Archive for the ‘Global gender news’ Category

Women, peace and security and much more accountability

Friday, February 21st, 2014

By guest contributor Aisling Swaine 

As we approach the 15th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, there remain challenges to ensuring that women’s rights, needs and interests are fully addressed in all matters relating to international peace and security.  On the one hand is a need for the more substantive gender equality provisions of the women, peace and security agenda to be fully engaged with and addressed, and on the other, a need for strengthened accountability on implementation of the range of normative provisions that we do have in place.

CEDAW logo

CEDAW logo

Two recent developments within the UN system offer great potential in this regard.  I have recently published a brief piece as part of the American Society for International Law, Insights series about these developments.

As the international “bill of women’s rights,” the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) matters greatly in advancing substantive gains in equality and rights for women worldwide.  What has also mattered is that, despite its applicability to conflict-affected contexts, the provisions set out by CEDAW have not been systematically implemented in relation to contexts of conflict and their aftermath.

In October 2013, the CEDAW Committee adopted General Recommendation No. 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situationsThe General Recommendation outlines how CEDAW, and its principles of non-discrimination, may be explicitly applied and implemented relative to conflict and post-conflict contexts.

At the same time, additional steps were taken by the UN Security Council to advance its commitments to addressing gender equality relative to conflict-affected contexts. Also in October 2013, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2122 which employs strong and substantive language on women’s leadership and participation, doing much to address concerns that the Council was taking too strong a focus on women’s victimization in concentrating on sexualized violence.

These recent developments potentially take us forward in advancing more substantive approaches to holding states to account for implementation of gender equality concerns in conflict-affected contexts. Brought together, the CEDAW General Recommendation and the series of by now, seven women, peace and security resolutions adopted by the Security Council, represent a strong legal and normative framework to ensure that gender equality concerns are addressed relative to conflict.

Importantly, the CEDAW General Recommendation sets out provisions and ways for states parties to the Convention to report on and be accountable for their implementation of the women, peace and security resolutions in their reporting to the CEDAW Committee.    It will be interesting to see how states parties to CEDAW begin to report under this General Recommendation and what difference the link with human rights law makes for overall progress on implementing the women, peace and security agenda.

Aisling Swaine Jan 2014Aisling Swaine is Associate Professor of Practice of International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, GW.  Aisling has spent over 14 years working on issues of violence against women, women, peace and security and transitional justice at programming and policy levels internationally.  She teaches on gender and conflict and on global gender policy. 

Call for Applications: Scholars in Residence Program, 2014-2015

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Scholars In Residence Program
Who: Beatrice Bain Research Group (BBRG) is the University of California at Berkeley
Where: Berkley, California
Deadline: March 15

The Beatrice Bain Research Group (BBRG) is the University of California at Berkeley’s critical feminist research center, established in 1986 to support and coordinate feminist scholarship across disciplines. The BBRG is particularly interested in enabling research on gender in its intersections with sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, nation, religion, postcoloniality, globalization and transnational feminisms. Among its programs and activities, the BBRG has a Scholars-in-Residence Program. Under the auspices of this Program, each year the BBRG hosts a new group of approximately ten competitively selected scholars from the U.S. and abroad for a period of one academic year. The BBRG Scholars-in-Residence Program is open to scholars who meet UC Berkeley’s visiting scholar definition, from any country, whose work is centrally on gender and women. Applicants must have received their Ph.D. (or its equivalent) at least one year prior to the projected start of their residency at BBRG.

New resource: International Handbooks on Gender series

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Edward Elgar Publishing has announced a new series of Handbooks on Gender. Professor Sylvia Chant, Professor of Development Geography, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK will edit the series, which will focus on topics, such as gender and development; gender and environment; gender and health; gender and employment; gender, cities, and urbanization; and gender, violence, and conflict.

According to Edward Elgar, “the objective of this series is to publish Handbooks that offer comprehensive overviews of the very latest research within the key areas in and surrounding the field of gender. The aim is to produce prestigious high quality works of lasting significance. Each Handbook will consist of original contributions by leading authorities, selected by an editor (or editors) who is/are recognized leader(s) in the field. The emphasis is on the most important concepts and research as well as expanding debate and indicating the likely research agenda for the future. The Handbooks provide an international and comprehensive overview of the debates and research positions in each key area of interest, while also offering space to those who believe that their work fits neither designation easily.”

Soap and Wheels: Sustainably improving hygiene, reducing the spread of disease, and lessening the burden of water-carrying is not rocket science

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

By guest contributor Julia Collins

Sowmya Somnath – representing the Watershed Management Group and its Indian partner Grampari – trained conference participants on how to effectively wash hands.

Sowmya Somnath – representing the Watershed Management Group and its Indian partner Grampari – trained conference participants on how to effectively wash hands.

In the age of instantaneous communication, limitless data storage in the virtual cloud, and cloning entire organisms, advancements in technology seem to hold the key to unlocking better longer lives. But when it comes to managing water, improving livelihoods can be as simple as a hand-washing station or a device to lighten the heavy load of carrying water.

The U.S. State Department-funded Women and Water in South and Central Asia Project serves as a platform for women working on community water issues to learn from each other by sharing ideas and best practices. At our first annual conference in Bishkek, Sowmya Somnath – representing the Watershed Management Group and its Indian partner Grampari – trained conference participants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and the United States, on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) techniques, and presented an award-winning video about a wonderful invention: the Tippy Tap. The Tippy Tap is a “hands free way to wash your hands that is especially appropriate for rural areas where there is no running water”. Using a foot lever resting on the ground to tip a bucket and produce a small stream of water, the tippy tap reduces the chance of bacteria spreading from hand-to-hand because the only thing anyone touches is the hanging bar of soap. Not only is the tippy tap a fun and enticing way to incentivize hand-washing, but it also conserves water, utilizing only 40 milliliters of water to wash your hands versus the 500 milliliters it takes if you use a mug of water to do so. The Tippy Tap website has an entire section on the importance of this hand-washing station, but drives home this important takeaway: no matter where you are from or how old you are, washing your hands is a simple, effective way of stopping the spread of infection and dramatically reducing the number of deaths from diarrhea. Learn how to build your own by clicking here.

Conference participants from Afghanistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, and India have fun trying out newly learned hand-washing techniques.

Conference participants from Afghanistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, and India have fun trying out newly learned hand-washing techniques.

Another innovative, yet simple, invention is improving lives by lightening the burden of household water supply. Barbara Miller, the director of GW’s Global Gender Program, and a partner of the Women and Water project, recently shared a Guardian article about the WaterWheel. The 50-liter rollable water container is made from durable plastic and boasts numerous benefits over the previous method of transporting the life-sustaining liquid. Instead of carrying water on the head as many girls and women often do, the WaterWheel saves the neck and back from physical strain, is convenient, and hygienic. Every day women around the world spend over 25% of their time collecting water. With the WaterWheel, users can move 50 liters of water at once, “which is between 3 and 5 times the amount of water possible as compared to traditional methods: this means MORE water in less time!” The website also notes that the WaterWheel is constructed to decrease the frequency of contamination at the point of use through its ‘cap-in-cap’ design. This helps to prevent diarrheal disease “which is the second leading cause of death in children under the age of 5, according to the WHO.”

Innovations in water management like the WaterWheel also help to balance the household workload across gender lines. Columnist Penny Haw cheekily sums up the WaterWheels impact in her recent article entitled, “Men discover the wheel … at last”. The Guardian article also comments on this phenomenon reporting that, “One of most exciting things is that men love using it, they see it as a tool. Men take on the primary role so the women are freed up to do other things…It has reduced the burden on women. A nurse told me she is not late for work anymore because the husband collects the water.”

When it comes to improving water management and access to the vital resource, it looks like reinventing the wheel isn’t necessary; simply using the wheel will do the trick.

This article has been reposted with permission from the WWCASA project. The original article can be found here.

Julia-Collins-Capitol1Julia Collins is a Program Officer and Researcher for the ‘Women and Water in South and Central Asia’ Project at the Elliott School and a full-time 2nd year Master’s Candidate studying Energy, Security Policy, and Conflict Resolution. Particular areas of interest include the water-energy nexus, the U.S. natural gas revolution, memory politics and dealing with the past, and promoting good governance in transitional democracies – Myanmar in particular. 

She graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a BA in Political Science, and minors in Environmental Geography and German. Julia has worked on Guam, studied in Germany and Hungary, taught along the Thailand-Myanmar border, advocated for refugees at a Californian refugee resettlement agency, and conducted economic and social development research at a think-tank in Myanmar.


Special issue of Gender and Development on conflict and violence

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

The articles in this issue of G&D focus on the complicated and context-specific relationship between gender inequality and violence and conflict, and debate ways to end gender-based violence (GBV) in its many pernicious forms. Formally ending conflict is not enough to end GBV. Long term, transformative change is necessary in order to advance women’s rights in conflict and post-conflict contexts. The Global Gender Program is especially pleased to note that one of the articles is by GGP pre-doctoral fellow in political science, Kerry Crawford: From spoils to weapons: framing wartime sexual violence.

Women in Iran: News roundup

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

By staff contributor Milad Pournik 

Amidst hope for a thaw in U.S.-Iranian relations, there have been several interesting developments for women in Iran in the past few weeks. In this blog post we highlight two news reports, two interviews (one with President Rouhani himself), and one article.

Shirin Gerami - Courtesy of Warren Little/Getty Images

Shirin Gerami – Courtesy of Warren Little/Getty Images

Meet Shirin Gerami, Iran’s first female triathlete - Saeed Kamali Dehghan – The Guardian – 9/15/2013

Shirin Gerami, a 24-year-old woman from Iran, has made history by becoming the country’s first female triathlete to have taken part in the sport’s world championship.

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, greeted her achievement by tweeting: “Shirin Gerami,1st female triathlete to have participated in world championship wearing Iran’s colours #GenderEquality.”

“Triathlon … is still not very established in Iran; to date women do not participate in triathlons,” Gerami said.

“I wanted to share triathlon, and all the empowerment it has given me, with others and encourage others to experience and benefit from something that is dear to me.”

She insisted she wanted to tell “the other story of Iran”, that positive stories about her home country do exist.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is welcomed home by her son Nima and supporters after being released from prison in Iran. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Nasrin Sotoudeh is welcomed home by her son Nima and supporters after being released from prison in Iran. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Iran frees prominent rights lawyer SotoudehYeganeh Torbati – Reuters – 9/18/2013

Authorities, who transferred Sotoudeh from Tehran’s Evin jail on Wednesday evening to her home, gave no reason for the release and offered no details on who had ordered it, Sotoudeh’s husband Reza Khandan told Reuters.

“They just told her: ‘You’re free, go’,” he said.

Arrested in September 2010, Sotoudeh was serving a six-year term for spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security.

When asked if her release signaled a “new day” for Iran, Sotoudeh told CNN: “It is soon to say new day because we have many political prisoners in prison, but I hope this will be a new day.”


Women in Iran under Rouhani’s Presidency – from hijab to support*

Friday, September 13th, 2013

By staff contributor Milad Pournik

In anticipation of our event at the Elliott School of International Affairs on September 16, the Global Gender Program is running a five week spotlight on the evolving situation for gender equality in Iran after President Rouhani’s inauguration on August 3rd.

Morality police in Tehran. Courtesy of Ebrahim Noroozi via Fars News Agency.

Morality police in Tehran.
Courtesy of Ebrahim Noroozi via Fars News Agency.

This post, the final in our spotlight on women in Iran, summarizes the main points raised in an hour long program produced by Voice of America (VOA) discussing prospects for women under President Rouhani. The full discussion is available here but given that it is in Farsi, I try to highlight key points for those who are not fortunate enough to understand our beautiful language.

The discussion features Fatemeh Keshavarz (an Iranian writer, academic and literary figure based in Maryland, who we are lucky enough to have as a panelist at our September 16 event!), Shadi Amin (an Iranian women’s right activist based in London), and Fatemeh Haghighatjoo (a former Iranian parliamentarian based in Boston now).

The program begins by showing clips from Rouhani campaign rallies making pronouncements such as “our girls should feel safe on our streets” as well as news stories voicing his discontent with the increasing instances of “gashteh ershad” (morality police) activity against young women for “inappropriate clothing”. Rouhani claimed that the interaction of morality police with youth, feeds into the belief that Islam and the Islamic Republic are oppressive.


Women in Iran under Rouhani’s Presidency: week 5 – women in sports

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

By staff contributor Milad Pournik

In anticipation of our event at the Elliott School of International Affairs on September 16, the Global Gender Program is running a five week spotlight on the evolving situation for gender equality in Iran after President Rouhani’s inauguration on August 3rd.

Mansoumeh Ebtekar.  Photo courtesy of Nasimonline.

Mansoumeh Ebtekar.
Photo courtesy of Nasimonline.

The only substantial news story regarding gender equality in Iran in the past few days was reported today by the New Straits Times, in a piece titled Rouhani taps second woman for Iran cabinet.

The piece reports that “Iranian President Hassan Rouhani added a second woman to his cabinet today, appointing reformist Masoumeh Ebtekar as vice president to lead the environmental protection organization, media reported.” In 1997 Ebtekar was appointed as Iran’s first woman vice-president since the Islamic Revolution.

In lieu of substantial development and inspired by stories from swimming and rugby, we focus this week’s update on developments relating to women in sports in Iran.

1. Iran: Conservatives in ruckus over women’s rugby
BBC News, 30 August 2013


Women in Iran under Rouhani’s presidency: week 4 – news roundup

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

By staff contributor Milad Pournik


Mansoureh Sharifi-Sadr. Photo by Mahdi Marizad via Fars News Agency.

In anticipation of our event at the Elliott School of International Affairs on September 16, the Global Gender Program is running a five week spotlight on the evolving situation for gender equality in Iran after President Rouhani’s inauguration on August 3rd.

This week we highlight four news stories and two opinion pieces about developments for women in Iran since President Rouhani assumed office on August 3.

1. After 34 years Iran plans to appoint a woman ambassador
Ya Libnan, August 27, 2013

“Iran plans to appoint a woman ambassador and a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry for the first time in the Islamic republic’s history, Iranian media reports said on Tuesday. Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “wants to employ women for two posts: as spokesperson and to lead an embassy,” current ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi said, quoted in the media.”  While it is still unclear where the first female ambassador will serve, Mansoureh Sharifi-Sadr has been chosen. Given her experience in East Asia she could possible serve in Indonesia or Bangladesh.


In the news: Women in India

Friday, August 16th, 2013

The past few days have brought news, good and bad, about women in India. The good news: women and the media are fighting back against extreme patriarchy. A new book, The Pink Revolution, is getting justified visibility and bringing wider recognition of women who are organizing to seek gender justice and show their solidarity by wearing pink saris. Also Telegu films are helping to get the message out…and the Bank of India is establishing women-only banks.

Sampat Pal Devi, the founder of Gulabi Gang. Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Sampat Pal Devi, the founder of Gulabi Gang. Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

1. The Baddest Woman in India
This article is excerpted from Pink Sari Revolution.

“Just who do you think you are?” is a question that Sampat is used to hearing. At times, she acts like she is running a small detective agency; on other occasions, she behaves like a police officer patrolling Bundelkhand, a hardscrabble region in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state. In Atarra, where her office is based, Sampat’s endless meddling has nettled many and left others slightly baffled. It has been like that of all her life, wherever she has lived…Sampat Pal is the founder and commander-in-chief of India’s Pink Gang, known as the Gulabi Gang in Hindi.

2. Freedom from Gender: Imagining Equality for Men and Women in India
Forbes India.

The idea that we are equal stops at the ground beneath our feet. The soil of India, the land of Bharat, is owned chiefly by men. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO), women account for only 9.5 percent of land-holders. Their figures drew on the agricultural census of 2000 and 2001, which found just 12 million women owned land, out of 120 million landholders.

Think of this another way: Out of all the factors that dictate whether you will own your own home—caste, class, economic status—the most significant is something you have little control over. If you’re born a man in India, you automatically have a chance in the land-owning lottery. If you’re born a woman in India, what are the chances that you will own your own home, inherit property, kneel down on a patch of earth and think, as you let a handful of dust slip through your fingers, that this is your land? Brutally low.