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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 7 March 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Toronto Couple Is Using Their Online Platform To Educate Canadians About Islam And The Dangers Of Islamophobia

New Age Islam News Bureau

07 March 2021

 • Toronto Couple Is Using Their Online Platform To Educate Canadians About Islam And The Dangers Of Islamophobia

• Marina Waka,  Daughter Of Illiterate Pakistani Muslim Parents Now One Of Leicestershire's Top Detectives

• 2 Women, Muslim And Jew, Co-Write Children’s Book About Standing Up To Prejudice

• Muslim Women Across Prairies Gather Online For Unique Women-Only Event

• 50,000 Bangladeshi Female Migrants,  From 21 Countries, Returned During Pandemic

• Book Launched To Honour 20 Inspiring Malay/Muslim Women

• Transgender M'sian Woman Gets Death Threats After Reportedly Saying She Wants To Leave Islam

• International Women's Day 2021: 11 Inspirational Quotes By Influential Women Around The World

• India’s Shipping Minister Flags Off First All-Women Crew' On MT Swarna Krishna To Mark

 • Merkel Warns Coronavirus Pandemic Risks Undoing Gains For Women 

• Be An 'Epic Trophy Wife Like Melania Trump', A Pastor Tells Women

• Universities Engaging Men To End Violence Against Women

• 'Not Running Away': Women Fighting on Britain's COVID-19 Front Line

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau 



Toronto Couple Is Using Their Online Platform To Educate Canadians About Islam And The Dangers Of Islamophobia


Credit: INSTAGRAM/Sana Saleh



MAR 6, 2021

A Toronto couple is using their online platform to educate Canadians about Islam and the dangers of Islamophobia.

Sana Saleh and her husband Will Saleh – a Canadian of European origin who converted to Islam – are a young Muslim couple from Toronto.

Together they create educational videos for their more than two million followers across TikTok, YouTube and Instagram.

“Initially when we first started making videos on TikTok, it was just me and him making jokes about each other,” said Sana. “We would talk about our mixed culture. And then people started asking questions, like ‘what is that thing called on your head?’ A simple thing like ‘what is a hijab?’ And even sometimes people would ask, ‘can you go swimming with that?’ Or ‘who can see your hair?’

“As people started asking questions, we were like, ‘you know what, we should use this platform to educate people.’”

Several of the videos are about exactly that – demystifying Islam and correcting misconceptions about Muslims. Many are light-hearted and deal with various topics in a humorous way.

“TikTok can be a great place for education,” said Will. “We wanted to be able to educate people about the religion of Islam and to humanize Muslims, to show the world we’re not as bad as what you see on TV.”

There are also videos about themselves: who they are, how they met, about their travels and their two young daughters. Then there’s the story of how Will was first introduced to Islam.

“I was never really looking for religion,” he said. “And then when it came into my lap, I fell in love with it. Because it not only answers the basic things – like how do we eliminate racism or poverty – but it also gives me so much more sense of my place in the world.”

“My only interaction with Islam was when 9/11 happened,” said Will. “And that’s literally the first time I had ever heard of Muslims. And then obviously from that point, it was in the news. But it was never in the news for good.”

In the media, acts of violence committed by Muslims are covered disproportionately and differently, which ensures the image of the Muslim terrorist persists.

In fact, according to the Canadian Incident Database, it is 107 times more likely to be killed for being a Muslim than by a Muslim in Canada.


Marina Waka,  Daughter Of Illiterate Pakistani Muslim Parents Now One Of Leicestershire's Top Detectives


Marina Waka is now a temporary detective sergeant (Image: Leicestershire Police)


By Tom Mack

7 MAR 2021

A Muslim police officer whose illiterate Pakistani parents came to England unable to speak much English has risen to be a detective sergeant.

Marina Waka, who has been with Leicestershire Police for 15 years, has spoken about how her upbringing and her religion helped her get ahead and pursue her goals.

Mum-of-two Marina, 38, said she knew from a young age she wanted a career which would allow her to help others.

Her parents came to the UK in the 1960s, unable to speak much English and unable to read or write in any language.

Inside the Islamic college which is one of the most significant religious pilgrimage sites Western Europeleicestermercury

After completing a degree in law and human resources, Marina’s passion to succeed and be a role model to other Muslim women led her to pursue a profession in policing and she recently passed her sergeant’s exam.

Now in a temporary role as a detective sergeant, she said she was grateful to be doing a job where she can make a difference every day.

She said: “Growing up it was important to me to have a balance of both British and Asian values and working as a Muslim police officer has definitely allowed me to do just that.

"Joining the police was never going to be easy, especially where I grew up. However with persistence, love and support from my parents, I joined.

“Women in my culture are often considered homemakers but my parents wanted me to educate and have a career.’

“I’ve had the most amazing journey over the past 15 years and being a detective is demanding and fast paced but it’s also a role that comes with huge rewards, excitement and job satisfaction.

“Our job is to investigate a crime, build a case strong enough to be heard by the criminal justice system to ensure the victims get the justice they deserve and that offenders are brought to justice.”

Marina has spent the past four years working in the force’s Child Abuse Investigation Unit, which she said was her dream job.

She said: “Being a detective - there really isn’t any other job like it.

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“Working in Child Abuse Investigation Unit allowed me to help give a child a voice and to listen to what they have to say – I can’t describe that feeling but I loved it.

“There isn’t any other job I’d rather be doing.”

Keen to embrace her religion after taking part in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Marina opted to wear the Hijab to work a few years ago and was pleased with her colleagues’ reactions.

She said: “Being a Muslim woman is a huge part of my identity.

“In 2016 after completing a pilgrimage to Mecca I decided I wanted to start wearing the Hijab.

“I had never worn one before and was so worried about how my colleagues would react but despite my nervousness I felt proud of my decision as it is a symbol of who I am.

“As I walked into the police station wearing it for the first time I immediately realised there was nothing to be anxious about.

“Everyone was so positive, they welcomed my new look with open arms and were so interested to learn more about my Hajj experience and the significance of the Hijab.

“I am forever learning about my faith and I am always sharing my knowledge and experiences with them – I really do see those I work with as an extended part of my family.

“When I first started out in policing there weren’t many people from my background in the job. But if anything this just encouraged me even more to pave the way for other Asian women to consider policing as a career option.

“Now through our Association of Muslim Police network we work hard to ensure those from the Muslim faith continue to feel supported in the profession and we are able to help assist anyone interested in joining us through the application and interview process.

“It is so important the police service is reflective of the communities we serve and those people continue to help make a real change and shape the future of policing.”


2 Women, Muslim And Jew, Co-Write Children’s Book About Standing Up To Prejudice

By Talia Liben Yarmush

6 March 2021

Kveller via JTA — “A Place at the Table” tells the story of two middle-school girls, Elizabeth and Sara — one Jewish and one Muslim — whose friendship begins in a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mother. Elizabeth is a budding chef and Sara is the new kid in school. Both girls have mothers who are studying to become American citizens, and as the girls gravitate toward each other, they must learn to ask awkward questions, be open to honest answers and comfortable standing up for each other even at the expense of other relationships.

While it seems America is struggling with deep divides that appear insurmountable, this delightful book teaches that difference does not inherently mean discordance. What’s more, it provides a positive example for its readers on how to navigate the very differences that make each person unique.

This timely middle-grade novel is co-written by Saadia Faruqi, an immigrant from Pakistan who has two kids, and Laura Shovan, also a mom of two and the daughter of a British immigrant. In a wide-ranging interview with Kveller, the authors discussed parenting, allyship, identity and more.

Laura: I had a loose idea for a middle-grade novel called “Citizen Mom,” about a girl who wanted to help her mother through the citizenship process. But I realized that my view of being first-generation American didn’t include the experience of someone not born in the US. Saadia was my first choice of authors to partner with on this story. Not only is she raising first-generation American kids, I admire her writing and activism. I pitched the idea to Saadia and we began to develop the characters and plot together.

Saadia: Writing stories about first-generation kids and the citizenship experience was important to me, especially since it’s my own story. I became a US citizen in 2016, a few months before the presidential election that year. It was a milestone for me and my family in many ways.

Throughout the book, while grappling with the reality that there are those around her who are blatantly anti-Muslim, Sara herself exhibits some shame and embarrassment at being Muslim. Saadia, did you have a similar experience when you were her age?

Saadia: I grew up in Pakistan, where almost everyone was Muslim. I never felt out of place or attacked in any way. It was only when I came to the US as an adult that I saw the world with different eyes. I saw racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and so much more all around me. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist elsewhere, but rather that I’d never borne the brunt of it until then. Sara’s experiences in “A Place at the Table” are more reflective of my children’s lives than my own.

Laura: Sharing that heritage with friends or a community is important. Going to Hebrew school with a handful of school friends made me feel less alienated as a kid.

Saadia: As an author, I make myself available for many school visits throughout the year, in person and virtual. This allows me to engage with my readers of all backgrounds, but in particular allows me to connect with readers who identify with me in terms of religion or culture. Muslim kids or immigrant kids can talk to me and feel a sense of pride, self-confidence and happiness.

There’s an intense scene in the book when a character says something racist. But another character, Stephanie, steps in and says, “You can’t say stuff like that.” This really struck me — it’s hard to stick up to bullies, especially ones you are friends with. What advice can you give kids who are in a similar situation? How can they find the courage to do what Stephanie did?

Laura: The character of Stephanie is popular, well-liked and has all the privilege that comes with being of the dominant culture. Because Stephanie is a girl with social currency, she has the power to speak up and correct Elizabeth’s friend, Maddy. Without sharing any spoilers, it isn’t until Maddy begins to appreciate Sara’s mother — as a person, not a stereotype — that she begins to change.

Saadia: It’s definitely hard to stick up for someone against a bully, whether they’re a child or an adult. That’s one of the reasons we wrote this book: to offer a roadmap to readers about allyship. It’s really important in this day and age to not stand by quietly when something terrible is being said because it escalates the situation and makes the bullying worse. My advice to kids is to talk about these issues with each other, have a plan about what you’re going to say and tell adults when bullying is happening.

There are several occasions in the book in which well-meaning people say the wrong thing that ends up being insulting. How do you suggest kids address other kids, and even adults, in this kind of situation?

Saadia: I think we can get a little more educated about what is hurtful or not, and that comes through reading, asking questions and learning from each other. It’s always OK to ask why something is offensive, as long as you do so in a respectful manner.

Laura: We tried to model handling these unintentional microaggressions in a number of scenes.

In today’s political climate, when xenophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise, how do you suggest kids address their friends who parrot such beliefs from their own parents?

Laura: That’s a tough question. I had a friend in high school who, for religious reasons, believed I was going to hell. No matter how many conversations or arguments we had about it, he clung to that belief. So I’d say that kids can be very clear that hateful rhetoric like anti-Semitism is not only wrong, it’s also personally harmful. But I’d also say that it’s OK for kids to put up a boundary there if the other person continues to use hate speech.

Saadia: I always suggest talking to your friends and explaining why something is harmful. If nothing else works, it may be time to remove yourself from a friendship. Sara and Elizabeth in the book offer a great way to do this tactfully in the way they treat Maddy.

What advice do you have for parents reading this who want to raise thoughtful, kind and open-minded children?

Saadia: Parents should first have that mindset themselves. Read about the issues that affect the world today, and work on yourselves first. If you’re trying to be thoughtful and kind yourself, your children will follow your footsteps without any preaching. I make it a daily practice to talk with my kids about important topics. We watch the news together, discuss politics and social topics, and much more. This allows my children to learn about what’s important to me and make up their minds about how they want to live their lives.

Laura: My best advice is to model being thoughtful, kind and open-minded. But also to talk with your kids when you make a mistake and say or do something that’s hurtful to another person. Discuss what happened, how you attempted to fix it and what you learned from the experience.


Muslim women across prairies gather online for unique women-only event

Dan McGarvey

Mar 06, 2021

Muslim women and women from other faiths will gather online Saturday for a special event to mark International Women's Day, which takes place on Monday.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association is bringing together presenters from different perspectives under the banner "Women as Nation Builders."

The organization says the event is about celebrating and fostering excellence, along with challenging misconceptions about the contributions of women from different backgrounds in establishing successful societies.

"It's a very unique and extraordinary event for women, by women," said Maham Anna Malik with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association.

"Our goal is to provide a forum for women from diverse backgrounds to build connections with a shared respect and mutual understanding.

"We have Christian speakers, Indigenous speakers, Sikh speakers, Muslim speakers and other guests with women attending from across the prairies."

The virtual event takes place at 4 p.m. MST with hundreds of women expected to take part.

The list of attendees includes dignitaries, faith leaders and academics.

The program includes presentations from female faith leaders, elected officials, multimedia presentations and an interactive question and answer segment.

"We feel it's important to empower women, to provide a safe, encouraging and educating dialogue to learn the essential role of women as leaders and nation builders across faiths," said Malik.


50,000 Bangladeshi Female Migrants,  From 21 Countries, Returned During Pandemic

March 07, 2021

Staff Correspondent

About 49,924 female migrant workers returned home from 21 countries amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Brac Migration Programme.

Brac said about 9.24 lakh female migrant workers went abroad for employment in different countries including the Middle Eastern ones between 1991 and last year.

Shariful Hasan, head of Brac Migration Programme, said in the last two and a half years, they in support of expatriates' welfare desk provided immediate support to some 2,645 returnee female migrants at the airport.

"However, coordinated efforts from both the government and non-government organisations are required to ensure rehabilitation of the large number of female migrants who returned home amid the pandemic and also to mitigate the crises facing those who are abroad," he added.

Shariful said there were cases where women were "sold" in the name of employment abroad while there were also incidents in which women became trafficking victims.

According to Brac data, of the women who returned amid the pandemic, 21,230 returned from Saudi Arabia, 11,602 from the United Arab Emirates, 4,826 from Qatar, 3,209 from Oman, 2,910 from Lebanon, and 2,259 from Jordan. Besides, bodies arrived from 11 countries with the highest 198 from Saudi Arabia, 88 from Jordan, 71 from Lebanon, 53 from Oman, 39 from UAE and 38 from different other countries. Of these corpses, 57 arrived in 2016, 102 in 2017, 112 in 2018, and 139 in 2019. Also, 77 bodies of female migrant workers arrived home amid the pandemic when global air communications largely remained suspended, it added.

Of the deceased, 86 female migrants reportedly died by suicide, 167 died of "stroke", 71 died in accidents, 115 died "naturally", two were murdered, and 46 died due to other reasons.

Recently, a criminal court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a Saudi national in connection with the killing of Bangladeshi female migrant worker Abiron Begum.

Citing government data, Brac said according to cases filed under the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, at least 1,791 women fell victim to human trafficking between 2012 and 2020.

Besides their male counterparts, female migrant workers have also been contributing to the country's economy by sending remittance home, the NGO said.

However, the country lacks data regarding how many female migrant workers have returned home after completing their work contracts or after facing torture and abuse abroad, it said.

Brac recommended implementing "female migration policy" effectively to ensure their rights and uphold dignity. And emphasis has to be put on creating skilled female workers and sending them abroad, it said.

It stressed providing SIM cards to female migrant workers before they reach the host countries in order to ensure communication with family members.

It is essential to bring recruiting agencies under a monitoring mechanism and ensure accountability of the agencies in question, it added.

It further demanded ensuring punishment of employers accused of torturing female migrant workers as per law of their own countries and quick disposal of cases filed under the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2012.


Book launched to honour 20 inspiring Malay/Muslim women

Cheryl Tan


SINGAPORE - When Ms Siti Nurhajah was 18, she sacrificed her dream of becoming a nurse to support her family of six, who were on the verge of becoming homeless.

Now 26, she has graduated with a diploma in nursing and was one of 20 successful Malay/Muslim women honoured in a commemorative book launched on Saturday (March 6) ahead of International Women's Day on Monday.

Titled Unprecedented - To The Beat Of Her Own Drum, it was conceptualised and written by a team of 50 youth volunteers from the Mendaki Club over two years.

Ms Nadia Yeo, co-founder of the club's Young Women in Leadership Dialogue, said the book celebrates the lives of 20 young Malay/Muslim women who have achieved success in various forms.

From musicians to humanitarian activists and hawkers, they exemplified traits of resilience, courage and commitment, she added.

They were selected from an open call for nominations through social media.

President Halimah Yacob, who officiated the book's launch on Saturday, contributed to its foreword.

Speaking at the event, which was held at co-working space WeWork at Funan, Madam Halimah noted that a recurring issue that has surfaced from the series of Conversations on Singapore Women's Development was the need for society to shift away from the mindset that women must be the de facto caregiver at home.

She said: "Everyone can contribute in enabling the aspirations of our young women to take flight, whether by changing such biased perceptions, supporting them in their endeavours, or even sharing household responsibilities."

When Ms Siti was hospitalised at KKH for a week at the age of 14 to remove cysts in her ovaries, she was afraid. But the nurses there changed her life.

She said: "The nurses really went out of the way to care for me, and that was very memorable."

She would later pursue nursing at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East in 2013, though she withdrew later that year to start working and support her family.

Her father, who was the sole breadwinner of the family, had diabetes and hepatitis C and was too weak to continue working.

Knowing she had to step up as the oldest of four siblings, she stopped schooling to work in the food and beverage sector.

She told The Straits Times: "We had just moved into a place of our own after two years of staying in a shelter, so I wanted to make sure that we were able to pay the bills."

When her sister graduated from school and began working in 2017, Ms Siti then returned to ITE to continue her education, eventually emerging as its valedictorian in 2019.

She pursued a diploma in nursing at Nanyang Polytechnic, and will soon start working as a registered nurse at KKH.

She said: "I wanted to give back to KKH after my experience there so that I can inspire the younger nurses."

She hopes to return to ITE as a lecturer to continue sharing her story and inspire others.

Another woman featured in the book is Ms Nur Aziemah, 35, associate research fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence and Political Terrorist at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

She monitors and analyses the extremist online content to understand extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

All proceeds from the book sales will be channelled to Casa Raudha, a charity which provides shelter for women and children who have been victims of domestic violence.


Transgender M'sian woman gets death threats after reportedly saying she wants to leave Islam

Matthias Ang

March 06, 2021

A transgender Malaysian has received death threats after reportedly announcing in a video that she intended to renounce Islam, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) and Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported.

Comestics entrepreneur Nur Sajat had purportedly said during a live broadcast on Instagram that she wanted to quit the religion because she had been targeted by anti-transgender people despite not doing anything wrong.

Both SCMP and The Star reported that she had failed to appear at a hearing in the Syariah High Court in February, on charges of insulting Islam by dressing up as a woman during a religious event at her beauty centre in 2018.

122 officers have since been deployed by the religious authorities of Selangor to track and arrest Sajat, according to The Malay Mail.

“We are astonished by the financial and human resources that are being allocated for this search and arrest operation against Sajat

All these actions by JAIS (Selangor Islamic Religious Department) are extreme and demonstrate their overzealousness in arresting and detaining Sajat at all costs for merely expressing herself and her gender identity."

The country's former minister for Islamic Affairs, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, called for the public not to overreact, but to convince her not to convert instead.

He said, "Who are we to judge her? Instead of punishing her, we should continue to persuade her nicely not to convert to another religion. That is the proper reaction."

A statement by Sisters in Islam has called for the death threats against Sajat to be taken seriously by authorities, and community and religious leaders alike.

The organisation also quoted Section 506 of Malaysia's Penal Code which criminalises death threats and added that it was "heartbreaking" when religious leaders and authorities chose to remain silent over such an issue.

Sulathireh was quoted by FMT as elaborating, "Their extreme actions are legitimised by patriarchal interpretations of religion and laws that criminalise persons based on their gender identity, religious beliefs or lack thereof, freedom of expression and such."

She added that it was worrying calls for violence and death threats could be issued with a "high level of impunity" in the country and that Sajat's situation should not be taken lightly.


International Women's Day 2021: 11 inspirational quotes by influential women around the world

Times Now Digital

Mar 07, 2021

March 8 is celebrated worldwide as International Women's Day. On this day, the achievements of women in every field, irrespective of age and sexual orientation, are celebrated with full gusto. While each day should be celebrated in their honor, this very day makes it all the more special.

Indeed, women are walking step by step with the men and are breaking stereotypes regarding their capabilities. There are many such in the world that have inspired the world in more ways than one. Even the smallest act from some of them has made a difference.

So, ahead of Women's Day, here are some quotes by influential and powerful women from around the world. Here's hoping that they inspire you to strive the very hardest.

Without further ado, here they are.

Inspiring quotes by influential women.

"We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced"- Malala Yousafzai

“Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men.”- Katherine Johnson

"Just like charity begins at home, we have to start making a change from our home and society. We need to work together to make this world a better place for women."- Smriti Irani

"How wonderful is it that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."- Anne Frank

"The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on it and the perseverance to follow it."-  Kalpana Chawla

“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”- Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“A man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.”- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.”- Serena Williams

"Who runs the world? Girls"- Beyonce

"People used to say that boxing is for men and not for women and I thought I will show them someday. I promised myself and I proved myself."- MC Mary Kom

"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning to sail my ship."- Louisa May Alcott


India’s Shipping Minister Flags Off First All-Women Crew' On MT Swarna Krishna To Mark Women's Day

By Astha Singh

7th March, 2021

Ahead of International Women's Day, Minister of State Ports, Shipping and Waterways Mansukh Mandaviya on Saturday flagged off the first “All Women Officers’ Sailing” on MT Swarna Krishna from Jawaharlal Nehru Port. MT Swarna Krishna is a product carrier of Shipping Corporation of India Limited (SCI), informed the ministry. Secretary of Shipping Sanjeev Ranjan, Chairman of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust Sanjay Sethi, and other officials attended the ceremony virtually and commended the efforts of the women seafarers.

Mandaviya tweeted in Hindi, "Indian woman power always makes history! For the first time in world history, a 'Cargo-ship' (MT Swarna Krishna) was embarked on a voyage with a female captain and a crew of women officers only. On this International Women's Day, salute to the spirit of women leaders working in the maritime sector".

According to a press statement issued by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, the SCI flagged off the all-women crew as part of its ongoing Diamond Jubilee celebrations and also to commemorate the International Women’s Day on March 8.

“This is the first time in the world maritime history that a ship is being sailed by all women officers,” the release said.

Mansukh Mandaviya also acknowledged the contribution and sacrifice of the women seafarers who acted as the Indian ambassadors to the global maritime community and had made the nation proud.

HK Joshi, CMD the Chairman and Managing Director of SCI, spoke of the determined and persistent pursuit of SCI to realize the ‘paradigm shift’ in the maritime sector which has successfully recognized and honoured the ’empowered womanhood’.

“SCI has been a pioneer in employing women seafarers on board its vessels and has implemented various initiatives including age relaxations and fee concessions to aspiring female cadets through its Maritime Training Institute to promote their integration into the maritime sector. They have successfully recognized and honoured the ’empowered womanhood’ in the seafaring women who have dared, endeavoured, and sacrificed to achieve it.” the ministry said, reported ANI.

The ministry further stated, being in consonance with the theme for International Women’s Day this year– “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. The All Women Officers’ Sailing is an attempt to acknowledge the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping an equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while celebrating the many accomplishments by the women in breaking down the stereotypes in this male-dominated field.


Merkel warns coronavirus pandemic risks undoing gains for women 

WION Web Team

Mar 06, 2021

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Saturday that the pandemic risked rolling back progress made on gender equality, as women take on the lion's share of childcare in lockdown and are more likely to work in at-risk jobs.

"We have to make sure that the pandemic does not lead us to fall back into old gender patterns we thought we had overcome," Merkel said in a video message ahead of International Women's Day on March 8.

Women have been disproportionately affected by the health crisis, she said, while being underrepresented in decision-making positions.

"Once again it's more often women who have to master the balancing act between homeschooling, childcare and their own jobs," said the veteran leader.

Women also outnumber men in care professions at a time when those jobs are "particularly challenging".

"More than 75 per cent of those working in the health sector are women, from doctor's offices and hospitals, to labs and pharmacies," Merkel said -- yet women account for barely 30 per cent of management positions in those areas.

"It cannot be that women are to a large extent carrying our society yet at the same time are not equally involved in important political, economic and societal decisions," she added.

Merkel welcomed recent legislation requiring listed German companies to include more women on their executive boards.

But she said more should be done to support women, including through expanding childcare facilities and equal pay.

"Women must finally earn the same as men," she said.

Germany has one of the European Union's largest gender pay gaps, with women earning on average 19 per cent less than men in 2019 -- partly because many German women work part-time.

The gap narrows to six per cent when comparing men and women in the same jobs.

Merkel's warnings were echoed in the EU's annual report on gender equality released earlier this week.

The study found that the pandemic "has exacerbated existing inequalities between women and men in almost all areas of life".

On top of increased childcare burdens from school and nursery closures, it said women were also more likely to work in low-paid jobs in the services sector worst affected by the shutdowns, leaving them at higher risk of unemployment.

It could "take years, or even decades" to overcome the gender setbacks caused by the pandemic, it said.



Be an 'epic trophy wife like Melania Trump', a pastor tells women

WION Web Team

Mar 07, 2021

While the world is encouraging each other to be more body positive and be comfortable with you who are, a pastor is using his stature to tell women to put in more efforts to be a "trophy wife" like the former FLOTUS Melania Trump.

During a sermon at the First General Baptist Church, a 55-year-old pastor, Allen Clark, told women to not "let themselves go" after marriage and concentrate on becoming a "trophy wife" like Melania trump, or at least be a 'participating trophy'.

Clark tells women to put more efforts in staying 'desirable' so that their partners do not get distracted by other women. "Ladies, here's the thing you need to know about men: Don't give him a reason to be like this 'distracted boyfriend.' You hear me?," he can be heard saying in the video.

He also goes ahead to instruct women to use more make-up to stay 'pretty' and even uses an example from one of the offensive things his son said to him.

"Don't give him a reason to be looking around. Why is it so many times that women, after they get married, let themselves go? Now, look, I'm not saying every woman can be epic – the epic trophy wife of all time like Melania Trump – I'm not saying that at all. You know makeup? Makeup is a good thing! My little boy said, 'Why do girls wear makeup and perfume?' Because they're ugly and they stink. You don't want to be ugly and stink," he said.

The video has gone viral on social media platforms, with many people raising their voices against such offensive sermons, and many criticising the pastor for lecturing women about maintaining weight, while he himself is 'overweight'.


Universities engaging men to end violence against women

William McInerney

06 March 2021

Violence against women (VAW) is a severe and systemic problem. Research from the World Health Organization indicates that one in three women around the world experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime and that the majority of this violence is committed by men. Data from the United States Department of Justice shows that women aged 18-24 are disproportionately the targets of sexual violence.

The 2019 Association of American Universities’ Campus Climate Survey, the largest study of its kind with a sample size of over 180,000 students, revealed that more than one in four undergraduate women in the US experienced non-consensual sexual contact by physical force or inability to consent while at university. The research is clear: VAW is a problem around the world and specifically in higher education.

There are many ways to address this violence, most notably by supporting survivors and holding perpetrators accountable. Over the past two decades an additional and increasingly popular approach to stopping VAW has been to directly engage men through men’s violence prevention (MVP) programmes. Historically, men have been disproportionately absent from prevention efforts.

MVP seeks to transform this pattern of men’s silence and inaction into allyship and change. However, it should be clear: MVP is a complementary approach to other VAW work. The point is not to centre men, but to support women’s and non-binary people’s feminist activism, research and leadership towards the goal of ending VAW wherever possible. Addressing VAW in higher education requires a range of simultaneous strategies that work with people of all genders.

MVP includes a broad collection of efforts, often guided by feminist and public health frameworks, that seek to directly engage, educate, organise and mobilise men to prevent VAW. These programmes do so by examining what sexual assault prevention expert Alan Berkowitz calls the “root causes of men and boys’ violence, including social and structural ones, as well as men and boys’ gender role socialisation and men’s sexism”.

MVP is growing in popularity in part because the rationale for engaging men is strong. First, most VAW is committed by men.

Second, certain dominant norms associated with masculinity, particularly those espousing control over women, rigid gender roles and sexist and violence-supportive attitudes and behaviours, play a pivotal role in driving VAW.

And third, engaging men means women will not have to shoulder as much of the burden of this work by themselves. MVP is based on the idea that all men can and should play a positive, proactive and strategic role in the vital efforts to end VAW.

MVP can take many forms including face-to-face and online education programmes, social marketing campaigns, one-time events and trainings and larger social change activism and campaigns. These programmes seek to raise men’s awareness about VAW, address and transform problematic norms, teach bystander intervention skills and promote healthy and equitable relationships and intimate partnerships.

Addressing VAW with MVP requires a range of different interventions and approaches. Such work must be responsive to the intersectional diversity among men and be able to address the spectrum of VAW, including direct acts of violence, patterns of coercive control and indirect forms of cultural and structural violence.

Universities have a responsibility to address the alarming and unacceptably high rates of VAW that occur within their institutions and broader communities. Just as it is in society at-large, VAW in higher education is disproportionately committed by men and fuelled in part by dominant social norms associated with masculinity. Thus, men within higher education can and should do something to change this.

A growing body of research shows that well-designed MVP programmes can shift men’s sexist and violence-supportive attitudes and behaviours – an important factor in violence prevention.

However, this research also reveals a complex picture indicating inconsistent application of best practices, mixed levels of effectiveness across programmes and a need for more research, monitoring and evaluation.

In general, the research shows that more effective programmes tend to be gender transformative, intersectional, a part of whole-of-institution approaches and use pedagogy and praxis that are informed, comprehensive, engaging and relevant. The depth and breadth of this research is beyond the scope of this article, but XY Online provides an exhaustive collection of research on this topic.

Associate Professor Michael Flood’s authoritative text on the subject, Engaging Men and Boys in Violence Prevention, also provides a helpful synthesis of the research on MVP. Both resources are free and accessible online.

My experience teaching MVP at universities in the United States and United Kingdom resonates with the mixture of successes and challenges revealed by the aforementioned research and indicates there is a need for development and innovation in the field. How do we expand upon what works and innovate to find new critical and creative ways to more effectively engage men?

My current research examines the potential role of the arts as one way to answer this question. Practitioners I work with, many focusing on higher education in the US, integrate a range of arts including drama, poetry, storytelling, drawing and mask-making into their programmes.

The arts are used to help recruit men, as catalysts for discussion and learning about social norms, as a creative process to encourage personal reflection and connection and as experiential and embodied activities to help men deepen their learning and practice violence prevention skills through role-playing scenarios.

Programmes like the Men’s Story Project provide a clear and research-informed approach to how storytelling and the expressive arts can be integrated into traditional public health and feminist MVP programmes in higher education contexts (as well as community-based settings).

In the Men’s Story Project, men write, craft and share true stories from their lives about masculinity and learn about ways to practise and promote healthier masculinities, violence prevention and gender justice. The men’s stories are ultimately shared in public forums and followed with a community dialogue.

In this programme, the process of storytelling is used to deepen the men’s individual and collective learning, to communicate messages about gender social norms to the community and to amplify positive male role models to inspire change.

Approaches like the arts and storytelling are one way to potentially enhance and expand MVP work. The Men’s Story Project is a prime example of how such creative efforts are finding particular resonance within some higher education contexts.

Many in higher education have good intentions when it comes to working to end VAW. However, good intentions are not good enough. Universities need to make preventing VAW a matter of urgency and action. This requires transformative, creative and sustained leadership and a multiplicity of approaches.

Universities can start by prioritising survivors, holding perpetrators accountable and amplifying women’s and non-binary people’s feminist work, activism and research on this topic.

As a complementary strategy, universities can also consider increasing efforts to directly engage men. Arts and storytelling-based approaches may be an effective component to integrate alongside traditional MVP programmes and general best practices.

However, more research is still needed. Here again, higher education institutions can play an essential leadership role by continuing to support new scholarship on VAW more broadly, and MVP specifically.


'Not Running Away': Women Fighting on Britain's COVID-19 Front Line


March 7, 2021

BLACKBURN, England (Reuters) - After a year that has shaken Britain's National Health Service to its core, women working at a hospital in the East Lancashire NHS Trust in England's north-west talk about what the coronavirus crisis has meant to them.

At the end of each shift throughout the pandemic consultant nurse Sheeba Philip knew she could take the virus home, where she was caring for her mother.

But every day she donned her protective equipment and carried on, driven by a sense of duty like so many other women on the front line against COVID-19.

"I knew that I couldn’t shield myself and every day the thought that you could be taking home (coronavirus), it was very difficult," the 43-year-old said. "Going home every day, it was like my prayer in the car outside, 'please Lord get rid of all the germs in me and then I will step into the house'."

The first wave of the pandemic passed, but Philip's mother, who was on dialysis, contracted COVID-19 along with the rest of the family in November.

"I knew, as a nurse, what I should be doing; that end of time was coming and she would not make it," Philip said. "But at the same time, as a daughter, I did not want to let go of it, I just wanted her to hold on to the last straw. I wanted to say and scream at the top of my voice 'no don't, I don’t want her to go'."

For paramedic Maxine Sharples, 36, a solid barrier between her home lfe and her work for the North West Ambulance service was an essential coping mechanism, following shift after shift of transporting patients who would never return to their families.

"As soon as I get home, I shut the door and I'm back to being a mum and a wife, and I just have to play that role until I go back to work again," she said.

"I think a lot of people in the NHS have that ability to just switch off. I don't think you're born with it. You just learn it and maybe it makes you a little bit hard, as well, but you kind of have to."

Critical care nurse Jacqui Jocelyn, 53, has worked in nursing for 30 years. Twenty of those have been spent on the intensive care unit at the East Lancashire hospital.

After spending the year being with patients at the end of their lives, while their families were not permitted to do so, Jocelyn's father was admitted to the same ward.

"All the staff were amazing with him. I don't think it was just because it was my dad. But they went out their way to make him feel special and try and get better, but, unfortunately, he fought a losing battle and died."

Jocelyn's daughter, 19-year-old Ruby Jocelyn, was inspired by her mother during the pandemic and decided to take up nursing instead of a degree in business and economics. The care of her grandfather by ICU staff inspired her to pursue critical care, following her mother.

"When I started in December it was so, so busy," Ruby said. "The age was dropping and there were people my mum and dad's age on there, and their kids are obviously the same age as me, and I just couldn't believe it and that made me want to help instead of running away."

"And I think experiencing it first hand, as well, as a daughter of a patient, and not being able to see her dad or look after him as she wanted, I think she did struggle then but it also gave her a bit of like courage as well."



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