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Chinese Women Activists on the Forefront of Human Rights Movement

By Gordon Ross [IPS]

BEIJING, May 12, 2010 (IPS) - Thirteen years ago a local official in north-east China’s Heilongjiang province tried to extort money from a woman named Liu Jie, who operated a successful cow farm.

Liu protested at local courts, to no avail. In retaliation, the official destroyed her farm and stole her cows. She took her case to Beijing, where instead of receiving justice, she was detained and beaten.

In all, Liu, who is now 58, lost millions of renminbi, was detained secretly in Heilongjiang and beaten several times. But the chain of events set her on a path that would change her life – in the years following she has become a leading advocate of petitioners’ rights in China.

According to China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), a non-profit, non- political network of grassroots activists, the contribution of women like Liu to China’s human rights movement is often overlooked in the international media. In fact, said CHRD, there are many women at the forefront of China’s grassroots human rights movement working in various capacities to defend rights.

"A lot of the women are grassroots activists… they do a lot of work on the ground, at the grassroots level, and they are much better known within their own circle than at the international level," Wang Songlian, research coordinator for CHRD, tells IPS.

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New Project: Young Migrant Women in Secondary Education

Promoting integration and mutual understanding through dialogue and exchange

The Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS) has received a grant from the European Commission European fund for the Integration of Third-country Nationals to implement a transnational project entitled “Young Migrant Women in Secondary Education – Promoting integration and mutual understanding through dialogue and exchange”.  The project has a duration of 18 months.

Project Partners:

  1. Centre of Research in Theories and Practices that Overcome Inequalities (CREA)  – University of Barcelona (Spain)
  2. Centre for Rights, Equalities and Social Justice (CRESJ)- Institute of Education, University of London (UK)
  3. Department of Sociology- Panteion University, Athens (Greece)
  4. Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Educational Research (EMCER)- University of Malta, (Malta)

Aims and objectives:

The main aim of the project is to explore how the intersection of gender and ethnic stereotyping produces forms of exclusion and marginalization as experienced by young migrant women in the context of secondary education, and to identify the gaps between mainstream integration measures and young migrant women’s needs using a critical gender perspective.  The project also aims to develop policy recommendations aimed at improving the quality of existing structures and services in the educational context to reflect the different needs of young migrant women.

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From the UN: Millions of Women Killed as Punishment For Being "Witches"

The economic downturn and global recession are killing millions of people. Reuters with the highly disturbing story today: killing of women and children accused of being witches on the rise around the globe. The children, who are not directly accused of witchcraft, are driven from their homes to live on the streets after their mothers are taken into custody and killed for practicing witchcraft. The increased violence, poverty and destitution of children in the poorest countries are disproportionately affected. Although there is no direct cause for what's being called "the witch frenzy”, UN officials blame poverty, religion, and the global economic downturn; everyone is looking for a scapegoat.

Murder and persecution of women and children accused of being witches is spreading around the world and destroying the lives of millions of people, experts said Wednesday.

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Gender, climate change linked together in Danish torch ceremony

Women suffer the most from consequences of climate change. Gender issues must be considered as we react to climate changes. Today UNDP Administrator Helen Clark made a commitment to focus on gender and climate change as she received a MDG3 Torch from Danish Minister of Development Cooperation Ulla Toernaes.

“Gender and climate changes are closely interlinked. One example being women facing greater challenges collecting water at wells as climate changes cause more severe droughts. Women and girls play a significant role in agriculture in many developing countries – agriculture being one of those areas likely to be affected the most by climate changes according to UN. An agreement on climate changes should recognize women’s position and special needs. For that I am very delighted that Helen Clark today as she received the Torch accepted to focus on gender and climate,” says Ulla Toernaes.

Receiving the MDG3 Torch Helen Clark committed UNDP to advocate for women with regard to climate change and to raise their voices in the negotiations leading up to COP15 to secure that women’s needs and perspectives are to be taken into consideration as well.

“Today I accepted commitments to focus on gender issues in negotiations prior to COP15. Together with partners in UNEP, IUCN, and WEDO, we in the UNDP will support delegates from the developing countries on gender issues and climate change. In UNDP we will also support female environment ministers taking the lead on a wide range of activities. UNDP will also continue its efforts to secure equal economic possibilities for men and women in the world’s poorest countries,” UNDP Helen Clark said.

(UNDP News)

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