[empower] women’s activism

Some people seem to be born with the ability to rouse the passion of crowds with speeches or compel youth to rethink their lives with a poem, but most talents are cultivated over years. Janan Abdu’s multi-faceted talent for advocacy, however, was hatched out of necessity when her husband, Palestinian activist Ameer Makhoul, was arrested and sentenced to nine years in an Israeli jail. 

After the revolution, strolling around the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, Mansoura or other big cities is never boring. Now like never before, you might run into marches, graffiti, posters and video projection that women political parties, groups and activists hold. Women activists have created many initiatives and campaigns to campaign for their rights. Daily News Egypt speaks to some of these emerging initiatives, their goals and activities, evaluates their impact and what it takes for them to reach their aims.

In a first of its kind initiative, more than forty Syrian women from all walks of social and political life, convened a working seminar in Cairo to form the “Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace” between October 30 and November 1 2012.

“I want to make one thing clear: we women in Lebanon are NOT victims. Our tenacity and resilience, which we have gained through our own process of self-empowerment, allow us to continue waging a battle against patriarchy, which exists across the world and in many different religious contexts.”

Farida Afridi was shot dead in cold blood for the crime of being a decent, caring human being. As the executive director of the human rights NGO, Sawera, Afridi was working in Fata performing the most thankless of jobs: trying to improve the plight of women in an area where many people have never even considered the concept of women’s rights. For that, she had to pay the ultimate price as she was killed by armed gunmen, most likely members of the Taliban, as she drove from her home in Hayatabad, Peshawar to Jamrud in Khyber Agency. Apart from taking away a valuable activist, the militants, through their brutality, will also ensure that there is a chilling effect as fewer NGOs and women will be willing to risk working in an area that needs their efforts the most.

Plans are underway to educate more Bahraini and Arab judges on women's social and humanitarian rights.

Arab Women Organisation (AWO) director-general Dr Wadooda Badran said efforts were being made to bridge the gap between realising women's rights and enforcing them in the Arab world.

Earlier this month we issued an action alert to stop the stoning of Intisar Sharif Abdallah* in Sudan. We are pleased to share the news from our Sudanese sisters who report that as of 21 June 2012, Intisar was released unconditionally and without further charges. Please see SIHA's press release below.

We congratulate and celebrate the work and actions by Sudanese women’s rights activists and their supporters around the world. We also thank everyone in our networks who took part in this global action.

Now that Algeria has the largest proportion of women lawmakers in the Arab world, workmen at the national assembly building have some urgent modifications to make.

While the men's washroom just outside the debating chamber is clearly marked with the silhouette of a man, there are so far no signs for the women's. On the opening session of the new parliament on May 26, two of the newly elected female members had to ask for directions to the rest-room.

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.

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Violence against women demonstrators in Egypt erupted again on Tuesday when a frenzied mob of 200 men sexually assaulted a female protester in Tahrir Square. Then, during a rally on Friday to protest the incident, about 50 women and their male allies were themselves brutalized and chased away by another mob.