July 2016

   



International Women's Day (March 8)

A global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Women's Feature Service brings you some features from its achieve on the issue.

"Protecting a, women's life is a priority in any circumstances, and at all times".



India:
Little Known Stars Of 2013
 

Many women came into greater prominence in 2013, whether it was Angela Merkel of Germany or Sonia Gandhi and Vasundhara Raje Scindia closer home. But forgotten in the rush of news coverage focused on established personalities are significant, if little noticed, figures who have, in their own distinctive ways, made a difference to their communities or audiences over the last 12 months. Here are the stories of six of them: a student footballer, a woman village 'mukhiya' (head), a female crematorium worker, a nutrition scientist, an IIT assistant professor who has made a full-length animated feature film, and a woman who has taken it upon herself to guard the forests. We celebrate each one of them.

“I have seen many groups protecting the forest in Odisha during my career but Hara Dei is unique.” *

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SRI LANKA:
How South Asia's Women's Movement Voted On The Sri Lanka Resolution
By Ponni A.

When the Resolution on Sri Lanka was tabled on March 22, and India voted for it - albeit after introducing some amendments to water it down - it was seen as an important moment in the struggle for human rights in South Asia. True, the Resolution in itself was seen as far from ideal. Award-winning Sri Lankan Women's Rights Activist Sunila Abeyesekera commented that it was “extremely weak” and disappointing for Sri Lankan human rights defenders, while V. Geetha, feminist historian and activist from Tamil Nadu decried the fact that "there is no reference to an independent international mechanism to probe alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law during the war's final phases." But in spite of the weaknesses of the document, some saw the Resolution as an opportunity, however small, to help an embattled community caught in a horrific post-conflict situation. It also provided an opportunity for women activists in Sri Lanka and India to come together and raise their voices in unison.

* "Many of us feel that the US-sponsored Resolution is just an opening to move forward towards an accountability process in order for Sri Lanka to address its bitter past."

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India:
Barmer's Mom-Pradhan Shama Khan Makes Her Mark
By Renu Rakesh

There is very little that distinguishes Chohtan panchayat samiti from the seven other panchayat samitis in Barmer district in southwestern Rajasthan, except for the fact that its 'pradhan' is an educated woman, who was recently conferred the first-ever Panchayat Sashastikaran Puraskar for the best performance under the Panchayat Empowerment and Accountability Inventive Scheme. Two years ago, in the 251 hamlets that fall under this panchayat which shares 114 kilometres of its border with Pakistan and is extremely backward, meeting an educated woman was as rare as citing water. But all that is changing and the catalyst has been Shama Khan, 28. Out on her village rounds, she randomly walks into homes urging families to send their children to school and her efforts are paying off: In less than two years, enrolment here has gone up from 550 to 6,550. Education apart, this mother of a three-year-old daughter is also tackling the severe water scarcity that plagues the region.

* "Most families in this area are either minorities (Sindhi Muslims) or Scheduled Castes, and they never send their girls to school. Now things are looking up. During school inspections, I find many more girls in classes."

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Global:
Working For The Elusive Work-Life Balance In Japan

Fourteen feminist thinkers from across the globe have penned down their reflections on the flaws in the current patterns of development, arguing for political, economic and social changes to promote equality and sustainability, in 'Harvesting Feminist Knowledge for Public Policy', a collection of essays brought out by Sage Publications. In the context of the "triple crises" of food, fuel, and finance, they dwell on the growing inequality, squeeze on time to provide unpaid care to family and friends, and environmentally unsustainable patterns of economic growth. In this excerpt from the chapter, 'Modernity, Technology, and the Progress of Women in Japan, Problems and Prospects', Hiroko Hara writes that despite all efforts to enable working women to achieve a work-life balance, it is still far from becoming a reality because in most Japanese homes, household labour and childcare are still a woman's responsibility.

* 'In Japan, statistics indicate that working women spend an average of 3 hours and 28 minutes per day on housework - less than full-time housewives but far more than husbands who? spend only about 10 minutes. '

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India:
Food For All: Innovative Governance From Rural Women Leaders
By Sriparna Ganguly Chaudhuri

Like many other panchayats of Odisha's Nuapada district, the anganwadi centre in Sabita Pradhan's Silva Gram Panchayat was plagued with irregular food supply. The quantity of food served to children was less than the stipulated amount and no food was being served on Sundays. That's when Sabita decided to take action. She gathered the elected women representatives of her panchayat and sent a written complaint to the Right to Food Court, setting off a chain of events. The court ordered the Women & Child Development Department to look into the matter, which passed it onto the District Collector. The Child Development Project Officer was asked to take strict action with the result that today most of the ICDS centres here are functioning properly and remain open even on Sundays. Sabita and her one million women colleagues in 2,40,452 Gram Panchayats across India may have inherited the monumental challenge of providing food security to every family in their constituency, but having struggled to raise families of their own, they are eager to ensure that no child goes to sleep hungry.

* "People are corrupt and want to make money at the cost of the poor. My role is to constantly monitor and continuously update the citizens on their rights and entitlements."

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India:
Lighting The Way: Unsung Trailblazers Of 2012

As an acid attack survivor, she rises from the ashes and fights violence, even figuring in the popular television show, ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’. As a savvy farmer she not only manages to double her own family income but ensures that no one in her village will ever go hungry; she is the sporting icon, be it the swimming champion who makes her country proud or the master goalie who shows how tribal girls rule on the football field; she is the passionate environmental crusader, whether she saves forests by planting a million trees or invents a bio fuel stove that is a boon for all rural women; she is the committed elected representative who prioritises education in a region where meeting a literate woman is as rare as sighting water in the desert; and finally she is the teen who wears a smile as she bears burdens far beyond her years. It was a year of well-known heroines like sporting icons Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal, but 2012 also saw eight, relatively unknown women trailblazers, who overcame many odds and inspired others to follow in their footsteps.

* “I am the only woman here who is a graduate. Most families in the panchayat are either minorities or from Scheduled Caste backgrounds. They have never sent their girls to school. But now things are looking up.”

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India:
Kerala's Kudumbasree: Women Power For Local Development
By Shwetha E. George

Kerala's iconic Kudumbasree movement has emerged as a model for rural development and women's empowerment, driven by local self government. In fact, the role of Kudumbasree in enabling women to play an effective role in the running of Panchayati Raj Institutions is something that is compelling the Union Ministry of Rural Development to consider replicating it at the national level through the National Rural Livelihood Mission. So, what is it about the Kudumbasree programme that has clicked? It is the fact that this all-woman network has been the driving force behind the implementation of many tasks of the local government - from providing support structures for the poor to the universalisation of take home rations to the introduction of computer education in community schools. It has also enabled women like Vishnupriya, Nandini B.K., and Usha Sathyaprakash to step out of their kitchens and embrace leadership roles within the community.

* "I remember I would go to the municipal-level meetings, sit in the last row, and hope that no one would notice me or ask questions."

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India:
Celebrating the Unsung Sheroes of 2014

With an eventful Year 2014 drawing to a close, it’s time to honour the women who have created a stir, inspired change and given a reason to hope for a better future. No, they are not your usual newsmakers … actors, business giants, sportspersons, who make it to the ‘Most Powerful Women of the Year’ lists. These are ordinary women whose extraordinary acts have made a difference to the lives of real people. Meet an astute tribal feminist in Bengal, who instinctively understands what women want and motivates them to achieve it; a group of amazing women doctors, who gave their all to save lives during the devastating Srinagar floods; feisty Rajasthani women, who are defying conservative social norms to join professions that are seen as male bastions; a brave journalist, who shares her story of childhood abuse as an appeal for people to recognise and save their children from the trauma; the Muslim girls of Mumbra, who are playing ball to build a just and equal society that is respectful of diversity and celebrates difference and interdependence; and finally a female immunisation worker, who played her part in helping India get polio-free.

* “As there was no power, I used my diesel generator to conduct surgeries. When the diesel ran out, I operated in torchlight.”

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Global:
The Changing Face Of Afghan Women
By Anuradha Dutt

Afghanistan's Dr Sima Samar has lived her entire life under the shadow of violence. But despite the many challenges that have come her way, she has been able to establish an independent identity. That's what makes her a perfect campaigner for women's rights in her country. During the dark years of Taliban rule, girls and women were forced to remain shrouded in burqas and could be beaten up if they so much as expressed a wish to study, work or play. In post-war Afghanistan, some attempts have been made to make the lives of women a little more secure and free. Samar, who has been the Minister for Women’s Affairs in the Karzai government and is now the Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, is not without hope. She is sure that ordinary Afghanis will never go down the road of fundamentalism and insecurity again.

* “Women in Afghanistan are better off these days… They are into sports as well – around 2,400 girls are playing cricket. Besides, we have a female cricket and a football team.”

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