International

Last month in Kuala Lumpur I met the Malaysian politician Nurul Izzah Anwar. Just 30 years old, and formidably well-educated, Nurul Izzah is an MP as well as the mother of two children. Thrown into the political fray by the persecution of her father – Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's former deputy prime minister – Nurul Izzah has risen rapidly within the opposition People's Justice party. Admiring glances and whispers from other diners bounced off our table at a fusion restaurant in the smart suburb of Damansara Heights as she spoke frankly and persuasively about Malaysia's frustratingly racial politics, its restless youth population, the changing role of Islam, and the country's foreign relations. Towards the end of our conversation, she said: "You haven't asked me the big question." Puzzled, I asked: "About what?" Laughing, she replied: "Many western journalists only want to know why I wear a headscarf."

On the occasion of the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders on November 29 and the 10th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) critically reflects on Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence Against Women, the theme of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence for 2010. The experience of discrimination, intimidation and attack of women human rights defenders lies at the intersection of their gender identity and their position as dissenters in their societies, particularly when working on women’s or sexual rights.  

International human rights law is not a sufficient basis for responding to religious fundamentalism. Fundamentalisms are about power as well as prejudice, Vijay Nagaraj tells Cassandra Balchin.

On November 9, 2010, the 2nd international “One Day One Struggle” Campaign to promote sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies will take place in 12 countries across Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia. With diverse, groundbreaking actions and events, almost 50 participating Human Rights organizations, Universities and Municipalities will simultaneously call for public attention to issues like Right to Information, Sexuality Education, Sexual Health, Bodily Autonomy and Sexual Rights of Individuals, LGBTTQ Rights, Sexual Diversity and Islam, Sexuality and Shari’a as well as the struggle to stop sexual rights violations ranging from Polygamy to killings of women, gay people and transsexuals. 

This is an exclusive excerpt from the paper Ziba Mir-Hosseini gave at the October 2010 Islamic Feminism Conference in Madrid: "As the term ‘Islamic feminism’ gained currency in the late 1990s, most of those so labelled by academics and journalists rejected either the ‘Islamic’ or the ‘feminist’ part of the term. If they came from a religious background and addressed women’s rights within an Islamic frame of reference, they wanted to avoid any kind of association with the term ‘feminism’, and their gender activism was a mixture of conformity and defiance. If they came from a secular background and addressed women’s rights from within broader feminist discourses, they rejected being called ‘Islamic’—even though many of them located their feminism in Islam. Those associated with political Islam took contradictory positions and made confusing statements with respect to gender equality; for them, the wider project of gaining power and establishing an Islamic state took priority over equality and democracy. 

On Monday 4 October 2010 OHCHR organised a seminar on 'Traditional Values and Human Rights'. The seminar was the outcome of a controversial resolution presented by the Russian Federation and adopted last year at the Human Rights Council's September session (Resolution 12/21 on promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind in conformity with international human rights law). The stated purpose of the seminar was to discuss how traditional values can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights. It was organised as a series of panel discussions with experts, primarily from an academic background. Regrettably, no civil society speakers were included as panellists. However, a number of NGO representatives were able to speak from the floor. While the seminar was well-attended by States, very few took part in the debate (only Belgium, the Netherlands, the USA, Ireland, Cuba, China, and Egypt spoke).

A glance at any day's headlines makes it clear that cultures and religions worldwide are and have always been in constant flux. A day-long Women's Learning Partnership (WLP) symposium on September 21 in Washington DC sparked debate, laughter, and cheers as participants vowed new commitment to steering that change toward broader human rights for women.

The traditional values underpinning international human rights: How can they contribute to promotion and protection? (Room XXI, Palais des Nations, Geneva, 4 October 2010) Thank you, honourable members of the panel, friends and colleagues in the international human rights community, good afternoon. On behalf of the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women, we welcome the opportunity to participate in the discussion on the relationship between human rights and traditional values.    

 جنيف –في 1 أكتوبر/تشرين الأول 2010، في الدورة الخامسة عشرة لمجلس حقوق الإنسان، إعتمدت الدول الأعضاء بتوافق الآراء قرارا بإنشاء آلية جديدة للتعجيل بالقضاء على التمييز ضد المرأة في القوانين وفي الممارسة العملية. وتقول فايزة جاما محمد، مديرة مكتب المساواة الآن في نيروبي إن "هذا تتويج للعمل الشاق الذي قام به الكثيرون في الحكومات والمجتمع المدني". وقد أدت منظمة المساواة الآن الدولية المعنية بحقوق الإنسان دورا رائدا في الدراسة المنهجية لمدى إنتشار القوانين التي تميز على أساس الجنس في أنحاء العالم، وإقترحت في عام 2001 ضرورة إيجاد إجراء خاص جديد داخل إطار الأمم المتحدة مكرس للقضاء على التمييز ضد المرأة في القوانين.

Le 1er octobre 2010, lors de la 15ème session du Conseil des droits de l’Homme (CDH), les États membres ont adopté par consensus une résolution pour la création d’un nouveau mécanisme destiné à accélérer l'élimination des discriminations à l’égard des femmes, en droit et en pratique. « Cette résolution marque l’apogée de l’effort intensif et de longue durée accompli par tant de personnes, aussi bien au niveau des États et des organisations internationales que de la société civile », a expliqué Faiza Jama Mohamed, Directrice du Bureau d’Egalité Maintenant à Nairobi.

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