her detention has been extended for another six months.
Khalida Jarrar has been held under an Israeli policy called administrative detention, which allows Palestinians to be arrested for months at a time without any charges being filed.
Jarrar, who is in her mid-50s, is a popular figure among Palestinians and is known for fiery speeches against Israel. In 2015, Israel sentenced her to 15 months for incitement to violence.
Jarrar is a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a left-leaning faction opposed to peace with Israel and is branded a terrorist group in the West. The group was involved in hijackings and other major attacks in the 1970s but has largely scaled back its militant activities in recent years.
Her husband, Ghassan Jarrar, said Israel was holding her for political reasons.
"The court didn't find anything to convict her. Therefore, they referred her to administrative detention where they don't have to present any specific charges," he said.
Israel's Shin Bet security agency referred questions to the military, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Muslim Storefront Aims To Encourage Women To Be Entrepreneurs
By Virginia Alvino Young • Jan 1, 2018
A new retail storefront is the latest effort by the Muslim Women’s Association of Pittsburgh to empower women and support its mission.
The association opened a Muslim women and children’s shelter three years ago, and helped finance it through the sale handmade goods like knit ware, quilts and pottery. Now, they’re selling those items at the FEW OF A KIND store, which opened in Oakland in September.
Executive Director Sarah Martin said her organization sees their faith as being one which empowers women.
“Muslim women, since the days of the Prophet, have been encouraged to be educated, to work, and to be producers, and so we’re keeping a long line of traditional Islamic values,” said Martin.
The organization also provides classes for women to work on leadership and financial skills.
“We encourage women to be entrepreneurs and we provide a space where they can bring their goods and develop concepts for small business,” said Martin.
The store, located at Craig Street and Centre Avenue, also serves as a Muslim bookstore, and interfaith community space for lectures and classes.
Women are leading in Iran. Where is their voice of support from the left?
Stephen L. Miller By Stephen L. Miller | Fox News
The most striking images coming out of the Iran human rights protests are not of men – they are of women. And while American media was slow and even hesitant to pick up that anything at all was actually happening – this, while protests ignited for what is now six full days around Iran, nine years after the Green Movement protests began – Twitter was flooded with videos and photos on the ground, in defiance of the Iranian regime’s social media policy.
Almost none was more striking than a young Iranian woman standing atop a container and shedding her hijab – a garment mandated and enforced upon her and all women in Iran – while simultaneously waving it as a flag. It was an act of defiance much like that of the Iranian chess champion Dorsa Derakhshani, who was expelled from competition in Iran for refusing to wear a headscarf in competition.
There were unconfirmed reports that the unidentified girl was taken into custody and the spot where she stood had become a makeshift shrine, but because of the scattering of information on the ground there’s no way to confirm that.
Nevertheless, she became an immediate symbol for the growing movement now in its fifth full day. Twitter avatars were changed to an illustration capturing the moment. The drawing was spread on Facebook. But she wasn’t the only one.
Another video spread on social media shows a woman confronting security forces and proclaiming “Death to Khamenei” while crowds around her join in.
Political support for the women of Iran would of course contradict the careful echo chamber narrative Democrat politicians spent months crafting in support of President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
Mind you, this wasn’t inauguration protests from January of last year with celebrity activists screaming freely into microphones about how much they’ve thought about blowing up the White House. This was a woman endangering her life and possibly the lives of her loved ones to stand up to government forces of a hardline Islamic theocracy. She was risking death. And yet, nevertheless, she persisted.
Another woman was seen on tape declaring "You raised your fists and ruined our lives. Now we raise our fists. Be men, join us. I as a woman will stand in front and protect you. Come represent your country.”
Another image that managed to make its way into some mainstream coverage shows a young woman – reported to be a student – covering her face as she runs from tear gas just outside the University of Tehran, her fist raised defiantly in the air. She was a symbol of a growing secular youth movement merging with thousands of others protesting the regime’s involvement with Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria.
And as the protests entered their fifth night, another striking video on Twitter shows a woman demanding fair wages and an end to regime attempts to silence them. Women reportedly led protests in the city of Isfahan.
Every one of these searing images are of women. Women are the predominant face of this blossoming revolution. Women are risking the most to speak out against the Iranian Mullahs. So the question must be asked: Where are the women’s movement supporters in the United States and Europe, which gathered en masse to protest a newly inaugurated American president last year?
More specifically, empowered by the cultural muscle of #MeToo celebrity leaders and Women’s March organizers such as Linda Sarsour: Why are you silent? If these nameless women can speak out in the face of true tyranny, risking actual imprisonment and death, why can’t you?
Iranian women are not adorning pink knitted hats, or costumes resembling female genitalia. They won’t be attending award shows. They aren’t wearing red cloaks and bonnets inspired by their favorite Netflix show. No, these brave women are caught on videotape and in photographs for the world to see, and the women’s movements have yet to barely offer so much as a tweet or a Facebook post of support. The official Women’s March Twitter account has tweeted exactly zero times in support of women protesting in Iran. Zero.
Among such “women’s” leaders as Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Janaye Ingram and Linda Sarsour, only one tweet has been offered at all about the protests, and that came from Sarsour and had nothing to do with the women at all, but President Trump. “Is it just me or is Trump praising Iranian protesters AND at the same time also banned Iranians from entering the USA?”
What seems to be lost on Ms. Sarsour is that these women are currently risking their lives and protesting – not for the right to come to the United States – but for the rights to live and thrive in their own country.
I do sympathize with Sarsour and the women’s movement of the political left and their sudden predicament with supporting these brave women. Women in Iran are shedding their hijabs while progressive women’s movements in the United States try to hold them up as a symbol of empowerment and feminism – going so far as Shepard Fairey-esque illustrations attempting to mainstream the hijab into pop culture.
What’s empowering about the hijab is the choice to don one. Muslim women in the United States have that choice. Women in Iran do not. If these pro-women groups are all about choice for depraved women around the globe, now would be a good time to speak up on behalf of them.
Women in Iran are standing in defiance of the regime’s financial support of Hezbollah and Hamas rather than fair wages and human rights. But for progressive women’s groups to oppose Hamas in the face of these protests, it would mean abandoning months of pro-Palestinian support, capped off last week when pop singer Lorde cancelled her Tel Aviv show.
Sarsour, as a self-professed leading advocate for Muslim women in the United States and around the world, should be asked to clarify her position by journalists who are all too eager to present her with awards and speaking gigs: Does she support the women of Iran or the hardline theocracy that is currently brutalizing them?
Remaining silent in the face of this growing movement is another black eye for Sarsour in particular, who is facing charges of ignoring complaints of sexual abuse while she was director of the Arab American Association.
Of the prominent supporters for progressive women’s movements in Congress, only Bernie Sanders has offered measurable support for the protestors, tweeting, “It is the right of all people to speak out against their government. The government of Iran should respect this right and heed the voices of thousands of Iranians who are demonstrating across the country for better opportunities and a better future.” Not hard stuff.
Chuck Schumer found time to tweet out support of the New York Giants football team keeping quarterback Eli Manning, but not for the women now splashed across news services worldwide.
Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand – leading progressive women’s rights advocates all – have not only not released statements in support of these women, they’ve said nothing in support of the protests at all. Not a press release. Not a tweet. Nothing.
Hillary Clinton has not offered support of the women beyond a tweet stating she hopes “their government responds peacefully and supports their hopes.” Hate to break it to the onetime self-declared ceiling breaker, but the government is very much not responding peacefully nor are they supporting their hopes. They are, indeed, emboldened financially by an Iran Nuclear deal she herself claimed partial credit for.
Powerful women in entertainment have never been hesitant to raise their voices and organize in support of their personal beliefs. And today, because of the #MeToo wave, they have never been more influential in politics or culture. Yet they remain silent. First Lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump could also certainly publicly show support, but would the left then just simply write off joining them?
Political support for the women of Iran would of course contradict the careful echo chamber narrative Democrat politicians spent months crafting in support of President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran – which is in fact a major reason for the uprising happening now. The Mullahs squandered most of their financial windfall from the Iran deal on support for terror groups such as the Assad regime, Hezbollah and Hamas after promising to invest it in the people at home. The people of Iran have had enough of these empty promises.
More importantly, the women of Iran have had enough and are leading the way, with or without public support from the self-declared women’s groups on the left around the world, who have decided they are the public voice of resistance for women – except in places where a collective voice of support could actually help women the most. Their ideas of empowerment apparently stop where their politics start.
Despite a world attempting to rationalize looking away, a solitary woman stood up in defiance of the rule of law, risked her life and removed her head scarf. She did this at the risk of arrest, or death. She did this without public support from women’s groups who claim their entire existence is to support this very act of defiance. While they remain silent, I’m with her.