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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 18 Jun 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Iranian Women Arrested for Removing Hijab in Photos Posted on Social Media

New Age Islam News Bureau

18 Jun 2020

Undated photo of Iranian Christian convert Mary Mohammadi, who was detained for 46 days in Tehran after joining anti-government street protests in January 2020. (VOA Persian)


• Mary Mohammadi, Iranian Christian Activist Hailed by Trump Says Iran Detaining 15 Other Christians

• Female Arab Journalists Face Unique Challenges on The Ground

• Turkish Women Rage Against Sexism with Topsy-Turvy Tweets

• Burkini Ban in The Condo’s Swimming Pool Brings Fine to Condo Administration in Turkey

• Iran Rocked by Three Honour Killings in One Month

• North-East Syria's First Female Barber Is Cutting Up Gender Norms

• Bid for Saudi Women’s Judicial Empowerment Fizzles Out Again

• Women in UAE Parliament Express Pride in Country's No.1 Global Ranking

• Let's Women to Be Part of Economic Development of Pakistan: Speakers

• UN Agency To Discuss Increased Risk of Violence Against Women During COVID-19 In Arab States

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Iranian Women Arrested for Removing Hijab in Photos Posted on Social Media

June 16, 2020

An Iranian Judiciary official in RazaviKhorasan Province announced that a considerable number of women in Mashhad had been summoned and detained for removing Hijab (the mandatory veil) in their photos posted on social media.

ValiGhanbari-Rad, deputy to the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Mashhad, capital of RazaviKhorasan Province, northeastern Iran, said a large number of women were arrested for posting unveiled photos of themselves in the Instagram, the official IRNA news agency reported on June 15, 2020.

The deputy to the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Mashhad did not specify the exact numbers or identities of those arrested for taking photos after removing Hijab and posting them on the internet.

Ghanbari-Rad described the photos as “obscene” which promote “indecency and lewdness in the Instagram.”

Some of the many citizens arrested have been assigned penal sentences and sent to prison. Some others have been freed on bail, and their cases sent to the Judiciary to be decided on.

Ghanbari-Rad said some of the identified women have appeared before the courthouse, expressing remorse. Their sentences have been suspended and they will have to take in “cultural” courses, i.e. to correct their behavior.

The arrests in Mashhad come in the wake of an announcement by the social deputy for the State Security Force’s FATA Police in charge monitoring the cyberspace. RaminPashaii said, “There is no difference between crimes in the cyberspace and on the ground. All cases which disrupt the public opinion will be dealt with.”

“Removing Hijab in the cyberspace is one of the subdivisions of abnormal behaviors considered an offense,” Pasha’ii added.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

Article 13 of the declaration reiterates: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

The Iranian regime continues to intervene in all the details of the lives of the people of Iran, in breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Mary Mohammadi, Iranian Christian Activist Hailed by Trump Says Iran Detaining 15 Other Christians

June 18, 2020

WASHINGTON - An Iranian Christian rights activist whose 46-day detention earlier this year drew words of concern from U.S. President Donald Trump says Iran has detained 15 other Christians as part of its long-running repression of the religious minority in the Islamic republic.

Mary Mohammadi, a Tehran-based Christian convert in her early 20s, made the comments to VOA Persian in her first interview since being granted a temporary release from prison on February 26. Iranian authorities had arrested her in the Iranian capital on January 12 after she joined street protests against Iranian security forces’ downing of a Ukrainian plane carrying mostly Iranian passengers four days earlier. Iran said its forces mistook the plane for an enemy threat.

Mohammadi said her domestic contacts told her that at least 15 Christians were in detention in Iran’s overcrowded and unsanitary prisons as of June 11.

Iran has granted temporary releases to tens of thousands of detainees in recent months in part to curb the spread of the coronavirus in its prisons. But it has refused to furlough dissidents sentenced to more than five-year prison terms for security offenses and has continued to jail other Iranians for peaceful activities deemed threatening to national security.

Mohammadi said at least 20 Iranian Christians also were free on bail while awaiting trial. London-based Iranian Christian rights group Article18 has described her as a rare voice for persecuted Christians inside Iran.

The U.S. State Department’s 2019 report on religious freedom in Iran, released June 10, cited a report by several rights groups including Article18 as saying that at least 17 Iranian Christians were in prison on charges related to their religion at the end of last year.

President Trump raised Mohammadi’s profile by expressing concern about her detention in a February 6 speech to a National Prayer Breakfast gathering in Washington. “Mary was seized and imprisoned in Iran because she converted to Christianity and shared the Gospel with others,” Trump said.

Days later, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told an interviewer that he was “deeply concerned” by reports of Mohammadi’s arrest by Iranian authorities. “The United States will … continue to … do our level best to hold them accountable for this terrible repression of someone who simply wanted to exercise her own conscience and her desire to be a Christian,” he said.

Iran prohibits its Muslim citizens from converting to another religion. Muslims comprise 99.4 percent of Iran’s 84 million people, according to U.S. government estimates.

Iran’s refusal to recognize the Christianity of converts means it only recognizes two main categories of Christians. The government recognizes the faith of Armenian and Assyrian Christians because the presence of these ethnic groups in Iran predates Islam, and also recognizes the faith of citizens who can prove they or their families were Christian prior to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran’s post-1979 constitution recognizes Christians as one of only three authorized religious minorities, along with Jews and Zoroastrians. It requires members of these minorities to register as such but bars converts from doing so. As a result, Iranian converts long have been denied the same rights as recognized members of Christian communities.

The State Department’s report cited human rights activists as saying Iran continued to target Christian converts last year with arbitrary arrests, physical abuse and other forms of harsh treatment.

Mohammadi told her Instagram followers on April 21 that she had spent 46 days in “terrible conditions” in Tehran’s Vozara detention center and Qarchak women’s prison. She also said authorities had sentenced her to three months in prison and 10 lashes for participating in the January protests but suspended the punishments for one year, allowing her to remain free.

The activist was expelled from her Tehran university last December and told the Article18 group at the time that she believed Iranian authorities were retaliating against her for her use of social media platforms to highlight rights abuses against fellow Christian converts in Iran.

“Iran’s Islamist rulers don't need to use guns and tanks to uproot Iranian Christians,” she told VOA. “They use imprisonment, expulsion from university, internal exile, social deprivation and economic isolation. If that is not tantamount to killing Christians, what do you call it?”

Mohammadi also called on the international community to pressure Tehran to reconsider its approach toward Iranian Christians.

In an annual report released in January, the international Christian charity organization Open Doors said Iran was the 9th most repressive country for Christians in 2019, the same as its ranking a year earlier.

This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service. Click here for the original Persian version of the story.


Female Arab Journalists Face Unique Challenges On The Ground

June 18, 2020

LONDON: “Most of the time, Western editors looking for a photographer to work with in Egypt search for a white, male American or French photographer,” said award-winning Egyptian photojournalist EmanHelal. “Me and my colleagues in Egypt note that the Western media tends to work with same small pool of photographers all the time — even when there is a huge demand for coverage.”

Helal made her revealing — and exasperated — admission at the end of a special online briefing by three accomplished female Arab journalists that served as a reminder of the challenges they face. Helal added that she had ended up moving to Germany, away from her homeland, in order to gain the experience and opportunities denied to her in the Arab world, where local talent is often overlooked, even talent as notable as Helal, winner of the Egypt Press Photo Award in 2014 and known for her dedicated and fearless coverage of the Arab Spring protests, despite the concerns of her family and the pressure of societal expectations for women.

“This is one of the reasons I decided to move from Egypt,” she said. “I thought, ‘OK I will have to move to another place.’” She has since completed projects profiling the Muslim community in the US and is looking to do similar work from her new base in Hanover, Germany where she is learning the language and studying for a masters degree.

The online briefing and Q&A — organized by the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) — featured Helal, Lebanese-British journalist Zahra Hankir, and Palestinian-Canadian journalist Jane Arraf, who was formerly CNN's Baghdad bureau chief and senior correspondent, and now works for NPR.

Hankir is the editor of “Our Women on the Ground: Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World,” a collection of essays published by Penguin Books with a foreword by CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, and hailed by the New York Times for rewriting “the hoary rules of the foreign correspondent playbook.” It features contributions from 19 Arab female journalists, including Helal and Arraf, who speak candidly about their experiences of operating in the field. It is perhaps a measure of the still-controversial nature of their work that the book is not available in Arabic.

“We have not found a publisher in the Arab world willing to publish (an Arabic version), which is quite disappointing,” said Hankir.

Arraf was open about the added pressures faced by local reporters in the Arab world.

“As a Palestinian-Canadian with only Canadian nationality, if I were reporting from Egypt the worst thing probably that (could) happen to me over my reporting would be that I would be deported. That’s certainly not the case for Egyptian or Iraqi journalists, or most of the journalists in the countries I work in,” she said.

Her experiences in Baghdad, she explained, were often frustrating because of a cultural perception that female journalists needed to be ‘protected’ and should not be allowed the kind of access that male journalists would be granted.

“During the civil war it would be the Iraqi journalists — mostly men — with local fixers and drivers sent out into danger, and we would literally be behind steel gates in the hotel. That is soul-destroying, because you realize there’s not much difference between myself and that driver — it would be easier to imagine myself in their place.”

Arraf said there was a clear distinction between the approaches of Western and Arab military forces towards female reporters on the frontline.

“In 2003, I was embedded with the US marines for most of the battles. The US military tend to assume that if you have signed up for this knowing that there is a significant risk that you might be hurt or killed then you are all in. But being with the Iraqi military is a totally different thing, because they will try to shield women from the front lines. Access to Arab armies and military is much more problematic.”

Hankir believes that when female journalists are not granted the access available to their male peers, then stories go untold — or, at least, only partially told.

“I feel that there is so much reason to celebrate the work of local Arab women journalists, given that they face such tremendous challenges on the ground, which might be connected to societal constraints — whether in the workplace or home; access; threats to their lives; or harassment,” she said.

“Women — particularly local women — bring a different level of insight and nuance to the stories they cover,” she continued. “A lot of this is due to knowing the language and the issues that matter deeply to the societies they are reporting on.”

Arraf stressed that female journalists need to continue to push themselves forward. “Over the years there have been more women, which is amazing,” she said. “But I have seen, in Iraq particularly — because that is the country I am most familiar with reporting from — that, as things get dangerous, the women retreat. Very often I would find myself either the only woman, or one of two or three women, in a room full of a couple of dozen journalists."

Still, there is cause for optimism, she suggested.

"I remember when a really good Arab journalist friend of mine would have to persuade Arab officials that she was actually the correspondent,” Arraf said. “They would say, ‘Send us the real correspondent.’ None of that exists now and there is a tremendous wealth of talent (in the Arab world).”


Turkish Women Rage Against Sexism with Topsy-Turvy Tweets

Jun 10, 2020

An unprecedented flurry of reverse sexism raised its head in Turkey’s lively Twittersphere last week. “I am a modern woman, so I help my husband with housework,” said a tweet, whilst another declared, “The greatest gift a man can offer his wife is his virginity.” Simply by switching the word “woman” with “man” and “wife” with “husband,” Turkish women — and some men — of all walks of life mocked misogynist or chauvinistic expressions, idioms, maxims and particularly political statements that discriminate against women.

“Thousands of tweets under the hashtag #menshouldknowtheirplace were witty and impactful,” MeltemAgduk, gender programme coordinator at the United Nations Population Fund in Turkey told Al-Monitor. “No wonder that some [conservative or chauvinistic] groups felt threatened by it and tried to counter it with another hashtag — #womenshouldknowtheirplace — or criticize it with media declarations. But these attempts have been futile; even after a week, the online campaign is still going strong.”

The spontaneous campaign started June 3 with a single, punchy tweet, “My husband can work if he wants” — an allusion to an often heard saying by men who try to drive home the point that they “allow” their wives to work. A 2001 legal amendment gave married women in Turkey the right to work without seeking spousal consent. But traditions, mentality and a host of legal and structural obstacles — such as the absence of child care centers and gender pay gap — prevent many women from joining the workforce. Only 34.5% of women in Turkey work, which is nearly half of the European Union average (61.4 %).

Replies to the tweet by Ruq, who now has more than 95,000 followers, poured in, repeating all-too-familiar sentences with the roles reversed: “I would never allow my husband to work, his job is to take care of my kids” and “Since we both work, I lend a hand to my husband while he does the housework. I even load and unload the dishwasher or shop on the weekends. What’s the big deal with housework anyway?”

But it was only after Gaye Su Akyol, a singer, activist and wit, started the hashtag #menshouldknowtheirplace that this initiative snowballed into a trending topic. Retweeting Ruq’s tweet, Akyol commented, “Men should be chaste. They should not laugh out loud in public.” This was a reference to a comment in 2014 by BulentArinc, one of the heavyweights of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) then and a notorious anti-feminist, who said that women should be chaste, act with modesty and “refrain from laughing out loud in public.”

Within hours, many women’s rights activists and Twitter users joined in creating a chronicle of headline-grabbing sexist statements by government officials or acts of violence against women. One said that a man wearing shorts on public transport is “asking to be harassed,” which alluded to a nurse who was kicked for wearing shorts on a bus in Istanbul in 2016. “Why would a decent man be out on the streets in the early hours of the morning?” joined in a male tweeter, referring to some of the statements made when a 19-year-old was threatened with a knife and raped in Istanbul’s posh BagdatCaddesi four years ago.

Most of the political satire targeted AKP officials whose statements often border on chauvinistic and misogynist. Many users switched around President RecepTayyipErdogan’s remarks that motherhood was the highest honor bestowed upon women and that women who rejected motherhood were “deficient.” Others mocked the words of an ex-minister who said that family values were threatened if “men” did not know how to bake a good traditional borek.

Opposition politicians joined in the campaign. “We are going to put up men from each constituency [in key posts] so that men can start being actors in politics, not mere accessories,” tweeted CananKaftancioglu, the Istanbul chair of the Republican People's Party (CHP). Some CHP municipalities started tweeting that they were considering the launch of “blue buses” so that men can commute without harassment, mocking the AKP initiative of women-only pink buses.

Ruq was surprised by her newly-found fame. “I posted a [similar] tweet last year but nothing happened then,” she tweeted. Akyol explained that the campaign had snowballed because women have become tired of femicides, domestic violence and daily demonstrations of sexism. “We are tired of this nauseating system where the name of the murder suspect is disguised, but the morality, life and choices of the victim are questioned. … It is 2020 and we want to do something about this.”

“The initiative showed us plainly how sexism exists in the everyday life in word and deed,” Agduk noted. “It compliments, motivates and encourages other — more formal and structured — gender equality campaigns that international organizations and private groups carry out in Turkey.”

One of those groups — Koc — launched in 2017 a Manual for Gender Mainstreaming in Communications, proposing alternatives for sexist forms of speech.

“From a communicator’s point of view, this was a brilliant campaign,” agreed ZehraGungor, a communications expert and an activist for women’s entrepreneurship. “The tweets were spontaneous, intelligent and very, very funny.” She told Al-Monitor that she had also joined with a tweet that read, “We support our male colleagues who want quotas for men in political parties.”

Not everyone was amused. While most women’s groups, such as Stop Femicides Association, applauded the campaign, Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), vice-chaired by the president’s daughter SumeyyeErdoganBayraktar, lambasted it, saying it was against the “values of society.” On June 9, Ismail Kilicaslan, a columnist of YeniSafak, also blasted the initiative, saying what started “innocently” had turned into offending religion by paraphrasing certain words of the prophet. “This is a dark project,” he wrote, comparing it to the attempted coup against the government on July 15, 2016.

A feisty Akyol retorted with a tweet saying she was surely on the right path if her tweets irked conservative and chauvinistic groups. Posting an image of herself on a sunbed, she said she was toasting “to bury bigots who are disturbed [even] by the ‘f’ of freedom and the ‘w’ of woman in the dusty pages of history.”


Burkini Ban In The Condo’s Swimming Pool Brings Fine To Condo Administration In Turkey

JUN 17, 2020

The state-run Turkish Human Rights and Equality Agency (TIHEK) slapped a TL 5,000 ($729) fine on the administration of a condominium that banned women from wearing burkinis in the condo’s swimming pool.

Property owners had forbidden two unnamed women from swimming in burkinis at the condominium in an unspecified city of Turkey. The women appealed to the administration to reverse the decision, and when their appeal was rejected, they took their case to TIHEK, claiming they faced public embarrassment and were denied their right to use the swimming pool. The condominium's administration said in its defense that they made the decision to “protect the health of other residents,” but an investigation by the agency found the condo violated the agency’s regulations against discrimination.

TIHEK says the administration failed to provide concrete evidence that the women’s actions were damaging for the health of other residents. A separate Health Ministry investigation also backed the agency’s view that there was no scientific evidence showing wearing burkinis in public swimming pools endangered the health of other swimmers.

A number of condominiums and beaches have made headlines in recent years for banning burkinis in Turkey, where thousands of Muslim women suffered past discrimination for wearing headscarves and other clothes related to their faith. Turkey does not currently outlaw wearing burkinis or similar clothing, but privately-owned establishments sometimes ban Muslim women from swimming with excuses like public health endangerment.


Iran Rocked by Three Honour Killings in One Month

Jun 17, 2020

Over the past four weeks, Iranians have been in a state of shock and disbelief prompted by three horrific cases of honor killings that have sparked an intense public debate on how to push the practice closer to abolition.

The last such case was reported from the southeastern city of Kerman on Tuesday. The father of ReyhanehAmeri admitted to killing his 25-year-old daughter with an iron bar before moving the corpse to a nearby desert. While the exact details have yet to be released, other family members told the media that the father clashed with the victim because she had returned home late the night before her death.

Earlier last week, 23-year-old Habib Barahi turned himself in to a local police station in the southwestern city of Abadan to confess how he “decapitated” his 19-year-old wife, Fatemeh, who some reports suggest had been forced into the marriage, and ran away for months to a shelter in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

The two cases were made public at a time when Iranians are still reeling from the grisly saga of 14-year-old RominaAshrafi, whose father beheaded her with a sickle while she was asleep in their rural home in the country’s north. Romina’s death occurred after she eloped with a man 17 years older than she was. Iranian media reported that the father, Reza Ashrafi, had for weeks been contemplating the murder after he learned about his daughter’s relationship. He reportedly contacted a lawyer among his immediate relatives and was assured that under the Iranian penal code, a father who killed his child would not face the death penalty, a verdict normally handed down to those who deliberately kill someone.

The report strengthened arguments that leniency toward fathers who kill their daughters has only encouraged such slayings and that urgent legal reforms need to be introduced for a more inclusive and strict criminalization of domestic violence. Prior to the Romina case, a contentious bill on protecting children’s rights had been halted over partisan disputes, caught for more than a decade between the Guardian Council dominated by ultraconservative clerics on the one hand and Reformists in parliament and in the government administration on the other.

In the fallout of the Romina case, the bill pushed by activists and pro-reform officials has now been signed into law, raising hopes for genuine legal support for Iranian children. Loopholes, however, still remain. The exemption from the death penalty enjoyed by fathers who kill their daughters, rooted in an interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, will have to stay unchanged.

Such murders are products of a “patriarchal society characterized by an unequal and unjust treatment of women,” wrote ElahehMohammadi, a Tehran-based women’s affairs expert. Old traditional prejudice and stigma that have prevailed in local communities for centuries, according to Iranian sociologists, are also significant contributors to honorkillings and have to be reckoned with in the multilayered debate. The sociologists say these issues can be tackled only through yearslong campaigns dedicated to raising public awareness.

“We are late, but we have to start now,” an Iranian Twitter user said about such efforts. “Even if those killers are handed down the death penalty, we will still continue to witness honor killing, because we are dealing with a deep-rooted traditional belief, which is way more powerful than the fear for execution.”


North-East Syria's First Female Barber Is Cutting Up Gender Norms

Liz Cookman

June 17, 2020

A female barber is a rare sight anywhere in the world, but in conservative Syria before the civil war, it would have been unthinkable.

Secondary school student Amy Mousa, 17, from the Syriac Christian minority, is among the women trying to change that – she is believed to be the only female barber in north-east Syria and knows of only one other in the country, who is in the capital Damascus.

From the Jazira region, she trained to be a barber in Qamishli – the de-facto capital of Syria's embattled Kurds and other minorities – near the Turkish border.

While the region prides itself on being more progressive than regime-held areas of Syria, it is still part of a country with deeply ingrained traditions and customs. Yet Ms Mousa is taking a pair of scissors to preconceptions of gender roles by entering this male-dominated profession.

“If a woman drives a car and another drives a bicycle, can you say one is more correct than the other? The use of either has the same objective – transportation. Likewise, if a hairdresser is a man or a woman, it doesn’t matter – their objective is still to cut hair,” she told The National.

As a child, she would visit the barber shop with her father and noticed that it was run by only men. But she was enthralled with the profession, and decided she would learn it.

Although she is still at school, she plans to become a full-time barber and perhaps own her own shop when she’s finished. For now, she has her own shaving tools and cuts her relatives and sometimes friends' hair at the local barber shop.

While she has been encouraged to continue her hobby by her family and friends, she has faced some criticism from people in the local community.

“People say ‘how come a girl does this?’ but I've decided not to listen because that would make me feel weak. Praise God my parents were with me and helped me become strong. As days pass people will adapt to the idea that a girl is working in this trade,” she said.

“I know myself and I know that I’m not doing anything wrong. If I thought I was doing something wrong, I would leave the profession.”

Evin Suede, spokesperson of the Kongra Star women’s movement in northern Syria, said Ms Mousa is the only female barber in the Syrian-Kurdish territory. She said that views towards women’s role in society have changed markedly since the beginning of the civil war in 2011.

“Women have had to assert themselves. They lacked experience in the roles considered as male-designated and men overpowered and subdued women’s voices,” she said.

“Things have changed drastically year on year as women have enrolled in extensive learning courses … I don’t want to be unrealistic and say that women taking up traditionally male roles is socially accepted now, but the majority [in northern Syria] are encouraging towards it.”

After nine years of civil war, a generation of Syrian men have either been killed, imprisoned or have fled as refugees. The women left behind have had to adjust, with many working for the first time and change is also being driven by their empowerment on the battlefield.

All female militias such as the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) fought against ISIS and Kurdish political parties have pushed women to the forefront.

“I think the popular movement that began in 2011 was an opportunity for women to prove their potential and talents in the military, and in the political, diplomatic and economic fields,” said Ms Suede.

“We need to share the success with all Syrian women to build a new Syria, where women are in leadership rolls.”

For Ms Mousa, women’s lives are still dominated by tradition – gossip among the community and parental approval holds many back. However, times are changing.

“As time goes by, we will see society change, especially for the new generation. Everything is available to us now,” she said.


Bid for Saudi women’s judicial empowerment fizzles out again

June 18, 2020

Ramadan Al Sherbini

Cairo: The Saudi Shura Council has blocked a fresh attempt for allowing women to be judges after the majority of the consultative body’s members rejected a proposal to study appointing women as judges in the personal status courts. Only 58 members at the 150-strong council voted Wednesday in favour of the recommendation tabled by member Isa Al Gheith. To be valid, the proposal should have gained the backing of more than half of the council’s members who attended the vote session held online Wednesday.

Head of the council’s Islamic and Judicial Committee said that the recommendation was rejected because it touches on a judicial issue and that the Supreme Judicial Council has the power to set rules for picking judges according to the kingdom’s justice system. “Choosing members of the judiciary stands out among applications of judicial independence worldwide,” he was quoted by Saudi newspaper Okaz as saying Thursday.

The council member Latifa Al Shaalan, who backed the proposal, expressed regret over voting it down. “Even though, what is right will be right. Allowing women to work as judges will definitely happen, whether this step comes soon or late,” Al Shaalan, a university professor and a writer, said in a Twitter post.

The proposal was blocked two years after a similar bid failed to win enough backing at the Shura Council. Advocates of appointing female judges in Saudi Arabia argue that the country’s justice system has not made judicial posts limited to males and that there is no explicit text in the Islamic Sharia banning women from becoming judges.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has adopted a series of dramatic social and economic reforms, mainly towards women.

In 2018, women were allowed to drive cars, ending a decades-old ban in the kingdom.

Last August, Saudi women were allowed to travel without a male guard’s approval and to apply for a passport, easing long-time controls on them.


Women In UAE Parliament Express Pride In Country's No.1 Global Ranking

June 17, 2020

Fifty per cent of the UAE's 40-member Federal National Council are women.

Female members of the Federal National Council (FNC) expressed pride in the UAE's achievement as the No. 1 country in the world when it comes to women's representation in parliament.

Fifty per cent of the UAE's  40-member FNC are women, following the landmark decree issued by the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in December 2018.

The country's number 1 global ranking for female representation in parliament is just one of the 23 indicators, in which the UAE leads the world, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2020.

Sara Mohammad Amin Falaknaz, FNC member from Dubai said it was another milestone that the UAE has crossed through its leadership and its people.

"We, as daughters of the UAE, are immensely proud of our nation and the huge efforts of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak and SheikhaManal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in championing women and empowering them to reach the highest ranks within our various industries," she said.

"We are proud of the impact achieved by the equal representation of women in the federal council, in helping boost the UAE's position in numerous global indices."

Highlighting the UAE's global achievements, FNC member Maryam Majid Bin Theneya said the accomplishment is a result of a "powerful long-term vision" to make the country a world leader in all aspects of life.

"When we look at women empowerment in the UAE, we see that it starts from the leadership that believed in them and believed in their capabilities  to be part of this country's development."

The female legislator said the UAE's founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, had always believed that women are men's equal partners in this country. 

"It doesn't refer only to women who are in the work force, as it also includes housewives, whose contributions are recognised," said Bin Theneya.

Azza Suleiman, a former member of the FNC, said women have been among the decision-makers in government offices, with some heading ministries and public departments. 

"All thanks to the UAE's visionary leaders who changed the traditional view of the role of women in the Emirates, and created a unique environment that stimulates positivity and innovation, extending all opportunities to support women and creating more," she said.


Let's Women to Be Part of Economic Development of Pakistan: Speakers

17th June 2020

MARDAN, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th Jun, 2020 ) :Program Manager Rehnuma Family Planning Association Pakistan Sohail Iqbal Kakakhel said that violence against women and girls has negative consequences for their mental, sexual and reproductive health at every stage of their lives.

These views are expressed by the Program Manager Rehnuma Family Planning Association Pakistan Sohail Iqbal Kakakhel while addressing a two-day program organized by FPAP in collaboration with Japan here on Wednesday.

SaiqaBibi, Project Manager, Leader Family Planning Association, on Gender Based Violence and Reproductive Health, District Social Welfare Officer Mardan Abdul Rashid Khan, Iftikhar Tucker, Asad Khan, Mufti Abdul Hud, Dr.Rabia Shah, Muhammad Arif of Civil Society, ShaziaSardar, Amir Fida Advocate, Hassan Hasas and others attended the function.

He said, women entrepreneurs play a significant role in the socio-economic development of under-developed countries as women represent around 48% of Pakistan's total population, while female employment participation is only 19% to 20%.

He said that women's education increased the income of women and leads to growth in GDP while other effects related to social development and the educating girls' leads to a number of social benefits,including many related to women's empowerment.

Iqbal Kakakhel said that despite innumerable issues and inhumane treatment, women were engaged in making themselves an important member of the society and raising their families and the new generation, he added.

"We are working beyond our means for development, he said, adding, "As men, we have all kinds against women and we should improve our society by condemning the incidents of violence and harassment." In particular, boys should be educated in such a way that they not only respect and support women and girls but also help them to live a comfortable and voluntary life in the society. SaiqaBibi while explaining the objectives, said that the Rehnuma Family Planning Association is working on gender based violence in four areas of Mardan District.

"Our target is to provide free medical facilities to 3,000 women besides holding free medical camps have in which women have been examined, ultrasound, medical tests have been done and they have been provided free medicines," she informed.

Apart from this, she said, two free medical camps were being conducted every month for women residing in Dara-ul-amanMardan wherein we distributed free masks, soaps and sanitizers besides conducting awareness campaigns in various Union Councils of Mardan district.


UN agency to discuss increased risk of violence against women during COVID-19 in Arab states

June 15, 2020

DUBAI: Regional United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will organize a virtual symposium on the rise in risk of violence against women and girls during the coronavirus pandemic.

The UNFPA’s Arab States Regional Office will organize the one-hour virtual event for journalists and media professionals in the region, according to their statement.

The UNFPA – which is the United Nations organization that specialized in sexual and reproductive health – will live-stream the symposium on Facebook from 12 p.m. until 1 p.m on Thursday, June 18.

“Organizations working to combat gender-based violence worldwide have issued an unsettling amount of reports showing that more violence is occurring against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic,” UNFPA Arab States Regional Director, LuayShabeneh, said in a statement.

“Given that many of these reports have come from Arab State organizations, it is vital for journalists in the region to not only increase coverage of this issue but to do so in a professional, survivor-centered manner,” the statement read.

The event will focus on connections between health crises, gender equality and gender-based violence, the statement added.

UNFPA data shows that several of the measures used to control viral outbreaks increase risk of gender-based violence by limiting the abilities of “survivors to distance themselves from their abusers” as well as limiting or severing the “survivors’ access to life-saving support.”

Gender-based violence specialists, service providers in crisis countries, women’s rights activists and others will also take part in the event.




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