Thursday, 26 March 2015

BEIJING+20: A MOBILIZED WORLD

By Ana Isabel
The main reason I chose this topic is because in this page can find something interesting that will make us reflect on what is currently being done by women's rights and gender equality.

Although worth reading the project as it has positive aspects.

To contextualize, explain in summary what the Beijing Platform for Action (taken from their website: http://beijing20.unwomen.org/es/about)

The Beijing Platform for Action: inspiration then and now

The Fourth World Conference on Women held in September 1995, they shared one goal: gender equality and the empowerment of all women, everywhere.

The Platform for Action imagines a world in which all women and girls can exercise their freedoms and choices, and realize all their rights, such as freedom from violence, attend school, participate in decisions and have equal pay for equal work.

"The 20th anniversary of Beijing offers new opportunities to renew ties, revitalize the commitments, strengthen political will and mobilize the public. Everyone has a role to play and is for the common good. There is growing evidence that women's empowerment empowers humanity. For example, economies grow faster, and families are healthier and better educated.

The Beijing Platform for Action, that 20 years later remains geared to the future, provides a focus that brings people together around gender equality and empowerment of women. His promises are necessarily ambitious. But with the passage of time, and the stored energy of the new generations, are at your fingertips”


I wanted to make special emphasis paragraph:

"BEIJING +20: A WORLD MOBILIZED"
http://beijing20.unwomen.org/es/in-focus/beijing-at-20#world

"From celebrities who defend the rights of women to women and men who have achieved remarkable breakthroughs in favor of gender equality, this map shows feature articles, profiles and blogs celebrating Beijing + 20."


 It is a map where you can see what is currently being done for the rights of people, it's a way to make visible the great work you are doing, what bit is bringing to the world.

From anywhere in the world in our daily lives is a person who is fighting for the rights of people, you need to know and recognize the work that makes a difference.

For example if Mtisunge Kachingwe is a 23-year-Malawi who serves as medical at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. - See more at: http://beijing20.unwomen.org/es/news-and-events/stories/2014/5/relevant-yesterday-relevant-today#sthash.1xeUhpGK.dpuf


Rather than comment on the report, I leave to you the reader / to analyze the information and share what you think, what history has scored the most and why.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Feminism in international relations

Welton O’Neal III
March 23, 2015



When analyzing international relations issues, it is often analyzed through a variety of theories with the main viewpoints being realism and liberalism. Both theories agree that within the international arena, only anarchy exists. However, realism emphasizes that nation-states interact with each other through their own self interest and intent to maintain their sovereignty and obtain more power. In regards to liberalism, it views nation-states interacting with each other in order to obtain peace. This can be achieved by nation-states being members of the United Nations. When it comes to feminism, it views these two theories as being dominated by the male perspective.

          Feminist theory uses gender and patriarchy to describe the field of international relations.  Overall, feminist theory says that most actors in international relations, such as diplomats and policymakers, have been, and still are males who come from patriarchal social and political backgrounds.[1] Therefore, discussions within international relations remain largely limited by those who lack consideration of women’s roles in world politics. If international relations continues to exclude women from its discipline and practice, then it will remain as an example of patriarchy. [2]

          In criticizing the most predominant international relations theory which is realism, feminists argue that realists over-value the role of the state in defining international relations, without questioning how the nation-state is politically and socially structured. Feminist theory would consider how the nation-state includes the views of its individual citizens, and how the nation-states domestic views translate into foreign policies.[3] Additionally, feminism views realism as the antithesis to achieving gender equality in discussion and practice. Nation-states are the actors and the individual is of little importance. When the individual is de-emphasized, there is even less acknowledgement of a female individual, which effectively excludes feminist discussion.[4]

          Feminists also challenge the other international theory, liberalism. The critique of it is that international institutions provide for ways in which women can be more politically and socially acknowledged and empowered. Since the leaders and the processes of formal international organizations come from patriarchal systems, their work can keep women at a disadvantage.[5] In criticizing the main international relations theoretical viewpoints, feminism has developed its own theories to explain international relations. This consists of feminist empiricism and feminist standpoint.

          In defining feminist empiricism, it observes that states and the interstate system have been fundamentally gendered structures of domination and interaction. Feminist  empiricism asks 'whether it is accurate to focus on states and worldwide capitalist processes and not also examine the social attitudes and structures which impart a gender to international relations'.[6]

          Regarding feminist standpoint theory, it argues that women's experiences at the margins of political life have given them perspectives on social issues that provide valid insights into world politics. Additionally, for this form of feminist theory it provides a critique of theories constructed by men who put themselves in the position of policy-makers.[7] Instead, feminists critically examine international relations from the standpoint of people who have been excluded from power.The feminist standpoint conception doesn’t imply that feminist perspectives are superior to traditional views. Rather, they contain valid insights into the complex realities of world politics.[8]

          It is important that when discussing issues and trying to resolve them within the international arena, there is always a feminist perspective. Women are just as likely to be affected by the various economic and social issues that occur and more likely than not, are not given a voice in resolving these issues due to political and social reasons. Women within this world play just an important role in society than men and in some cases, are the only family provider. For all countries to continue or maintain their political and economic development, women should be included in the development process. No country can truly develop, despite their political and economic system, unless women are treated equally and posses the same amount of political and economic power as men do.  



[1] Ruiz, Tricia. "Feminist Theory and International Relations: The Feminist Challenge to Realism and Liberalism."

[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ruiz, Tricia. "Feminist Theory and International Relations: The Feminist Challenge to Realism and Liberalism."
[5] Ibid
[6] Keohane, Robert. "International Relations Theory: Contributions of a Feminist Standpoint." 1989, 9.
[7] Ibid
[8] Ibid

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Normalcy of Men who Sexually Assault Women


Elli Rigolle


The first thing that comes to mind when many Americans think of sexual offenders is the stereotypical man who jumps out from behind bushes to sexually assault strangers. However, for the majority of sexual assault survivors, this stereotype does not describe their experience. Most women who are sexually assaulted suffer at the hands of someone they know. After learning this fact, people are quick to assume that “something must have been wrong with them [the assailant]” and imagine the perpetrator to suffer from some sort of psychosis, which limits their inhibitions. Again, wrong.  Men with a mental illness perpetrate a mere 10% of male-to-female sexual violence. How can we possibly explain away the other 90%? The frightening reality is that men who sexually assault women are all too normal.

“Most men who assault women are not so much disturbed as they are disturbingly normal. Like all of us, they are products of familial and social systems. They are our sons, brothers, friends, and coworkers. As such, they are influenced not only by individual factors, but also by broader cultural attitudes and beliefs about manhood that shape their psyches and identities. And ours.” (qtd. in Renzetti 10).

While it may help us sleep at night to imagine that women can protect themselves by taking a self-defense class and walking in pairs at night, this simply does not match the reality of the issue. Cultures across the globe are raising boys to be violent and are undervaluing femininity. This cannot simply be changed by rewriting a few laws or by teaching women how to protect themselves.

Where does this leave us? Sexual violence is a much broader, more culturally coded issue than many are comfortable believing, so how do we begin to create a culture that does not tolerate violence against women and raises males to be as empathetic and nurturing as they are strong and confident? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Complex, deep-rooted problems call for complex, deep-rooted solutions. Change needs to happen on all levels – international organizations, national governments, local governments, families, and individuals. With this idyllic vision of cooperation, norms of violence will gradually shift towards norms of respect towards and empowerment of women.




Work Cited

Renzetti, Claire et al. Sourcebook on Violence Against Women. 2nd edition. Sage Publications, 2010.  Print.



Monday, 23 March 2015

INFLUENCING THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE GIRL CHILD FOR A BETTER AFRICA

By Fiona Nzingo
Africa is drowning in countless cases of the “three D’s and one C”, that is death, despair, diseases and corruption. This can be attributed to many causes such as insecurity, unemployment and low wage, poor governance, poor infrastructure e. t. c. The main issue here is how gender imbalance affects the rate of poverty in Africa. 2015 Millennium Development Goals hopes to improve the pathetic situation of the world, most importantly, Africa. Some impact of this will only happen when everyone becomes fully involved. So how does gender equity play a part in this movement, especially to make an impact in Africa?
For starters, Africa consists of more women than men. Whatever they can be involved in would surely have more involvement or impact given the fact that they are the larger number. Gender equity would therefore be the starting point. How? Once the girl child is given access to education in remote areas in the African region, this will have grand effects.
To begin with, it would have an effect on mortality rates in the region. This is possible because since girls and women are the child bearers of the societies, they will have more knowledge about childbearing, rearing, immunizations and birth control pills. It will prevent the millions of deaths that occur in relation to not being given proper treatment and medication just because they do not know what health requirements are needed e.g. check ups and supplements. Being educated about birth control pills would help control the amount of unwanted pregnancies that make many girls drop out of school and not finish their education. This would increase the mortality rate, providing a large number of labors that increases the demand and provision for better infrastructures and ways of living. One point not to forget is that of sexually transmitted diseases. Africa has the highest number of HIV/AIDS victims. There are also other diseases involved such as syphilis and gonorrhea. HIV/AIDS has had the most effect. There is no cure for it therefore those infected and do not have medication obviously die. This reduces the capability of the region if many of its people end up dying rather than working to better its standards. One could argue that the fact that HIV/AIDS antiretroviral drugs are free therefore this problem has been dealt with. We tend to forget that in Africa, a person infected is stigmatized. This can be attributed to poor education that has not discussed this problem in its curriculum. Once an infected person has such a mentality, he/she will not want to be recognized as a person who goes for the “accursed” medication. Sadly, many deaths have occurred in relation to this.
One challenge to accessing education in Africa is the fact that Africa is, and always has been, a very patriarchal society despite the fact that people preach for the equity of women. Families would rather sell cows and take loans to educate their sons than taking their daughters to school. They feel like they are wasting money that could be put for better use. Therefore, making education for the girl child free, will give them access to this needed education on birth control pills and sexually transmitted diseases, without these parents feeling like they are misusing money.

If such form of knowledge was developed into the school curriculum, I believe there would be a big difference to Africa’s current situation. This education should be made free to all so that the girl child could also go to school. This could be used as a “social vaccine” to the society. This will help create awareness to those sexually active because it needs man and woman for this to happen. There are also cases of homosexuality which could be tackled the same way. The mortality rate in Africa will improve. There will be more energy used in helping develop Africa. I like to believe, if the girl child was involved in such a manner, there would have been many more Nkurumahs and Mandelas born to make this a better Africa.

Friday, 20 March 2015

How are migrant women treated in Middle East?

By Jafreen Alamgir
When a child cries for food, it is a woman who works to make him or her happy. When a child laughs, it is a woman who feels that they have accomplished something. But these emotions cannot be explicitly shown or understood because it is the affection of a mother. And a woman is a mother. In order to protect her children, a mother can take any risks you ask from them without evaluating the cost and benefits of migrating to a foreign country. I am not saying that men are useless or worthless. More emphasis is being placed on the way women, especially South Asian women who are being ill- treated in countries like Middle East.

Harassment is the main thing that women encounter while working for people living in countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and so on. Their employers don’t treat them properly. They are being deprived of basic human rights. They are made to stay in places where the quality of water and food is not good enough to survive. They are not paid salary in time . Their iqama are being snatched away from them and they are being trapped in houses of the owners. With insults, assaults and false allegations, they are being victims of psychological abuse.

It is sometimes argued that we need to encounter psychological abuses in order to have a practical view of the world. That is, a woman cannot expect her employer to be sweet and dedicated to her. But at least she should be at least treated like a human. She should not be made to work for more than 18 hours. That does not necessarily indicate the physical weakness of a woman, it is about her being a human, not a robot who can be made to work continuously for 24 hours. 

In the process of international migration, women may move away from situations where they are under traditional, patriarchal authority to situation in which they can exercise greater autonomy over their own lives. With the hope of fulfilling their dreams, they come abroad. And their wishes turn out to be a nightmare when they are mistreated by the employers when they are forced to have sex with the man and his acquaintances. If such cases happen, they are unable to ask for help from anyone around them. My question is why are women objectified like this? Are they no human beings like you?


Solutions only come when a person who does not just witness such cases, but use all their efforts to bring a change in the way women are viewed in the world. But I would ask more women to start a campaign that will be helpful for the governments of all countries to recognize the power of women.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Women’s Rights in the Arab World

By Welton O’Neal III

When we think of women’s rights, we often think of women in the Western world trying to obtain equal rights and opportunities such as equal salaries, political representation, etc. We also think of how other cultures and regions outside of the Western world can adopt this ideology to further advance the rights and treatment of women within their society. Whether or not women’s rights is rooted in Western ideology is debatable. But women do have rights that exist in other regions of the world outside of the West, which was developed domestically or it came about via Western import. One region of the world where women right’s exist but is also under heavy scrutiny within the international arena is the Arab.

 What first must be understood is the meaning of women’s rights. Women's rights are the rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls of many societies worldwide. In some places, these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behavior, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed.[1] With this understanding, the ideology can be better understood and how it exists in the Arab world. However, the existence of women’s rights is not cohesive in the Arab world and just like the rest of the world, it varies from country to country.

          Within the Arab world, women in eight of the countries experience sexual violence, harassment, and trafficking. Sexual violence such as rape is not recognized as a crime and the victim in countries such as Saudi Arabia, could face charges of adultery.[2] Often times they face forms of gender discrimination in both the workplace and in public in countries such as in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria. Most of these countries don’t allow political participation with the only exception being Saudi Arabia whom allowed women to vote in municipal elections this year, 2015.[3] There are very little efforts to implement policies that advance gender equality prevent the occurrence of sexual violence, harassment, and trafficking. Thus in cases like these, feminism hasn’t been adopted entirely and therefore hasn’t progressed women’s rights in these countries.[4]

          However, there are countries where women’s rights has thrived and has progressed the country towards equal rights for women. In countries such as Tunisia, women have abortion rights and can pass citizenship onto to their husbands as well as having 61 women being elected to the 217-member Constituent Assembly since 2011.[5] In other countries such as Libya allows women to have greater political representation with 33 women were elected to the 200-member General National Congress in 2012. Within Djibouti, the country has implemented various laws that discriminate against women long with enacting a 2009 law that improves the living conditions of low-income women. With the U.A.E women have access to education and health services along with having 4 women sit on the 22-member cabinet of the Federal National Council.[6]

            Knowing this, bit of information, the next question is how can women’s rights progress in countries that do and don’t acknowledge them in the Arab world? Aside from acknowledging that there are women’s rights and human rights movements and individuals that exist to further progress policies that favor women in this region, it is more so important to not generalize the region. It is true that there are countries in the region that lack women’s rights laws but it is also true that there are countries that do acknowledge them. By generalizing that all countries in a region have the same exact policies and viewpoints on an issue only sets the movement of progress backwards rather than moving it towards equality. Thus it is important that every country should be analyzed on a case by case basis and by doing, can the rest of the world understand not only the policies in that country but also in that region.



[1] Hosken, Fran P., 'Towards a Definition of Women's Rights' in Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 2. (May, 1981), pp. 1–10.)
[2] Kehoe, Karrie. "Factbox: Women's Rights in the Arab World." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 11 Nov. 2013. Web. 7 Mar. 2015.
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid
[5] Ibid
[6] Ibid

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

‘Pass It Back’ brings hope to girls in Lao PDR

 


By: Shaye Williams




Girls in Northern Laos complete a Rugby race





“Sport has the power to change the world”-Nelson Mandela


Laos is at a critical moment in its response to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). More than one quarter of the population lives in poverty. Children in Laos face an uncertain future, as nearly half under the age of five are chronically malnourished. Poor infrastructure coupled with lack of access to clean water forces many children into manual labor to survive. 

Low-literacy rates are a primary driver for poor health, substance abuse, and hopelessness. Grassroots sports development may provide a platform for change. Women Win and the Asian Rugby Football Union have partnered with ChildFund Australiato launch a Sport for Development Initiative in Vietnam and Lao PDR called ‘Pass It Back’. Rugby will become a vehicle to support cross-border understanding through sport and culture as well as promote growth-mindsets.

In recent years, an emerging body of research has emerged to support the practice of sports-based interventions for socially vulnerable youth.In particular, sport-for-development has been noted in studies concerned with social capital acquisition among youth.Moreover, there exists a major opportunity to demonstrate how sport development can contribute to long-term social and systemic change. 


The links between sport and health are clear. In Laos, there is a growing risk of drug use among youth and sport may serve as a deterrent for illicit substance abuse. Providing opportunities for children to build a love for sport is a protective feature against a myriad of at-risk behaviors.

Girls in Lao PDR and Vietnam are burdened with domestic responsibilities at a very young age and this severely limits the time they have to play sports. The role of sport is often overlooked in development, but it is a tool that can be used to deliver high quality prevention at a low cost. Getting youth to engage in organized sports in Southeast Asia has been a major win for ChildFund Australia. April 7th will mark World Health Day 2015, to honor this ChildFund Australia has been vigilant in its promotion of sports-for-development programs in Lao PDR and Vietnam. ‘PassIt Back’ will undoubtedly face many challenges to its sustainability of organized sports programs.  Many of the communities lack adequate sports facilities and there is a prevalence of unexploded ordnance left over from the Vietnam War.

Ultimately, the goal of the program is to create a world where sport is a model for sustainable development and we believe we can be a leader in defining best practices in the field. Therefore, ChildFund Laos is currently working towards implementing an initiative that addresses these dual goals. Recognizing social innovation through sports is not a panacea; we are driven to continually improve our model.

Sport is ecumenical in its ability to reach populations living in diverse regions from agrarian communities to urban cities. ‘Pass It Back’ will build leaders through rugby in Asia, by merging sports engagement with life skills development among children and youth. ChildFund Australia believes humanitarianism through sports has the power to positively transform the lives of children living in resource-limited communities around the world.