Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Womens Day: Whats Happening Around The World

From Denny:  Women are in crisis around the globe this year - from the Middle East to Europe to America.  For the Middle East it is about torture, malicious prosecution, unjust imprisonment and the selling into prostitution and slavery of both women and their children.

For America it is about dealing with the Hate Merchants women are expected to shrug off and endure as it contributes to domestic abuse, unequal pay and hiring in the work place and vicious gang rape in our military.  In Europe women are dealing with a deep economic crisis that is rocking the foundations of society, robbing hope for the next generation's prosperity.

Hasina, a survivor of an acid attack, takes part in an awareness rally about the violence against women as they commemorate International Women's Day in Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 8.  Andrew Biraj / Reuters  

Today is meant to celebrate the achievements and progress of women on a global scale.  It began 100 years ago in 1911 and was first celebrated in four European countries, drawing thousands of supporters in rallies.

By the decade of the 1970's the IWD gained momentum in the United States, expanding after 1975 when the United Nations created March 8th as the official date.  Since then, IWD has been the marking point for creating awareness for various women's issues from voting rights to the world health crisis of AIDS.

What's happening in the United States

Currently, in the United States women are dealing with Hate Merchants who relentlessly insult and push women back into second class status in America, denying women their free speech and freedom, all on the public airwaves like Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk show hosts have done for decades.  That's two generations of women that have had to endure this outrageous hate mongering.

In the military, when gang rapes occur the military women are told "to suck it up" which is the equivalent of "who cares about you?"  The Marines and the Navy are the most notorious for raping military women because they have an entire Pentagon command from the top brass down to the middle management level that encourage the rapes as a way to drive women out of the military.

In their mind, women have no place in their all man's world of the so-called "warrior culture." Men who rape women to display their so-called superiority are not real men and it's time for the real men to step up in large droves to put a stop to this ugly practice of rape in the military.

Rush Limbaugh show paid for by female taxpayers for Armed Forces Radio

Another insult is that taxpayer monies, to which women contribute as part of the work force, supports the women-hating Rush Limbaugh show on the Armed Forces Radio Network.  The Pentagon refuses to cancel the Limbaugh show much to the outrage of women across America and in the Armed Forces.

Gang Rape in the American Military encouraged by Pentagon brass and hate culture

Senator Levin (D-MI), head of the Armed Forces Committee, sees it differently and is calling for the Rush Limbaugh show to be dropped.  It's time this radio show - and all others that are hate mongerers against women - be dropped from monetary support.  If the troops want to listen to the show, then they are free to pay for it themselves on another network not supported by taxpayer dollars.

I, and other women, will not stand by like a bunch of wimps and agree this is just fine to disrespect us with your hate.  And, while I'm at it, it's time to discontinue all military pensions of the top brass if this is the so-called "warrior culture" they are promoting.

Obviously, these pathetic excuses that are trying to pass themselves off as "real men" simply aren't.  Real men are not challenged by women as partners or equals or even as competition in the work place or military.  They take it in stride and compete, win or lose. And, when they do lose out, they just go back at it again in the competition.  They don't waste their time or energy on selling hate or trying "to keep down the little woman."  Those are the real men in America.

Google Doodle

On a lighter note, the latest Google Doodle on their search page is an interesting graphic where the "G" of Google was replaced by the universal symbol of women.  What I find significant are the color choices.  Purple is a universal symbol of healing, red is the universal symbol of physical strength, yellow is about the intellect and green is the symbol of balance.  Whether the color symbolism was intentional or not it is a cool image, though the violet does echo the IWD logo.  Check it out how you can doodle for Google:

Temp Headline Image

Progress for women in the UNITED STATES and CANADA:

To the good:  Between 1997 and 2010 there was an increase in women who joined the U.S. Congress, up from 11 percent to 17 percent.

To the negative:  The pay gap in the work place isn't so good for women, even after 40 years of raising women's issues in the national politics.  In the USA the gap between men and women is 23 percent.  In Canada the gap is more at 28 percent.  In the United States the pay gap is worse for women of color like African-American and Latina where the pay gap is between 39 and 48 percent.

Canada:  Their theme this year is "Strong Women, Strong Canada."  Many of the celebrations centered around honoring women in rural communities.  From the Status of Women Canada website, "In rural and remote areas, women make up approximately 45 percent of the labor force, but significant gaps still exist between women and men in labor force participation rates, employment rates and income."

Canadian events include networking opportunities, a Tahitian dance performance and various speakers.

Progress for women in EUROPE:

To the good:  In all but four European countries there are laws now prohibiting domestic violence.

To the negative:  In 20 European countries there are between eight percent to 35 percent of women who have been physically abused, according to UN Women.

The European Union's statistical office, Eurostat, collected some interesting gender statistics in the Eurozone, ranging from gender ratios to shopping trends.  In every member state the proportion of women to men at risk of poverty or social exclusion is far higher than men.  They experience limited access to housing, health care and employment.

Ireland:  In Tullamore there was a brunch for domestic abuse and violence survivors, a UN Women-Ireland sponsored literary event.  It was a public reading of short stories featuring women from James Joyce's book "Dubliners."

Spain:  They organized a multimedia project where women all across the country send in photos, texts or videos showing examples of women who inspired them.  

Czech Republic:  In Brno, there is a performance of Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues."

Norway:  A women's empowerment workshop was held to encourage self-awareness and empowerment through dance, music and meditation.

Progress for women in LATIN AMERICA and the CARIBBEAN

To the good:  53 percent of women are active in the labor force.

To the negative:  The gender pay gap here is much like in the rest of the world where women earn 40 percent less than men.

Brazil:  In Sao Paola women met on the Dr. Arnaldo Avenue Bridge, called "Join Me On The Bridge" to help bring men and women together to call for peace and equality.  Last year there were 75,000 people who joined together and stood on 464 bridges in 70 countries.

Jamaica:  60 percent of the high-skilled jobs are held by women, including positions in politics and business. That makes Jamaica home of the highest women-to-high-skilled-job-ratio.

Another women's rights activist in Jamaica will be handing out candy and cards to women in the workplace to honor IWD and the achievements of women in her country.

Mexico:  Since 1992, scores of journalists have been killed by the drug cartels.  It is a war to stay alive in Mexico where even teachers are not immune from harm.  They are extorted by the cartels to the tune of 50 percent or more of their paychecks.  If they don't pay, they die.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international literary organization, they are attempting to raise awareness of the risks that women writers face in the country.  They are writing Mexican authorities as well as assembling obituaries of women writers killed in Mexico.

Progress in the MIDDLE EAST and NORTH AFRICA

To the good:  Well, at least there are now four Middle East and North African (MENA) countries that prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace.  They are Iraq, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In fact, Tunisia passed equality laws for women as far back as 1956.

More laws to outlaw domestic violence were recently passed in Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.

To the negative:  The ratio of women to men in the work force is still low, only one-third women to men in MENA.  United Nations estimates that women are about 26 percent of the labor force.

Egypt:  In Cairo, there is a contemporary art exhibit at the MISR gallery.  Artwork by Nadine Hammam will "address the existing fears of a persistent patriarchal military dictatorship in the present Egyptian context."

The women who protested in the Arab Spring Revolution a year ago came out and protested again in Tahrir Square, protesting for women to become part of the political process to structure their new government since they have been shut out and protested also to gain equal rights for women.

See this post:  Egypt: Revolution Loses Meaning As Women Denied Rights, Role in Society

Morocco:  IWD is a night out on the town.  Alcatel and Lucent and Meditel are two telecommunications companies that gave out free movie tickets so that all women can go to the cinema for free on IWD day.

Progress for women in the ASIA PACIFIC region:  

To the good:  About 20 countries and territories passed laws prohibiting domestic violence, according to UN Women.

To the negative:  More than 80 percent of women in this Asia Pacific region are employed "vulnerable jobs" which consist of unregulated, home-based work.  The UN says this can cost the region as much as $89 billion annually.

China:  what's happening on IWD

Women in China get a half-day off work to honor International Women's Day.  Get this:  there are some employers who are showering their female employees with gifts in honor of the day. Though the holiday is usually low-key in celebration here there are some notable changes in society.

In the big cities, women have achieved more of an equal status.  However, it is in the countryside that men still hold much higher status than women.  So, I guess the watchword here is:  Don't move to the suburbs, girls, or take up farming.

Indonesia:  A special song was written to celebrate the day, and most especially Indonesian women, called "Lebih dari Berlian" (More Than a Diamond).  Organizers hope young students will learn the song and sing it in unison every March 8 for International Women's Day and April 21, the date of Indonesia's Women's Day.

Fiji:  The women's rights organizations are gathering together young girls to discuss the importance of strong female characters seen in popular culture and fiction to honor this day.

New Zealand:  Panel discussions on women in the media, politics and business are the way The University of Canteberry will celebrate the date.


Progress for women in the ASIA SOUTH and CENTRAL regions

To the good:  According to the 2011 Millennium Development Goal report, Central Asia has finally achieved gender parity for secondary education.

To the negative:  With 57 countries reporting to UN Women, it's been found that more citizens report sexual assaults when women are part of the police force.  The downside is that in South Asia only three percent of the region's police force is made up of women.

Afghanistan:  To honor today there is a new Internet cafe and haven for women enjoying its grand opening.  It's located in Kabul and is dedicated to Sahar Gul, an Afghan woman who was forced to marry at age 14 but was badly abused by her husband's parents.

This is a gruesome story.  According to Young Women for Change, "She claimed not only her body and womanhood, but also her freedom as she resisted for months under torture and inhumane treatment."  YWFC hosted the event and grand opening.  They are hoping to assist Afghan women to communicate and connect.

Pakistan:  In the city of Islamabad there is sponsored the first "Women At Work" festival, offered by a consortium of NGOs, government affiliates and private enterprises.  It's a five-day celebration with more than 100 stalls featuring traditional food, art and entertainment.

In the town of Dera Ismail Khan there are friendly contests in dry-flower arrangement, drama, cooking and dining.

Turkmenistan:  The government decided to honor and hand out badges and special titles to women who are mothers of eight or more children.  About 160 Turkmen women are expected to be so honored for this award this year.  They are also getting perks like free dental work and public transportation.

Progress for women in SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA:

To the good:  In 28 countries they have achieved a 30 percent representation of women in their legislative bodies - eight of those countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To the negative:  Sadly, what a husband can still be justified in doing to his wife, like beating her, has not improved much.  In a seven country survey it was found that nearly 50 percent of those surveyed believe it is just fine for a man to beat his wife.

Uganda:  Female soccer players have the opportunity to participate in soccer drills with the Buwate Youth Soccer Club.

Another similar event is held in Sierra Leone, sponsored by the Craig Bellamy Foundation.  The idea of the events is to raise awareness of issues related to gender inequality and to empower women through the sport of soccer.

Mali:  In Bamako, women are marking IWD with a peaceful march to raise awareness about the terrible issue of female genital mutilation.  They are hoping to educate men and women about 1000s of women exposed to the dangerous practice.  The practice is deeply embedded into the culture but causes severe and serious health problems for women that survive it.

A Palestinian woman raises her hands in front of Israeli soldiers while taking part in a demonstration to remove barriers on Palestinian land, to mark International Women's Day, on March 8, in the West Bank town of Qalandia.  Abbas Momani / AFP - Getty Images

* * * For more photos from around the world on International Women's Day, go here.

* * * Search by country of what happened on International Women's Day by country, go here.

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