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Women Empowered by Restoring Desertified Land

By Helda Martínez

NATAGAIMA, Colombia, Jan 2 (IPS) - Indigenous and rural women from southern Tolima, a province located in the heart of Colombia, are lending a hand to the bleak land around them, with the aim of simultaneously recovering the ecosystem and regaining their own dignity, in a community effort that is changing their environment and their lives.

Manos de Mujer (Women's Hands) is the name of the non-governmental organisation working since 2001 in Natagaima, a town some 100 kilometres south of the provincial capital, Ibagué.  Nine hundred women of the Pijao native community plant ecosystem-friendly seeds to grow natural crops without the use of agrochemicals.

"Nine years ago, the land all around my plot was a yellowish colour.  There were only one or two lonely trees," Claudina Loaiza, who has been part of the projects since its onset, told IPS.

The project extends over 56 rural villages, townships and Pijao reservations, which make up six municipalities, and has its central office in Natagaima, 225 kilometres from Bogotá.

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Jennipher, the woman thrown to the dogs

By The Independent

When Nathan Awoloi bought his wife for two cows, he believed it gave him the right to treat her like an animal. Claire Soares reports from Pallisa, Uganda, on the charity that saved her

Hunched over a sewing machine, Jennipher Alupot is an unlikely poster girl for the women's rights movement.  In fact, the young Ugandan mother is totally unaware of how her story – almost too horrific to be believed – has caused waves across the country and down the corridors of power, ultimately giving thousands of abused women the chance of justice.

For seven years, Jennipher was forced to breastfeed the puppies of her husband's hunting dogs. After drinking and smoking heavily, Nathan Alowoi would appear at the marital bed, bind his young wife's legs and hands together and force the mewling animals to her nipple.

He had handed over two cows to his father-in-law as part of the "bride price" for his new wife.  So, he reasoned, if the cows were no longer around to provide milk then his new purchase would have to provide for the pups.  "I had to feed them all through the night; then in the morning he would untie me," his wife, now 26, explains matter-of-factly.

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Not Under the Bus

By Gloria Feldt

If we’re going to be thrown under the bus, let’s not be ladylike about it. Kick and scream and make your voice heard.”
—Linda Lowen,

I couldn’t agree more with Linda.  That’s why I’ve dropped everything else and am working with the Women’s Media Center to raise awareness about what is at stake with the current health care bill over at

We just released a new video to increase the sense of urgency about women’s rights in the health care bill.  The fight isn’t over yet, and the next week of conference committee deliberations between the House and Senate will be crucial.  We need to be calling Congress and making sure that our rights are not thrown under the bus in the debate on health care, and we need our blogosphere to be heard loud and clear by the media and Congress.  One thing for sure, anti-choice forces won’t stop just because it’s Christmas, and neither can we.

View the video here:


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"We are all Laila" - Blogging for Women's Voices Dec 24 - 30

Some people think that having food, lodging and relatively good economic conditions - which is the case with most Internet users- is the peak of human development and signals that nations are fulfilling all their duties towards their citizens.  This belief influences the way many individuals exercise their right of self-expression as they simply give in to the collective outlook.  Consequently, they start a chain of repression and suppression passing it on horizontally to families, circles of friends and acquaintances; and vertically to next generations.  Unfortunately, the situation gets worse if this individual is a female because it entails silence in the face of unfair practices directed against her in our Arab world.

This was how "We Are All Laila" was initiated 4 years ago.  It has aimed at opening a window for self-expression to female bloggers by specifying one day - a whole week this year- for discussing and writing about women's issues.  Thanks to "We Are All Laila", these bloggers found some kind of psychological support that enabled them to speak up and talk about their daily problems as women.  It provided a kind of protection against fear of the usual accusations of threatening the values of society or -worse- believing these accusations and feeling guilty about them. "We Are All Laila" aims at highlighting women's problems and prompting them to draw real images of their own experiences in order to open a dialogue that can lead to changing the ideas of a whole society.  Therefore, "We Are All Laila" is an independent and non-profit initiative.

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Shame: A film about 'honor killing' (aka ignorant murder)

5000 women yearly are still getting killed for ‘honor’.

Shame (2005)

Director: Sharjil Baloch

Genre: Documentary

"Shame" is part of the honor killing awareness-raising campaign in rural Sindh and southern Punjab.  The directors take to the road, documenting shocking interviews that uncover a deep-rooted gender bias in rural Pakistan as well as the first ever footage of a karion jo qabristan, an unmarked graveyard where victims of honor killing are buried without any ritual. An important and timely film. 

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Lowering maternal mortality rates is a tough bet in DRC

"women continue to die as they are giving life"

KINSHASA, 22 December 2009 (IRIN) - Years of conflict and instability mean the Democratic Republic of Congo is still among the worst countries in the world to be pregnant, despite a nationwide push to improve maternal, infant and childhood mortality rates.

“Every hour of every day in DRC, four women die from complications of pregnancy and labour, and for every woman who dies, between 20 and 30 have serious complications, such as obstetric fistula, which is very common in DRC,” said Richard Dackam Ngacthou, country representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). For every 100,000 live births 1,100 women die, he said.

But to meet a national target of reducing the number of women who die in childbirth by 75 percent and to provide all Congolese with access to contraception – in line with the UN Millennium Development Goals – new funding targets must be achieved.

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The Advice Column and the Prostitute

First, thank you to LaPrincipessa for a great post on the gender double-standard in adultery.  I say thank you both because LaPrincipessa makes good points, and because she alerted me to the news that Ashley Dupre, one of the prostitutes involved in the Eliot Spitzer scandal, now has her own dating advice column with the New York Post.  I realize that the New York Post has the same owner as Fox News, and mostly offers the same grossly oversimplified right-wing propraganda and celebrity gossip, but there's an idea with serious potential.  The first step toward empowering a stigmatized group - such as sex-workers - is allowing individuals to tell their own stories to a wide audience.  Objectively, Ashley Dupre has a lot of experience with sex, and likely a different perspective from my own, and which makes me curious what she has to say.  Also, for everyone protesting that Ashley Dupre is a shameful whore, cover pages like: continue to sell newspapers. 

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From Discrimination to Discrimination

An Examination of Policies Related to Women During the First Four Years of Ahmadinejad’s Presidency

By: Mahboube Hosseinzadeh [Sign for Change]

Change for Equality- “Women…women are the crown on our heads” was the first sentence that Mahmoud Ahmadinnejad uttered sarcastically on the afternoon of June 24th, 2005, as one of the two candidates who were admitted to the second stage of the presidential elections, in response to the question of a female, foreign journalist about his future policies for Iranian women. In a small and hot car exhibition in eastern Tehran, where the atmosphere was made even more unbearable because of the smell of smoke and wild rue [to ward off the evil eye], Ahmadinejad uttered some more clichés about women, which made it clear that he did not have a specific plan in this respect.


But after becoming president, in his first action with respect to women’s issues, on September 24th, 2005, he changed the name of “the Center for Women’s Participation”, which was the only governmental center under the control of the president solely dedicated to addressing women’s issues, to “the Center for Women’s and Family Affairs”. The name change was a prelude to the policies of the ninth presidency in women’s affairs and reinforced the impression that in line with the president’s ideology policies related to women were to be devised within the framework of family and motherhood. After that, the “Compulsory Reduction of Women’s Work Hours Plan” was introduced under the pretext of supporting women. However, it was pretty obvious that in a country where the employment rate of women even according to the most optimistic analysis is only 14% while 64% of university admissions are women, this plan will lead to the exclusion of even more women from the workplace.

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Honour killing: India's continuing shame

(Posted at the samosa)

By Spriha Srivastava

The number of love marriages might have increased in India's cities but the reality remains different in many of its village.

Just a couple of days back I was reading about an incident where a village girl was burnt alive by her neighbours because she had a relationship with a boy from a different caste. In another case, a boy’s hands and legs were chopped off by the residents for marrying a girl from their village. These are just two examples from a bagful of many more cases that occur every day.

The number of love marriages might have gone up in the metros in India but the reality remains different in the villages in many other states. Honour killing, where men or women are killed by their kin or other members of their caste, is still very rampant in many parts of India. But the question is: why this heinous crime is committed?

Women's activist groups say that such killings happen in order to save the honour of the caste, community or family. Caste still remains one of the most important factors governing the lives of many people in some parts of India. The huge number of honour killings that sometimes go unrecorded happen because of inter-caste marriages. They revolve around issues such as runaway marriages or relationships between people of different castes. In many cases the groom or the bride has been killed for marrying someone from a lower caste.

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Anti-female genital mutilation Bill ready for debate

By Cyprian Musoke

A Bill outlawing female genital mutilation is ready to be presented to the House for the second reading and be passed into law, MPs have been told.  

Addressing a regional parliamentary workshop on the theme “Consolidating political will for child well being” at Imperial Royale Hotel yesterday, the chairperson of the committee on gender, Beatrice Lagada, blamed the practice for the high drop out rates in Universal Primary Education (UPE).

She urged people in communities where the practice is still rampant to report perpetrators and parents who subject their girl-children to genital mutilation. Upon conviction for indulging in the practice, one faces a maximum jail term of 10 years.

The workshop was attended by MPs from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, and the Speaker of the East African legislative assembly. It was organised by the East African community secretariat, Parliament of Uganda and European Parliamentarians for Africa.

“We are done with scrutinising the Bill and are ready to present it for the second reading. I assure you that the will to pass it is there,” Lagada said.

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