Thursday, April 8, 2021

LET´S EXPLAIN EQUALITY for Women and Girls

 Discrimination against women is a human rights violation. States must eliminate it and achieve (substantive) equality for women

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Fatima Outaleb, FAR Steering Committee member and Director of Union de l’Action Feminine’s Women’s Shelter in Morocco


Fatima Outaleb, FAR Steering Committee member and Director of Union de l’Action Feminine’s (Union for Women’s Action) Women’s Shelter in Morocco

Gender-based violence and discrimination in Morocco is widespread. It affects about 2/3, or 62.80%, of Moroccan women, according to the High Commission for Planning. Additionally, according to the Economic and Social Council, more than 80% of mens’ requests for permission to marry underage girls are accepted by the judiciary, and only 7% of women own real estate and  1% of Moroccan women own agricultural land. Today, the law perpetuates discrimination between the mother and father in having the right of guardianship over their children, which works against the principle of the child’s best interest. COVID-19 has exacerbated gender-based violence, poverty, and discrimination in Morocco as everywhere else.

For years, women’s organizations from southern Mediterranean countries have worked to combat these societal problems. In Morocco, L’Union de l’Action Feminine (UAF), or the Union of Women’s Action, launched the Caravane Zéro Tolerance, a caravan carrying luminous panels from Tangier to Casablanca to raise awareness of the effects of gender-based violence and discrimination that leads to women’s and girls’ tremendous suffering. The mobile campaign supplemented other types of campaigns that are adopted annually by UAF members. These campaigns include press statements in newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, and a press conference organized by UAF. In this event, UAF presents its annual report and the emergency centers that are part of the UAF network all discuss numbers and cases that are supported throughout the year. This year, UAF, in partnership with the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Initiatives Network and with the support of the European Union, organized a two-day discussion on November 28th and 29th, 2020, on “Gender Justice and Facilitating Remedies for Women Victims of Violence,” which addressed female judges, lawyers, Judicial Police staff, and justice system professionals. 

Women’s human rights organizations will continue to implement activities to prevent and raise awareness of GBV and to protect women and girls, especially those from marginalized backgrounds. Women from the Global South have too frequently had to pay the prices of gender-blind policies, and it is time for states to abide by their commitments.

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Friday, January 29, 2021

Emily Bisharat

The contemporary feminist movement in Jordan owes a lot to Emily Bisharat, a pioneering philanthropist, political activist and the Kingdom's first female lawyer, according to women activists.

At a time when women activism was unfamiliar, Bisharat "carved in stone" her plight to achieve gender equity and women's suffrage rights, Suhair Tal, a writer and researcher who documented Bisharat's life, recently said.
Speaking at a session on Bisharat's life, held by the Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI), Tal said Bisharat belonged to a family of three girls. Her father was the eldest of the extended family, originating from Salt in Balqa Governorate, 35km northwest of Amman.
She wanted to become a lawyer, but her father refused. Yet, she studied at Ramallah Friends School, and later went to the Syrian-Lebanese College to receive her education in the English language, which entitled her to work as a teacher in the 1930s.
"Girls at the time were not allowed to become anything more than teachers," Tal said, noting that girls then were also not allowed to inherit money or property, which meant that her father's fortune went to his male nephews, not his daughters.
After her father's death, Bisharat saved up money and obtained a law degree from London Metropolitan University. She practised law at home, and became a member of the Jordan Bar Association's (JBA) council twice.
Bisharat's thought and political awareness expanded with her life experiences, said Tal, who highlighted that the pioneering woman carried a democratic nationalistic communist ideology. 
"She was smart and knew that the society will not accept political activism from a woman, therefore she transformed her ideas into philanthropic programmes as a window for social acceptance and an opportunity to network with other women," Tal noted.
In 1945 Bisharat established the Arab Women's Union, which called for "equal rights and responsibilities, and pan-Arab unity". But the union was closed down in 1957.
The activist also delivered several lectures in the United States on the rights of the Palestinian people upon the 1948 Nakbah.
"The Palestinian issue was at the heart of her political activism," said Tal, noting that Bisharat believed in the equal mental capabilities of men and women and women's need to work for self-realisation and income generation.
She often wrote about these issues in Alraed magazine, and she sometimes published articles under the pseudonym Bin Al Urdon "Daughter of Jordan".
Bisharat was also a philanthropist, as she established an orphanage for Palestinian children in 1948, and opened the first nursing school in 1953.
Nonetheless, she experienced despair due to the rejection she faced from some people, as well as the repeated closure of unions. She expressed that by staying at her home most of the time, not participating in public life. 
Bisharat, who passed away in 2004, donated her fortune, valued at almost JD500,000, to charities and the church, said Tal.
SIGI Executive Director Asma Khader said Bisharat donated her library, sewing machine, printing machine and spectacles to SIGI.
She added that Bisharat was keen on attending the JBA's general assembly's meeting and participating in the association's elections until a late period of her life.
Haifa Bashir, another women rights activist, said Bisharat's history is so refined and that other Jordanian women learn a lot from her.

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Sunday, January 17, 2021


In late 2016 a feminist movement against problems of commercial sexual exploitation, especially issues of coerced pornography filming, arose in Japan. This article describes the history of this movement as it mobilized to combat human rights violations perpetrated by the country’s pornographers. The movement’s success came not spontaneously or haphazardly; in fact, it was orchestrated earlier over a full decade-and-a-half by activists who persevered in researching and highlighting pornography’s harms in a civil environment of hostility, isolation and social derision, even among progressive groups and individuals. The Anti-Pornography and Prostitution Research Group (APP) was particularly prominent in this history. Its members were inspired and instructed early on by the work of Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin in bringing to public attention victim accounts of pornography’s harms in the US from the 1980s, and they attempted to follow this example. The example of feminist anti-pornography activism described here is a case of unlikely political success achieved in an unexpected place, given that Japan ranks 110th-place in global gender equality league tables out of 150 countries, and it is offered as a real-world example of MacKinnon’s “butterfly” model of radical social change.

Direct Link to Full 26-Page Article in DIGNITY Publication:
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Sunday, January 10, 2021

Turkey: Gender-based violence

There has unfortunately been no setback and no development that could be considered positive in male violence against women in 2020. 260 women were killed within the first 11 months of 2020. At least 92 women were raped, while 136 women were harassed and 731 women were subjected to violence.

The conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic that left numerous individuals unemployed or enclosed at home have brought along much more severe conditions for women. Lockdowns in almost all countries around the world led to an escalation in sexual, economic and physical violence against women. Observation reports published in Turkey also point to a similar state of affairs for women. According to April and May 2020 reports4 published by the We Will End Femicide Platform, the rate of women who called the support lines increased by 55% and 78% in April and May respectively.

Many events planned for the 8 March International Women’s Day faced bans and interventions this year too. The 8 March Feminist Night March that has been held since 2003 but intervened into in 2019 was also banned by the İstanbul Governor’s Office in 2020.The police used tear gas and rubber bullets against women who assembled in Sıraselviler Street in İstanbul. At least 32 women were taken into police custody.

The police intervened into the protest held on 15 May 2020 in İstanbul, Kadıköy on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia and took two persons into custody using physical violence.

The police also intervened into a sit-in staged in Batman’s Atatürk Park to protest the sexual assault of a young girl by a specialist sergeant in Batman and took 10 persons into custody including children.

The police intervened into a march following a press conference, to protest the murder of Pınar Gültekin by a man called Cemal Metin Avcı, held by Women Are Strong Together Platform in İzmir, Alsancak on 21 July 2020 while taking 12 persons into custody using physical force.

Moreover, in February 2020 at a meeting with AKP deputies and central executive board members, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that the İstanbul Convention would be reviewed. In the disputes that followed, statements like “(the convention) disrupted the Turkish family structure” and “provided legal grounds for homosexuality” made the İstanbul Convention a target. The Council of

Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, a.k.a. the İstanbul Convention, which sets forth the basic standards for the prevention of and combat gender-based and domestic violence against women along with states’ responsibilities to this end, had been ratified by the GNAT on 24 November 2011. Numerous women staged mass protests stating that the standards against violence, which have already been implemented insufficiently, would be terminated in their entirety if Turkey withdraws its signature from this convention.

The police did not allow a forum on the İstanbul Convention scheduled to be held on 26 July 2020 in İstanbul, Beşiktaş Abbasağa Park by the Women Are Strong Together Collective on the grounds of a ban decision delivered by the governor’s office. The police took 8 persons into custody by using physical violence following the end of the forum.

The police intervened into a march organized by İzmir Women’s Platform demanding the implementation of the İstanbul Convention on 5 August 2020 in İzmir and took 16 persons into custody
using physical violence and rear-handcuffing the protestors. It was reported that following the sit-in staged for the release of those in custody, 5 more people were taken into custody.

The police intervened into a press conference held on 12 August 2020 by Ankara Women’s Platform
to protest Turkey’s withdrawal from the İstanbul Convention and took 33 persons into custody using physical violence.

The police did not allow a press conference and march scheduled by Women’s Committees on the occasion of 25 November International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in İstanbul,
Taksim. The police blockaded women who staged a sit-in before the police barricades for about 5 hours, then took 10 women into custody rear-handcuffing them and using physical violence. It was reported that a woman was wounded during the intervention.

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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Recommendations for the U.S. Government 3/3

1. Ensure all global response and recovery efforts comply with the gender analysis and integration requirement of the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Actxv (Section 3(c)) by making funds immediately available and directed towards efforts including, but not limited to: 

a. Additional personnel and technical assistance to conduct and integrate gender analyses as defined in Sec 3(c) of the WEEE Act into response and recovery efforts; and 

b. Ensure programs address the different impacts of the crisis on all genders, including on their employment, income, access to social safety nets and financial services, gender-based violence, property rights and security of land tenure, the capability to fully exercise their rights and influence decision-making, access to agricultural extension services and other support, access to education, and other factors affecting women’s and girls’ economic empowerment.

 2. Prioritize the safe and meaningful involvement of women, girls, and other marginalized populations in decision-making processes related to COVID-19 responses, relief delivery, and recovery at all levels. This means proactively ensuring women and girls are included on leadership bodies, and women and girls are actively engaged in developing communityand context-specific responses, and consulted through the various stages of program design, implementation, and evaluation. 

3. Fund and implement programming to address the specific economic impacts on women globally, especially lower income, migrant, and other marginalized women. This support should include the informal and formal sectors, and should expand funding to existing programs for the following: 

a. Maintaining and expanding existing cash transfer and broader subsidy programs, while also removing conditionality linked to girls attending school or families delaying daughters’ marriage, to ensure alreadyvulnerable women, girls, and their households are not driven deeper into poverty as a result of COVID-19; 

b. Supporting women as entrepreneurs and workers through stop-gap financing measures to firms experiencing losses due to COVID-19. Measures should include resources for women entrepreneurs to pivot their businesses to e-commerce, promote remote working, and expand into high-demand markets due to COVID-19, as well as funding for financing and capital to support economic recovery. These efforts must include outreach to women and other marginalized populations to ensure they have meaningful access to financing, capital, and other financial services at the same rate as men; 

c. Prioritizing consumer protection safeguards, especially at microfinance level, to ensure women are not driven into a cycle of debt in response to COVID-19. Where possible, prioritize cash- and savings-led approaches to support very poor populations; 

d. Ensuring supply chains take measures to promote women’s job security in light of the instability resulting from COVID-19 and enact protections to prevent the exploitation of women, girls, and marginalized populations that may be exacerbated under COVID-crisis circumstances. This includes ensuring fair wages, decent work conditions, and other protections are in place for workers both in the workplace as well as those working from home; 

e. Investing in training, skills development, and job placement programs for women to access jobs in industries responsive to COVID-19 (e.g., health care product manufacturing, information and communications technology, and food and accommodations); 

f. Addressing and minimizing disruptions to girls’ education and taking special measures to ensure that girls return to school so that their future economic opportunities are not diminished; g. Investing in technological solutions to promote women’s employment and entrepreneurship during the COVID19 crisis, including funding and skills building to narrow the gender digital divide and increase women’s access to digital tools and platforms; and 4 h. Ensuring any agricultural financial and technical assistance targets women farmers and agricultural workers, including small-scale farms, and promote increased access to labor-saving, women-friendly technology. Provide food assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable populations during this crisis. 

4. Integrate a gender-based violence prevention and mitigation plan as well as ‘Do No Harm’ principles into all COVID-19 emergency response funding and action plans. Funding should be directed to support ongoing gender-based violence programming to increase prevention and to support survivors in the face of likely increases in gender-based violence, such as domestic or intimate partner violence during social distancing and lockdowns or increased rates of child marriage due to economic hardship or other factors. 

5. Allocate funding to ensure that social services such as health, education, and other care-related functions can continue at levels prior to the disease outbreak, anticipating that countries whose economies have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 will not be able to fund social services at the same levels. Debt relief measures and other financing cannot come at the expense of social service expenditure. 

6. Continue and increase support for longer-term initiatives that advance gender-equitable social norms and infrastructure, such as childcare services and programs to support involvement of men and boys in household duties, particularly given their additional time at home under stay-at-home measures, to alleviate women and girls’ disproportionate unpaid care burdens. These measures should also support prevention of gender-based discrimination and violence and promote women’s voice and leadership at all levels. 

7. Require rigorous monitoring, evaluation, and learning, including the use of standard indicators to assess the extent to which U.S. Government strategies, projects, activities, and programs responding to COVID-19 either widen or narrow gender gaps in the economy and more broadly. Prioritize the collection of gender- and age-disaggregated data from foreign assistance programs addressing COVID-19 impacts, and additional accountability mechanisms to ensure implementation.

cweee_covid_and_wee_brief_final.pdf (

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

COVID-19 and Women’s Economic Empowerment 2/3

Gender-based violence increases in emergencies, impeding women and girls from participating in economic activities. Stress and disruption caused by crises often exacerbate underlying norms that lead to gender-based violence. Sources in China, France, and elsewhere have already reported that cases of domestic violence have increased dramatically during the COVID19 crisis, particularly as a result of necessary stay-at-home measures. As in other types of crises, practices such as child marriage and survival sex rise as negative coping mechanisms. Gender-based violence can prevent women and girls from engaging in economic activities, decrease their productivity, and cede control over earnings to abusers. 
Girls’ education is disrupted by crises more than boys’, with lasting impacts on the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the economy. During crises, girls’ education is likely to be disrupted with school closures. Often, when girls are removed from school, they take on additional caregiving responsibilities, domestic labor, or other income-generating activities outside the home instead of continuing their learning. In areas where social norms lead to greater disparities between girls and boys in enrollment and retention in school, temporary disruption as a result of a crisis such as COVID-19 can lead to permanent removal from school. Families being unable to pay school fees resulting from loss of income during the crisis, negative coping mechanisms such as child marriage, or the loss of educational infrastructure such as girls’ peer networks and teachers are prominent concerns. xi This has long-term negative impacts on girls’ access to opportunities and resources to improve their lives and ultimately, on their educational, economic, and health outcomes. 

Unequal laws or practices regarding inheritance and property ownership regulations have an acute impact on women and girls during crises. Under international human rights law, women and men are entitled to equal legal protection of their property rights, including in inheritance and succession. However, with the rising number of deaths as a result of COVID19, many widows, daughters and divorced women are either barred from or cannot in practice claim their ownership rights in the case of death or dissolution of marriage. Social norms and harmful traditional practices around widowhood can also impede transfer or ownership of land. Women seeking to enforce their rights can face heightened risks, particularly when court systems are shuttered during a crisis such as COVID-19. 

Gender wage gaps across roles and sectors can negatively affect women’s ability to purchase necessities and engage in COVID19 prevention and response efforts. Globally women earn 24% less than men do, with women’s wages being lower than men’s and women experiencing wage gaps for both identical roles and different occupations of equal value.xii Lower pay means many women will have reduced ability to purchase necessary supplies needed to engage in preventative activities around COVID-19, purchase household necessities, or access crucial healthcare services – especially when access to affordable health services is already limited. 

The gender digital divide will negatively affect women’s ability to receive vital support and services or adapt businesses or roles as employees to social distancing constraints. On average, women are 14% less likely to own mobile phones than their male counterparts and 43% less likely to engage online.xiii This will result in women's inability to access critical cash transfers and other financial services via digital platforms currently being prioritized by governments in light of social distancing measures. The digital divide can also lead to challenges for women to engage in distance learning, for women entrepreneurs to transition to e-commerce platforms and opportunities, and women employees to engage in remote work necessary to maintain their jobs. Additionally, the digital gender gap will impact girls’ remote learning opportunities, while those who do connect online face increased risks of online harassment, abuse, and sexual exploitation. 

Resources diverted from existing services during this crisis will negatively impact women’s health, raising economic implications. To respond to urgent health needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, resources will be diverted away from ongoing programs supporting lifesaving health services. Additionally, access to services are hindered by overwhelmed health systems. This is compounded by women’s loss of income leading to decreased ability to access available health care. These factors impede women and girls from achieving the highest possible standard of care. xiv At a time when chronic and non-COVID related health concerns persist, this will have strong implications for women’s and girls’ health and well-being, particularly on those with underlying medical conditions such as the elderly and persons living with disabilities. Poor health is inextricably tied to women’s and girls’ ability to participate in economic activity and puts further strain on already overburdened infrastructure.

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