Empowerment

On 9 May 2012, Manal al-Sharif was awarded the Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway. This came shortly after al-Sharif was honored as one of TIME’s100 Most Influential People in the World at a Gala in New York City. Such events have given rise to a pattern: just as numerous pictures and videos of activists attending various conferences and receiving numerous awards surface, waves of criticism pour in. Their motives are viewed with suspicion, worthiness is questioned, and a movement’s progress is reassessed.

We, the Violence is not our Culture Campaign, stand in solidarity with the US-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) who has been the target of an unprecedented crackdown by the Vatican. The LCWR is a world-renown highly respected organization of women religious individuals and groups who has a track record spanning decades in promoting human rights and social causes in the United States and abroad. The Vatican subjected the LCWR to a long-drawn investigation and is now using its findings to justify asserting control over the organization.  The LCWR leadership said that the move by the Vatican has taken them by surprise.

Women’s human rights discourse and movements have become entangled within a culture-versus-rights dualism. Yakin Ertürk argues that this is a false dualism which serves both private patriarchy and public patriarchy of neo-liberal globalisation

The Feminist Wire is an online women's studies journal “founded by African American feminist scholars that is run collaboratively and with mutual respect and love by a diverse Collective that spans races, ethnicities, sexualities, class statuses, geographies, religions, and feminist perspectives." On April 13, they published an article by Adele Wilde-Blavatsky, an English journalist who was then a member of their collective, entitled "What It Means to be an Ant-Racist Feminist in the 21st Century."  The article argued against an equation being made in the blogosphere between the hoodie

There has been much controversy over a piece written by journalist Mona Eltahawy in the most recent issue of Foreign Policy Magazine entitled "Why Do They Hate Us: The Real War on Women is in the Middle East". Here Eltahawy and renouned scholar Leila Ahmed discuss the controversy. 

 

A new council for women’s rights was established in Egypt a year after the Jan. 25 2011 revolution. Although it was harshly attacked by political activists for retaining the ideals of the wife of the former dictator, it is an important institution that works to protect the rights of women. It is perhaps the only official institution that attempts to give a voice to women, who are marginalized daily in the new Egypt, with many sectors attempting to sideline them from any vital role either socially or politically.

We arrived in Honduras on Honduran Women’s Day. The history of Honduran Women’s Day set the stage for what were to be three intense days. After many years of struggle, in 1954, the Honduran Congress passed women’s suffrage. The last step was for it to be signed by the President. Later that year, there was a coup d’etat. But the next leader decided to sign into law women’s right to vote, exactly one year after it was passed. Thus Honduran women mark this occasion every year on January 25th. Despite the regret that women’s suffrage is linked to a coup, women still take to the streets to celebrate.

"The power of women is in their stories. They are not theories, they are real lives that, thanks to social networks, we are able to share and exchange," said Egyptian-American activist Mona el-Tahawey, kicking off a summit that brought more than a hundred of the Middle East's leading female activists together in Cairo.

Under the banner of “No Spring without Women,” a Lebanese feminist organisation has organized a march in Beirut, as part of the 5th New Arab Woman Forum. The slogan of the march is “Sawa Sawa”, which in this context means “Let’s walk together, let’s make it together”, calling for a Spring that includes both men and women. Before getting the invitation to this march, my mind was already preoccupied with the future of Arab women after the revolutions and how women’s status might be impacted in each of the Arab countries. My concern is: can there be Arab union or organisation to sustain Arab women’s status in the post-revolution era?


"We are constantly aware of our gender and of being watched and judged because of it, so we end up "performing". But in taking to the streets there are no performative acts and there is no audience. Now I feel that there is no going back, After all, there is no text to follow, and no director. It is as it has always been: us and them", says Zainab Magdy


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