Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Film, Women & Islam

From the Inquirer:
"With its harrowing scenes of rape and abuse and its rousing calls for equality, a new film on the oppression of women in Islamic societies is courting controversy in Indonesia.

The film, "Perempuan Berkalung Sorban" (Woman with a Scarf Around her Neck), by local filmmaker Hanung Bramantyo is the latest Islam-inspired movie to ride the wave of a cinematic revival in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.

The film, which is based on a 2001 book by Abidah El-Khaliqey, tells the story of the rebellion of Anissa, the headstrong and intelligent daughter of the head of an Islamic boarding school on Java island.

But Indonesia's women's minister Meutia Hatta said the film is an important tool to correct centuries of tradition, and the creeping influence of religious hardliners drawing inspiration from the Middle East."

Dzagbe Cudjoe

From Ghana News, an interview with author Dzagbe Cudjoe:

"Born in Chesham, England, the author has an MA in Ethnology from the University of Munich, Germany. She has worked at the Ghana National Museum & University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Research Field West African Traditional Religion. She is a member of the World Federation of Healing and works with children with severe physical and / or learning disabilities, using dance and movement therapy to help with rehabilitation."

Golden Girls

From Dayton Daily News:
"The Greater Dayton League of Women Voters plans to honor nine local women with 50 years or more service to the community at a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 26.

Three of the women to be honored are from Centerville — Joan Fahringer, Micky Gogle and Eleanor Kautz — and three from Dayton — Vivienne Himmell, Virgene Moser and Marge Schran. The others include Rita Cline-Marks of Kettering, Ruth Fiest of Harrison Twp., and Eva Opton of Yellow Springs."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kate Baillieu

From the Australian:
"Thirty years after the launch of 60 Minutes it's now emerged the original team of three reporters was actually a team of four.

Kate Baillieu, 63, was a Melbourne reporter for A Current Affair in the mid-1970s when she was offered an on-air role on what has become Australia's longest-running public affairs program.

Four years before Jana Wendt became 60 Minutes' first female reporter, Baillieu was filming stories for the program. But they never went to air.

"Kate was there because she was a good reporter -- she wasn't there as a sort of token female, and when she left, the feeling was 'let's just go with the three'."

Baillieu is now a member of the Victorian Government's Pt Nepean advisory committee and hopes the final piece of former Defence Department land will soon be included in the park."

Female Politicians on Economic Front-line

From the Guardian:
"They may not be grabbing the headlines, but a trio of British women ministers are becoming prime movers in tackling the economic crisis.

Baroness Ashton, the new European trade commissioner and former Leader of the Lords, is one of an inner core tasked by European commission president José Barroso with tackling the response to the recession. She is in the front line of the growing row about protectionism as member states battle to protect their own jobs and interests.

Baroness Vadera, the former investment banker turned Cabinet Office minister, is emerging as the driving force in Gordon Brown's banking reforms. And Yvette Cooper, the chief secretary to the Treasury, was last week touted as a potential contender for the Labour leadership after raising her profile through a series of down-to-earth media performances partly designed to reassure female voters. "

Matilda Asante

From Ghana News:
"Currently, she is the Head of News at Joy FM, managing the over 50 journalists at the station and its affiliates country-wide. She anchors the station's prime news bulletin, JOY midday news, syndicated nation-wide and on the Internet.

In this position, Tilly has led a multi-disciplinary research team to define the frontiers of news, educational and developmental documentation, interrogating the depth of national and international affairs and giving voice to the voiceless.

Tilly also hosts a current affairs programme, AGENDA, on TV3 which has been adjudged the number one current affairs discussion on television.

Ms Asante has been an advocate for hard and delicate issues, including exposing and creating national and international awareness of such issues as persistent child slavery, female genital mutilation, defilement and other outmoded traditional practices that inherently permit diverse forms of gender imbalance and discrimination against women.

She confided in The Mirror that she had the desire to bring change to people's lives and was eager to undertake more social-related programmes that had an impact on people's lives."

"Testosterone to Blame"

The Observer's Catherine Bennett has written an interesting article on whether the political and economic world would be better off with women, instead of men, at the top.

You can read Catherine's article here: "So you think women would have saved us. Think again."

"But in the current climate, with the values of steadiness and thrift finally prevailing over fecklessness and greed, it is becoming customary to ask for a sex change at the top.

In a discussion of this question which appeared in the Observer last week, investment banking and pensions expert Dr Ros Altmann said that "female values", such as "a caring mind-set, a nurturing mind-set, a mind-set that says let's worry about the future", had been sadly absent from the City, where the culture had been instead "very short term and very much about instant gratification"."

Sunday, February 22, 2009


From Xinhuanet:
"Egyptian archaeologists on Wednesday uncovered a statue of pharaoh and a bust of the famous woman pharaoh Hatshepsut in the southern city of Luxor, the state MENA news agency reported.

Hatshepsut, or Hatchepsut, generally regarded as one of the most successful pharaohs, was the fifth monarch of the eighteen dynasty which dates back to 15th century B.C. Being a woman, she wore a false beard to reinforce her authority while acting as the regent of her son, Thutmose III. "

Irene Sendler

From the Telegraph in May 2008 on her passing:

"Irene Sendler, known to many as the “female Schindler”, rescued children and babies imprisoned in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, smuggling them out in bags, or through the sewers, and hiding them with friendly families around Warsaw.

Donning a Star of David armband used by the Nazis to mark out Jews, she passed incognito in the ghetto to organise the escape plans.

She was eventually arrested by the Gestapo, tortured and condemned to death.

But members of 20-strong secret organisation managed to bribe a guard so she could escape. She lived for another 65 years."

Notable Passings - January 2009

A number of notable women passed this January. Here are just a few:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Harriet Harman

... or "Treachery Wears Heels"

From the Mail Online:
"Senior Labour figures have accused Miss Harman of 'sucking up' to trades unions and party members in readiness for a leadership race if the party loses the next election.

Ever since her election to Parliament in 1983, Harman has been ferociously ambitious. Principle has never meant anything to her - she has always matched her opinions to the prevailing mood of the party.

Harman was rarely interested in an initiative unless it would enhance her status. The effort she put into trying to win a seat in the Shadow Cabinet far outweighed the time she gave to mastering policy.

Her career path has always ebbed and flowed with the tide of the political mood. A typical inner-city radical when she entered the House of Commons in the Eighties, she transformed herself into an uber-moderate under Blair, causing outrage to the Labour Left by pushing for cuts in lone parenthood benefits.

Her semi-clandestine campaign for the leadership has been going on for months."

Link: Wikipedia on Harriet Harman

Violence Against Pakistani Women - Part II

Two disturbing reports on violence against Pakistani women.

From Dawn:
"As many as 7,733 cases of violence against women were reported in the print media all over Pakistan during the year 2008. Out of these, 4,360 were reported in Punjab, 1,385 in Sindh, 1,013 in NWFP, 763 in Balochistan and 212 in Islamabad.

The report “Situation of violence against women in Pakistan” was released by Aurat Foundation under its national programme “Policy and data monitor on violence against women” here on Tuesday.

Among all the reported cases, the percentage of abduction/kidnapping of women stood at 22.79 per cent which was the highest followed by murder 19.60 per cent, hurt and body injury 10.91, suicide 7.49, honour killing 6.10, rape 5.68, domestic violence 4.14, gang rape 3.97, torture 3.88, attempt to suicide 2.56, sexual assault 2.42, attempt to murder 1.59, custodial violence 1.51, threat of violence 0.91, vanni/customary practices 0.32 and miscellaneous cases 3.80 per cent.The highest number of violence cases was reported from Punjab. Out of the 4,360 cases in the province, 1,403 were of abduction followed by 690 cases of murder, 279 hurt and body injury, 316, 248 gang, 273 torture, 105 attempted suicide, 128 sexual assault, 49 threat to violence, 31 burning, 15 customary practices and 19 cases of acid throwing.

However, the highest number of cases of honour killing - 220 - , 320 domestic violence, 42 attempt to murder and 69 cases of custodial violence were reported in Sindh."

From the News International:
"Annually an estimated one million pregnant Pakistani women are physically abused at least once during pregnancy by their partners.

This was said by Prof Unaiza Niaz, the president of the Women Section of World Psychiatric Association and director of the Institute of Psycho-Trauma Pakistan, while delivering a lecture on Gender issues and Women’s Mental Health at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) here on Friday.

She further said that in Pakistan, societal attitudes and norms, as well as cultural practices such as Karo Kari and Vani severely affected women’s mental health. Religious and ethnic conflicts, along with the dehumanising attitude towards women, the extended family system, role of in-laws, represented major issues and stressors, Dr Niaz said, adding: “Gender discrimination at each stage of the female life cycle contributes to health disparity, sex selective abortions, neglect of girl children, reproductive mortality, and poor access to healthcare for girls and women.” She stated that risk of depression in women was higher during the childbearing years. She said women were also vulnerable to depression during the period immediately after childbirth."

Women Need Not Apply

Interesting article from the Seattle Eastside Parenting Examiner:

"Right now, one of the most popular images on flickr is a Disney rejection letter from 1938. The letter is to Miss Mary T. Ford (her grandson Kevin Burg posted the letter), an applicant for a job in the animation department at Disney.

The letter is fascinating because of the reason Miss Ford was rejected for the position in animation: "Women do not do any of the creative work... For this reason girls are not considered for the training school." Considering the characters that made Disney most successful were all women, it is a bit ironic that only men were allowed to give them life."

Uma Singh

A story from Ghana News on the murder of Nepali journalist and womens' right activist, Uma Singh:

"The first two weeks of the New Year brought the news of killing of a young woman journalist, suspectedly by the supporters of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which is in power at Kathmandu now. The coalition government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) faced serious criticism from the political parties following the murder of Uma Singh, on January 12. She worked for a private radio was hacked to death at her house in Janakpur area of southern Nepal by a group of unidentified armed men.

Known for her strong point of views on women's rights, caste and dowry systems and also for various political issues, the brave journalist was attacked by around 15 men armed with traditional Nepali curved knives (known as Khukhri). Uma, who was below 30 and the first female journalist to be killed in Nepal, was taken to the hospital, but soon she succumbed to injuries.

"Working in the most lawless part of Nepal, Uma Singh was fearless with her written and spoken word. She reported in particular against violence and discrimination against women. She did this with a sense of immediacy and professionalism in radio and print, and in three languages," said Kanak Mani Dixit, a veteran Nepali journalist. Uma's murder must push us to oppose the infrastructure of violence and impunity in Nepal, which has put innocent citizens in the line of fire. By extinguishing a journalist, the criminals have violated the public's right to know, Dixit commented.

The Federation of Nepali Journalists, an umbrella organisation of Nepal based journalists, claimed that Maoists were involved in the brutal murder of the journalist cum women rights activist. The federation president Dharmendra Jha spoke in clear voice that Maoists hands in the killing was suspected as her father (Ranjit Singh) and elder brother (Sanjay Singh) were also abducted and killed by them three years back."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Women Policing Islamabad

From the News International:
"It was Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto who institutionalised female police, by setting up separate women’s police stations in Pakistan. This is a concept that now has widespread support in many countries. Several countries have set up women’s police stations with a view to addressing issues of gender and domestic violence, including India, Brazil and the Philippines. India has also sent a first all- women police unit of the peacekeeping force to Liberia in 2007.

The concept of dedicated space to and for female policing by setting up women’s police stations, women’s desks and family support units could make policewomen mediators between society and the law enforcement.

One of the aspects that needed to be taken up after Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s initiative was enactment of rules and procedures that created a legal framework for women policing. This was not done in subsequent governments.

The prospects of women policing in Pakistan are enormous, despite, and perhaps because of, the structural discrimination against women in our society. The social side of policing in Pakistan has always been neglected and the discussion of involvement of women in policing also calls for a greater need to create a community and service oriented police system."

A great initiative that should be further developed - not neglected.

Barbie @ 50

Yes, who would have guessed - Barbie turns 50! And what better way to celebrate than with a fashion parade at New York Fashion Week!

From the International Herald Tribune: "To celebrate the iconic doll with her fantastical wardrobe turning 50, Mattel teamed up with the Council of Fashion Designers of America to bring 50 designer fantasies to the runway. "Barbie is everything that an all-American gal should be - sporty, smart, sophisticated and sexy," said Michael Kors, while Tommy Hilfiger called the plastic fantastic with impossibly slim hips and preternaturally rounded bosoms "the quintessential American icon." "

Saudi Woman Minister

Huge news this week - for the first time in the history of the Saudi Kingdom, a woman has been appointed to a government position. Her appointment was amongst a number of new changes introduced by King Abdullah.

From Arab News:
"History was made yesterday with the appointment by royal decree of a Saudi woman, Nora bint Abdullah Al-Fayez, as the deputy education minister for girls’ affairs.

Al-Fayez began her career as a schoolteacher in 1982 working her way up to become in 2001 the director general of the women’s section at the Institute of Public Administration. Her long experience in the educational sector and her husband’s encouragement and support paved the way for her to reach this position.

Many Saudis welcomed the new deputy minister expressing hope in her appointment. A woman educator working in a supervisory position said this was a wise decision to serve and develop the Kingdom’s educational sector."

From the Canberra Times:
"Women's rights improved slightly, with women now allowed to study law, obtain their own identification cards, check into hotels alone and register businesses without first proving that they have hired a male manager, the report said."

From the Australian:
"Norah al-Fayez, an official at the Saudi Institute for Public Administration, became Deputy Education Minister for Women's Education - the most senior job ever granted to a woman in the Muslim kingdom."

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
"Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has reshuffled his cabinet and chosen the first-ever woman deputy-minister for the conservative monarchy, the government announced on Saturday. The appointment of al-Faiz is a step forward for the world's most conservative Muslim country which does not even allow women to drive cars."

From the News International:
"Saudis on Sunday cheered King Abdullah’s sweeping government shakeup as a bold step forward, a day after he sacked two powerful conservative religious figures and named the country’s first-ever woman minister.

‘Bold reform,’ Al-Hayat newspaper said in its headline, while the Saudi Gazette heralded the shakeup as a ‘boost for reform’ in the Muslim kingdom.

Women’s groups have demanded more rights and the breaking down of barriers that limit their career opportunities; the public has clamoured for movies to be shown in cinemas, banned for 30 years; and rights groups have accused Islamic judges of harsh and inconsistent judgements.

And last week Princess Amira al-Taweel, the wife of Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, complained publicly that while she can drive anywhere else in the world, she cannot take the wheel of a car in her own country, because women are banned from driving.

But the symbolism of the king’s changes is bound to have an impact. The most symbolic was the naming of veteran educationalist Norah al-Fayez as deputy education minister for women — the most senior job ever granted a woman in the Muslim kingdom.

‘She is one of the leading ladies of the country,’ Mohammad al-Zulfa, outgoing member of the Shura Council, told AFP. Even so, the move for women did not go as far as some expected. In January, Saudi media had reported that the new members of the Shura Council would include six women, who have not been represented on the council in the past."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Victoria's Bushfire Tragedy

Today marks the one week anniversary of the most devastating bushfire our nation has ever experienced.

One of Australia's most harden soldiers likened the devastation to "worse than a war-zone" - the ferocity compared to 500 atomic bombs.

We in Australia live in a land that was described by the poet Dorothy McKeller in "I Love A Sunburnt Country":
"Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold;"
For the past twelve years, the country has endured drought - children have grown up not knowing what rain is; cattle have died; crops have been lost; and those that live on the land are finding it easier to walk away than battle mother nature. For the past three years, we have lived under water restrictions - we have harvested grey water like squirrels harvest nuts for winter; we have installed water tanks to catch the droplets of rain that appear and disappear; we have adopted the "155" motto of using only 155 litres of water per day; we have watched our lawns brown and our garden die all in the name of water conservation.

Our valuable water storage levels have diminished to a paltry 30percent - they were over double this barely three years ago. We are looking to desalination as one of the resources to increase what little water we have. Although this is applauded - it is not by those who will live within the vicinity of such a water generating resource.

And so, this fateful summer, as temperatures soared to 45 degree celsius for over a week (a record since 1908 here in Victoria) - and a high pressure system lounged lazily over the southern part of the state, the wind picked up and came down from the north.

And then the fires began - some by mother nature herself - and some by the hand of man. The fires raged with such ferocity and with such speed, they struck without warning, devastating all in their path. Some joined to become firey avalanches, cascading down valleys and rolling over mountains - their fury and savagery intense - nothing of their likeness ever seen before.

Those that could fled; however many decided to stay and fight. We are not a nation of quitters. Many perished fleeing and many perished in the homes they built and the towns they loved.

The human cost was high - 181 souls lost - many still missing. The loss of homes, schools, businesses was also high. Whole communities have been wiped from the face of the earth - one town is a crime scene. Will residents return - many are still undecided.

And now the ugly face of humanity has shown itself - looters - those scum who prey on the loss of others - have descended upon communities abandoned in the face of nature's fireball, sifting through the ashes of peoples lives, taking what little remains.

The fires are still raging - the CFA (Country Fire Authority) are still out there battling away - help has arrived from our Kiwi neighbours - the true ANZAC spirit. And people will not let this tragedy defeat them.

I won't post links to news sites - there are too many - but I will post two:

To all my friends online, I am safe and well, and sincerely thank you for your thoughts and wishes. We had a small fire near us, but only trees were the innocent victims. Usually the two mountains on either side of the valley I live in go up each and every summer - and yet but some strange and most welcome coincidence, this year they did not.

But the end is not yet in sight. Fires still range and the weather forecast is for most warm weather (30s). So, I will extend my personal condolences to those who have lost, and my well wishes to those who continue to fight.

And in the words of Banjo Patterson:
And with Australia's flag shall fly
A spray of wattle-bough
To symbolise our unity --
We're all Australians now.

Women & Childbirth in China

"Most women in China, where the majority of families are restricted to just one child, would like to have two or more children to prevent their babies becoming spoilt or lonely, state media said Friday.

China, with the world's biggest population straining scarce land, water and energy supplies, has restricted most families to one child since the late 1970s.

But experts say a traditional preference for boys, especially in rural areas, is leading to a growing gender imbalance stemming from aborted or abandoned baby girls.

Most women, or 83 percent, want a son and a daughter, the survey said. The character for "good" in Chinese is the characters for boy and girl combined."

House of Hope

From News-Journal:
"The House of Hope could need a new home by mid-May. The nonprofit agency provides shelter for homeless women and children. It operates out of a leased building on Marshall Avenue.

The agency hopes to work out some sort of agreement with the landlord in which they can rent the building on a month-by-month basis, rather than entering into a year-long lease."

India: Women's "Consortium"

From the Taipei Times: "Nisha Susan is founder of the “Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women” — a group she set up as a provocative response to a recent attack by Hindu extremists on young women drinking in a bar in southern India.

Television footage of Sri Ram Sena (SRS, or Army of Lord Ram) activists chasing, slapping and kicking the terrified women prompted widespread condemnation and outrage. The attackers, who style themselves as guardians of traditional Hindu values, were briefly detained and then released on bail, prompting Susan to take matters into her own hands.

Using the Facebook social networking site, she appealed to Indian women to send in their pink chaddis — a colloquial Hindi term for underwear. The panties would then be sent to the SRS as a special “gift” for Valentine’s Day — an event the right-wing group denounces as Western and decadent.

In the wake of the pub attack, India’s Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowduri compared the SRS to the Taliban in Afghanistan, but the group’s leadership was unrepentant. Not only did it defend the violence, but it also warned that any shops buying into the Valentine’s Day market would face attack."

Iranian Women: A New Era Begins

From the International Herald Tribune:
"In a year of marriage, Razieh Qassemi, 19, says she was beaten repeatedly by her husband and his father. Her husband, she says, is addicted to methamphetamine and has threatened to marry another woman to "torture" her.

Rather than endure the abuse, Qassemi took a step that might never have occurred to an earlier generation of Iranian women: she filed for divorce.

Women's rights advocates say Iranian women are displaying a growing determination to achieve equal status in this conservative Muslim theocracy, where male supremacy is still enscribed in the legal code. One in five marriages now end in divorce, according to government data, a fourfold increase in the past 15 years.

And it is not just women from the wealthy, Westernized elites. The family court building in Vanak Square here is filled with women, like Qassemi, who are not privileged. Women from lower classes and even the religious are among those marching up and down the stairs to fight for divorces and custody of their children.

Even men are taking up women's issues and are critical of traditional marriage arrangements. Mehrdad Oskouei, another filmmaker, has won more than a dozen international awards for "The Other Side of Burka," a documentary about women on the impoverished and traditional southern island of Qeshm who are committing suicide in increasing numbers because they have no other way out of their marriages.

Women also face fierce resistance when they organize to change the law. The Campaign for One Million Signatures was founded in 2005, inspired by a movement in Morocco that led to a loosening of misogynist laws. The idea was to collect one million signatures for a petition calling on authorities to give women more equal footing in the laws on marriage, divorce, adultery and polygamy.

But while the million signatures campaign may have stalled, women have scored some notable successes. A group that calls itself Meydaan has earned international recognition for pressing the government to stop stonings."

Estelle Bennett

Estelle Bennett, one of the Ronnettes, has passed.

From USA Today:
"The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007; its website hails the group as "the premier act of the girl group era." Among their admirers were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones; their exotic hairstyles and makeup are aped by Amy Winehouse.

The Ronettes — sisters Veronica "Ronnie" and Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley — signed with Spector's Philles Records in 1963.Their recording of Be My Baby hit No. 2 on Billboard magazine's pop music chart that year. Among their other hits were Walkin' in the Rain and Baby I Love You. They also did a memorable version of Sleigh Ride that appeared on Spector's A Christmas Gift for You album. Their last Philles single was I Can Hear Music in 1966."

Pakistani Jailed for Burning

From the International Herald Tribune:
"A French court has jailed a Pakistani man for 20 years for setting his ex-girlfriend alight after she refused to marry him, in a case seen by rights activists as highlighting violence against women in poor neighbourhoods. The sentence was handed down late on Thursday, court officials said on Friday.

"It sets a good example. For women who are victims of violence, I think 20 years is a good step," Chahrazade Belayni, the victim, told reporters after the sentence was read out.

...activists say some young Muslim men take out their frustrations about poverty and discrimination on women ...."

Friday, February 6, 2009

Women in Iraq

From CNN:
"Four thousand women are running for office in Iraq's provincial elections Saturday, and many of them will be guaranteed seats under an electoral quota system.

Regardless of the votes their candidates receive, parties are required to give every third seat to a woman, according to a report this week from the International Crisis Group.

Al-Mamuri said she believes Saturday's vote can help women improve their position in society."

21stC Feminism

From the Independent:
"A new generation of feminists is fighting for the movement to have a clear and formidable image at a time when the economy is in danger of making it an irrelevance.

Leading feminist thinkers gathered in London yesterday to debate the next wave of the movement. While the first wave of feminism saw suffragettes demanding votes for women, and the second brought the women's liberation movement, the radical writings of Germaine Greer and the Equal Pay Act, the objectives of the third wave have yet to be decided.

Fears that hard-won women's rights may be eroded in the recession are reinvigorating the British feminist movement, with issues such as the pay gap, "workaholic cultures" and childcare taking centre stage.

But some feminists believe that the 2009 movement lacks coherence. "It is not clear what the feminist agenda now is," said the feminist writer Alison Wolf of King's College London. "Those women who supported Hillary Clinton just because she was a woman are from an older generation. The younger ones did not know what they were on about." "

Women's Royal Army Corps

From BBC News:
"With its motto "Gentle in manner, resolute in deed", it was apparent the first regular army corps for women was very different to its male equivalent.

In fact, when the Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC), the successor to the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), was established 60 years ago this week, it made a conscious effort to emphasise women would not have to forfeit their femininity to join its ranks. "

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Women's role in Nazi crimes

From the Telegraph:
"In Nazi art, films and magazines, women were always portrayed as the fairer sex, fighting on the home-front as their menfolk fought on the battlefields.

But a new book by the historian Kathrin Kompisch has revealed a very different reality.

Many women were in fact used as assistants to the doctors who sterilised and murdered disabled people and as guards in the concentration camps - like the character played by Kate Winslet in her Oscar nominated role in the film The Reader."

Reinventing Martha Washington

From the Washington Post:
"Martha Washington was hot. Or at least hotter than we thought.

Contrary to popular opinion, even among some historians who should know better, Martha was not fat when she married George. Yes, she liked to read the Bible, but she devoured gothic romance novels, too. She capably ran the five plantations left to her when her first husband died, bargaining with London merchants for the best tobacco prices. And unknown to most, while George was courting her she had another suitor, a Virginia planter with much greater wealth and stature. In a little-known letter, Charles Carter wrote to his brother about what a beauty she was and how he hoped to "arouse a flame in her breast." "

Sunday, February 1, 2009

ANC Women's League

From IOL:
"The ANC Women's League has vowed to mobilise each and every single member to ensure the ANC increases its two thirds majority and clinches more than 70% of the vote in the upcoming elections.

The league on Saturday launched an ambitious 60 day nonstop campaign at the University of Johannesurg's Soweto campus, which will see members visiting homes, schools, universities, hospitals, prisons, businesses, taxi ranks and all other corners of the country in all the nine provinces to convince people to vote for the ruling party.

League president Angie Motshekga told the 4 0000 members who gathered at the campus to launch the campaign that the goal was to ensure the party emerges even stronger after the elections."

Marriage: girl seeks police help

From the Times of India:
"A 15-year-old Bhil tribal girl from Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh rebelled against her family's bid to marry her off by running away from home a day before her engagement, travelling three days to reach the district police chief's office and seek help.

SP Chanchal Sekhar sent for Amra Bhil, who on seeing Jhungru after three days, was so relieved that he promised he would not get her married till she was 18 years old and would permit her to carry on with her education. The police asked him to give that promise in writing and said he could be arrested if he faultered."

Pakistan: women & child care

From Dawn:
"Pakistan and Norway here on Friday signed Norway-Pakistan Partnership Initiative (NPPI) to provide better healthcare facilities to mother and newborn children.

Norwegian government would provide 50 million krone (about $50 million) each year for this five-year long programme which would be started in ten districts of Sindh.

The initiative aims at reducing maternal and child mortality rates with about 40 per cent during the five year period for project implementation from 2009-13, through a variety of carefully selected interventions from a wide range of agencies.

The Norwegian support would be channeled through three UN agencies working together with the one UN programme mechanisms."

Education for girls

Two stories on the education of girls.

From Gulf News:
"Taliban of the Swat region [of Pakistan] are ready to "reconsider" their policy on "education for women" through consultation with Islamic scholars after peace is restored in the area, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan announced here on Wednesday.

He said Taliban are pro-education and scientific advances, but were against the western way of living and culture that was creeping in the Muslim society. The Taliban spokesman however, said they would abide by any fatwa of religious scholars and ullema regarding women education."

From Gulf News:
"From acid attacks, murder, torching of schools and sexual assault, violence against female students is dashing the dreams of thousands of Afghan girls and women who are thirsty for an education that may help rejuvenate the fractured economy and society of their war-torn country.

In relatively safer and less conservative Kabul, girls are facing abuse, sexual harassment and kidnappings. Many feel that once girls reach puberty, leaving the home, even for school, might cast doubt on their honour. Many of the jeering young men hanging around outside schools and following the girls home clearly believe that too."

India: attacks on women increase

In modern-day India, a new social element has emerged. A group of men have taken to the streets in some areas in their quest to reverse the "moral decline". And just how are they going about this ..... by attacking women.

Read this Guardian article by Anindita Sengupta: "India's backlash against women"
"Earlier this week, a horde of 40 men charged into a popular pub in Mangalore, a growing town in south India, and assaulted and molested the women there for indulging in "obscene" behaviour. These self-styled activists, who belong to a Hindu fundamentalist group called Sri Ram Sena (army of Lord Ram), claim they were trying to uphold the moral culture of our society. It is a tattered moral fabric, indeed, that needs such means of defence.

A victim's description of the event reveals a black irony: the men apparently prayed before barrelling in to beat, strip and grope the women. "

And just who is policing the morals of this group? How is subjecting women to humiliation and violence moral? Is this just an attempt by certain elements to subjugate women to the point of servitude?

US: Women's Religious Orders

From CNews:
"The Vatican has begun a first-ever comprehensive study of women's religious orders in the United States, four decades into a steep decline in the number of Roman Catholic sisters and nuns in the country.

The study, ordered by a Vatican congregation in December and announced Friday in Washington, will examine "the quality of the life" of 59,000 members in more than 400 Roman Catholic women's religious institutes, said Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, a spokeswoman for the study, which is called an apostolic visitation."

More info: Apostolic Visitation

Pushpa Chandra

From the Vancouver Sun:
"Running on Mount Everest last year, Pushpa Chandra couldn't help but notice little girls watching her when they should have been in school. The sight inspired Chandra to create a three-year plan to open a girls' school in Kathmandu. She's interested in hearing from people in the nursing, teaching and construction trades, among others, who may be eager to join her in building the school."

Potential donors can contact Pushpa Chandra at

Carol Cartwright

From the Toledo Blade:
"Carol A. Cartwright assumed the role of Bowling Green State University's 10th president Friday. Ms. Cartwright, who initially planned to succeed former BGSU President Sidney Ribeau on an interim basis, changed her mind to the delight of university officials earlier this month."