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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 29 Jun 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud To Address Colorado Business Roundtable on Women's Rights

New Age Islam News Bureau

29 Jun 2020

H.R.H. Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud speaks about the future of Saudi Arabia at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 25, 2018.

Photo by Boris Baldinger/World Economic Forum via Wikimedia Commons.


• Women Living in Holes and Canals in Iran

• Covid-19 Blow to Female Workforce in Iraq, Jordan And Lebanon

• Turkish Women Not Represented Enough in Politics: CHP Leader

• Women ‘On Precipice’ In Developing Countries AmidCOVID-19

• Breaking Down Barriers to Women’s Employment in Saudi Arabia Tourism Industry

• Saudi Women Frustrated by Pandemic in Quest for Financial Independence

• Women Under Represented In School Textbooks, Shown Mostly In Traditional Roles: UNESCO Report

• Khawajasara and Hijra as Third Gender and the United Nations Sustainable Development • Goal’s (UNSDG’s) in Pakistan

• China Forces Uighur Women To Take Birth Control To Suppress Muslim Minority

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud To Address Colorado Business Roundtable on Women's Rights

Jun 27, 2020

The Colorado Business Roundtable will host an online discussion on women's rights around the world with a panel of women in the state's government, academia, business and philanthropy on July 8.

The teleconference with Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud is at noon. Register by clicking here.

Princess Reema is the ambassador to the U.S., sent to rehabilitate the country's image in the West last year after the killing of a Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the hands of men then employed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The princess grew up in Washington — her father, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was a Saudi ambassador from 1983 to 2005 — and attended George Washington University there.

She replaced Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, the crown prince’s brother who was suspected of making the call to Khashoggi to lure him to the consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where he was killed and dismembered.

Princess Reema is viewed on the international stage as key to the royal family's plan to modernize Saudi society.

Described as a celebrity in her country, the princess is the first woman to serve as the Saudi ambassador to any country. Among her previous duties, she served as vice president for development and planning for the Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority.

Given the country's history of human rights abuses, particularly toward women, and its tenuous relationship, at times, with the U.S., Princess Reema was expected to face a difficult challenge to gain moral authority in the United States.

“Everyone has the right to their own opinion, and I would like to be judged on the quality of my work,” she told Politico last October, soon after taking up residence at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington. “I am not here with bubble wrap, and I would be offended if I was treated with kid gloves.”

Since the crown prince came to power in 2017, the kingdom has loosened government restrictions on women traveling alone, granting them passports and travel abroad without approval from male guardians, among the reforms.

"Under the male guardianship system, a man controls a Saudi woman’s life from her birth until her death," Human Rights Watch wrote last year. "Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian, normally a father or husband, but in some cases a brother or even a son, who has the power to make a range of critical decisions on her behalf.

"The Saudi state essentially treats women as permanent legal minors. Saudi Arabia has done very little to end the system, which remains the most significant impediment to women’s rights in the country."


Women Living in Holes and Canals in Iran

24th June 2020

The Iranian regime has brought nothing but poverty and destruction for Iranian people. Iranian women are under even greater pressure, due to the regime’s misogynist nature. The current situation of the Iranian society has forced some Iranian women to live in holes and canals, according to a regime expert. 

In an interview with the state-run Etemadonline website, Mohammad Reza Mahboubfar said: “Some women heads of households have no shelter and are forced to live in ruins, destroyed buildings, shantytowns, tents, underground holes and canals. Female slumdwellers do not have appropriate housing.” 

Iran is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources. Yet, the Iranian regime has plundered the nation’s wealth to pursue its warmongering policies such as helping its terrorist proxy groups in other countries, obtaining a nuclear bomb, and increasing suppression. These policies have forced the Iranian people into poverty. Many Iranians are forced to become slumdwellers. 

In this regard, Mahboubfar said: “In the past, the number of slumdwellers was said to be around 25 million, but today it has risen to 38 million. We can surely say that slumdwellers in Tehran have increased by 60%.”

The Iranian society grapples with poverty and now the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over 60,000 people. Iranian women have a more deplorable condition. 

“The number of women heads of households in the country has increased, and these people are facing many problems because of living in shanty towns, rising inflation, and living crisis, especially housing. Some of these women, who are forced to live on the outskirts of the cities, are severely threatened by violence such as violence against women, addiction, selling babies and [prostitution],” Mahboubfar added.

According to this regime expert, women heads of households live mostly in the suburbs, southeast and southwest of Tehran and around cemeteries, in Islamshahr, Pakdasht, Varamin, etc.

The Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in a statement on April 15 wrote: “One sector of society that suffers dual economic pressure is nearly four million female breadwinners, most of whom live under the absolute poverty line.”

The state-run Javan daily, in an article on April 13, 2020, wrote: “One of the worst economically affected sectors by the Coronavirus outbreak are women heads of household. Their true (suffering) could be seen among peddlers in subways, carrying heavy goods from one car to another, trying to sell their goods to female passengers on the metro. Female breadwinners, working in underground workshops, either those who have lost their husbands or those who lack support, as well as girls who need to support themselves, are very vulnerable in such a situation.”

On April 20, as the Iranian society was facing the coronavirus pandemic, a shocking video circulated online, showing a group of poor “underground dwellers.”  This shocking footage was filmed on March 16, 2020 and published on April 20 on the state-run website of Hamshahri TV. Although the issue of the underground dwelling of the unfortunate victims of addiction is not new, the release of this film attracted a lot of attention on social media. It caused a wave of public disgust at the regime.

The NCRI, in a shocking report in September 2019, revealed that as the Iranian economy fails due to the regime’s wrong policies, lucrative business of selling bodily organs increases.  State-run newspaper Mashregh reported on February 28, 2017 that regarding the sale of kidneys by people in extreme poverty, Dr.Hossein Ali Shahriari, then  member of the Health Commission of the Majlis (parliament), said: “There is nothing wrong when a person who lives in poverty, and by receiving 200 to 300 million rials ($2,000 to $3,000 at the exchange rate of the time) transforms his life.” 

Many women are selling their kidneys to make their livings. HosseinBiglari, director of the Association of Special and Incurable Patients in Kermanshah, western Iran, in an interview in 2014 said: “Youth, 20 to 30-year-olds, including young girls, come to us to sell their kidneys.” 

In addition to poverty, the regime’s misogynist constitution has legalized violence against women. The so-called “honor killings,” such as the beheading of 13-year-old RominaAshrafi by her father, or FatemehAmeri being killed with an axe by her father in recent weeks, are the outcomes of the oppressive and medieval policies and laws of the misogynist clerical regime that encourage and promote violence against women and girls.

In a nutshell, the regime’s institutionalized corruption, funding of terrorism and wasting national resources on unnecessary projects such as its nuclear program, along with the regime’s misogynist nature, has turned Iran into a hell for Iranian women. For the very same reason, the Iranian women are on the forefront of the struggle against the religious fascism. Hundreds of thousands of women have sacrificed their lives, and they have been leading the Iranian Resistance movement against the mullahs’ regime.  The presence of the Iranian women at the forefront of the Iran protests in November and January confirms women’s leading role in Iranian people’s quest for freedom.


Turkish women not represented enough in politics: CHP leader

June 29 2020

Women in Turkey are not adequately represented in the Turkish political system and civil society associations should impose pressure to secure at least a one third quota through an amendment of the Law on the Political Parties, the leader of the main opposition party has said.

“We implement a 33.3 percent quota for women representation in our party. But women associations should pursue their struggle for the introduction of the 33.3 quota into the Law on the Political Parties. Then all the parties will be obliged to implement the gender quota,” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said at a meeting with the members of the ŞerifeBacı Women Platform over the weekend.

Women are still denied from social and political life by certain groups who dislike women’s visibility in daily life, Kılıçdaroğlu said, stressing this can only be defeated through a continued endeavor by women’s organizations.

The CHP leader recalled that Turkish women are very effectively active in the academic life and elsewhere but it’s hard to suggest that their organization is not at a desired level.

“But it would also be wrong if we would suggest that ‘Women have no name.’ They sure have. But their weight in politics is not sufficient. The most important reason to that is the fact that the political arena is highly corrupted and the corrupted climate does not allow women to do politics,” he said.

That’s why a law on political parties should be legislated and politics need to be cleared of the corruption, Kılıçdaroğlu added.

“Both women and youth may enter politics if politics develops on the moral basis. I wish all women can unite on certain objectives and act together,” he added.


Women ‘On Precipice’ In Developing Countries Amid COVID-19

June 28, 2020

KAMPALA, Uganda: Rebecca Nakamanya rolls her eyes, dismissing a question about school fees. What really worries her is how to feed three children and a jobless partner on a daily wage of less than $3, minus transport to and from her job as a cook.

“We have not even started thinking about school fees,” she says. “When we don’t have what to eat? When the landlord is also waiting?”

In the usually bustling labyrinth of shops surrounding a bus terminal in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, she and other women sit idle in their open-air restaurant, waiting for customers who rarely come.

They are fortunate to be working at all. Business has been so poor under coronavirus lockdown measures that their nearest rivals have shut down. Their restaurant remains open mainly because the landlord deferred rent payments, a rare gesture of goodwill.

The COVID-19 pandemic means that millions of women in Africa and other developing regions could lose years of success in contributing to household incomes, asserting their independence and expanding financial inclusion.

Often they are paid at the end of each day, a hand-to-mouth existence that has consequences for the whole family when business is bleak. Now many are increasingly under pressure as they deplete their savings and landlords threaten eviction.

The impact of COVID-19 “has the face of the women,” especially in Africa, BinetaDiop, an African Union special envoy, told reporters this month.

Although lockdown measures have affected 81% of the global workforce, “women’s economic and productive lives will be affected disproportionately and different than men,” the United Nations said in April.

“Across the globe, women earn less, save less, hold less secure jobs, are more likely to be employed in the informal sector. They have less access to social protections and are the majority of single-parent households. Their capacity to absorb economic shock is therefore less than that of men.”

More than 70% of African women in non-agricultural jobs are employed in the informal sector such as street and market vending, work that requires no diplomas, resumes or formal approval. They don’t pay taxes, but in difficult times that means they’re not likely to benefit from government relief.

In Uganda, which had 848 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Sunday, authorities say restrictions on close-contact businesses such as beauty salons are necessary to prevent a sharp rise in infections. Many men also work in the informal sector but vehicle mechanics, metal fabricators, taxi operators and carpenters — who are often men — are now allowed to operate.

The sectors seen as being at high risk of job losses this year — accommodation and food services; real estate, business and administrative services; manufacturing and the wholesale/retail trade — employ 527 million women worldwide, representing 41% of total female employment, compared to 35% of total male employment, the International Labor Organization said last month.

The numbers suggest “women’s employment is likely to be hit more severely than men’s by the current crisis,” it added.

Many women face further distress as some local authorities in Africa, claiming to be improving infrastructure and protecting citizens, tear down dilapidated markets and restrict access to public spaces in which women are more likely to work. Such demolitions have been reported in Congo, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

In a report this month the humanitarian group CARE said the pandemic has “a disproportionate impact on the very women entrepreneurs who have worked hard so hard to lift themselves out of poverty.” It cited Guatemala, where 96% of women entrepreneurs benefiting from the group’s programs can no longer afford basic food items.

The international response to the pandemic “needs to include a strong focus on the economic justice and rights of women” to retain progress made over decades in gender equality, said Reintje van Haeringen, a CARE official.

Grace Twisimire, 25, operates a once-thriving shop in Kampala. She said she now can go hours without selling even a pair of plastic clogs that go for less than $2. She quickly rises to her feet when a potential customer passes by, then slowly settles into her seat when they walk away. Dust has settled over the jeans hanging by the doorway.

“There is no money now,” she said. “There are no people. I don’t know, but if business does not improve I may go back to the village.”

In the streets of Kampala women squat on curbs, selling everything from passion fruit to undergarments. But they must look out for law enforcement officials who occasionally swoop in to confiscate goods sold in undesignated markets. Recently there was public anger after men in military uniform were seen whipping women carrying baskets of fruit on their heads.

“We just run. Otherwise they will take our things,” said Gladys Afoyocan, a basket heaped with passion fruit in her lap. “I do this for my children. Our children must stay alive.”

The mother of five now needs a week or longer to sell a single bag of fruit. Before the outbreak, two days were usually enough.

“What can I do now?” she said. “This is my business.”

Even relatively comfortable entrepreneurs such as Marion Namutebi, who runs a restaurant specializing in local delicacies, have shut down operations and furloughed workers until further notice. This is the first time she’s had to close since since the restaurant opened in 2014.

“Business was just not adding up,” she said. “For many people, going to the restaurant is now a luxury.”


Breaking Down Barriers to Women’s Employment in Saudi Arabia Tourism Industry

June 28, 2020

By RafiahYahyaAlmathami

The highly visible increase in female employment in the Kingdom has been beyond what anyone thought was possible. Saudi women are entering roles that were unthinkable for women only months earlier. The majority of Saudis are proud and excited.

The hugely trending image of a female Royal Guard protecting the door of the nation’s sovereignty last week was a notable example. Only three years ago, the same excitement was exhibited when women were depicted in mundane roles.

While it appears that barriers to female employment in Saudi Arabia were only in the minds of its people, some barriers still exist behind the scenes. In the field of tourism, research is being conducted to identify and analyze these barriers so that effective actions can be taken to pave the way for more women to join the workforce.

Under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has an ambitious plan to increase the number of tourists from 15 million in 2018 to 100 million in 2030. To achieve this, the number of employees in the tourism industry will need to triple.

Given the government's “Saudization” directive, Saudi women will need to join the industry to realize those numbers. But encouraging women into the industry is not a battle that Saudi Arabia is fighting alone.

Globally women are well represented in tourism but typically in low paying and low-ranking roles, making tourism an unenticing career choice for women coming out of school. In order to change this, the industry will need to break down the barriers preventing Saudi women from rising through the ranks.

Initial research, undertaken by Australia’s Griffith and Queensland Universities that included female employees and male policymakers, identified three key barriers to women in Saudi tourism. Not surprisingly, they are the same three barriers facing women around the world in any male-dominated industry: cultural perceptions, work-life balance and the “Old Boys Network”.

However, each of these barriers has its uniquely Saudi construct, such as the “Old Boys Network”. Known as Wasta, the Saudi “Old Boys Network” is far more complex and includes friends, family and tribes. Addressing the constructs of such barriers, will allow targeted strategies and policies to be put in place to recruit women into the industry and retain them.

The government has already made progress towards breaking down the barriers, however, equivalent change is needed in private industry. The Griffith University research data suggests that women are confident the government is driving change, but the wider community is not proactively changing.

It may be that private industry is more sensitive to public sentiment reflecting those Saudis who are wary of change. The benefits of attracting women to the workforce are recognized globally. A company that makes it their policy to address barriers to female employment will double their potential employment pool and lure in the best in the industry.

While there has been a rapid increase in female employment in Saudi Arabia, Saudi women seeking a career in tourism are facing the global barriers facing all women. Saudi Arabia cannot expect to achieve an equally rapid increase in the number of women in high-ranking roles in the industry without the community and private industry proactively breaking down these barriers.

Achieving this goal will require further research to understand the nature of these barriers so that effective strategies and policies can be built and implemented.

— The author is a PhD candidate in The University of Queensland – Australia. She can be reached at Email:; Twitter: @Rafiah2030


Saudi Women Frustrated by Pandemic in Quest for Financial Independence


Al ULA- SAUDI ARABIA --Saudi Arabia has come a long way since the announcement of its Vision 2030 plan, showing commitment to reforms, such as ending gender segregation and creating new cultural activities, to further open up the country.

The Vision 2030 plan was launched by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz to diversify the economy from the oil sector, including by expanding the services and tourism industries.

Women and youth have pinned a lot of hope on the plan’s inclusive potential.

Thousands of jobs have been created and Saudis have flocked to concerts, festivals and sporting events. However, the pace of reform may have slowed down due to the global coronavirus pandemic affecting the world.

The pandemic has hampered Saudi Arabia’s nascent non-religious tourism industry, newly introduced under Crown Prince Mohammed’s drive.

“It is very tough, but I keep telling myself things will get better after corona. One has to remain optimistic,” said Abeer al-Howayan, a young Saudi woman whose online business has slowed due to the pandemic.

Howayan despaired of ever working after spending eight years trying to find a job that would put her chemistry degree to use in the Saudi town of Al Ula. Eventually, she abandoned her scientific ambitions and turned to selling homemade cakes. Last year, however, she was chosen for a government training programme to support a $20 billion flagship tourism project in the kingdom’s northwestern region.

The 31-year-old learned how to make artisanal soap from French experts flown in by Saudi authorities, and in late December started selling her creations at a booth near the rock-hewn tombs of Madain Saleh, site of an ancient civilisation.

She also began offering her products online. Then the coronavirus struck, rendering Howayan’s future uncertain again.

Howayan is among nearly one million unemployed Saudis, 12% of the working-age population, who see hope in the crown prince’s vision to modernise the conservative kingdom with ambitious projects.

Women make up about 83% of the jobless, according to the Saudi statistics office. And it’s an educated group — 70% of those women have high school diplomas or university degrees. Many count on new sectors such as tourism to help them enter into the workforce.

For Saudi women, the downturn is particularly damaging, striking just as their efforts to move up in the workforce and gain greater financial independence were gaining traction.

Tackling unemployment is a main pillar of Crown Prince Mohammed’s plan. He promised in 2017 “better unemployment numbers by 2020” and to cut the jobless rate to 7% over the next decade. But the rate has fallen by less than 1 percentage point.

Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told Reuters that the government remained committed to job creation targets and was still funding training and capacity building.

“Coronavirus is with us this year and possibly for a part of next year, but then it will go away and when it goes away we need to make sure that we have seized this time to build more capacity and train more people to be ready when we start offering services again,” said Jadaan.

Abeer Mohammed Jumuah has also greatly benefited from Crown Prince Mohammed’s reform drive. After graduating from university with a degree in economics, she spent years looking for a job as a teacher until eventually joining a government training programme to learn culinary arts in Paris.

The 31-year-old has returned to a catering role in Saudi Arabia, helping Michelin-starred chefs, but it is only temporary and she will eventually need to find new work, which has become increasingly difficult during the pandemic.

“I hope that one day I can open a cafe where I can offer a breakfast menu with lots of French pastries,” she said. “I want to be financially independent and I want my two daughters, aged four and seven, to have a better living standard.”

Madiha al-Anazy, for her part, is hopeful about the future. The 29-year old woman joined a five-month tour guide training programme when she returned from Florida in May 2019 with a masters degree in biotechnology, and now has a permanent job as a tour guide.

Her husband, Mohamad, was temporarily taken on as a part-time “ranger” to protect heritage sites and the couple is betting on a revival of the tourism sector.

“We hope he will find a permanent job one day,” Anazy said.

Private-sector job creation is partly intended to wean citizens off of reliance on the state, which employs more than two-thirds of the Saudi workforce. Their salaries account for roughly half of 2020 budget spending.

“People’s expectation for income and lifestyle are going to be different to their parents,” Anazy said.


Women Under Represented In School Textbooks, Shown Mostly In Traditional Roles: UNESCO Report

29 JUNE 2020

New Delhi, June 29 (PTI) Women and girls are under-represented in school textbooks or when included are depicted in traditional roles in many countries across the globe, according to the Global Education Monitoring Report by UNESCO.

The annual report''s fourth edition launched recently, points out that not only the number of images of female characters included in the textbooks is very less in comparison to images of males, women are also represented in "less prestigious" occupations and as introverts and passive.

While showing men as doctors and women as nurses, only portraying women in subjects pertaining to food, fashion or entertainment, showing women in voluntary roles and men in paid jobs, are among the gender stereotypes pointed out in the report, it also takes note of attempts by few countries to revise the textbook images to reflect more gender balance.

"In Afghanistan, women were almost absent from grade 1 textbooks published in the 1990s. Since 2001, they have been more present but in passive and domestic roles as mothers, caregivers, daughters and sisters. They are mostly represented as dependent, with teaching being the only career open to them," the report said.

"Similarly, a review of 95 primary and secondary compulsory education textbooks in the Islamic Republic of Iran showed that women accounted for 37 pc of images. About half the images showing women were related to family and education, while work environments appeared in less than 7 pc. There were no images of women in about 60 pc of textbooks for Farsi and foreign language, 63 pc for science and 74 pc for social science," it added.

The report also takes note of the revision of many textbook images to remove gender stereotypes by the Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research in 2019.

"For instance, grade 2 textbooks show men and women sharing household chores, along with a female doctor and a male chef. Students are asked to note these images and talk about them," the report said.

The Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) is developed by an independent team and published by UNESCO. It has the official mandate of monitoring progress in meeting the Sustainable Development Goal on education.

The report provides an in-depth analysis of key factors for exclusion of learners in education systems worldwide, including background, identity and ability, gender, age, location, poverty, disability, ethnicity, indigeneity, language, religion, migration or displacement status, sexual orientation or gender identity expression, incarceration, beliefs and attitudes.

"The share of females in secondary school English language textbook text and images was 44 pc in Malaysia and Indonesia, 37 pc in Bangladesh and 24 pc in Punjab province, Pakistan. A Malaysian primary school textbook suggested girls risked being shamed and ostracized unless they protected their modesty. The Ministry of Education acknowledged weaknesses in quality control and sent a sticker to cover the graphic in question in 2019.

"Respondents to a public consultation on gender discrimination in textbooks in the Republic of Korea pointed out that doctors and scientists were shown as mainly male, dancers, housewives and nurses as mainly female. Early childhood education textbooks depicted rabbits and foxes as female and lions and tigers as male," it said.

As per the report, a study of introductory economics textbooks in the United States found that 18 pc of characters mentioned were female, mostly portrayed in relation to food, fashion or entertainment.

"An analysis of how women''s history was reflected in pre-primary, primary and secondary social studies found that 53 pc of mentions of women in state standards referred to domestic and family roles and 2 pc to entry into the workforce.

"Chilean grade 4 history textbooks had 2 female characters for every 10 male, and their historical contributions were represented with stereotyped views linked to domestic chores. The grade 6 science textbook had 2 female vs 29 male characters," it said.

Women’s under-representation was also observed in Italy, despite its participation in a European Union project in which textbook publishers agreed to a code to improve gender equality in 2017.

In Spain, the share of female characters was 10 pc in primary school and 13 pc in secondary school textbooks. One-fifth of more than 12,000 images were of women.

An analysis of preschool textbooks in Morocco found that 71 pc of images depicting women showed them doing voluntary work and 10 pc doing paid work.

"In Turkey, primary school textbooks presented unequal social roles and a patriarchal understanding of family unquestioningly, and secondary school textbook language exhibited sexism.

"In Uganda, secondary school physics textbooks generally did not mention the gender of objects and subjects. However, use of gendered nouns and pronouns gave the text gender connotations, while illustrations referred to men," the report said. PTI GJS


Khawajasara and Hijra as Third Gender and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal’s (UNSDG’s) in Pakistan

Alamgir khan

JUNE 29, 2020

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, are a universal call for action to end poverty, protect the planet, and to ensure that all people enjoy peace, prosperity and equal opportunities of life. In September 2015, leaders of 193 nations agreed to set the world on a path towards sustainable development through the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 SDGs are inclusive in nature, universally applicable, based on human rights and interconnected, which means that gains in one area would catalyse achievements in others, with the potential to create greater synergies and impact. Among the 17 SDGs, SDG 5 and 10 have an ambitious commitment to ensure gender equality, reduce inequality, create opportunities for everyone, regardless of who they are and from where they come, and also leave no one behind. This is important because equality between all genders and provision of opportunity to all are important components of human rights and the guarantee of a successful democracy. It not only provides equal rights to all gender but also laid a strident foundation of a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable society.

SDG 5 accounts for the provision of equal access to education, health care, decent work, and equal representation in political structure and economic decision-making processes, while SDG 10 advocates to reduce inequality within all genders. Thus, meeting the targets of SDG 10 (reduced inequalities) and SDG 5 (gender equality) by a country lays down the foundation for themselves to achieve the rest of all the development goals. Therefore, these two SDGs are considered the building blocks of sustainable development.

This article seeks to discuss the issues about Khawaja Sara and Hijra as a third gender in the context of SDGs and also discusses how SDG 5 and SDG 10 are framed and what mechanism has been developed to deliver these SDGs in the context of transgenders or Khawajasaras and Hijras in Pakistan.

Pakistan adopted the 2030 Agenda through a National Assembly Resolution on February 19, 2016. In line with the Vision 2025 having already incorporated the SDGs framework, the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms and the UNDP signed a framework agreement under a “National Initiative for SDGs,” which aims to develop mechanisms for achieving the SDGs, as per national and provincial priorities, and in collaboration with the private sector, civil society and academia. This commitment means that the state authority will utilise all vital sources and resources to provide equal opportunities to all genders and would leave no one behind in terms of development and services.

UNDP Pakistan, in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR), National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) and other provincial government partners, have been working towards the social inclusion of Khawajasaras and Hijras across the country. Under the collaboration of all these institutions, Pakistan Senate passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in 2018 that aimed to improve the social integration, prohibit discrimination and harassment of transgender persons and protect their rights to health, employment, education, and access to all public places. This welfare Act is considered a stepping stone towards transgender development and to overcome decades-old deep-rooted inequalities towards them in Pakistan. But, despite all these stern commitments and policy legislations, the Khawajasaras and Hijras, as a third gender, are facing enormous issues, such as a recognition of their identity, access to opportunities, healthcare, psycho-social support, gainful employment, engagement opportunities, justice, discrimination, oppression, and most importantly, the issue of respect and freedom. Individuals from Khawaja Sara and Hijra communities majorly rely on sex work, begging, dancing, and singing to earn their survival. These activities of Khawaja Saras and Hijras are making them more vulnerable to hate crime and community violence. Therefore, Pakistan is ranked 144th out of 145 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI) because of the widespread gender disparity and gender inequalities in different sectors. The low ranking on GGGI declares that Pakistan is still a long way behind in becoming a society in which all persons can exercise their rights equally, free from stigma and violence.

It is worth mentioning here that Khawajasaras and Hijras need institutional development, same as the institutional and budgetary support provided to women and girls as the second gender for their development. Women institutions, like National and Provincial Commissions on the Status of Women (NCSW and PCSWs), Gender and Child Cells in Disaster Management Authorities, Women Protection Cells, Women Development Departments (WDD), Women Parliamentary Caucuses and an Inter-Provincial Ministerial Group on Women Development are providing their services to decrease gender discrimination of women and girls in Pakistan. I propose that both Federal and Provincial Governments of Pakistan are required to formulate national and provincial commissions on the status of Khawajasaras and Hijras and include the members from their communities. These commissions will not only provide a respectable earning opportunity to Khawajasaras and Hijras but also they will start a dialogue on different transgender issues with the concerned authorities, which will develop these communities in Pakistan.

The writer is a PhD Scholar at RMIT University Melbourne Australia, with a research interest in the field of Gender, Sexuality and Education. He has also served as an officer in the Social Welfare Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and has a prolific experience of working in the development sector, research, and academia. He can be reached at


China Forces Uighur Women To Take Birth Control To Suppress Muslim Minority

29 June 2020

The Chinese government is taking drastic measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.

While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor.

The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”

The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang.

The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply.

Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, the AP found, with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines.

After GulnarOmirzakh, a Chinese-born Kazakh, had her third child, the government ordered her to get an IUD inserted. Two years later, in January 2018, four officials in military camouflage came knocking at her door anyway. They gave Omirzakh, the penniless wife of a detained vegetable trader, three days to pay a $2,685 fine for having more than two children.

If she didn’t, they warned, she would join her husband and a million other ethnic minorities locked up in internment camps — often for having too many children.

“To prevent people from having children is wrong,” said Omirzakh, who went deep in debt to scrape together the money and later fled to Kazakhstan. “They want to destroy us as a people.”

Birth rates in the mostly Uighur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60 percent from 2015 to 2018, the latest year available in government statistics. The hundreds of millions of dollars the government pours into birth control have transformed Xinjiang from one of China’s fastest-growing regions into one of its slowest in just a few years, according to new research obtained by The Associated Press in advance of publication by China scholar Adrian Zenz.

“This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uighurs,” said Zenz, an independent contractor with the nonprofit Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Xinjiang government did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

However, Beijing has said in the past that the new measures are merely meant to be fair, allowing both Han Chinese and ethnic minorities the same number of children.

Han chinese and Uighurs

Under China’s now-abandoned ‘one child’ policy, the authorities had long encouraged, sometimes forced, contraceptives, sterilizations and abortions on Han Chinese. But minorities were allowed two children — three if they came from the countryside.

That changed under President Xi Jinping, China’s most authoritarian leader in decades. Soon after he came to power, the government revised birth regulations so Xinjiang’s Han Chinese could have two or three children, just like minorities.

While equal on paper, in practice Han Chinese are largely spared the abortions, sterilizations, IUD insertions and detentions for having too many children that are forced on Xinjiang’s other ethnicities, interviews and data show.

Some rural Muslims, like Omirzakh, were punished even for having the three children allowed by the law.

Punished for having children

Fifteen Uighurs and Kazakhs told the AP they knew people interned or jailed for having too many children. Many received years, even decades in prison.

Once in the detention camps, women are subjected to forced IUDs and what appear to be pregnancy prevention shots, interviews and data show.

One former detainee, TursunayZiyawudun, said she was injected until she stopped having her period and kicked repeatedly in the lower stomach during interrogations. She now can’t have children, she said.

Ziyawudun said women at her camp were made to undergo gynecology exams and get IUDs, and their “teacher” told them they would face abortions if found pregnant.

In 2014, just over 200,000 IUDs were inserted in Xinjiang. By 2018, that jumped more than 60 percent to nearly 330,000 IUDs. At the same time, IUD use fell sharply elsewhere in China, as many women began getting the devices removed.

Chinese health statistics also show a sterilization boom in Xinjiang.

Budget documents obtained by Zenz show that starting in 2016, the Xinjiang government began pumping tens of millions of dollars into a birth control surgery program. Even while sterilization rates plummeted in the rest of the country, they surged seven-fold in Xinjiang from 2016 to 2018, to more than 60,000 procedures.

ZumretDawut, a Uighur mother of three, said after her release from a camp in 2018, authorities forced her to get sterilized. If she didn’t, they told her she’d be sent back to the camp.

“I was so angry,” she said. “I wanted another son.”

The birth control campaign is fueled by government worries that high birth rates among Muslims leads to poverty and extremism in Xinjiang, an arid, landlocked region that has struggled in recent years with knifings and bombings blamed on Islamic terrorists. Though the program adopts tactics from China’s ‘one child’ policy, the campaign unfolding in Xinjiang differs in that it is ethnically targeted.

“The intention may not be to fully eliminate the Uighur population, but it will sharply diminish their vitality, making them easier to assimilate,” said Darren Byler, an expert on Uighurs at the University of Colorado.

Some experts take it a step further.

“It’s genocide, full stop,” said Uighur expert Joanne Smith Finley, who works at Newcastle University in the UK “It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide.”




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