There was a quiet moment in the conference room in the Culloden Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland as six women: Mairead Macguire (Northern Ireland) Leymah Gbowee (Liberia), Tawakkol Karman (Yemen), Shirin Ebadi (Iran), Rigoberta Menchu Tum (Guatemala) and Jody Williams (USA), all recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, joined together to welcome us – women activists from all over the world – to the fourth biennial conference of the Nobel Women’s Initiative.
Some women were there to discuss women’s rights, some women were there to discuss peace, but regardless of each woman’s motivation, there was one thing that we all agreed on - it is women that have to “invade (or reinvade) the spaces we need to invade” in order to highlight the devastating impact of war and conflict on women.
“Still Palestinian feminists are struggling to prioritize their goals: Should they fight exclusively for Palestinian statehood, in the hope that this will further their goals? Or should they be social critics, promoting long-term issues of democracy and women's rights as national institutions and a constitution are being formed? In 1988, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat proclaimed that "Palestine is a state...based on social justice, equality with no discrimination...on the basis of ethnicity, religion, color or between men and women." The mechanics of achieving such a vision were left undefined.”
- Dahlia Scheindlin, "Palestinian Women's Model Parliament"
In WLUML Dossier 22, published 14 years ago, Dahlia Scheindlin argued that the relationship between the women’s movement in Palestine and the Palestinian national struggle is an uncertain one, as the national women’s movement is constantly faced with the question of where it situates itself in relation to the Palestinian liberation struggle. Is the women’s struggle situated within the wider national struggle or is gender equality a separate goal to be pursued independently of Palestinian nationhood?
In the Middle East and North Africa region, there is a large and growing number of stateless individuals, i.e. those who do not possess nationality due to various reasons such as stateless parents, failure to register for citizenship, and gender discriminatory laws. Because these individuals lack documentation linking them to the state in which they live, they are deprived of the rights that a national would enjoy, such as the issuing of birth and marriage certificates as well as schooling and work. The situation worsens when gender discriminatory laws and custom reproduce statelessness in new generations, who are unable to practice their agency and pursue their ambitions. A new report examines the relationship between gender discrimination and statelessness in the Middle East.
The safety and inclusion of women and girls is a priority issue across the globe. In every country and society, women and girls are subject to violence in both public and private spaces, simply because of their gender.
The 14th of February marked the day to end violence against women and girls worldwide! Across the globe women and men joined the One Billion Rise Campaign, taking to the streets, striking, rising and dancing to say enough is enough!
Violence against women and girls is both a global and local societal ill—global because its perpetrators and victims are in every corner of the world, and local because its forms differ from one place to the next depending on specific cultural, political and socio-economic circumstances.
According to a 2005 World Health Organization study, at least one in three women worldwide will be beaten, raped, or abused in her lifetime. The eradication of all forms of gender-based violence is integral to the struggle to achieve social justice and gender-equality. Violence against women permeates through every boundary, from the private to the public.
It is with deepest sadness we announce the loss of our dear friend and colleague Cassandra, who passed away peacefully on Thursday 12 July 2012. She will continue to live through her many writings and contributions to the realization of women’s human rights.
Cassandra Balchin was with WLUML for decades, from working at WLUML's Asia office, Shirkat Gah, to helping WLUML set up its London office where she assumed the position of Deputy International Co-ordinator, and later International Co-ordinator.
WLUML has joined numerous rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Center for Reproductive Rights, DAWN, the International Women's Health Coalition and RESURJ in supporting the following statement "Rights must be at the centre of the Family Planning Summit", to be presented to the organizers of the DFID/Gates Family Planning Summit which will be held in London on 11 July 2012.