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Oct. 1, 2010
Dear Network Members,
I am thrilled to share with you the news that ~our network member and Egypt’s Minister of State for Family and Population, Honorable Moshira Khattab received the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic — the highest badge of honor in Italy ~ a few days ago. Read more.
Dear Steering Committee Members:
Happy New Year! I want to thank all of those who submitted your articles by the deadline. I have extended the deadline to a few members who were in Geneva for the CEDAW and CRC Committee meetings were not able to meet the deadline.
In the first letter for 2010, I want to share some recent developments that impact your work both in the domestic and international spheres. I would like to provoke a discussion among network members on the issues examined below. Please share with us similar discussions and debates in your countries and your comments on the emerging developments in different countries and communities.
Cairo Conference on the CRC
Hon. Minister Khattab shares with us news of the milestone Cairo conference held in November 2009. The conference marked the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which also coincided with the 20th anniversary of Egypt’s National Council on Childhood and Motherhood charged with the actualization of rights of the child in Egypt. Ten countries from the Organization of the Islamic Conference ( OIC), national human rights institutions, NGOS and children participated at the conference. Participants welcomed the increasing trend to withdraw reservations to the CRC among OIC member states but also reexamined the need for greater action in different areas. Participants drafted a panoply of recommendations including a call for enhanced compliance with the letter and spirit of the CRC, and ratification of the two protocols to the CRC. Participants also called upon OIC Member States to raise the age of marriage to 18 and to prohibit by law all forms of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and corporal punishment and to ensure the provision of free legal services and other services to children in the juveniles system.
Amending the Children’s Law in Egypt
At my request, the Her Excellency also shared with us the outline of Child rights law that she helped amend ( Law No. 126 of 2008). The law as amended ensures as a minimum the rights provided by the CRC and affirms the status of children as right holders and the State as the duty bearer. Some of the land mark provisions of this law include raising and equalizing the minimum age of marriage to 18. Another high watermark reform is criminalization of FGM by fine and imprisonment. Life imprisonment or death penalty for children under 18 years of age is now prohibited and provisions have been introduced to make the criminal justice sector child sensitive.
Please read more for more information on both initiatives.
Indira Jaising Becomes the First Woman Additional-Solicitor General
Noted Supreme Court lawyer and human rights scholar and activist, Indira Jaising earned the distinction of being the first woman Additional Solicitor General of India. On her appointment she writes:
“…Being the first woman to be appointed additional solicitor general in the Supreme Court, I feel a special duty to explain my own reasons for accepting the post. To begin with, the posts have been a male bastion and there is no doubt that this appointment crosses that barrier and the post will now cease to be considered as reserved for men alone. It is in this context I am sure the appointment will send an electrifying signal to women lawyers all over the country, to aspire to the highest law offices.” Read more
Sudanese Journalist Indecency Charge
The following is the text of a report submitted to the Commission on the Status of Women on the trial of Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein who was charged under Article 152 (Indecent and Immoral Acts) of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code for wearing trousers. (WLUML Networkers)
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is not a treaty-monitoring body like the CEDAW committee, or have an investigative role like the UN Special Rapporteurs. However CSW does monitor political and social trends. Jointly with Amnesty International, WLUML decided to alert them to the issue of imposed dress codes in Sudan and the specific case of Lubna Hussein and the other women arrested in July 2009. Read more.
Reinterpreting the Koran in Bahrain
Through recent workshops on “Woman, a Renewable Perspective” initiated in May and August of 2009, the Bahrain Women Association for Development intends to engage the public in debate over the Quranic verses that are used to assert male supremacy over women.
"We aren’t against Islam and don’t want to promote our perspective," explains Asma Rajab, an activist and member of its board of directors. "We want to make our society consider women as complete humans."
Asma Rajab, a member of the Board of Directors asserts that: "Islam is a renewable religion that fits all situations and periods, so its regulations should be re-interpreted to meet the advancements of Muslim women," she says. The Association argue that social practices that tolerate unequal inheritance, domestic violence, male guardianship and unequal testimony in Shariah courts that consider two women’s testimony equal to one man’s are not consonant with Islam.
A New Family Law Bill in Mali Faces Resistance
A new family law bill that women’ groups in Mali have worked on does not require women to obey their husbands and instead dictated that husbands and wives owed each other mutual loyalty and protection The Bill also raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 as mandated by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Muslim groups however protested against the law and President Amadou Toumani Toure who was a strong supporter of this Bill is now sending the law back for a second reading by parliament.
Moushira Khattab, head of the newly created Ministry of Family and Population, has been lauded as a crusader for human rights and lambasted as a threat to traditional values By Dina Basiony; read article.
Global Action on Aging
Women Write History in Kuwait
“This is the will of change of the Kuwaiti people. We hope the results will lead to stability and help achieve cooperation between parliament and government.’- Quote from Dr. Massouma Al Mubarak one of the first four women to be elected to the Kuwaiti parliament.
Recently, Kuwaitis shifted from a patriarchal interpretation of the Islamist politics to embrace a more egalitarian political ethos. On May 17th, four women joined the National Assembly for the first time since its inception 46 years ago.
Kuwait’s ruler Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad expressed happiness that for the first time four women were elected to the parliament and urged them to work with their brothers to serve their homeland.
Dominated by the Islamists, the previous three parliamentarians were dissolved by the Emir of Kuwait for failing to cooperate with the government.
Kuwaitis First Women Lawmakers are:
Massouma Al Mubarak:
The US educated university professor made history by becoming Kuwait’s first woman minister in 2005. She earned her doctorate from the University of Denver, Colorado in 1982 where she taught for two years. She is a member of the Kuwaiti Human rights Society and the Dean of the Political Science Department at the University of Kuwait. She spent a year as Planning Minister before being appointed Transport Minister in 2006 and Health Minister a year later. She stepped down in 2007, bowing down to pressure mainly from Islamist deputies.
Aseel Al Awadi
Born in 1969, US educated Al Awadi is a professor of Philiosphy at Kuwait University. She ran in the 2008 elections teaming up with the national Democratic Alliance parliamentary bloc and came 11th just one place behind the 10th candidate who won the seat in her constituency. She ran as an independent this year. She participated in the society to defend support and defend the rights of the Kuwaiti victims of the Iraqi invasion from 1991 to 1993. During her 2009 campaign for parliament she made history by articulating her views on transparency in politics. She stated that she respected the teachings of Islam regarding the headscarf but she would not wear the hijab even if her behaviour antagonized her colleagues from the Islamic bloc.
Dr. Aseel’s election to the Second Constituency is especially momentous because the second constituency is the stronghold of the business community which advocates that the parliament should give more attention to the economic issues facing the country through cooperation with the government.
The US educated economist is a leading women’s rights activist and advocate of democratic and economic reforms. She was the first woman elected to chair the Kuwaiti Economic Society. She holds a doctorate in Population Economics from Johns Hopkins University and was listed among the 20 most prominent Arab women by the Financial Times last year. Dashti worked with Red Cross in Lebanon to assist refugee families from the south during the Israeli invasion in 1982 and was part of women’s empowerment programmes in Yemen. She is also a member of Kuwait’s supreme planning council.
Salwa Al Jassar
A professor of education at Kuwait University, US educated Al Jassar is also a leading women’s rights activist and chair of the non-governmental Women’s Empowerment Centre. She is the head of the Women Empowerment Center in Kuwait and chaired the department of Scholastic Curriculum at the Ministry of Education.