The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, together with the other UN independent experts mentioned herewith, call today for a new vision of women’s rights informed by the lessons learnt from the 15 year review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. Today International Women’s Day, has a special meaning while governments, civil societies, and UN agencies are gathered in New York at the Commission on the Status of Women to assess the progress made since the Beijing Platform for Action was adopted in 1995 at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.
A longstanding proposal for the creation of a special U.N. agency for women – officially called a “gender entity” – is apparently moving at the sluggish pace of a paralytic snail. The proposal – originally conceived by a high-level panel of U.N. experts back in 2006 – has remained a theoretical exercise for so long that a coalition of women activists is spoofing it in a fake electronic newspaper being circulated at a U.N meeting on gender empowerment here.
Over sixty years ago, countries adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” That fundamental right has echoed for decades in conferences, treaties, and declarations. In 1995, in the Platform for Action adopted in Beijing, 189 governments agreed that laws that discriminate against women undermine equality, and pledged to “revoke any remaining laws that discriminate on the basis of sex.” Yet inequality, even in its most overt form, has not been vanquished. While discrimination against women persists around the world in many forms, laws that explicitly discriminate against women demonstrate State backing of discrimination, and symbolize governments’ clear disrespect for the fundamental right to equality for women and official endorsement of women as people of lesser worth.
Born in Iran and now based in London, Ziba Mir Hosseini, an anthropologist by training, is one of the most well-known scholars of Islamic Feminism. She is the author of numerous books on the subject, including Marriage on Trial: A Study of Family Law in Iran and Morrocco (l.B.Tauris, 1993) and Islam and Gender, the Religious Debate in Contemporary Islam (Princeton, 1999). She is presently associated with the Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand she talks about the origins and prospects of Islamic feminism as an emancipatory project for Muslim women and as a new, contextually-relevant way of understanding Islam.
The aim of the Women Reclaiming and Re-defining Cultures (WRRC) Program, a joint initiative of the international solidarity network Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) and the Institute for Women’s Empowerment (IWE), is to enable women to repossess and reconstruct cultural resources (including within ‘religion’ and ‘tradition’); to claim rights, empowering women vis-à-vis those who use cultural/religious discourse to deny women’s rights.
In this 2004 paper by Alana M. Morrissette (Brandon, Manitoba), the author begins by citing Sybil Milton: 'The study of women and the Holocaust has barely begun, and the complexities and contours of the subject... will keep historians and other analysts occupied for many years', and goes on to describe how women were physically and emotionally injured even before their deportation to Nazi death camps. You can read the full paper here: www.jhcwc.org/morrissette2004.pdf
Global Restrictions on Religion, a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that 64 nations – about one-third of the countries in the world – have high or very high restrictions on religion. But because some of the most restrictive countries are very populous, nearly 70 percent of the world’s 6.8 billion people live in countries with high restrictions on religion, the brunt of which often falls on religious minorities. The report is attached.
In December 2009, Melbourne, Australia hosted the Parliament of the World’s Religions, a global dialogue of faiths. Sister Joan Chittister, longtime champion of peace, human rights and gender equality attended the Parliament and spoke with AWID to share her perspectives on what the Parliament proceedings mean for women.
The Islamic state is a controversial issue in the West, as recent news confirms. Last October, an imam was killed and six men arrested by the FBI in Detroit for allegedly conspiring to establish an Islamic state in the United States. In the United Kingdom, government officials worry that extremist groups like Hizb-ut-Tahrir have infiltrated Muslim schools to propagate their vision of an Islamic state. Public opinion in the West reflects the fear that radical Muslims are trying to impose their values on the rest of the world. But the nebulous term "Islamic state" is not merely a concern for the anxious Western world, it is actually a point of discord and contention within the Muslim world itself.
Gender focused NGO's can find significant advocacy opportunities in the processes of the UN CEDAW Committee - Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. The Committee also makes recommendations on any issue affecting women to which it believes the States parties should devote more attention. For example, at the 1989 session, the Committee discussed the high incidence of violence against women, requesting information on this problem from all countries.