Bundles of filthy string hang from bars on her only window. Sacks of clothes are piled high in the corner. Outside, in the alley below, untreated sewage and anonymous grey liquids seep through the stones. Incense sticks dry in the sun. Handmade benches are varnished in the street next to stalls crammed with pineapple and watermelon. Cows wander past waste dumps, barefoot children, colourful rickshaws and rusting bicycles. There is nothing in the surrounding slums to hint at Bangalore's reputation as India's Silicon Valley.
1984, 17 out of 20 people in India lived on the equivalent of less than $2 a day and more than 50% lived on less than $1.25 a day – the international threshold for poverty. By 2004, there were still 300 million Indians living in dire poverty.
India has experienced rapid growth since 1991, which still stands at about 8%, but there has been little significant reduction in poverty or hunger.
"In Bangalore, the prosperity is very much linked to IT and the service sector," says Chiranjib Sen, professor of economics at Azim Premji University in Bangalore.
"These IT jobs are very well paid but there are few of them and the IT sector cannot integrate huge numbers of people. It is a magnet of growth but can be a great spreader of inequality. In many ways Bangalore is a make-believe modern city," Sen explains.
In Tunisia, Salafist vigilantes have been attacking unveiled women and occupying universities that do not allow the face veil. In Egypt, only eight out of 508 newly elected parliamentarians are female, and the country’s Islamists are threatening to repeal laws making it easier for women to divorce and to gain custody of their children. The head of Libya’s transitional government has promised to bring back polygamy.
The rise of political Islam in all three countries has led some commentators to accuse the Islamists of turning the Arab Spring into an Islamist winter for women. Yet the backlash against women is not confined to Islamists. In Egypt, women who demonstrated for equal rights last year on International Women’s Day were met with ugly jeers and taunts to go home and take care of their children.
Female protesters against the secular military government were subjected to brutal beatings and “virginity tests.” Women who venture into Tahrir Square these days are often sexually harassed.
As the Egyptian anthropologist Hania Sholkamy recently noted, even the left-wing activists who first manned the barricades against President Hosni Mubarak’s regime “reject the whole narrative of gender equality as a figment of a Western imagination.”
In New York City, 50 percent of working New Yorkers, or approximately 1,580,000 employees, lack access to paid sick days. This fact sheet reports findings from research by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) on how increased access to paid sick days would improve both access to health care and health outcomes in New York City. The research also quantifies the savings gained by providing access to paid sick days to all workers, thereby preventing some emergency department visits in New York City.
by Kevin Miller, Ph.D., Claudia Williams (February 2012)
“Culture war,” in fact, increasingly seems too vague a term for the current conversation in the country about women’s rights. That conversation is acquiring an increasingly retrograde tone, one that should cause liberals to be alarmed.
It’s hard to pinpoint where the current upsurge in dismissive rhetoric about women’s rights began. Anti-abortion sentiment has long been a staple of right-wing politics, of course. But recently, conservatives have seemed particularly fixated on Planned Parenthood. Last February, congressional Republicans sought to eliminate funding for Title X, a federal grant program that provides HIV testing, contraception, and cancer screenings (through pap smears and breast exams). Title X, Republicans claimed, was funding abortions at Planned Parenthood, which Senator Jon Kyl said did little else.
Kyl had his facts badly wrong, it turned out. Abortion represents only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services, and the organization is legally prohibited from using Title X funds to cover abortion-related expenses. This didn’t seem to bother Kyl. The Senator’s comment about Planned Parenthood’s activities “was not intended to be a factual statement,” said his spokesman. Another fact that apparently didn’t trouble him: Title X has funded the early detection, over a 20 year period, of at least 55,000 cases of cervical cancer, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
Obama preserved Title X during the budget showdown, but the administration’s attitude toward abortion and contraception has been muddled. In December, the Health and Human Services secretary overturned the Food and Drug Administration’s ruling making Plan B, commonly known as “the morning-after pill,” available to all women over the counter. A seventeen-year-old girl can get the morning-after pill without a prescription; a sixteen-year-old cannot.
A project of the Women's Media center, Women Under Siege documents how rape and other forms of sexualized violence are used as tools in genocide and conflict throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. Spearheaded by Gloria Steinem, this initiative builds on the lessons revealed in the anthology Sexual Violence Against Jewish Women During the Holocaust by Sonja Hedgepeth and Rochelle Saidel, and also in At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance—a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power by Daniella McGuire. In the belief that understanding what happened then might have helped us to prevent or helped us to prepare for the mass sexual assaults of other conflicts, from Bosnia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Women’s Media Center project is exploring this linkage to heighten public consciousness of causes and preventions.
A complex matrix of factors, such as low literacy, early sexual initiation, and limited economic opportunities, increases the vulnerability of women to HIV infection in Mozambique. The Women First program addresses the role that poverty and lack of access to health information play in the spread of HIV through legal rights and income-generating activities.
This case study was prepared by the AIDSTAR-One project. As an AIDSTAR-One partner organization, ICRW provided technical oversight on this publication. The full case studies series and findings are available at AIDSTAR-One.
Saranga Jain, Margaret Greene, Zayid Douglas, Myra Betron, Katherine Fritz 2011
In 2012, the Center for Women Policy Studies published the Reproductive Laws for the Twenty First Century Papers. In 1989, the Center launchedThe Law and Pregnancy Program: Implementing Policies for Women’s Reproductive Rights and Healthas the “second stage” of the groundbreakingProject on Reproductive Laws for the 1990s* at the Women’s Rights Litigation Clinic and the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University.
We first thought about starting this piece with the story ofSaleha Begum, a survivor of Bangladesh's 1971 war in which, some reports say, as many as 400,000 women were raped. Begum had been tied to a banana tree and repeatedly gang raped and burned with cigarettes for months until she was shot and left for dead in a pile of women. She didn't die, though, and was able to return home, ravaged and five months pregnant. When she got home she was branded a "slut."
We also thought of starting with the story of Ester Abeja, a woman in Uganda who was forcibly held as a "bush wife" by the Lord's Resistance Army. Repeated rape with objects destroyed her insides. Her captors also made her kill her 1-year-old daughter by smashing the baby's head into a tree.
We ran through a dozen other stories of women like Begum and Abeja, and finally realized that it would be too difficult to find the right one -- the tale that would express exactly how and in what wayssexualized violence is being used as a weapon of war to devastate women and tear apart communities around the world, conflict by conflict, from Libya to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Until now, sports federations, teams and private clubs have attempted to police themselves. Safe4Athletes is noteworthy for shifting the paradigm from efforts focused on a single sport to protecting athletes across sports.
Safe4Athletes recommends that every sports organization adopt codes of conduct and establish policies for athlete welfare. The nonprofit's website provides model policies for ethical conduct, promotes appropriate avenues for reporting incidents and offers educational materials targeted to young athletes, parents, coaches and sports organizations. Safe4Athletes also lists the clubs that are dedicated to keeping athletes safe.
Based in Los Angeles, Safe4Athletes was founded by former British Olympian Katherine Starr with a diverse board of directors and advisory councils comprised of world-class athletes, sports psychologists, the assistance of the Women's Sports Foundation and youth advocates.
Every year, ten million girls are forcibly married before the age of eighteen, many as young as twelve or thirteen years old. That is something like 25,000 girls a day. These young girls suffer sexual abuse and domestic violence and are frequently forced to become mothers at a very early age, putting them at a much higher risk of maternal injury and death. The epidemic of child marriage has mostly received little attention and continues unabated year after year. An organization called The Elders, a group of global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007, seeks to change that, launching an ambitious Global Partnership to End Child Marriage called Girls Not Brides that aims to stop the harmful practice in one generation.
This week, a delegation from The Elders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, will visit India with a focus on girls' development and the impact of child marriage. The primary objective of the Elders' visit is to learn about the causes of child marriage in India, discuss the harmful impact of child marriage on human rights and development, and to encourage local efforts to end the practice. The Elders will meet political and business leaders, UN and NGO representatives, members of the media, and communities affected by child marriage. Because of its large population, India is home to an estimated one third of the world's child brides. The Elders will visit New Delhi and Patna and will also attend a regional meeting hosted by Girls Not Brides.
I asked Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson about the implications and factors contributing to child marriage and their hopes and goals for the Girls Not Brides Partnership.