Maya Merhi, who was born with no legs, had to shuffle around a camp in northern
Syria on makeshift limbs fashioned from old tubing and tin cans.
with the Taliban: Afghan Women Buoyed By Ceasefire Snaps
Celebrate Saudi Women Drivers with Cover of Beatles’ ‘Drive My Car’
Parties Allocated Tickets to 304 Women for Upcoming Polls: ECP
Talaq Crusader Shayara Bano Set To Join BJP
Women...Partners In Renaissance and Development
Women's Movement Pushes For More Rights, At Its Own Pace
by New Age Islam News Bureau
new steps for 8-year-old Syrian girl who used tin cans for legs
she is taking her first tentative steps in Istanbul on prosthetic legs, after
images of her struggling in the tent encampment in Idlib appeared on social
media and she was brought to Turkey.
father Mohammed Merhi, who suffers from the same congenital disorder as his
daughter, had fled fighting in the city of Aleppo with his wife and six
children and took refuge in rebel-controlled Idlib.
faced many challenges, especially moving from the place we lived in tents...
The situation in general was difficult," he said. "She was unable to
walk so we had to create something for her to protect her from the
ground," he said, referring to the improvised legs he designed from tubes
and old tins of tuna.
hope Maya will be able to fully walk with her new prosthetic legs in three
months, and they say that her father's determination made their work easier.
did everything to make this child walk and God helped them," Turkish
prosthetic specialist Mehmet Zeki Culcu said. "Normally nobody would
believe she could walk with these makeshift limbs."
Syrian conflict has displaced more than 11 million people, around half within
Syria and half as refugees abroad - including more than 3.5 million in
with the Taliban: Afghan women buoyed by ceasefire snaps
of the longest wars of our generation took an unexpected turn last month. The
Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan accepted the government’s call for a
three-day ceasefire during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr.
the first time in years, Taliban fighters – known for their brutality on the
frontline of the spiralling conflict – entered the capital, Kabul, and other
urban centres in Afghanistan and socialised with the locals.
marched through the streets of Kabul with their flags, hugging civilians,
offering Eid prayers alongside the security forces, and even enjoying a scoop
of the city’s best ice creams. Many civilians went up to the fighters,
welcoming them, engaging in conversation about peace and taking selfies.
Missing from most of these images of brotherhood and bonhomie were the Afghan
women who have been among the worst victims of past Taliban atrocities.
the swirl of excitement, hope and fear, however, a few women did make their
presence felt during the ceasefire celebrations. Kabul, Baghlan and Jalalabad
were among several cities where a handful of women not only joined the
predominantly male celebrations, but also took selfies with the Taliban
resulting photos, which show conservative, extremist fighters alongside
determined and progressive Afghan women, went viral on social media.
picture, taken by the Afghan photojournalist Farzana Wahidy, resonated especially
profoundly with women and men alike. In it, Wahidy is seen with a few Taliban
fighters. Her eyes are defined with green eyeliner, and a headscarf of similar
colour lightly covers her fringe. It is a look that would earn her the ire of
the Taliban were they in control. Instead, the fighters stand next to her
smiling meekly in a photo that has become a symbol of resistance.
think the Taliban’s views of women have changed over the years. Earlier, under
their own government, they threatened the women and mistreated them, but now
they seem to be open to women’s freedoms to an extent,” said Hanifa Majid, 50.
an employee of the municipal department in Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of the
northern province of Baghlan, joined the city’s men in welcoming the Taliban.
Such a scene would once have been unthinkable: under the Taliban regime of the
late 1990s, it is believed that women were not even allowed to be photographed.
first, I was scared to approach the fighters,” said Majid. “I had carried
flowers in my hand as a gesture of peace, but as soon as I got closer I saw the
fatigue in their eyes, and I knew they were as tired of the war just as much as
to her surprise, as Majid got closer, the fighters greeted her respectfully and
accepted her peace offering. Emboldened by the turn of events, she took the
opportunity to talk to them about ending the conflict, while also grabbing a
few quick photos. “It was surreal and I couldn’t believe it was really
happening,” she said.
many other women, though, seeing the Taliban on their streets again brought
back painful memories of restrictions and punishments.
spent the Taliban years in Panjshir [a northern province that resisted Taliban
accession], but we often visited relatives in Kabul and I remember when my
mother and I were flogged by the Taliban police because we were outside the
house without a male escort,” said Sadia Tajali, a 24-year-old student.
though she was only a child during the Taliban years, she has memories of
witnessing many floggings and punishments administered against women who had
failed to comply with strict rules on clothing, movement and education.
was scared and shaking [with fear and anger] when I saw the photos and videos
of them roaming around in Kabul again.
I really admire those women who went out, with makeup, without a hijab or male
family member, and took selfies with the Taliban who used to persecute them for
the Taliban refused to extend the ceasefire, and the government officially
declared it over on Saturday, the selfies have given women hope.
Ahmad, an academic specialising in women and international security, said the
images have “mobilised and empowered other women, showing them it is possible
for them to face the Taliban”.
has long campaigned for the need to include women and safeguard their rights in
any peace talks with the insurgents. The prospect of facing the Taliban across
a table had nonetheless seemed unimaginable – until now.
Farzana, I felt very relieved, because it meant that I could join the
negotiation table with the Taliban and protect the rights of women without
having to give up on how I look and my beliefs,” she said.
added: “Women make up half of this society; how would it be possible to
maintain peace without including us?”
group of Palestinian, Syrian and Jordanian musicians have recorded a cover of
British band The Beatles’ track “Drive my car” to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s
decision to allow women to drive.
cover saw Syrian singer Nano Raies, Palestinian cellist Naseem Alatrash and
other musicians from Jordan and Palestine come together to adapt the famous
Beatles song, using traditional Middle Eastern instruments such as the oud and
the darabouka drum to form the backing track. Raies sang the cover in Arabic,
closely echoing the original lyrics “Baby you can drive my car, yes I’m gonna
be a star.”
cover was recorded with the help of US radio station PRI and Berklee College of
Music, based in Boston USA, which provided the musicians with the means and
equipment to produce the track, according to the Jerusalem Post.
and the group recorded the cover to honour the recent lifting of a ban on
female drivers in Saudi Arabia, which came into effect in June. Saudi Arabia
was the last country in the world to uphold a ban on women’s driving, the
rescinding of which has been hailed as a victory for women’s rights in the
end to the ban was ordered last
September by King Salman as part of the sweeping reforms pushed by his son,
Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). Bin Salman has led a bid to transform
the Saudi economy and liberalise its society, pledging in May to spend 50
billion riyals ($13.33 billion) by 2020 to promote entertainment, health,
sports and education.
Saudi women have continued to face numerous obstacles to their new-found right.
Yesterday, a Saudi woman’s car was set on fire by a group of men seemingly
angry over the female driver’s purchase of the vehicle. The owner of the car,
Salma Al-Sherif, alleged that her car was deliberately set alight by men
“opposed to women drivers”.
June, Saudi TV presenter, Shireen Al-Rifaie, came under investigation by the
Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media after appearing in a TV report
in “indecent” clothing. Al-Rifaie was documenting her first experience of
driving following the lifting of the ban. Numerous women’s rights activists,
many of whom had lobbied for the ban to be lifted, remain under arrest in the
Kingdom, raising concerns about the extent of MBS’ reform agenda.
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued some details regarding the
political parties which are contesting upcoming general elections.
Election Commission shared the percentage of tickets which political parties
have allocated to women candidates .
to the details, 59 political parties have not issued general seat tickets to
any women. However, 48 parties have issued tickets to a total of 304 women in
among those that did, four parties
failed to meet the requirement of allocating five percent of the tickets to
women. The include Allah Akbar Tehreek, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Samiul Haq
(JUI-S), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Nazriati (PTI Ideological), and Pasban
the mean time, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has emerged as the party that
allocated the highest percentage of its total tickets to women compared to its
peers — at 43.
the other hand, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) allocated 37 to women,
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) allocated 42 tickets, Muttahida Qaumi
Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) gave tickets to 6, All Pakistan Muslim League (APML)
to 8, Awami National Party (ANP) to 14, Balochistan National Party (BNP)
allocated 3 tickets to female candidates, BNP-Awami to 2, Grand Democratic
Alliance (GDA) to 8, and the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) allocated 33 tickets
to women candidates .
Bano, the Uttarakhand woman who led the legal battle against triple talaq, is
all set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Bano met BJP state president Ajay Bhatt on Friday with her father Iqbal Ahmed
and expressed her interest to join the party. “She (Bano) visited us today. She
is a global personality now and we would be more than happy to welcome her into
the party,” said Bhatt.
was the original petitioner in the triple talaq case after she approached the
Supreme Court in 2016, demanding that the talaq-e-biddat pronounced by her
husband be declared as void. Petitions of four other women were tagged with
Bano’s petition. The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) is the sixth
petitioner in the case.
August 2017, the apex court ruled that the practice of instant triple talaq,
which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives instantly by saying ‘talaq’
thrice, is unconstitutional.
met BJP leaders today and expressed my desire to join the party,” said Bano who
hails from Kashipur in US Nagar district. Praising the party, she said, “It was
with the support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that we got justice.”
said women in the Muslim community “continued to be brutalised” over practices
such as triple talaq, nikah halala, and unequal property rights.
plans to enter politics soon. “It will be done soon. I am pursuing it,” she
want to work for women’s rights while working for the party (BJP),” she said.
marriage of 15 years was dissolved in minutes unilaterally with her husband --
Allahabad-based property dealer Rizwan Ahmed -- dispatching a ‘talaqnama’ to
her while she was at her parent’s place in Kashipur.
her husband abruptly ended the marriage, she approached the apex court,
demanding that talaq-e-bidat, nikah halala and polygamy under Muslim personal
laws be declared unconstitutional.
is a practice in which Muslim men utter ‘talaq’ thrice instantly -- sometimes
via a written talaqnama, or even by phone or text message -- not adhering to
the three-month iddat period, which is meant for reconciliation and
halala is a law that requires a woman to marry another man, consummate the
marriage and then get a divorce in order to return to her first husband.
women...partners in renaissance and development
transformation that is taking place in Qatar cannot be discussed without
highlighting the crucial role of Qatari women.
with their fellow men, Qatari women have taken on a leading role in the
transformation of the country’s economic, political, social, and sports sectors
that realise Qatar National Vision 2030’s goal of building a future that relies
on all of its society’s capabilities.
women have throughout history played an important role in society. The economic
conditions of many Qatari families’ before the discovery of oil required women
to carry out many roles, particularly during the diving season.
Qatari women are playing a significant role in the country’s development,
backed by the political leadership and fully-supported by society, without
having to forego her Arab and Islamic identity and principles.
permanent constitution confirmed women’s crucial role and enhanced their
rights. It stressed on the principle of equality between all citizens in their
rights and duties. It also prevented discrimination based on gender and focused
on equal opportunity for all in terms of enjoying services and participating in
were also a number of policies, legislation, and national strategies were
adopted to empower women and to provide them with the opportunity to actively
participate in the development process.
legislation prevents discrimination against women in the job market, whether in
the public or private sector. Women are also paid wages equal to men who carry
out the same job. They also get equal training and promotion opportunities. The
human resources law also award men and women equal opportunities in gaining
promotions and occupying leadership positions.
National Vision 2030 reflects these constitutional principles by stressing the
importance of enhancing women’s role in society, particularly through
participation in the economic and political fields. The vision also stresses
that the aspired societal development means providing equal education and work
opportunities to all citizens regardless of their backgrounds or gender.
of the hallmarks of the country’s leadership in that regard was the role of Her
Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser in enhancing women’s role, making her a role
model for Qatari women and women around the world.
local, regional, and international projects launched by Her Highness Sheikha
Moza bint Nasser, particularly in the education and societal development
fields, will continue to be a source of pride for Arab women and women around
is also no doubt that the high-quality education system established in Qatar
over the past two decades helped build the capabilities of Qatari men and
women. Qatar’s education system is ranked top among Arab countries and fourth
in the world according to the report of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in 2017. This helped women
play a big role in the country’s modernisation and development push.
country also managed unprecedented success in the region after it was able to
close the gender gap in terms of enrolment in different stages of education, as
noted in the Report issued by the WEFin Davos. In fact, female enrolment rates
in higher education in Qatar are consistently favouring women, according to
various official statistics.
example can be seen in Qatar University; where around 70% of the 2016-2017
academic year’s graduates were women. They also graduated from a host of
schools such as engineering, medicine, law, economy, literature, besides other
disciplines. Enrolment rates at the Education City of Qatar Foundation for
Education, Science and Community Development also tend to favour women.
trend saw the percentage of women in the workplace reach about 37% in 25-29
years age group. That percentage rises to 49% in the 30-34 age groups, data
from the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics for the year 2017
showed. Women also had a majority of jobs in the education, health, and social
for encouraging women gaining leadership positions, official statistical
reports indicate that the representation of Qatari women in decision-making
positions is currently 30%. Qatar National Vision 2030 and population policy
2017-2022 aim to raise this percentage while increasing the political
representation of Qatari women as well.
fact, Qatar is the first Gulf country to appoint women as a minister back in
2003, following the appointment of HE Sheikha al-Mahmoud as Minister of
Education. A host of women ministers followed -
like in 2008 with the appointment of a minister of health. The year 2013
saw also the appointment of a minister of communications and information
technology. The latest Cabinet also has HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari as the
Minister of Public Health, in addition to a number of women deputy ministers.
also occupy leading roles in a number of important state institutions. Qatar
Foundation for instance is chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.
The foundation oversees a number of prestigious international universities, as
well as research centres that lead the country’s knowledge economy push.
women also lead other important institutions such as the Qatar Museums
Authority (QMA), the Qatar Social Work Foundation, Doha Film Institute, Hamad
Medical Corporation, Primary Health Care Corporation, National Commission for
Education, Culture and Science as well as other institutions.
the international level, Qatari women have been able to strengthen their
presence in various international forums. Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser
has emerged as one of the most influential figures in the world through her
regional and international initiatives such as Silatech, and Education Above
All that are concerned with providing education in poor and conflict-stricken
areas. She also plays an active role in international organisations, especially
in the field of supporting education globally, strengthening the Alliance of
Civilizations and defending the goals of sustainable development.
women have also made a number of achievements at the international level. In
this context, HE Sheikha Hessa bint Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Thani was the first
woman in the world to become Special Rapporteur for Disability at the United
Nations back in 2003. She is currently the Secretary General of the League of
Arab States Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs.
women have also been members of a number of UN committees including the
Committee on Rights of the Child, the Committee on elimination of
Discrimination against Women and the Committee on Persons with Disabilities.
for diplomatic work, the Qatari woman affirmed their success and ability to
serve the country in various international forums, thus confirming the
legitimacy of her right to represent Qatar abroad.
recognition of this role, HE Sheikha Alia Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani was appointed
as the first ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and Permanent
Representative of Qatar to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
year also saw a ministerial decree appointing HE Lulwa Rashid al-Khater as an
official spokesperson for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to become the
first Qatari woman appointed to the post.
to statistics from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the number of Qatari women
in the diplomatic corps reached 22, whereas 10 years ago it was only 3.
Sheikha Alia Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani told Qatar News Agency (QNA) that Her
Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser was a bright example for women’s diplomatic
work, as it encouraged Qatari women to enter the field and represent the
country in international events.
said that Qatari women are proud of their success in the diplomatic field. This
is evident from UN members and the UN Secretary-General choosing her to follow
up on the development of UN institutions, which reflects the special status of
Sheikha Alia added she feels proud due to the respect and trust she feels the
world has in the leadership and people of Qatar. She added that such a trust
puts more responsibility on the shoulders of the country’s diplomats.
November 2017 Qatari women entered the Advisory Council for the first time ever
after an Amiri decree was issued appointing 28 new members, including four
of Administration and Finance at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies Dr
Hend al-Muftah told QNA that the country’s leadership took an important step in
enhancing the participation of women in politics, and her inclusion in the
decision-making process as a result. She added that the appointment of four
women to the council was an historic moment.
step also affirms that the State of Qatar has made significant progress in
promoting women’s leadership and participation in decision-making in recent
decades and granting them the right to vote and stand for election.
elections of the Central Municipal Council, which took place for the first time
in 1999, were the first real political entitlement for Qatari women candidates
and voters, after the law guaranteed them. Two women currently hold two seats
in this council.
the business community, Qatari women have made significant strides in this area
after they made investments in all sectors economy. The initiatives launched by
the State and the policies adopted by it have contributed greatly to women’s
presence in this important area.
Chamber board member Ibtihaj al-Ahmadani told QNA that the great support by the
country’s leadership which helped women
lead in many fields. She added that the support also helped women carry out
their role in the development process.
pointed out that Qatari women have entered the business world and have achieved
great success. She added that the past period witnessed intensive women’s
activities in all sectors of the economy, entering into new fields and
expanding their existing businesses.
said that the amount of investments of Qatari businesswomen is between QR20 and
25bn in the local market, in addition to the volume of investments in the stock
market, real estate activities, tourism and others.
also affirmed that women have reached an unprecedented achievement in the household
industry sector. The role of Qatar Chamber is to adopt and support productive
families by promoting their products and allowing them to participate in
exhibitions organised by the Chamber both in Qatar and abroad.
women’s gains were not confined to a particular sector, but included other
vital sectors that were exclusive to men in the past such as the judiciary
where women held important posts. Maryam Abdullah al-Jaber was appointed first
prosecutor in 2003, the first women to assume the post in the region.
the sports field, Qatari women have witnessed a remarkable rise in terms of
their rates of participation and their ability to compete strongly in some
games locally, regionally and internationally, especially after the formation
of a special committee for Qatari women’s sport in 2000, which played an
important role in encouraging women to engage with the field.
participated for the first time with a women’s delegation in the London
Olympics in 2012 and carried the flag of Qatar in those games.
of the most recent achievements of Qatari women, most notably in this regard,
is the crowning of Qatar’s women in the fifth edition of the Gulf women’s games
in 2017, in which 891 players representing four Gulf countries participated.
Qatari team was crowned as champions of the West Asian Women’s Handball
Championship in 2016, while the national team for women’s rugby made an
historic achievement by winning the first West Asian Championship held in
Lebanon this year in their first ever participation in addition to the centres
developed in many regional and international games and competitions over the
past two decades.
quick look at Qatari women’s achievements over the past years gives important
indications that the wise leadership’s bet on the role of women in development
alongside men is a bet on the future and a guarantee for achieving the National
Vision 2030, which aims to propel Qatar to the ranks of developed countries
capable of achieving sustainable development and to ensure the continuity of
the decent life of its people generation after generation.
numerous obstacles and challenges, the women’s rights movement in Iran
continues to move forward. Indeed, while to some the pace of its advances may
seem slow, its achievements in the past few years cannot be ignored.
activists have put in a great deal of effort to overcome the traditional,
cultural and legal challenges that women confront in Iranian society. In many
cases, these efforts have been fruitful and resulted in the removal of certain
ban on entering sports events at stadiums, and especially for soccer games, is
one of the strangest restrictions imposed on Iranian women in recent years.
While women are allowed in cinemas or concert halls, they have been prevented
from entering soccer stadiums. But this restriction was briefly lifted for this
year’s World Cup. On June 20, Iranian women were permitted to enter Tehran’s
famous Azadi Stadium along with their male counterparts to watch the match
between Iran and Spain being broadcast live on screens at the stadium. While no
official statement was made as to who ultimately issued this order, unofficial
reports point to a direct order by President Hassan Rouhani to this effect.
Now, there are hopes that this will pave the way for subsequent orders that
allow women to watch live games at stadiums, too.
this is not the only achievement made by Iranian women. Perhaps what is more
significant are the efforts of civil rights activists to improve the situation
of women as a whole in Iranian society.
Abuse Monitor is a newly established nongovernmental organization (NGO)
launched by a group of women’s rights activists in Iran. This NGO is aimed at
raising public awareness about issues such as harassment and abuse of women.
Posters and brochures published by this NGO can be found both online and in
real life, all bearing the same message: stop sexual harassment of women. These
posters have received a warm welcome, even from the Tehran municipality, and
can now be found in the capital’s metro and bus stations, warning both men and
women against sexual harassment.
Ghavami, the founder of this initiative, told Al-Monitor, “We pushed this idea
forward by studying similar tactics [that had been adopted] in different
countries and tried to inform the public about the abuse of women and how it
should be banned. We focused our approach more on public areas such as bus
stops and taxi stations and talked to people one by one about this [topic] and
were generally welcomed.”
the Abuse Monitor is not the only body that is trying to revive focus on
women’s rights in Iran. The Campaign to Stop Domestic Violence is another
independent grass-roots initiative launched by women’s rights defenders in
Iran. The campaign is trying to promote the need for further laws designed to
stop domestic violence against women by raising public awareness about the
organizers of the campaign are opposed to the idea that whatever happens in
people’s homes should be considered private. By posting a public call, the
group is asking abused women to share their stories so they can elevate these
voices in the public debate. In this vein, the campaign is working on a draft
law that bans domestic violence against women. They plan to submit this draft
to the necessary legal authorities to have it ratified and included in the
factor that has brought more attention to Iranian women’s rights than in the
past is the spread of social media. The expansion of social media has made
Iranian society more sensitive toward women’s issues. For example, on June 13,
before Iran’s national soccer team played in the World Cup, a huge poster was
displayed in one of Tehran’s main squares. It depicted a group of men, with
each individual representing a different ethnicity in Iran, standing side by
side and holding up a golden trophy. Though the poster aimed to send the
message that the entire Iranian nation, with all of its various groups and
ethnicities, supports the national team, it did not feature a single woman.
sparked a social media backlash of a magnitude so great that two days later, on
June 15, the poster was taken down and replaced with another one that included
rights activists have deemed a World Cup TV advertisement by the Iranian branch
of South Korean electronics giant Samsung insulting. The ad showed members of a
family watching soccer, with the men following the game and cheering on while
the women looked after the children. The ad was harshly criticized on social
media and created a very negative atmosphere for Samsung. The company responded
to critics by posting an explanation in Persian on its official Instagram page
in an attempt to calm sentiments while deflecting accusations of being
do these kinds of backlashes and initiatives, which progress at a glacial pace,
have the ability to change the situation for women in Iran?
Miri, a journalist and rights activist, told Al-Monitor, “The efforts to
improve the situation for women are no longer restricted to a limited number of
rights activists. Other parts of society are also seeking this change.
Therefore, we see that measures aimed at improving women’s status are welcomed
and supported by the public. Of course, we still have major cultural and
traditional obstacles in our way, but we have no choice but to pursue this
some rights activists outside Iran seek to portray an entirely dark image of
women in Iran, rights activists inside the country have both pushed back
against such characterizations and continued to pursue a different approach.
is natural that the situation has changed and is improving," said Ghavami.
"Although there might be differences of opinion regarding the speed of
these changes, what is clear is that this is a more intellectual and successful
approach than sudden orders [from above], which, for example, are implemented
in Saudi Arabia. I do not believe in those [efforts] at all.”
women, given all the obstacles and challenges they have faced, continue to
pursue their path for change and improvement. Even on issues such as the
mandatory hijab, a development in the decades following the 1979 Islamic
Revolution, when the headscarf became compulsory, illustrates that Iranian
women are steadfast in pursuit of their goals to change society. Although this
path has faced stricter restrictions and challenges at some historical
junctures, it has never come to a halt.
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